Happy, sad, inspired, terrified...or the truth about post-graduate study.

posted on: Saturday, 31 October 2015

It's a Saturday and I am fresh off the back of what will come to punctuate my life for the next two years: College. Or University. Or what should I call it? Higher education? My Masters. That thing I am doing that causes people's eyebrows to shoot up and then come down again in an abrupt effort to disguise their surprise. Writing? A Masters in Writing? 'Ohhh.' Gosh. I might toy with it and sometimes say I am doing a Masters in Molecular Physics. I don't even know if there is such a thing as molecular physics...I could google it but my computer would probably recoil; how unlike me, normally my google searches are things like: winter leather boots, not too expensive. Or how to treat an aching shoulder. Or recipe made from just three ingredients, one of them kale (past its sell by date).

Logistically, this time it was tough, it's half term and my gadding off to spend three days immersed in literature and writing was badly timed. Farming my children out to friends and family and doing the good old faithful 'double drop-off' before my working day even started brought back memories of my previous corporate life. Sickening memories actually; I did it for so many years, that treadmill of the working mother. Anyway, once everyone including the dog were dispatched, I went and got educated.

Day one of the three day sequential: oh so happy. Look at me, remembering stuff, being clever, having erudite conversations with academics about feminism and narrative structures and getting feedback on my work from real and proper tutors who Know About Writing. Carrying my satchel around feeling pleased with myself.

Day two: exhausted (already; brain hurts from effort of being clever), terrified, realising that, shit, I have to write a whole bloody book by May. MAY!! Yes, I know. wtf.

Day three: resigned, it's nearly over, fond of my writing class mates, feeling goodwill towards all writers ever. Pushing negative thoughts away - mantra: banish self-doubt. Keen to get back to my normal life of being less clever and having clean laundry and something to eat in the house.

It's a curious thing. It's time and soul-sapping. My sister in law texted from Dubai me saying: Earth to Lou. Where are you?

And so I sit here thinking. And writing, and then deleting. And writing a bit more.

Meanwhile, life does go on. Post-grad study is all that I thought it would be. True to form: I want my tutors to be impressed with me, like I used to want my bosses to be impressed with me. I want to get good marks. I want to do well. But then I tell myself - at times when it's feeling really hard and challenging - I am not doing this to be impressive, I am doing it for a multitude of other complex reasons.

My children ask me how school was in a strange reversal of roles. They still, despite themselves, get cross that the normal level of housewifely service has temporarily ceased.

And then in amongst this we shuttle back and forth to the nearly-built house and check progress, get excited. This was a big week; they started fitting the kitchen. It resembles an actual habitable place. I am, despite what anyone might think and however un-ready it is, planning to move back in next weekend. I literally can not wait any more. Quite aside from the ironic fact that after all this, we may end up destitute having spent all our money in the whole wide world on that house.

I figure there's only one thing for it; comfort googling, mindless Pinterest-stalking, going for a run, walking the pup, eating recipes that don't include kale, getting back to my life until the next time...


  1. Though the children may be a bit miffed right now about the interruption in their schedules due to your classes, they will look back and be so proud of what you will have accomplished.

  2. I do so enjoy your posts! So beautifully written, so entertaining but most of all, so honest. I know that's why I come back again and again.