I have just had the pleasure of attending a 2 day Summer School at the University of Kent on the main campus at Canterbury. My chosen topic, naturally enough, was Creative Writing. This was a wonderful opportunity for anyone – any age – to taste University life. Some delegates had only a little experience in creative writing while others were passionate about it, wanting to make it a full-time career.
The social side of the Summer School became just as important as the learning curve, in fact it was part of it. I travelled with others from the Medway Campus to Canterbury on a coach where the bonding process began. There were also delegates to the twin course of ‘Discover Research Skills’, aimed at Social Science students, but closely related to creative writing. Some students were attending for the second year, and had tasted both, others like me perhaps, deciding to perhaps try the twin course next year.
Our groups arrived and met with other delegates. We ate together, boarded in the same building, and enjoyed the same social-bonding event, tasting the delights of participating in real African drumming. We were indulged with the same privileges, and, it was a privilege to be allowed to use the University’s fine facilities, learn from the University excellent tutors, and be mentored by volunteer students also.
The tuition sessions, led by Lucy Rutter, were truly inspirational and by lunch time on the second day everyone in the group had enjoyed three full and varied tuition sessions, where we not only wrote freely from carefully structured prompts, but walked the campus’ own labyrinth, scoured the huge library for inspiring words and phrases from the literary masters and enjoyed Lucy’s cleverly devised prompts, to make us think creatively. Hence everyone had written a piece of prose or poetry based on the essence of all the sessions. One by one, we then each gave a performance of our work, with due applause.
The human brain is amazing. We had all been side by side, listening to the same tuition by the same tutor, yet every one of us had produced an entirely different piece of work. Each individual’s work was fresh, original, some outstandingly clever, and all very entertaining.
I came back home brimming with joy from this (for me) new experience. I hope it will gradually filter through into my writing, giving me a broader outlook. I am overwhelmed by a feeling of deep gratitude for the opportunity this represented for me. It’s never too late to learn.