The road back…

Time for a running post now as I’ve had a few solid weeks of training for the Oxford Half Marathon and a new 5k PB today of 24:04 20160807_101735-1(klaxon!)

It might seem a bit of a strange combination to be blogging about both writing and running, but my rationale is that a) they are the two things I enjoy the most, aside from Masterchef and Olympics watching, and b) you can’t succeed at either of them without trying really bloody hard, so I kind of combine them in my head for extra motivation. I’ve got the usual tales of writers woe that basically just consists of lots of rejections from agents, and so wanted to talk about running based trauma instead…

Back in 2014 I was doing pretty well and making progress with running – I’m never going to be Olympic standard but I was tantalisingly close to cracking 50 minutes for 10k. Three days exactly after my fastest 10k to date, I fell down the stairs at the train station and sprained my ankle (I can’t remember which one). When I say sprained, by the way, I don’t mean twisted, or a bit sore – I mean grapefruit-sized and rainbow-bruised. I was gutted, but waited patiently for it to heal and in time I started gentle running again, although I was still wary of pushing myself too hard. Eight months later, it was my boyfriend’s birthday and I’d booked a table at a nice restaurant with a whisky bar upstairs. Not content with this display of excellent girlfriend-dom, I decided to make ‘an effort’ and wear a nice dress and heels. Given my exceptional laziness in that department, and the fact that I can most commonly be found at home wearing a pair of holey leggings with tie dye cat heads on them, this counted as maximum effort.

Continue reading “The road back…”

From PGCE to present day

A year into my time as a teaching assistant, I decided (predictably) that I would make a great teacher, and so that was exactly what I was going to do. I applied, interviewed, got accepted, and embarked with huge enthusiasm, certain I was going to make a difference to thousands of children’s lives.

I knew it would be a difficult year, but nothing prepared me for quite how tough I would find it. I threw myself into the academic work with gusto, but to my horror realised that actually teaching – not just interacting with children, doing group work, or making jelly – was not something I felt terribly good at. At best I was uncomfortable; at worst, totally overwhelmed. I muddled through it, and passed, but felt at times as if I was at utter breaking point. The thing that got me was the sheer level of responsibility – how was I supposed to make sure that every single one of these children was developing academically, not to mention personally and emotionally, when the majority of them had stuff going on at home as well? I’m quite an anxious person, and it just sent me into an impossible spiral of worry.

But I finished, and misguidedly took a role as a Reception teacher straight afterwards. To my enduring shame, I dropped out after half a term, and that’s the last time I set foot in a classroom. The experience broke me for a while – I had poured everything into being a teacher for the previous three years and felt totally lost when it became clear it wasn’t something that I could succeed in.

I was very depressed, and felt like I’d wasted my time and money on a useless qualification. But as my mother says, no education is ever wasted. The reason I wanted to teach was because I wanted to reach children – as many as possible – and help them in some way. As I recovered from the bruising experience of discovering that my dream of teaching wasn’t going to happen, I began to write in earnest. If I couldn’t reach children through teaching, then what better way to make a difference than by writing books that children would love reading?

This is what has really driven me to write seriously – fast forward to now, almost three years later, and I’m just as excited by writing for children and young people as I was then when it first dawned on me that there was another way of achieving what I wanted. I’m still in the very early stages of my journey – I’m in the cycle of sending my stories out to agents, getting rejected and starting again. But this time, I’m not giving up, and the handful of personalised, positive rejections I’ve received that have told me to keep working at it spur me on. Ultimately, even if I never get published, at least I can make myself laugh every day by writing stories about smelly pirates, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

The early days: From Nutkin and Sally to Fed Up Fred

I’m an only child. When I was bored as a seven year old, my parents’ response would invariably be: ‘Go and write a story, or draw a picture.’ And so I did. My first masterpiece was a saga entitled ‘The Adventures of Nutkin and Sally’, the tale of two amorous squirrels who had lots of adventures and got married more than once. Many of the stories featured several ‘silver’ items, as I was usually too engrossed in what I was doing to be bothered to relinquish my pencil and go and get some colours. This was followed by endless pastiches of Enid Blyton’s ‘St Clare’s’ and ‘Mallory Towers’ books; rambling passages detailing ever more overblown midnight feasts with tins of condensed milk, sliced tongue and peaches. I wasn’t quite sure why anyone wouldwant to eat any of this, but I knew it was the done thing. My own midnight feasts Continue reading “The early days: From Nutkin and Sally to Fed Up Fred”

#AmRunning #AmWriting

This blog has come about because I’m passionate about writing for children and running – breathtakingly amateur at both but I don’t let that dampen my spirits. I write and/or run every day, and while I’m fairly certain I’m not going to be an Olympian any time soon, I will hopefully get somewhere with writing one day. (If not, I’ll just leave post-its with my stories on them in public places).

My writing here will document what could be a very long journey to a faster 10k time… and hopefully publication. Along the way I’m hoping to connect with people like me who are working to achieve their goals and ride away into the sunset on a dinosaur.