Safkhet Publishing ~ Summer Reads

Friday, 28 June 2013

It's Never Too Late! Birmingham City Uni, my MA Degree & Me!


Did I mention I was a total disaster - as in if it can go wrong, Sheryl is usually at the heart of it? I’m the one who falls off public transport whilst on crutches and ends up back the hospital, remember? The person who disappears over the backs of boats and no one notices is missing, that’s me.
I was recently super-proud to be part of the School of English, Birmingham City University Creative Summer Show, where I was to read part of my short, The Memory Box, which has been included in the Birmingham City University Anthology, Paper and Ink (this year’s collection of new fiction, life writing, poetry and script). The anthology was edited by Rhoda Greaves, Zoe Southall and L.M. Thompson, who worked extremely hard and did an absolutely fantastic job. Bear in mind, I am to be in the company some fabulously talented, inspiring writers here, cue nervous nail-biting and manic mantra chanting, I will not fall in a dead faint at the podium. I will not trip over my feet, fall down the steps going to the podium, and bite off my tongue. I MUST not be late! I will not fall…
The show featured readings by students on the BCU creative writing programme, and was hosted by Ian Marchant (author of the memoir Something of the Night, the travel books The Longest Crawl and Parallel Lines, and the novels In Southern Waters and The Battle for Dole Acre), who managed to make me smile, even through my mantra chanting, with his witty introductions. Until he introduced me, that was. In my defence, the reason I was late was… Seriously, have you ever driven from Worcester to Birmingham in the rush hour, patted yourself on the back at having managed to negotiate your way there and found a parking spot, and then had minor palpitations when you realise it’s a PRIVATE car-park – on a one-way street. Oh, dear, I uttered demurely, set off to find another, and promptly got lost. Yep, that’s me, perpetually missing.  
So, Ian introduces me precisely one minute after I’ve tiptoed – late – across the floor in front of EVERYBODY and the palpitations escalate to imminent heart attack level. I will not trip over my feet...
I didn’t trip over my feet and, like a real trooper, completely ignored all my worldly good, including my sat nav – without which I would never be seen again, sliding down the back of my chair as I stood, and took my place at the podium. My mouth, by now, was parched. I hadn’t got enough spit to even swallow. I was shaking, from the inside out. Catching the wonderful Zoe’s eyes, however, and receiving a lovely smile of encouragement from Rhoda, and another from Sally Watson-Jones, I steeled myself… I will not fall in a dead faint at the podium …and, after a wobbly start, I got through it – and was marginally ecstatic that I had.
I should say that I have given talks before, I am published and it comes with the territory. This, however, was that little bit more worrying for me. Having waited – age not disclosed – many years to grasp the chance to undertake my MA, I really was nervous. Can I actually do it, has been the overriding worry. With one or two major life events recently conspiring to divert my attention, my worry multiplied threefold. However, I am now halfway through the course. I AM doing it and I think that’s largely down to the lovely supportive lecturers at BCU (staff in general) and the also lovely and supportive fellow students I’ve had the pleasure of studying with.
The guest speaker at the show was the novelist, playwright, and television writer Stephen May, author of Life! Death! Prizes! (shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2012), TAG, and Teach Yourself Creative Writing. Stephen injected just the right amount of realism regarding the life of an author into his talk, but also a healthy dollop of humour. So, once the nerves had been subdued by a large glass of medicinal wine, I relaxed, laughed and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.
 
Ian Marchant and Stephen May

A huge thanks to everyone at Birmingham City University from accident-prone me.

13 comments:

KimatSafkhet said...

Oh Sheryl, I feel like that at the beginning of every semester, when I wonder what the new students are like and will I get there on time, will they understand me, will they hate me,... I can so understand you. I am however absolutely sure nobody at the event even noticed your concerns because you are usually simply fab!

JB JOHNSTON said...

Oh Sheryl! You crack me up.....mainly because you are so like me! lol. I love it! I get absolutely terrified at EVERYTHING! Just wait until you see me at the festival of Romance in November. I will be a mess! lol. X

Stephanie Keyes said...

Oh, you are so wonderful you could have stood on your head in a skirt and no one would have cared. :) Well done you!

Eileen Goudge said...

I vividly recall my first TV appearance, in which I rambled then was horrified to realize I was out of time and hadn't gotten to any of my talking points. Thank goodness it was only library TV that maybe 3 people watched. We've all been there it terms of public speaking anxiety!

Linn B Halton said...

This sounds like the intro to a very funny book... 'The escapades of Sheryl...' - but I've seen you in action and I know how good you really are! You are a natural, Sheryl, because you speak from the heart. Wish I'd been there! Lxx

Nicky Wells said...

Sheryl, you are amazing. Inspiring. Congrats on 'getting through this' with style and panache and I hope to read the story really soon! Rock on, you are a star, and good luck with the second half. XXX

Patricia said...

Well done, Sheryl! Somehow I feel everyone else saw you as calm, cool, and collected. Congratulations on your success here and, as others have said, I have a feeling I will be reading this in one of your hilarious novels before long.

Sheryl said...

Aw, thanks so much for your wonderful support, guys. When I say I couldn't have done it without you - I mean I COULDN'T! Love you all! :) xx

Sheryl said...

Kim, course I am! ;) xx

Sheryl said...

Eileen, the thing is every venue is different. And when you are with other uber-talented speakers, your poise flies out of the window! Thanks so much for stopping by (I feel much better now!) :) xx

Sheryl said...

JB, we'll be two messes together. Do we care? Ooh, er. :) xx

Sheryl said...

Thanks so much, Steph and Linn! Steph, on my head in a skirt would certainly be a distraction. ;) xx

Miriam Wakerly said...

You really make me laugh Sheryl - this is so you!! Self-deprecating when you should be congratulating yourself. Well done!!