As I scanned through the mass bulletin, I was thrilled to bits when I saw an advert for creative writing classes. Starting in two weeks, not far from where I live. I rang the number the very next morning to book my place. I’m shocking keen you see. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I did have an idea that it was for complete beginners.
I can’t say I’m a complete beginner but I am a beginner of sorts. And I just want to meet and connect face to face with people who like writing. It would be nice to have a whole conversation all about writing with someone who doesn’t stare past me into the distance as I’m talking. Sometimes people carry on as if writing was an illegal practice. Why is that?
There is a writer’s group in my area but it takes place on a night that just doesn’t suit me. So, I got thinking that if this creative writing class is scheduled for Mondays at 10am, I might get some new writers on board to start up a morning writer’s group. I’ll be in my element! The craic we could all have talking about Word Hippo and our muse.
And there was one other thing – it was happening in the over 55’s club. I’m not over 55. I’m not even over 50 – yet! I wondered if I’d be allowed in. Or would I have to pretend I’m over 55.
The first day of class arrived and I left the house really early because I wanted to be on-time. Just so the tutor will see how committed I am. I was actually the first pupil there so I sat in the lobby to wait for the others. I took out my phone and opened up my Louise Hay Affirmations app.
I took a few deep breaths and told myself how great I am. I read yesterday’s affirmation too and a few more just for good measure and then I got up from my seat to have a wee look around. The place was very quiet. Where were all the writers for their class? I sat back down again.
Just then, a young woman (about my age) emerged from the staff room door. I stood to greet her but she seemed to be in a world of her own as she barely noticed me.
“Excuse me please”. I said in my confident voice. “Could you tell me where I should be for the creative writing class?”
“Sorry? What classes are they now?” She sounded a bit annoyed at me for stealing her away from whatever mission she was on.
Do you know that wee laugh that escapes you when you’re feeling stupid? Like a raspy snigger that threatens to affect the rhythm of your breathing. I laughed that laugh. And then a wee lump starts to form in your throat? Yeah…I felt that wee lump too.
I fumbled through my bag of contrunkery to find the mass bulletin to prove to her that I didn’t get my date wrong. Found it! Yes, there it was right underneath the ‘Pilgrimage to Knock’ notice. I held it up in front of her.
She spoke hurriedly, ‘This isn’t the over 55’s club. I’m sorry but you’re in the wrong place. You have to go back out the way you came in. Turn right and then right again. Walk a few yards then turn another right. You’ll see a sign and a white door. Bye now.’ She was either having a bad day or it was in her nature to be impolite. I don’t cope well with rude people!
Aw Jesus! Now I’d be last to arrive instead of first. Damn! I took my lavender inhaler from my bag and give it a good whiff to slow down my breathing (I have a touch of anxiety you see) and hurried along in the hope that someone else would be later than me. I hoped the class hadn’t already started.
I huffed and puffed into the over 55’s building and sure as soon as I entered the door I could tell immediately that it was a place for mature people. There was a lovely welcoming atmosphere and I was greeted by smiles and handshakes. There were two ladies sitting chatting at a wee table by the window having tea and scones. The strawberry jam piled high on top matched the colour of the chequered tablecloth. And they had a proper china teapot too. Not one of those stainless steel pots with a gammy spout that spills the tea all over the place!
‘Hello everyone. I’m Tasheenga and I’m here for the writing class. Sorry I’m late’. I put on my apologetic smile and rolled my eyes with a wee shake of the head. This should have given the impression that I had absolutely no control over my reason for being late. I don’t think they really cared though. A gentle looking man in his 60’s named Fabian turns to me and said, ‘Well there’s just the two of us so far’.
Okay ….so I didn’t really know what to think. Did we have a tutor? Ah yes. Here she was. Bernadette appeared from the toilets and looked happy to see me. Another pupil for her. Now she had two. Yippee! Nobody enquired about my age. I wondered if they thought I was over 55? I decided not to mention it. Surely they didn’t think I looked more than 49!
Bernadette brought us through a long bendy stone walled corridor. She was only about 35 years of age and her speedy steps made her copper coloured pony tail swing from left to right like the pendulum on a grandfather clock. She glanced around a couple of times to make sure we were still with her and I kept wanting to blurt out that I was not a member of the over 55’s club – and not even close yet!
Our class room was quite small and the walls were pink. Nice and cosy! It smelt a little fusty but I didn’t mind that. Just as we were settling into our seats we heard the sound of dragging footsteps outside the door. It sounded like flip flops so I guessed it was a woman. She pounded in through the door huffing and puffing worse than I was when I arrived. I thought for a second about offering her a sniff of my lavender but I was afraid that she might stick it way up her nose and that would be the end of it! No….she’ll manage without it, I figured. I guessed after a while that it wasn’t anxiety she had anyway – she was just a tad unfit.
Bernadette welcomed us and asked us each in turn why we were here and what did we know about creative writing. Fabian said he was hoping to learn how to spell and thought this would help. Eileen in the flip flops said she read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and now she thinks she wants to write a book. She seemed serious!
Bernadette questioned me with a desperate look of hope in her pale blue eyes.
‘And Tasheenga. Why are you here?’
“Aw sure ya know”, I muttered. “I think I want to write a book too”. I didn’t know what else to say! I was bucking mad at myself because I had a great spiel planned. I had rehearsed it several times in my mind that morning.
However, as it turned out the time flew by and we talked loads about writing memoirs and the importance of reading if you want to be a writer. We all got along mighty fine and Bernadette gave us some homework.
“Write every day”, she told us. “Write in your journals everything you get up to during your day.”
I couldn’t help glancing over at Fifty Shades in the flip flops and I’d need more than Word Hippo to show me the words I need to describe the visions that flashed through my mind. Any thoughts I previously had about a new writer’s group swiftly faded away.
I remained positive! I was happy to be getting acquainted with Bernadette. We might become writing buddies sometime in the near future!
Okay…. today wasn’t good because it was a bank holiday and nobody bothered to inform me that the writing class would not be on today. I arrived with the big happy head on me with all my homework done and I even purchased and started reading the book that Bernadette recommended! The whole place was closed up when I arrived. I went to Lidl and bought a pretzel. Then it bloated me so I ended up having a fat day!
Arrived on time. I couldn’t wait to tell them that I turned up last week because nobody told me not to! No sign of my fellow pupils. The only person there was a woman called Bridget and when I told her who I was and why I was there, she hadn’t a clue what I was on about. She made a phone call to a guy called Bertie. She hmmed and haad for a moment and then hung up.
She reported to me, “It’s all postponed until the autumn because there wasn’t enough people interested”.
Aw… I was so disappointed. Who’s going to guide me now? Who’s gonna kick my ass every time I choose coffee mornings over writing time? And blogging when I should be writing proper stuff! How can I be the only person in my writer’s group?
I shall persevere! Yes. I shall!