Tomorrow, at seven o’clock in the morning, I shall be setting off for Luton airport from where I shall fly to Inverness and then take a taxi to a remote farmhouse near Loch Ness. The purpose of this lengthy journey will be to immerse myself in a truly creative environment and spend time with people who, like me, wish to improve their creative writing skills. For a week, I will be tutored by three published writers (Meaghan Delahunt, Linda Cracknell and Kirsty Gunn), and attempt to produce some work worthy of the title ‘fiction’.
I’m quite nervous about this little escapade I shall be embarking on. This will be the first time I’ve been away from home for longer than one night with literally no one I know, and what’s more, this is a proper grown-up course: I’m pretty sure I’ll be the youngest person there by quite a way. I’m really throwing myself outside of my comfort zone – but of course everyone will be perfectly friendly, and even if I have a terrible time it’s only for five days, so really there’s nothing to be worried about.
My dad has a nice metaphor for doing things one doesn’t initially feel comfortable with. He says to see it as a seesaw, and you are walking from one end to the other with no one at the other side. As you walk from the low end upwards, you’re probably fine until you get to the middle, where you’ll probably freak out from the tipping and want to turn around and go back. However, if you stay and manage to keep your balance, once the seesaw has tipped all the way it’s not so scary anymore, and in fact running down the other side might actually be fun. The trick is to just push yourself that little bit further over the scary bit and after that you’re laughing.
I’ve found that a useful metaphor from time to time when faced with something I don’t really want to see through. Right now, I’d rather spend the next week at home chilling out rather than in the Scottish highlands with a bunch of strangers – but I’ll throw myself into it and it’ll be one more inner challenge that I’ve conquered.
For details of the course I'm going on go to www.arvonfoundation.org.