Now that I have a bit more freedom and variety in my days due to being a student again, I thought I’d maybe try my hand at these little monthly wrap-ups that seem popular with many. A lot of YouTubers will famously compile monthly favourites videos, and of course, the lovely Grace Latter also does catch-up posts at the end of each month, which I read religiously.
September has had a lot to offer me this year. I quit my fast-paced London job, and three years after I left, went back to university. To do a Masters! In Creative Writing! What a dream!
On my second to last day of my full-time job, I went about my regular commute. Entering the London Overground, I sat next to a seat with a book and newspaper on it. Assuming the owner had only briefly vacated the seat, I left it alone. But as the train started moving, it became evident that no one was coming to collect it. Abandoned books make me sad, so I picked it up and turned it over to see what it was. And it was only Maya Angelou’s first memoir, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I felt like this was an act of fate/destiny — because not only had I been meaning to read it for a while, but I just so happened to find a memoir of one of the greatest writers of our time on the eve of starting my journey into studying creative writing.
This is also the second ‘orphan’ book I’ve ever given a loving home to in the form of my bookshelf, the first of which I mention in my post about the books that profoundly affected me as a teenager.
Very swiftly after leaving my full-time job, I managed to land a part-tim gig at my village local, pulling pints and serving food, just like my good ol’ days as an undergrad. I had a bit of a gap between when I quit the 9-5 grind and when my course officially started, so it was really nice to have the majority of my days free and only having to work a few evenings a week. It was a really nice change of pace from what I’ve been used to for the past three years.
It meant that I had lots of spare time to 1) catch up on some well-deserved sleep and 2) go out for lots of coffees. In fact, this month, I met up with the aforementioned lovely Grace not once, but twice. The first time was quite brief, however the second time round we managed to set aside a couple of hours to have nice ol’ chinwag in Covent Garden. We drank heaps of coffee and meandered around Waterstones, where she encouraged me to buy lots of books (I might do a separate post on these books, because they’re great).
Have I mentioned how much I love this girl? I have? Well — it bears repeating! Grace is really a quite spectacular sunshine person and it was so lovely to meet up ‘IRL’ after months and months of mutually creeping on each other’s socials (okay, the creeping has been mostly on my end, but she likes me too, I swear).
September also saw me attend not only one, but two weddings. It’s funny, because I went from pretty much living my whole adult life not having attended a wedding (with the exception of last year, which was my first since I was eleven), to having three lined up in one year.
The first wedding was for Matt’s cousin where both the ceremony and reception took place at the Honourable Artillery Company, which is a fancy army ground smack dab in the middle of Central London. It was such a stark contrast to be standing in a beautiful army ground, while simultaneously being surrounded by the tall, modern London buildings. It was a great day, the sun was shining, the ceremony was beautiful, and to top it off, I got to hold Matt’s one month old niece for the first time. And I’m pretty sure she smiled at me! Unfortunately, I was a bit too gratuitous with my drinking due to the free bar, and the night got a bit hazy (ie. I blacked out) after around 8pm… Oops!
The second wedding took place in Sheffield, where Matt was a groomsman for one of his old uni mates. The ceremony took place in a quaint little church just outside of Sheffield itself, and the reception was held in a countryside pub. It was such a wonderful day, and definitely well worth for how early we had to get to the church so that all the groomsman could prep.
This wedding was on the slightly smaller side compared to the first, and I definitely learnt my lesson in terms of keeping my drinking in control. In fact, despite drinking pretty steadily throughout the day, I was pretty sober throughout, probably thanks to the pints of water I downed between drinks. I didn’t know very many people at this wedding — with the exception of Matt, the bride and the groom — and I tend to feel awkward in these types of social situations. Especially when Matt, being a groomsman and a generally gregarious person, had often wandered off, I thought that I would feel a bit awkward and out-of-place. But, I didn’t end up feeling that way at all. I was surrounded by such wholesome, lovely people who made me feel so welcome and included. I felt less like an add-on and more like a legitimate part of the group at large.
It’s so nice meeting people you feel like you immediately click with and who seem to have a genuine interest in you. Of course, I got a lot of ‘what do you do for a living?’ and when I revealed that I was about to embark on a Creative Writing MA, I was nervous. I’m certainly not embarrassed by my writing or my ambition to pursue it academically, but I’m well aware of the perceptions some have of it. However, the folks at this wedding were very receptive, and seemed very positive and interested in what I do. I even got a couple of people giving me email addresses to pass on my portfolio, to see if they could pull some strings at their companies and offer me some freelance work — totally unprompted! Even if nothing comes of it, it is still such a nice gesture for them to even suggested such a thing.
I have one more wedding coming up in October, taking place in Sheffield once again, where I will be witnesses an old work friend tying the knot. In fact, a lot of my former work colleagues from my Sheffield days should be there, and I am very much looking forward to well-overdue catch ups with them.
And, of course, the last week of September saw my welcome week at the University of Surrey. I didn’t really know what to expect from a Masters course… what’s the pace gonna be like? Are there gonna be lots of people my age, older, or younger? Who are my tutors, do they write in real life, as well as academically? Some of those questions got answered in the first talk and welcome mixer.
It was honestly such a great and wholesome environment — it felt so great knowing that all the people in that common room were there for the same purpose. That we’re here to learn, to invest in ourselves and our writing, and support each other in the process. Writing is such a solitary activity, which is why I think writing communities as so important, both online and off. I’m looking forward to delving into the course properly in October, and getting to know my fellow comrades, as well as my new university town, Guildford.
For six weeks over August and September, you may have noticed that I was publishing blog posts on here twice a week. It was a fun excerise in creativity, however I should mention that I’m going back to posting just once a week again, for now. I obviously want to dedicate my focus on my course and exercise a healthy work/life balance, and don’t want to overextert myself. But I also don’t want to neglect this blog, so continue to expect weekly posts from here on in.
What’s been going on with you and what have been your highlights for September? Catch me up, dear reader!