First steps into Academia

18 09 2009

Tuesday was Induction night. The train to Glasgow takes me just over two hours and then I was running against the clock to see how long the short walk and tube ride to Hillhead would take. It took about half an hour. This is important. My Tuesday night classes will finish about 7.30 and I need to get back in to Central Station for 8 or I have a three hour wait for the last train home. Something I’d like to avoid as it would mean not getting home till well after midnight.

My stomach was in knots all last week and as I walked the last few steps up towards Gilmourhill I could feel the nerves taking hold. The campus was buzzing with Freshers, who all looked so young.

I had a rough idea where I was going but when I got to where I thought I should be I realised I’d wrong footed somewhere. I thought about asking somewhere but to be honest all the youngsters looked as lost as me. I retraced my steps and then spotted a tiny A4 sheet taped to the wall. ‘ Creative Writing MLitt’ and an arrow. Through the big old doors and in I went.


We were all handed our timetables, classes, and a sheet with a short biography of each student (nice idea, means we can at least crib up on our classmates and try to think of something to say when we meet). There are a few published novelists, a handful of journalists and a smattering of teachers, plus recent graduates and then the rest of us. I checked out my entry trying hard not to compare myself unfavourably but starting to feel more than a little out of my depth. At the introduction we got a chance to hear from the course team. We were gathered together in the Anatomy lecture theatre. I sat near the back looking down and wondering how many brain surgeons had once had their bum right where I was sitting and whether any of that genius might rub off!

The course team all sound passionate about the craft and this raised my spirits. And they want us to take risks.

‘Risk failing an assignment. It’s the best way you’ll grow and learn,’ said one.

Afterwards there was a Reading Party in the Anatomy Museum. A macabre setting full of skeletons, and body parts in formaldehyde. Wine was gratefully received and I sat to hear the first of many previous years students read short stories, poems and extracts of longer works. This resulted in me feeling intimidated once again. The stories were beautifully created, punctuated with just the right amount of humour, some grittiness, and some awe inspiring metaphors. To be able to hold someone’s attention with only the spoken word is a real skill I think. Words on a page you can backtrack and check if you missed something first time round. Spoken out loud you get one shot at entertaining the audience. The performance poetry in particular impressed me.

How am I ever going to be as good as any of them?

Oh. And I’m taking the Mlitt full-time now rather than part-time. Part time classes ended up being spread over a Monday and Wednesday evening (with occasional speakers every Tuesday). This would mean me either staying overnight in Glasgow two nights a week or else travelling up and down twice a week. I don’t really want to be away from the kids for that long and and at over £35 a journey I can’t really afford to go backwards and forwards.




3 responses

20 09 2009
Melanie Lewicka

Sounds like your getting into it Jenny. The picture looks fab, and I can’t wait to see how you get on. I looked through my noted from the last few weeks today and wrote 17 poems, some poor and some ok. My most productive day ever. Don’t know where it came from really. Anyway talk soon.

25 09 2009
Carol McKay

This brought so much back to me, Jenny. Exciting stuff. You deserve your place there, so don’t let anything about it put you off.

All the best,

7 10 2009

Good Luck! You will have a blast!

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