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About An Eddying Flight

What are you passionate about? For me, it's always been stories.

From the day that my mother - sick of the overactive imagination and bad dreams that kept my family up all night - shoved an Enid Blyton book into my hands and told me to read when I was scared, I wanted to be a writer. It was a tall order for a working class girl from a council estate, but I went after that dream with all the resourcefulness, energy, and (above all) pig-headedness I had, letting almost everything else fall by the wayside.

My effort was repaid - by the age of twenty-two I had been rejected by every British publisher of children's fiction (and two in Australia) but I had my first book contract under my belt.

One of the things that I let drop in my quest for publication was education. In fact, I had rather a chip on the shoulder about it. I had experienced bullying and a sense of being out of place and unwanted amongst the well-off middle-class kids in my brief time at college - but who cared? I'd shown them, hadn't I? What did it matter that I'd dropped out without finishing my A-levels? Why should I care? Except, of course, that I did.

Despite publishing ten books for young adults and winning awards and critical acclaim for my work, I had a growing sense that I had missed out. That something - richness and depth of knowledge - was wanting. Friends who read my children's writing blog and my long, analytical posts about the craft of writing there urged me to look into returning to education, and in 2019, after finishing a two year Royal Literary Fund fellowship at York St. John University, I finally took the plunge. Despite rampant insecurity and the lack of any qualification more advanced than GCSEs, I enrolled for a Master's Degree in Creative Writing at Kingston University.

Somewhat to my surprise, I found that I loved it. I loved the reading, the essays, geeking out with fellow students, workshopping and offering feedback, being challenged to try completely new mediums and genres... I even enjoyed learning to cite references correctly and compile a bibliography (in a strange way). By the time the course was over, I knew I had to continue, if I could. Academia was where I wanted, needed to be. I set my eye firmly on a new goal: a PhD.

It took another hefty dose of resourcefulness, energy (and pigheadedness) but eventually I was able to win a place and funding to study for my doctorate in Creative Writing at the Open University. I started in October of 2021. If you can't believe I managed this, well, join the club. I still occasionally have to pinch my own arm.

This blog's title comes from a line in Rossetti's poem Sudden Light, which refers to 'Time's eddying flight'. The poem is central to my research project, but it's very meaningful to me personally, too, and in my mind Rossetti's eddying flight has come to represent not only the characters' arcs within my novel, but also the exciting, terrifying and non-linear journey to achieving my doctorate and a place in academia.


Are you a creative writer, a creative writing teacher, an author (either published or working-on-it), a budding academic, a post-graduate researcher, or just interested in the world of academia, the journey to PhD, or writing?


Then this is my invitation to you, Dear Reader: join me on my eddying flight.