Thursday 17 November 2022

It's Never Too Late

By Sushma Bragg

It’s been 35 years since I graduated with my BA (Hons) Degree in Humanities (Literature & History Of Ideas), then life got in the way. Priorities changed, and I got stuck in the day-to-day humdrum of working 9-5. I had to, I had bills to pay. And I wanted a family.

My passion had always been to become a writer. I always had my head in a book from the age of 9. Thanks to my teacher at primary school (I am forever grateful to her), it had become a challenge for her to find me a book that I would actually read and finish. I had no interest in any of the children's books at school. Then she hit on a jackpot! She introduced me to a world of fantasy, magic, and make-believe in the form of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I was forever lost to this world since that day! Every break, every lunchtime, you would find me in the cloakroom, my nose in a book. I surreptitiously read way into the night too and quickly turned my light off if anyone woke to go to the bathroom. I dreamed that one day, people would read what I had written. It was a pipe dream. I did not have the belief in myself. However, I did have to go to University, it’s a cultural thing, an unspoken rule in our family. But back in the day, there were no Creative Writing degrees, hence my degree in Humanities.

Now 35 years on, life has given me the opportunity to pursue that dream. My children are at university, and I am relatively a free agent.

I grew up in Leicester, my mum still lives here and I spend a lot of time here in the week to help care for her. So the obvious choice had been to apply to the University of Leicester for the Master's Degree in Creative Writing. At the time I did so (I was a late applicant for the September start) I really didn’t think I’d get a place. But I did to my surprise!

I was apprehensive, thinking what on earth am I doing at this late stage? My twins had just started uni and they were only 18! I’m in my late 50s! I also had that niggle in the back of my mind, “Am I good enough?”

But with the support and belief of my family, I came to be a student again. Even got myself a studio in student accommodation.

I can’t describe the emotion I felt on my first day. But it definitely made me realise how much I missed the whole academic environment. The uni life, the seminars, discussions and of course the creative art. This is where I was meant to be. All my life this is the path I was meant to take. And the time was right for me now. I was literally buzzing.

I am enjoying the whole process, from attending seminars, making new friends, both classmates and tutors,  meeting and attending lectures by guest writers. The opportunities have been endless. I even enjoy reading the copious amounts of set material and of course the WRITING! 

My heart fell when I realised that part of my degree was poetry! I’d never written a poem in my life before. I most definitely was NOT a poet. Yet to my surprise, my first few pieces of writing were poems - even for the non-poetry modules. Just goes to show, how if given the chance and the willingness to try new things, that whole worlds can open up to you. I’m not saying I am any good, but I can now say I have written poetry, and enjoyed doing so.

I have come home, to where I was meant to be. I am living my dream. It’s never too late …

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