Tuesday, 12 May 2009

What the hell am I doing?????

I just had this lightbulb moment. You ever have those? A moment when the clouds part and everything becomes so clear that it is painfully obvious. And I mean, painfully.

So here’s the thing. My friend Heidi (Heidi likes this blog, may endless blessings be upon her) sent me this email about possible scholarships for Arvon courses. If you have ever done a creative writing course, you will know how important Arvon is. It’s like the ultimate success badge. Gold standard. You don’t get anywhere near being taken seriously as a literary writer, never mind getting published, unless you have been to Arvon.

Well, I haven’t.

It’s incredibly expensive. I mean I’m on benefits, for Gods’ sakes! I can’t afford £575 for a week’s residential, no matter how good it is! That’s just way out of my league.

We were at a writers meeting earlier in the year and Heidi was trying to persuade me that I really should go to Arvon. Why not? She said. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

So I’ve been sitting on this email all weekend. I looked at the brochure that I sent for after Heidi encouraged me (I’m not going to say nagged). I’d already figured out what courses I wanted to do – I thought if I chose two, I would have a better chance of getting on one. The one I really wanted to do is at Lumb Bank. The first thing the brochure says is that it’s a ten minute walk from the car park down a very steep hill. Accessible it is not. And it’s in Yorkshire. The other one is at Totleigh Barton. And that’s Devon. I mean, DEVON!!! I’ve not yet recovered from the trip home from Scotland. The last thing I can face is the thought of going either to Devon or Leeds. And not in my current state of near collapse. And if I do, am I well enough to keep up the pace? Unlikely. As Antrobus would say, I have doubts. Grave Doubts.

The clever ones amongst you will have already spotted what I am doing.


Aren’t they great?

And I have the best one of all. I’m ill. I can stay in my little bed and never let that scary world hurt me again.

Of course, I am not as clever as you lot, and I’ve only just worked this out. Duuuhhrr, as my nieces would say.

I was reading this great new book I got in the post yesterday, Gail McMeekin’s ‘The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women’, and thinking about one of the Challenges in the section about Taking Risks.

‘How does your Inner Patriarch hold you back from taking risks or following through on your creativity?’ page 51.

I thought about the Arvon thing and I wondered why I wasn’t doing anything about it. The answer came back, as clear as day. Nice little Inner Critic voice (what I call my Nigel voice, I don’t know why). It said:

‘Its too scary. What if you get there and you aren’t good enough? Or you can’t keep up because you are too tired. What if you collapse with the effort and anxiety of it all? You aren’t one of the clique after all. And anyway, why ask. They will only turn you down. And you don’t want to be hurt and rejected. So just stay quiet and use being ill as an excuse not to try.’

Good old Nigel.

And I thought, bugger that.

It’s worth noting that I may not get the opportunity. All the places may be gone already. Or I may have to stump up some money towards it, in which case I can’t go (although the ad says it’s a full scholarship). But it’s not till the Autumn. I’ll be lots better by then. At least I hope so. And it’s a great opportunity. And last time Heidi sent me something. I ended up getting a free consultation with The Literary Consultancy (yay for them, they’re great!). So what do I lose by asking?

So tomorrow I am going to ring up Arvon’s London Office and find out. Honestly, I promise. Really really.

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