Friday, 16 October 2020


Hello, lovely Readers! A quick October check-in for you today - or Preptober, actually. 

Yes, you read that right. Following the successful completion of CampNaNo this year, I've decided to defy the NaNoCurse - and perhaps common sense - by giving NaNoWriMo a shot again this year. This will be the third time that I've attempted NaNo proper and both previous times I ended up both hurting myself and getting ill in the first few days of November. But a) third time lucky, maybe? and b) what is life without the spice of risk? And since I've basically had to put the draft of the Most Special Secret Project Ever on hold for the last few months while I was teaching, working on my dissertation, and finishing up other projects, this seems like a really good cue to dive back into it.

I've signed up as a NaNo rebel this year, since I've already got a detailed outline and have drafted out a chunk of chapters/scenes of the MSSPE. For me, Preptober is more about diving back into research (of which there is... a lot. A lot. A. LOT), re-reading the scenes I've already got, and re-familiarising myself with the characters and tone of this story. Which I love so much, you guys. My gizzards are knotted with hope that this one finds a home when it's done.

Now, for Dear Readers who are into podcasts, there's a really fascinating interview here between me and the absolutely lovely Amanda Whittington as part of the RLF Writers Aloud series. We talk in depth about my books, about Feminism and diversity, and about publishing, in addition to a bunch of other random topics. I had so much fun recording this with Amanda, and really enjoyed listening to it again when it went live, so check it out.

Finally, you might have noticed that above I mentioned working on my dissertation - and some of you may already know that I was scheduled to complete my Master's Degree in creative writing this year. This is a huge deal for me because... well, because I'm not from a family where people were expected to go to uni, or get degrees, especially advanced degrees. There's a post about my opinions and experiences with education here for context. Very luckily, considering that this is the Year of Our Lord Cthulhu of Unending Horrors, I had opted to take the course by distance learning, which meant that it wasn't substantially affected by the pandemic as all the work was set and handed in online anyway. 

I handed in my dissertation - which is the final, and most substantial piece of work the course requires - in August, and the (provisional - they're still waiting for review) marks came yesterday. When the email arrived in my inbox I almost couldn't make myself open it because I was so sick with nerves about  the outcome, with all my fears about education not being for 'people like me' flooding back in. But when I did open it, I discovered that I had passed with Distinction. I earned straight As for all my work throughout the degree. I somehow got an 84 on my final essay, which is nearly unbelievable considering that it's only the second degree level essay I have ever written in my life (MA essays are a very far cry from the stuff I scribbled out at GCSE).

I'm equal parts dazed and delighted, and my big ambition now is to keep going and pursue a PhD, if I can win a studentship. Then the next step would be to teach Creative Writing at university level: a previously utterly unattainable dream which now has at least the potential to one day become reality. 

Generally I have a difficult time feeling proud of things I've done myself - this was always seen as arrogance and big-headedness in my family, and the response to good news was generally a request to not go on about it too much. But dammit, I am proud of this. In another month or so, I will officially have a degree and be at least partially qualified for something, even if I probably won't get a graduation ceremony (thanks, Corona). So have a nice dance anthem and let's raise our glasses (there's Ribena in mine) and do a little proudness hip-shimmy in honour of bravery and second chances.


Barker and Jones Staff said...

Such fantastic news all around! I look forward to seeing you around the Nano forums (don't go to the forums, they suck you in and you never crawl back out...)

Zoë Marriott said...

Thanks for the warning! xx

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