‘To write my next album’ are the words that my ears keep hearing my mouth push out like a cuckoo each time someone asks me why I’ve decided to go back to uni. I’ve been using the statement, almost like a line of defense and now I’m wondering – when did wanting to study become not enough?
But I suppose it’s a good question. Why am I here? What do I want to get from this? I guess there’s a part of me that very much enjoys imagining how it would feel when the bank clerk, or library assistant, or mortgage broker asks what my profession is and I look them straight in the eye and reply with the words (Uma Thurman, Kill Bill “I am going to kill Bill” style) “Why, I am a writer”. But, if I am being frank, the reasoning lies much deeper than that. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, as cliched as that sounds, and a writing qualification, seems the obvious prerequisite.
As a teenager I had dreams of becoming an English lecturer at an old world university where I would stroll the gothic grounds and spend Autumnal afternoons on benches reciting my latest paper, ankle deep in dead leaves. In my twenties, I had ambitions of working as a top copywriter in some lush London agency, the kind that have a bar trolley service on a Friday afternoon and take their morning brainstorming sessions in the jungle room at Sketch. And, as a thirty something I now aspire to be a novelist, living in the countryside in a big farm house with a beautiful view, a labrador and a roaring open fire at my disposal.
My reality? Well, you could say I’ve flashed my marshmallow in the camp fire. I have managed to become a singer songwriter in my spare time at least. And yes I have managed to make a living from being a self employed writer. But have I pushed my dreams to their limits? Probably not. The bulk of my writing career has been in the realms of marketing and within that world I’ve felt extremely confined and extremely frustrated. On the playing fields within it, there’s this massive tug-of-war going on, with sales and targets at one end and creativity and perception at the other. Quite often, the fight to make things more creative, is at the expense of targets and sales and vice versa. And more often than not, it’s the sales and targets that win (‘booooo’ goes the crowd). I know, its really annoying. Whilst the savviest of marketers know that a successful marketing strategy relies upon an even balance between the two, the reality is that the marketing world is driven mostly by number crunching maniacs who I’ve heard, too many times, saying to me, ‘just stick to the brief Nic’. How about shaking things up a bit? I want to reply. Adding the sparkle? A twist? Making people people think? Where does my five years of studying Saatchi and Saatchi strategy come into this game? Instead, my eyes glaze over, my heads nods like one of those dogs you see on dashboards and my spirits sink as i say ‘ok’ whilst I ask myself for the fortieth time that week why i didn’t just elope to London in my twenties to work for one of those lush agencies before my ivy creeping life anxieties had time to crawl all over me.
Next possible bus out of civilisation?
An Mlitt in Creative Writing.
Single fair for me please.
But escaping the confinements of the marketing world isn’t the only forceful wind that’s pushed me here.
It’s emotional. Writing for me has always has been. It’s an outlet. A therapy if you like. As a child i often felt as though my voice was the weakest in the pack. And often found myself, alone, in my room, writing down how i felt rather than talking about it. I also found that I went into character a lot too – imagining my life as another – as someone who was outspoken, someone people listened to, someone with a much more interesting life than I. That’s seemed to stick with me and even now as adult I find that words come to me much more easily if I write them down. I wonder if it’s the same for most writers? As the course progresses I’m finding that homework tasks and workshop exercises are opening up all of these tiny doors inside of my mind. Emotions are surfacing all over the place and the more I write, the more they ooze from every pore. I have no idea what’s about to come out of me next.
And i guess that’s why I’m really here.