I sat around the table with other people who had done or were doing English majors as part of their university courses. I was meeting them all for the first time at a writing kick-off.
I felt like a fraud.
Who was I to think that I could write a novel when I hadn’t even studied English beyond school? I dislike poetry, or at least the poetry I learnt at school. I find Shakespeare incredibly inaccessible and hated his set works. I’ve not touched one of them since leaving school. My favourite poems at the moment are limericks – short, sweet and to the point. But not really poetry – surely?
So I sat with my feeling of unbalance. Jean Piaget called this “disequilibrium” and is a necessary part of learning. His view is that the state of confusion will eventually balance out and I will assimilate new ideas into my mind and reach a new state of equilibrium.
But I have a doctorate in Primary Maths Education (please note: not maths!) I have written a 400-page thesis, which received high praise. Why should I feel like a fraud?
After a few coffees and some general conversation, I finally felt brave enough to voice my feelings with the group. They were horrified that I should feel like this! The conversation turned to the joys of modern poetry, the antiquated way that English Literature is taught in schools and how so many of them cannot do maths! I felt better.
I remember a book we bought our son when he was about 2 called “The Puffin Book of Amazing Animal Poems“. It was a firm favourite with my son and me and we spent hours relishing the sounds, patterns and rhythms of words.
I do have a deep love for the English language and wanted to pass that onto my son. He loves to read, as do I. But beyond the wonderful poetry we read when he was young, I never go near the stuff.
I resolved to try and break through my attitudes towards poetry. But I’m not quite ready to think about reading Shakespeare just yet!
After I took the photo for the featured image, I looked at the back of the poetry book. The sticker reminded me that I had bought the book in my first year at varsity when I actually did English! It must’ve been so bad that I’ve forgotten about it. But, not satisfied with that, and still feeling my insecurities, I dug out my first-year transcript – a class 2B pass (67%) for English I! It transpires that I did do English after school – but it obviously made very little impression on me!
Is there anything that makes you feel like a fraud? I’d love to hear your stories!