Jade’s childhood attempts at writing involved stories which were acts of blatant plagiarism. She progressed to sketches, poetry, and independent thought during her teens and in recent years settled on scriptwriting as her primary outlet. Her writing examines the chaotic and darker side of the society we find ourselves living in.
Jade is an editor and proofreader for the anthology.
‘I’d never thought of that.’
The ‘how’ and ‘why’ I decided to study for a Masters degree
It is untypical to attribute a Masters degree to pantomime and cricket, but there you have it. The headmaster at the school I taught at agreed to a production of a staff panto and I offered to write it as I’d always quite fancied seeing something I’d written being performed on stage. What started as a 30-minute lunchtime show became a two hour re-telling of Robin Hood with tickets being sold for two evening performances. It was successful and where it gave students and staff a surprising lift (I promise that I say that objectively and with modesty), it gave me the confidence to recognise that I was a capable writer and could create something for others’ enjoyment.
The previous summer, in 2018, I was at a rather dull test match at Trent Bridge with my best friend who was undertaking a Masters in Education. Between the chicken sandwiches and burned biscuits, I was lamenting about my job and Sophie said, ‘You should do a creative writing masters.’
Hmmm. I’d never thought of that. When you work in education you can compromise your sense of self, and I don’t mean for that to sound wanky or sanctimonious – that’s just how it goes. The thought of doing something for myself at such a grand level seemed fairly doable and it allowed me to shift my focus away from the weight of my job. At first, I looked into part-time Children’s Literature courses and even attended an open day at Cambridge, but as romantic as it would have been to make a weekly train journey from Nottingham, gorging on literature and theory whilst supping on a tea from the station kiosk, it was completely impractical and Cambridge just wasn’t the place for me. With Sophie being a beacon of wisdom and expert in everything, I looked into creative writing and lo and behold, NTU had a course that fitted my needs and varied interests. I attended an open evening and was pretty set on applying.
But, alas! Completing a course part time was actually the most impractical element. My duties as a teacher would naturally and rightfully take precedence and the course would become a burden, therefore I deferred the idea until panto number 2, this time dragging in my friend and colleague, Dan, for a collaboration. Motivated by another successful show (I was even in this one!), I requested and was granted a sabbatical from my job to concentrate on my passion and what I’d proved – to myself more than anyone – to be a skill. The deputy head asked if I’d rather spend the year travelling, but I wanted something that would move me creatively and professionally forward and I’d ticked the Neighbours tour off my bucket list years ago.
This is a prolonged way of telling you why I undertook this course as I could very easily have just said, ‘I like writing’, but as you would expect, it’s more than that. It’s being able to indulge in my brain. I know people who need to focus on their job or paint their shed or bake biscuits for injured ladybirds because it distracts them from their anxieties, but I rather enjoy what happens in this head of mine and since beginning my studies, there has been more room for what is sometimes delightful nonsense. Discussing literature or dissecting scripts without feeling ridiculous because I’m amongst peers is something I still find unbelievable, that no one mocks me with variants of, ‘Alright, English teacher!’ and ‘Whatever, Miss,’ when I’ve found meaning in something; or having access to experts, or watching Fleabag or Blackadder or reading Carver and being able to mark it as genuine research, or having someone tell me what to do for a change, or pinpointing my weaknesses and well as my strengths, or gaining greater understanding of the realities of writing. That is why. It all comes round to doing something without infiltration of external factors. The intellectual freedom I’ve enjoyed these last few months has seen me create things for my own enjoyment as well as pieces I believe to have professional potential, so applying for this course was one of the best decisions Sophie has ever made.