In most careers there is something called 'professional development.' This is the training offered to people who are who are already qualified and doing the job but who, nevertheless, need to refresh their skills, develop, focus on doing their existing job rather better. But if you are a published writer then what opportunities are there for professional development?
The training opportunities for aspiring writers are, of course, many and various. I look back with a certain nostalgia to the time when I could take advantage of those opportunities. Courses through The Open College Of The Arts and The Arvon Foundation were cosy and comforting (photo below - actually me teaching at Arvon but the warm atmosphere is there). I made friends. We were all in the same situation - learning, hoping to get our work published, supporting each other as we developed.
But now that I'm a published writer - what is there? Well, nothing much, as far as I know. Currently, this is a problem for me as I'm starting to work on a new play. I have had my plays professional produced but I know that I'm not good enough to get to the next level. I need to learn more, to write better.
So what I do? I have seriously thought about doing a Masters' Degree but I'm forty nine years old and I already teach on a good creative writing Masters' Degree. I know from my own teaching experience that having people who are over qualified on a course is awkward for everyone.
I feel myself to be in a No Man's Land. Too well qualified for most courses - but not good enough to move forward with some aspects of my work. Do other writers feel like this? And what is the solution? I feel that what I need is help from other people who are also in this No Man's Land. But how would that be organised?
And would other writers want to help? Perhaps on a reciprocal basis? Maybe - but maybe not. The truth is that once you've moved beyond 'aspiring writer' then you are in a competitive world. Cosiness and comfort can be found - one Authors Electric friend has been tireless in offering both.
But sometimes writers can be wary of offering 'the competition' too much help. And I can't blame them for that. People do have to look after their own careers.
Do other writers understand what I am saying? Is there a solution? What do you think?
Here are links to reviews of Dead Babies And Seaside Towns: