I’m delighted to have Rita Brasington on If Only I Could Read Faster today talking about qualifications for writing. Rita’s book The Good Kind of Bad is, according to many, a very good read and I look forward to reading and reviewing it soon.
Qualifications for writing by Rita Brassington:
Well, I have a GCSE in English…
A double first in English from Cambridge – that’s what I’d like to write on my literary CV, but I can’t. I never went to Cambridge, or Oxford, or Edinburgh, or King’s. I do possess an honours degree from UCLan, and university diploma from Durham, though not in the literary field. With so many writers graduating from prestigious universities with an armful of certificates/attending writing courses/intensive workshops/working in the print industry in various guises, it forced me to take a look at my own credentials.
I have a GCSE in English Literature. I got an A, in 1999, though how much of producing a good read is letters after your name and which portion is a good imagination? I agree that writing has to be taught, at whatever level. No one is born knowing how to read and write (the reading being just as important as the writing). I toyed with the idea of taking a course after I’d completed most of my life in education, but that was after I’d written my book. Writing The Good Kind of Bad almost felt like a ‘bet’ to myself to see if I could do it – I’d never planned on writing a book so hadn’t looked into educating myself on how to achieve it first. I had always enjoyed putting pen to paper, but it was short stories or diary entries – nothing quite as mammoth as a full-length novel.
Maybe it doesn’t matter to the reader whether they’re perusing the work of an Oxbridge graduate. I doubt they’d ever know unless they actively sought out their bio. Maybe it only matters to me, that somehow I would be a better writer because I’d donned a cap and gown. Of course, different experiences produce different work, and each audience will seek out their preferred pitch.
Does it matter to me, really, if I don’t have the literary degree?
Nah. I wrote a book. I did it. And people like it. That’s all that matters. Anyone can write. You just need some gentle guidance along the way to turn it from a dream to a reality.
To anyone who is thinking of writing a book, I’d definitely recommend it, whether you’ve got the ‘credentials’ or not. What’s the worst that could happen? It could take over your life, you might never finish it, or you might become a bestseller. There’s nothing better than a stranger taking a chance on you, buying your book, then telling you how great it was. No amount of education can prepare you for that, and that’s a good thing.
Every time I beat myself up over my work, thinking it could be better, that I could have done things differently if only I’d had the certificates to back me up, my friends give me a reality check. They ask if I’ve seen their book in the Kindle Top 100 recently. No. Why? Because they haven’t written a book. They remind me how proud I should be of myself, and of what I’ve achieved in even finishing it.
Success and failure are measured by how you look at them. Deep down, of course I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.
Now, where’s that Cambridge application form…