Recently, I’ve been looking over some of my old notes from university and some of my old teaching material from when I was a tutor of Medieval English Language and Literature. I sometimes wonder whether I was a good tutor, and whether any of my old students remember me. I think the most noteworthy thing I ever did in a class was fall off the edge of a podium mid-speech, but I hope some of the people I was lucky enough to teach will remember enjoying their course, even if they don’t remember me.
One student once told me that I had singlehandedly made her love Chaucer, and I lived off that praise for a couple of years. It still remains one of the best compliments I’ve ever been paid.
Anyway. Amid all the nostalgia, I’ve realised a couple of things: one, I still love anything to do with the Middle Ages, and two, I remember more about it than I thought I did. It’s like muscle memory, perhaps; the stuff that I spent so many years learning is still there, deep down. Even if I never use it again professionally, it’s great to have that fund of knowledge and folklore, that familiarity with a lost world, that facility with a written language that very few people – sadly – are bothered with these days.
The same goes for all of us. No matter what your background is, what you studied at school or college, what you’re interested in, what you’ve done for a living, what you do for a living, what makes you happy – all of that stuff can be used to fuel your writing and feed your imagination. It can all be mined for inspiration. The more you have in your ‘tank’, the better equipped you’ll be to stretch your writing muscles, and the more agile your ideas are likely to be. I’ve worked as a butcher’s apprentice, as a lecturer and as a bookseller, among lots of other things. So, my imagination-pot is fully stocked.
But my heart will always belong to the Middle Ages.
And – since I’ve done nothing of note since yesterday besides hack away at ‘Eldritch’ and drink at least a litre of decaf, I’m going to leave you with my favourite clip from one of my favourite films – and, it must be said, a clip to which I often referred in my classes, back in the day.
Oh, how many poor classes of students had to sit through my ‘John-Cleese-doing-a-French-accent’ impression…
Work is going reasonably well on ‘Eldritch.’ It’s hard to unpick a plot with which you’ve been intimately familiar for years, only to recreate it slightly differently, but I’m managing. It’s slow, but it’s steady. I’ll get there.
Good luck with all your endeavours today – particularly if it’s repelling the English with flying bovine missiles.