Adam Bird

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Monday, 31 January 2011

£200. What would you do?

£200 - What would you do?

The fine people at Archibald Ingall Stretton, the advertising agency in which I work are just as keen on personal staff development as they are on ensuring our professional know-how is up to scratch. Which is why, as part of our personal development, they wave a carrot of two-hundred British pounds as an incentive, to go out into the big bad world and learn something new.

This could be anything of our choosing, like learning how to wing-walk, speak Dutch, or cook like Gordon Ramsey. Perhaps we're away on our holidays and get the chance to learn how to Scuba Dive, or Bungee Jump – all skills that enhance our personal being, or personality traits. After all, what better way to find courage and confidence than by doing something confident and courageous?

Last year, my first with the agency, I let this benefit pass me by. I decided long ago that wing-walking was something that I could put off for another day, and that Dutch people had pretty good English anyway. What I really wanted to do was something more run-of-the-mill; a creative writing course, or failing that a beginners guide to digital photography enabling me to finally work out how to use my recently purchased SLR.

Finding a course however, proved to be a bit problematic! No matter how much I tried, I just could not find a time and location that fit in with my lifestyle. The Gravesham Adult Education centre had plenty of courses for me to choose from, albeit if I didn't work on Monday's or Wednesday's between the hours of 10am and 2pm. The closest evening course to me was Folkstone, a place just over an hours drive away. For the want of trying, I just could not find anything suitable, so gave up with nothing short of a whimper.

Come January, the window of opportunity opened again and before I started looking at local airfields, I decided to broaden my range of Google search terms. At first, they once again proved to be not much help indeed, until quite randomly, I came across The Write Place, the answer to my prayers. They held evening classes, it was in Dartford, which is local enough for me and most importantly, it fit in with the allocated budget – a “Hallelujah” moment if ever there was one! A brief email correspondence later, a verification check with the nice lady in HR and off I am now - all set to start later this week!

Where then does my ambition lie? What am I hoping to get out of this class? Well, initially at least it's a one month trial, to see if I like it, if it is actually for me. Rather than the agency I work for investing a large amount of money on something that I won't complete, it's better all round if I scout it out beforehand so that I can make an informed decision about carrying on.

Having authored this blog now for just under four years. A period of time that remains a lot longer than I ever envisaged, and have written a whole lot more than I ever though possible. It's opened a couple of doors, (well one, my forgettable experience on the BBC's politics show!), it's been biographic, it's been honest and most importantly it's been fun. I wouldn't have written what I have if I hadn't at least enjoyed it. But for now, it's probably a right a time as any to find answers to at least some of my questions.

Have I got it within me to write something entirely fictional? Is it possible to take my outlook on life and impose it upon a narrative that people will understand and more importantly, enjoy? Is it possible to learn how to write with a natural flare, or is it something that you are born with? Can I, as a blogger, who over the past four years has developed a tone of voice, a way of writing things down that I am comfortable with, devise for example, a female narrative? Express the pain in which she feels on a daily basis or describe the joys of a first time experience? And finally, have I got it within me to describe a place, a time, in which I have never been, never seen and capture the essence of authenticity with only words that I know and understand?

Tough questions indeed, but, quite easily, the answer to all of them may well be a simple and resounding "No". In the same time that I have been authoring this blog, I have read near enough over 120 books, various pieces of literature over a range of genre's, mainly crime fiction, but a range of different characters have made their mark. Whether it be characters that I have loathed, characters who have felt like long lost friends only for that back cover to close for the final time and leaving me with that sense of sadness, a poignant longing and a wonder of what will become of them.

There have been characters who have made me laugh and although it pains me to admit to it, there are those who have made me cry. But all of them have one thing in common, they are fully formed, entirely three dimensional and live and breath across a ream of paper bound together by glue and the reader that holds it within their hands.

It's almost that fact alone then, that provides a cast iron guarantee that whatever flows from the recesses of my mind and imagination will not see the light of day. A commuter will not be sitting on the Circle Line on a cold wet Monday morning being kept warm by the fluidity of my prose. Not because I have a lack of confidence nor lack the courage to believe in what I have written. I understand my own limitations. I understand that my imagination won't allow me to dream up tales of fantastical heroism, that is for the JK Rowling and Terry Pratchett's of this world. Crime writing has a plethora of authors who are constantly coming up with intricate 'who-dunnits', it's any wonder half of them aren't behind bars.

Whatever happens, I'll be learning something new. By learning how to write more creatively I can bring more life to my blog, maybe during #postaweek2011 I might actually write something a little more evocative, totally fictitious and scare my few readers with the darkness bounds of my imagination! At least if all else fails, next year I'll be able to write about my adventures in the skies as a wing-walker in intricate detail!

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