Sometimes I worry that I’m just not clever or serious enough to be a writer.
When I began my MA in creative writing I felt like this quite often, especially when listening to the other students. Some of them had just completed undergraduate literature degrees, a lot of them had read more widely than me, and a few of them spouted literary terms that had me putting on my ‘eh?’ face. Objective correlative, you say? Okay, what’s that then?
Thankfully I’ve never been shy about asking questions and I’m quite happy to admit my ignorance. This means that after a year and a half of feeling slightly intimidated by some of my classmates (I tend to be in awe of people who are confidently intelligent and knowledgeable, having never really been like that myself) I’ve picked up a few things. I’ve also stopped worrying that I’m going to be ‘found out’ and kicked off the course for failing to read Anna Karenina.
However, I don’t think I’m ever going to be a literary heavyweight. It doesn’t seem to be in my nature to write that way, and I’ve failed to read some of the more literary books that everyone else gets excited about. Does this mean I belong in the lightweight category? You might say yes if I told you that a recent plot tangle I got myself into was solved by a mechanical toad that talked like Stephen Fry. To be fair, I want to write for ldrenldren and young adults. Now, there is plenty of room in children’s literature for serious stuff, some of which I fully intend to engage with. But when I tell other writers that I want to write for kids, their eyes sometimes glaze over or they give me that ‘oh you’re just a children’s writer’ look.
What I’ve realised though, is that I don’t think I mind. Because writing stuff that’s aimed at kids and young people makes me very happy. I may never write anything mind-bogglingly brilliant, never be lauded as a literary genius, but hopefully I’m going to have a lot of fun.
And I might just squeeze in the time to read Anna Karenina.
10 books I haven’t read:
1) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
2) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
3) Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (I did start this one but gave up)
4) The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
5) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6) The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
7) Ulysses by James Joyce
8) Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
9) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
10) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky