I’m just back from the latest Dark Angels course at Merton College, Oxford. It’s been an intense and inspiring few days of writing, listening, exploring and working with a group of wonderful writers.
Our archangel tutors, John Simmons, Jamie Jauncey and Stuart Delves did what they do so well, feeding us prompts, giving us briefs and deadlines and then setting us free.
Our voices ranged wide. Even when we were given the same starting points, the writing that came back was very different in its tone, content and imagery. Over the course of a few days we heard tales that inspired laughter, sent chills down our spines, brought tears to our eyes, and made us think about the world around us.
Spending time in my rather blank, spartan, but perfectly adequate room, it was easy to see how Merton was designed for study. A tour of its ancient library, accompanied by an enthusiastic Classics student reinforced its long forged links with learning.
Separated from the rest of the busy, commercial world of modern Oxford by the college gates and portals, it would be easy to imagine a rather monastic, or closed off existence. But for me, it was the opposite. The shared experience of living, eating and working together with my fellow writers gave me a great feeling of opening up.
Writing and reading is important to me. Not just because it’s my job, but because its part of how I define myself. In choosing an identity for this blog, I sought out words associated with writing. So there’s an uncomfortable irony in the fact that writing and reading barely get a look in amidst my tales of racing and training.
I want to change that. The running, training and triathlon side of things will remain. But I want to reflect something more of my writing self. So, I’m going to commit to posting once a week on a writing theme. In this, I’m following in the footsteps of the great archangels, John Simmons and Jamie Jauncey whose weekly blogs I always enjoy.
Those are huge steps to follow in, but just as consistent training has helped me improve as a runner, I hope the discipline of a weekly blog will help me unlock more of my writing self.
Good for you Michelle. It’s a tough commitment at times but well worth it and you’ll learn a lot about the inside of your head (and heart)!
Thanks Jamie. Both head and heart feel a little befuddled at the moment as I try to process the experience of Merton. I’m hoping this will help me find the same clarity you helped me towards in my writing.
Keep on writing, Michelle. Keep on running too. The two help each other.
You’re off to a great start!