It was 2016. I needed my mum's advice. For the millionth time, I wished she was still with me. I went to see Sonia, one of her old friends. I told her,
'I need advice from my mum.' (She understood.) 'I'm thinking of enrolling for an MA in Creative Writing at Leicester University. Is it the right thing to do? It's such a lot of money. I'll be the oldest in the group. What if the work piles up? What if it's too much for me? I've left it too late to go back to studying, haven't I?'Sonia's response was swift, 'Do it', she said, 'And enjoy it.' And so I did it and I enjoyed it. I kept her updated on each assignment and I thanked her time and again for her advice. Sadly, she recently died, but I'll always be grateful for her encouragement.
So, what have I been up to over the last two years? With the support and guidance of an excellent group of tutors, I've developed my writing skills, experimented with words, discovered different ways of expressing myself on the page, spent hours in the library, drunk gallons of coffee and I've even had one or two drinks at the local pub. I now have a file full of material including a memoir, a play and an array of poetry - some of it ekphrastic, my words illustrating the paintings of a talented artist from a Polish shtetl, and one poem (as I've already mentioned several times) winner of the Leicester University G. S. Fraser poetry prize. I now have lots of material that I can rework for submission, lots of new ideas that I plan to develop, but I wish I could do it all over again.
If anyone reading this is thinking of enrolling for this type of a course, then my advice to you is the same as Sonia's was to me, 'Do it'. It's not cheap but then you get what you pay for - and now I'd best get back to the dissertation, my final piece of work to be submitted. It's written. I just need to give it a final check through, get it printed and bound and then I shall submit it and I might even have a small alcoholic drink to celebrate - just a small one, mind you!