…or, “Oh, it’s fine, everyone hates doing an MA!”
2011 was possibly my favourite year of my life so far. Great things happened in it. I graduated, for a start. My excessive word-geekery and ability to bullshit had paid off at last. I finally had a summer job that actually made use of my one talent in life (being really pedantic, in case you were wondering). I got accepted on to what is currently the only full-time MA in Forensic Linguistics in the world. And jumped both-feet-first into a relationship with someone who a) is all kinds of amazing (yes, you can vomit), and b) should really know better. Oh, and I also had some bloody good times with a certain cake-baking, cocktail-loving, incisive-wit-providing flatmate. (I’m not just saying that because I know she’ll be reading this.)
2012 is like the younger sibling of an all-round golden child – it was never going to measure up. And sure, it’s only April, so I’m not really giving the poor kid a chance, but I know what’s coming – a summer spent writing a dissertation for an MA I’m only completing because the fees have been paid, and hey, I’ll be able to write on my CV that I have an MA. In what, nobody really knows. (“Forensic linguistics? I’ve not seen that on CSI. Do you analyse handwriting?”) And then…
Yeah, and then. And then what? Well, ideally, a rich-but-distant elderly relative will, erm, end their earthly career (thank you, “euphemisms for death” Google search. And calm down, I said elderly), leave me a large sum of money and maybe a little flat, somewhere in Brighton, or London, or Bath… That would be handy. Or some rich banker will appear out of nowhere, sweep me off my battered H & M ballet flats and whisk me into a house in Chelsea, or Richmond, or Notting Hill. (It’s fine – I’d divorce him as soon as it was possible to cite irreconcilable differences, keep the house, and get back with the Boy. He’d be fine with it. Especially if I had a recording studio built. Everyone’s a winner.)
I digress, I’m not that callous. Mostly. What I really want to do is start building up a base of clients who will pay me for my proofreading and copy-editing skills. (I’ve not ruled out building up a base of clients who will pay me for any of my other skills, if I’m honest.) What kind of smarts is that if I’d realised a year ago that proofing and copy-editing are what I want to do for the foreseeable future, I’d have saved myself and my family a considerable amount of money and stress. I could have done a course for less than £200. Rage, storm, sigh, et cetera.
At the heart of the matter is the simple fact that I don’t like not knowing what’s going to happen. And yeah, you can turn round and say that no one does, but some people thrive on that sense of freedom. I don’t. It makes me edgy and stressy and generally a whiney pain-in-the-arse to be around. I’m like a child – I need routine and concrete plans. (And constant reassurance, and other people’s approval, but that’s probably a story for another post. Or a therapist.) My nearest and dearest have already been subjected to my complaining at length about how unsettled I’m feeling this year. Every September for the last eighteen years I’ve been heading into a stage of education. Now, I’m heading into the unknown and It. Is. Terrifying. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. That, I get. I had a brilliant conversation a few days ago with a very dear friend about how at this stage in our respective MAs, we feel we would rather be doing pretty much anything else.
I suppose the fact that I know what I want to do should be helping to ease that unsettled feeling, but it’s not. Is it practical? Am I even good enough? Would anyone even trust me to proof and edit their work, let alone pay me? Will I ever make enough money to move out of my parents’ house permanently, pick where I want to live, get a puppy and start my actual life? You know, the one with long-term plans and my own choice of furnishings…
If I let this feeling of “I can’t handle this year” get to me any more, I’ll give myself a stomach ulcer. (I’ve almost done that before. Never underestimate my ability to worry. If I don’t have things to worry about, I worry about the absence of things to worry about. I wish I was being facetious.) And funnily enough, I don’t have anything wise or meaningful with which to end this post. If you have any suggestions – other than “man the hell up, for the love of God” – I’ll gladly hear (read?) them. So what I am going to leave you with is something entirely unrelated to the above torrent of angst. It’s this:
(Oh, and if you know anyone in publishing… No? Worth a try.)