Tuesday, 24 May 2016


Six and a half years ago, a course caught my eye. It was called Start Writing Fiction, was run by the Open University and I could pay for it with Tesco vouchers. So I signed up. Little did I know where that would lead me.

Once I'd finished that one I'd caught the bug and I decided to begin on another course which might, maybe, lead to another one. Back then, the six years that it would take to get to the end of a degree course seemed like such a long time. People stretched their eyes and shook their heads when I told them but the way I saw it, in six years my youngest would still only be 12 and my life was not going to change in that time. As it turned out of course things did change but my studying just adapted with them.

And so here I am in 2016 about to press send on the final assignment of the final module of my BA (Hons) in English Literature and so I've decided to mark the occasion with a blog post.

Overall, I can truthfully say that I have enjoyed my study although it hasn't been without its more desperate moments. I very nearly gave up...twice. I have laughed and cried over my course material and there are bits of it that I never really got a handle on. I have read (and complained about) literature that I would never normally have considered and loved a lot of it, despite early reservations.

I'm very grateful to my family who have supported me throughout and encouraged me by shining forth beacons when the path got very dark. I know that I did the whole student thing in the 80s and that this time it was just for fun but somehow that made it more challenging and I certainly think that I have lost more sleep over this degree than the last.

Of course, me being me, I already have plans to fill the 18 hours a week that I've been studying ( well, that's what it says you should spend on it!) with something else. And so as the door closes for the last time on my under graduate career, another opens wide and welcomes me in.

So bye bye OU. It's been a blast!


Tuesday, 17 May 2016


So I'm back!

My week cut off from friends, family and civilisation as I know it has been and gone and I have survived to tell the tale. Who knew that I could live without Facebook? Needless to say, none of my ludicrous frets came to fruition although it was a bit of a rollercoaster ride in parts - having time to think isn't always a good thing. Overall though, it was useful and rewarding in equal measure and if you ever fancy going on a week long writing course, I can thoroughly recommend the ones that those terribly nice people at Arvon put on.

The elegant farmhouse.
The farmhouse where I stayed was quaint and quirky and filled to the gunwales with books with a spot for quiet contemplation around every corner. There was even a fantastic pod in the garden which, had I been able to get in my bag, might have made the trip back north with me!

The much coveted pod.
The week was crammed full of top writing tips which I earnestly scribbled down in my bought for the purpose notebook but I can honestly say that, whilst I learned lots about how to edit a manuscript, the subject I learned most about was me.

It's a very valuable thing, taking yourself out of your life and putting down somewhere new for a bit. Without the routines of the everyday to get distracted by, you rediscover things about yourself that may have got lost in the maelstrom. I really enjoyed the freedom of spending time with people who knew nothing about me or my life except what I chose to share (and those bits of me that just ooze out at the edges.) We all came from different backgrounds had very different stories to tell, many of them far more exciting than mine but we were linked by our desire to write good books and that was more than enough to carry us along for the week together.

And being away, with only me to look out for, meant that I could reconnect with the things that make me Imogen rather than a mum or a wife or a friend. It's important to do that from time to time. All I have to do now is hold onto that and not let it slip away.

So now what? Well, the next time someone asks me what I do I'm going to tell them I'm an author without cringing or blushing or making apologies. And after that? Well, we'll just have to see...


Tuesday, 3 May 2016


So,  you may remember that last week I told you all about my anxieties about going away to a place with no internet/phone signal?

Well I'm still fretting....

I'm actually going to Totleigh Barton in Devon on a writer's course. I've wanted to go on an Arvon course for about five years, in fact ever since Mark Haddon mentioned it in a talk he was giving at Ilkley Literature Festival. ( Ok. Enough with the links. If you want to know anything else you'll just have to google it yourself!)

Anyway, for years either the courses I fancied were too far away or there was already something in the diary preventing me from going. So when a course on Editing your Manuscript came up I jumped at it (and ignored the fact that it couldn't be much further from here if it tried.)

I booked the course and the train and now I'm almost all set to go.

But I'm starting to get a bit nervous. Here are a selection of my worries.

1. All the other people will hate me.
2. I will hate all the other people.
3. All the other people will be much cleverer/ better at writing than me.
4. I will say too much.
5. I will say too little.
6. The food will be mainly pork ( which I hate.)
7. I will take the wrong clothes/shoes/lipstick

Ok. I'm being a bit silly now but you get the gist. I will be trapped in a farmhouse in Devon with a bunch of strangers who may or may not be axe murderers with no phone signal and be forced to listen to them pontificate about their manuscripts which may or may not be any good.

Or....I'm going on an adventure to a beautiful and unspoilt part of the country to spend almost an entire week indulging myself in one of my favourite activities with like-minded people who all share similar dreams to me.

I think that's a better way of looking at it. After all, I do actually think it's going to be a life changing week - certainly in terms of my writing. And I'm only a teensy bit nervous...