I was delighted to be invited to join the BBC 100 ‘Share your story’ tour as a panelist advocating the pursuit of a creative career.
Your first reaction is probably similar to mine. ‘Poetry? Is that a career?’ Well, actually being kept on your toes by an army of teenagers wanting to know details of how, where, when and what you’re paid is the perfect environment in which to take stock of one’s profession – the journey, the day to day, the goal.
‘No, unless you are VERY lucky, poetry doesn’t provide a means to supporting yourself financially.’ Oh, why are you here then, Vic? ‘BUT the very act of diversifying my offering into teaching, research, writing, editing, event organising, hosting and sticking my hand up for pretty much anything enables me to live a life in poetry – not only writing, but advocating it, furthering it, questioning it.’ Am I quoting myself, yes, I actually am (sorry).
All these other components to my ‘career’ bring people into my world, and the shared journeys and sheer variety of my life feeds my personal education and my poetry.
I looked at each room full of secondary school-aged children and nearly-adults (we presented to over 2000 in the two days I joined the tour), and I felt excited for their futures, but also trepidation. The world has changed significantly since I was in their place. Back in 2000, the advent of phones was the only distraction. Now, there is so much choice, so much expectation and possibility, so little time to think. And if you can’t think, how can you really discover who you are and (most importantly) who you want to be?
I hope that my own story of pursuing a passion alongside forming a bespoke role which supports it wasn’t a turn-off for the students we saw. I know that there are scores of writers within the hoards, and many to whom being published is a dream. Whatever their background and support available to them, I hope that they continue to write, despite the lack of glory or glamour (or payslips) because having the passion for words is a gift, and so long as there’s a notepad or a phone available, is freely available to anyone as a bolt-on to whatever career they end up following. Which in itself, is something priceless.
Bravo BBC. You are truly inspiring. Read more here: BBC100 Share Your Story in partnership with National Literacy Trust and Voice 21 – BBC Teach