At the start of the six-week holiday, I felt lost. By the end, I was a part of something, and ready to take on any challenge.
Between teaching contracts, my image as a teacher was unclear: I remained unestablished and still saw myself as ‘the new girl’. Still, I was a stone’s throw from giving it all up, matching statistics with an increasing number of teachers leaving the profession. The last year had been beyond stressful, having had more ups and downs than the longest rollercoaster in the world, and I wasn’t sure I was strong enough anymore.
What made everything even more difficult, was that I just didn’t feel myself. I was growing increasingly stressed, unable to find ways to calm this down, and spiralling into what could have been a terrible place. A friend was constantly asking if I was depressed, and I kept reassuring her that I wasn’t. And yet, I wasn’t happy.
I’m not a list person, but at the start of the holidays I set myself a series of tasks. First of all, I was going to start a new blog, just writing the things I wanted to write about. I didn’t really care if people read it, I simply needed to be writing again. I was going to bake because baking is like therapy. I was going to do things, and I was going to see my best friend in the world who would remind me of the real me.
So, on the 22nd July, as the summer was about to begin, I set up a blog. The main topics would relate to the City of Culture 2017 and the city I now call home. I wanted to show off and wanted to show Hull off. Partly, I was sick of people from back home asking where Hull was or why I loved it so much when I’d moved away from a small, historic town.
Then, fate played a hand. A post on Twitter caught my eye: a free course in music journalism at Creator College.
At university I had written reviews and over the years I had written pieces of various bands. It had all been for fun really, just a reason to write something which didn’t need to take epic lengths of time. So, I was intrigued.
The 6-week course started just after Humber Street Sesh, where I had gathered notes on a couple of bands. I’d already decided that my first blog post would be about the festival.
Mal Williamson, the director of the course, had warned us all that we would be discussing research skills and then would meet a surprise band in order to review. I was intrigued, and excited by the prospect of not only meeting new people but also a local band. Little did I know, that the one band who had stood out to me at the Sesh were the ones who would walk into the classroom. Had fate played another hand? Were the threads finally untangling and knitting together in a reassuring reality?
Within two days I had two blog posts: my review of the Humber Street Sesh and an article on ‘surprise band’ LIFE.
I also had my own band of new faces – the other members of PressPack – faces who would become both familiar and friendly. Now, just over a month later, I am blogging as often as I get the chance, between lesson plans and writing for two online publications.
Having met Mike White, editor of Browse, I had begun writing for the weekly online magazine, publishing reviews of bands and local events. My photography – nothing overly impressive, but something I also decided to develop over the summer – has also been included.
Also, Andrew and Eve Sugden, editors of the Yorkshire Gig Guide, have taken me on-board, after publishing my review of the Freedom Festival.
Joining PressPack, being involved with Creator College, has given me the fuel to reignite the fire inside. At school, I have been told I come across as very confident, painlessly taking on additional responsibilities. Outside of school, I am busy visiting local events and writing reviews of live gigs, previews of band tours, articles on Hull and what is happening in preparation for City of Culture 2017. On top of that, I have some wonderful new friends and colleagues.
Mal, Jess (from Hull Libraries) and Harriet Jones (freelance journalist) couldn’t know how much they have done over the course of six weeks. I’m not the only one they found at a low and brought up into the light. They’ve not simply taught people the skills needed to write as journalists, but given us the chance to develop our personalities and confidence and put ourselves out there to be what it is we want to become.
I started the summer holidays a bored teacher with a memory of having enjoyed writing something other than lesson plans. I finished, a confident, content music writer with followers to her blog, bands and companies following her Twitter account and asking for reviews, publications of my work which have been accepted by other passionate writers, and a smile on my face.
Thank you to Mal, Jess and Harriet for working with us, and pushing us ensure we did the best that we could. Thank you to Mike and Andrew for inviting me to write for them and for asking me to continue to write for them. And thank you to Dave, Liam, Megan and Luke for being a part of it all and working with me.