A Teaching Prep Week

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This week I have done almost zero writing. Instead, I have been focussing on getting ready to run the courses I have planned for October – two with the York Centre for Lifelong Learning and one under my own ‘brand’. One of my York classes is accredited, and it will be the first time, except as a day retreat tutor, that I have taught an accredited course. I’m a bit nervous about it, but also very excited.

I did all of my degrees part time, two of them distance learning. I was a mature student when I studied for, and obtained, my degrees. I worked full time around my degrees. I come from a working class background and working while studying isn’t an unusual thing. I found my way into poetry and literature through the fantastic Open University and I did my Masters distance learning at Manchester Met. I think it is important that high quality learning opportunities are available for people who work full time and/or are coming to literature, poetry in this case, later on in life. Part time learning shouldn’t be any less quality than full time education and I try to keep that in mind when I am putting course content together. It sometimes means working more hours for less money, because freelancers in teaching tend to be paid fairly crap wages. And that’s possibly why the literary arts and teaching are not areas with strong working class representation, but that’s a soap box for another day. Teaching and workshop facilitating take a lot of time and preparation, so this was a week I was happy to give over to that work, in the hope that when I start teaching again next week I’ll be prepared enough that I can carry on writing on a morning and working in the afternoons. Ha! Famous last words.

This week I received this thing of beauty in the post:

Which I have a poem in. It’s going to be in the Natural History Museum shop, which is super exciting for a nature/science/history nerd like myself. And even nicer, I got paid to be in this anthology. Another example of when artists are respected and paid for their work. Ana Sampson is really lovely to work with too and look at the book! It’s so beautiful! One of the highlights of my year this one.

This week I also picked up not one but two commissions to write poems for events around December, which is really nice. I was also offered an in school poetry job, which I’ve had to turn down. What’s nice about that is that I was flagged as a potential candidate for the job by another poet friend, and I in turn flagged someone else who is a fabulous poet for that role. It’s so nice to be able to pass opportunities on, and that was a well paid one too, so even better. Commissions are great because I get to be a paid poet, something that doesn’t happen very often. But it’s meant making a decision to cut back some of my other work again, to fit the commissions in, which is disappointing, but also good for me, because I need to manage my time better, and being a writer is what I want to do, and this is paid writing so must be prioritised. I have to keep telling myself that. I’ve also offered to write a poem for my parent’s wedding anniversary, another kind of commission and probably the hardest to write as there’s so much judgement lurking from family isn’t there. My Dad has specifically asked for ‘not your usual stuff, though, Wend, we like good poetry with rhymes’.

Bless him. Everyone’s a critic.

And that’s me done for the week. I’m pleased to be back blogging regularly, even if it is only an insight into freelancing as a writer who is trying to write more and freelance less. I guess it’s probably useful to someone out there!

If you fancy joining my next online course, it starts on Friday this week and I still have some places left. You can find details here.

Take care, catch you next week.


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