University · Up Close & Personal

Graduation and The End of Study.

GraduationAfter several long years, my University studies are finally over and well and truly behind me. On 21 March, I attended my graduation ceremony. It was a day that held mixed emotions for me; I was so nervous I was dreading every minutes of it, yet wanted it over with at the same time. I felt so uncomfortable, and having to wear the outfit and hat didn’t help (at least I wasn’t alone in that – I could look silly along with hundreds of others)!

My husband insisted I attend and I’m glad he did, for I know I would regret it if I didn’t. Graduating like this was something I would never do again, as I have no intention of furthering my studies. I received a degree I did not require to further my career; I studied because I simply wanted to. Years ago I wanted to study for a Bachelor of Arts, yet family members mocked it, labelling it a ‘Bachelor of Bludging’. Certainly there were some subjects during the course of my studies that I didn’t find too difficult, and I can see how the arts are perceived, yet I was not satisfied with cruising through University. If I was going to study, I was going to do it properly and work hard to earn that degree. And I did. In all twenty-four subjects, I only received one pass; the rest were credits and above. I studied because I was interested in learning and I wanted to further my writing skills, as well as learning to discipline myself and work to deadlines. My studies were completely online – never once did I attend lectures like my husband. Writing is a solitary occupation; studying in this way helped prepare me for the future.

Sitting and waiting in the back row.
Sitting and waiting in the back row.

It wasn’t until almost two weeks later, that the reality really sunk in. I had never realised until I was home alone for a few days just how much time I had devoted to my studies. It has been a lot of hard work and it has certainly been rewarding. I feel that my writing has become stronger by it – so much so a lecturer once asked if I was going on to do my Masters. Writing full time is going to need the same amount of discipline and hard work, but through my studies, I know I can do it. Sometimes, we don’t know what we can achieve unless we really try.

What have you done that you felt you really had to work hard for? Do you struggle with discipline? Have you ever done something that others have mocked you for?

Images by Debbie Johansson

I’ll be taking another break from blogging and will return on 29 April. Happy Easter everyone and I hope the Easter bunny is good to you all! 🙂

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Life Lessons · This Writer's Life · Writing

Lost & Found: A Writer’s Journey.

McCubbin's Lost smallestIt has taken seven years of hard work, headaches, and sometimes almost complete abandonment, but I have finally completed my University studies.  Some weeks after I finished my last assignment, my elation was hampered by doubts and confusion.  Not used to being idle, I felt lost.

I can be pretty hopeless when it comes to a sense of direction.  I can’t venture into unknown territory without a map, which is why I always need my husband to read the maps while I drive.

Some years back, I drove home alone after visiting my sister’s place in a suburb in southern Sydney.  After a few visits, I knew the route home, but on this particular day I must have been overly confident, for I had taken a wrong turn.  I had detoured into unfamiliar territory and felt instant panic.  I tried to keep as close to the highway as possible, knowing this was the only way I could get back home.  I pulled over to the side of the road and consulted the street directory, but this didn’t help as I could not locate any street signs, let alone read them.  Now I knew how Dorothy felt in the Wizard of Oz; being lost can be a frightening experience.  I saw some people walking on the path nearby and was faced with a dilemma.  Which fear was greater – being lost or talking to strangers?  I chose the former and asked these people directions that would see me safely on my way home again.

From this experience, I came to realise three important things:-

  1.  The future is full of uncertainties.
  2.  Have a plan.
  3. It’s alright to ask for help.

So now, after finishing my studies, my husband asked me what I was going to do.  I reverted back to my favourite childhood saying: ‘I don’t know’.  Without hesitation, my husband calmly replied ‘You’ve always wanted to write; now’s your time to do it’.

Sometimes we may stray off course once in a while, but it’s good to know that someone always has our best interests at heart – even complete strangers.

Have you ever been lost and needed help?  What scares you the most – being lost or talking to strangers?  Are you afraid of the unknown?  Do you see uncertainties as opportunities?  Do you believe strangers are friends we haven’t met yet?

Image of Frederick McCubbin’s ‘Lost’ by Debbie Johansson.

Up Close & Personal · Writing

The Write Environment: Having a Room of One’s Own.

Squee!  For me, so far, 2012 has gone off to a terrific start.  I have gone upmarket – I finally have myself a study.  It has been almost fifteen years since I have had a room to call my own; a luxury I have not known since having two children.  Master 13 now occupies the caravan that I once tried using as a study, with little success.  His room has become mine at last!  (Notice the nice big comfy chair I got for Christmas.  I’m sure you’ll also notice the Buzz Lightyear curtains and bare walls – so as you can tell, yes, this is still a work in progress). 🙂

I’m finding the advantages of having a room of one’s own includes:-

  • A place to keep everything together, instead of scattered throughout various rooms in the house, making it easier to find things and therefore making it less time consuming.
  • You can leave papers and/or the laptop all over the desk and just close the door at the end of the day, ready to begin work the next time.
  • It’s more convenient when you have trouble sleeping during the night – everything is set up and there is less chance of disturbing the rest of the house.
  • Having a more comfortable chair in which to sit in during those long hours.
  • Your choice of music can be played within easy reach – as often and as loud as your muse dictates.
  • It sounds more professional; it gives the feeling that I’m taking my writing more seriously.

How has 2012 begun for you and your writing career?  Do you have a room you call your own?

Image by Debbie Johansson.