Does anyone else love spending time googling courses they’d like to do? Every week, I’m like ‘oh, a photography course! Oh, they do masters degrees in the English language in Denmark! Oh, a course that will teach me all the Adobe software!’ I have minimal rationality when it comes to organised learning, apparently. Of course, then my head catches up with my heart and reminds me I have the time nor money to pursue these ventures.
Not the photography course, however, that one I am doing…
So, when I saw that the published author and writer behind the blog Superlatively Rude, the fabulous Laura Jane Williams, was running her ‘Don’t be a Writer, be a Storyteller’ course only once in 2018, luckily my head didn’t have time to catch up. I signed up immediately!
Don’t be a Writer, be a Storyteller
If you’re interested in Laura Jane Williams’ ‘Don’t be a Writer, be a Storyteller’ course, you can look at this page on her website which tells you all about her e-course including where you can sign up for updates about when she’s running the next one.
What the course provides
But I’ll give you a lil’ run down. It’s basically a six-week, set course so you can’t just join up any time you feel like it. Only when she runs it. This is because you are set homework every week (you ain’t coasting through this course, pal!) and that must take up quite a bit of her time.
The course is all about not merely stringing together words coherently, but how to tell a story well. The course will help you to engage your readers and how to keep them coming back for more.
You get weekly video lectures full of useful tips, inspiration from Laura and other top authors’ work, and generally, lots and lots of fantastic, useable lessons that you can put into practice straight away and will change the way you write forever (for the better!).
She also adds a sprinkle of that Laura Jane Williams electric magic and will make you feel like you’re on it, that you’re improving and that you should pursue that writing goal you’ve put to the back of your brain because you’ll never be good enough/you don’t have the time/it’s pointless and other unhelpful and silly, silly thoughts.
You can also follow the rest of your coursemates on social media using #SRDontBeAWriter. And in the last couple of weeks… you work on one, big final piece!
Part one: a year ago today, my second book Ice Cream for Breakfast came out. This book happened FAST. I’m forever grateful @gowlettronic asked me to write about what I’d learned from nannying the three little girls who made me remember what it is to question, and wonder, and be joyful and own our feelings and play on the swings and hold snuggly things. It’s already out in France, and it is beyond my imagination to say it’s also coming out in America this year, Brazil, Serbia, Czech Republic, and a whole bunch of other countries I can’t remember from this crowded number 73 bus. Yo’ girl is going worldwide, and she couldn’t be prouder! She also can’t wait for the paperback in June, too 🍦 • Part two: a year ago last night we had the launch party, and I came home and sobbed. I was overwhelmed from the attention, but also because it felt so empty. I didn’t know what the money and magazine features and applause was for if it wasn’t for more than just me. I wanted to come home to my own family, my own kids, my own world away from the world that can only fuel your own sense of purpose for so long. And in a way, that makes me even more grateful for the opportunity of this book: it was the nudge I needed to start thinking about how to make that happen – to start being as deliberate in my personal life as I am in my professional one. Happy anniversary to me, then 🍦
My final piece for ‘Don’t be a Writer, be a Storyteller’
In the interest of being braver with my writing, I’m sharing my final piece. It’s gone through a couple rounds of editing and it probably still isn’t finished, but meh. I’m still quite proud of my final piece. And I don’t think sharing my work will take that away.
Since I loved this writing course so much, maybe I should take a course in travel writing next…
“Are you even listening to me? You completely missed the client meeting! Everyone is so pissed at you.”
I turned from staring blankly at my desk to staring blankly at Christine. Under the harsh fluorescent lights and white office walls, I could see her veins popping out of her forehead and she was digging her nails into her crossed forearms. She was still yelling at me but I could only focus on how heavy her eyes were. She is only ten years older than me but looks at me with a furious mother’s glare. I continued to stare.
I left work earlier than usual because of the tube strike and I returned home to find my next door neighbour in bed with my boyfriend. I’d like to say I was shocked and distraught but you’ve got to question the motives behind someone who ‘accidentally’ receives our junk mail from the Chinese down the street two times a week and does the neighbourly thing and returns it. I’m pretty sure people only do that in Porn. She had a petite and tightly packed body that only Asian women can be blessed with. Like she was bred for the sole purpose of showing me exactly how women can look but how I am most definitely not one of those women.
If this had happened in my early twenties, I think it would have broken me rather than made me. Her gravity-defying arse would have made me question every decision I made in our three years together.
Now, I’m so unbelievably glad he cheated. If I ever bump into him when I’m back visiting my mum, I will grab his face like an Italian matriarch and kiss him all over and thank him profusely. He made it so easy for me in the end. If we fizzled out rather than pulled the cork and let the champagne spill on the floor I could have remained contently unaware of just how unhappy I was for years. I was an expert at being contently unhappy. With him, with me, with my career, with everything. I could have reached forty without ever looking at my life in a full-length mirror.
I had always been the quiet girl at the back of the classroom who would receive comments like ‘she suffers in silence and doesn’t ask for help, but she’s a sweet girl’ on her report cards.
“You are SO late. Where have you been that was so important?” Her stature towered over me and I felt six-years-old again. I remembered when I knocked over a jar of paint onto the carpet at primary school and Mrs Kinsey shouted at me for what seemed like an hour in front of the whole class. I was a creative, carefree little girl who did not like to be told off.
That was thirty years ago. Thankfully, I have grown up since then. I could do something I couldn’t when I was six. Something so wonderful and terrifying it had never occurred to me before.
I could leave.
I pulled my eyes away from Christine’s for a moment and they fell on a polaroid my mum had sent me from her cruise around the Canary Islands. She was dressed in a long yellow tunic with a matching fruity cocktail in hand, her silvery hair blowing wildly on a beach and a big toothy grin. A classic holiday snap, except I knew she felt sincerely happy. I was not prepared to wait thirty more years to feel the same.
“Getting my shit together, Christine.” I’ve always wanted to be responsible for the look on someone’s face like the one she had when I spat back at her. I could feel the silence ripple from my desk and spread around the office quicker than a tray bake. No one dared move and the photocopier kept printing out unclaimed documents. I stood and grabbed the photograph, my half-dead succulent and Macbook from my desk, shoved them into my tote and bolted towards my manager’s office. All I could feel and hear once I had made the decision was the marching band that had erupted behind me to join me in my parade of empowerment towards my manager’s office.
I felt drained from a night of shouting and no sleep but something was keeping me going. It felt like a loving hand, dripping with paint, had been placed in the middle of my back and was urging me not to turn around.
My manager was teetering on furious, as expected, but there was no way she could stop me. I couldn’t be stopped. I had accrued enough personal days to cover my notice and I’d done enough shit for this company that they’d never try and sue me. I strolled out of the office trying to not look back and not trip on my heels.
I stood for a few minutes with my back against the wall outside the building. My blouse buttons were ready to pop as I had been breathing heavily for too long. Holding my breath for too long. I lifted my arms as casually as possible to decrease my body temperature and the ‘empowerment sweat’ I had accumulated. My body was starting to detox. I had no plans, no boyfriend, not even a change of knickers and a rented flat. And yet, I felt an urge to shake up my life in the wildest and most immediate way possible. I didn’t want to give my head a chance to catch up with my heart and convince it that all this was a terrible mistake.
I walked 30 minutes to St. Pancras and bought the next ticket out of the country, to Paris Nord. I can always thank my high-security job for needing to carry my passport on my person at all times. Now, I often think of the decisions I made, unknowingly, in order to be where I am today, and smile. Usually over a cappuccino with a view of the River Tiber cruising leisurely before me.
I squeezed through the hectic carriage, found my table seat and slumped down.
I rested my head and placed my hand on the window to rub away the precipitation. A cool blue sunset slowly crept across the sky until there was total darkness and I could finally shut my eyes and sleep.
And there you go! Would you ever consider taking Laura Jane Williams’ Don’t be a Writer, be a Storyteller course? Or maybe you’ve taken another writing course? Let me know in the comments below!