A favourite quote and a way by which to approach life.

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

It couldn't be done

Last week was a bad week with POTS - lots of dizziness, unsteadiness, and passing out; racing heart; exhaustion; poor concentration; tinnitus; and host of other things, but these were the main ones last week. As a result of the POTS-iness I was finding study practically impossible, and although I had an extension for my End of Module Assessment (EMA) for my postgraduate certificate course in Writing for Young Adults, my new deadline was to be this coming Friday - 11th February. I couldn't see that I was going to be able to meet the deadline and thought I was probably going to have to ask for a further extension. I was reluctant to do this, though, as I still have a lot of OU study to catch up on (I'm an essay behind with them again, as of last Friday), and I can't start on that until I've done the PGCert submission. I was beginning to feel like I was chasing after myself.

Sunday came and although I wasn't great, I did find that I had more concentration than I'd had all week so I decided to make the most of it. I sat down and set to it, trying to write the first three chapters of my novel for young adults, of which I only had about 500 words. It took a long time to focus, to find direction, for my character to start to speak to me again and tell me what she was up to, what she was thinking, what she wanted, what she was feeling, and what was going on around her, but gradually she revealed herself, and bit by bit I was able to put her down onto paper. By the end of Sunday I had most of my three chapters! Monday was spent editing and then thinking about what I was going to write in the reflective commentary. This is basically where we discuss the process of writing and editing our work; how we have incorporated what we've learnt through the course into the work that we've produced and are submitting for the EMA; what feedback we've had from peers/others, and how we've responded to that feedback; and give any information that's vital for the understanding of the extract of the book we're presenting for submission. All in 1000 words. Not an easy task so it does take some contemplation. Although there were other things I wanted to do yesterday I made myself get down to work, and by the end of the day I had a little over 1000 words of commentary! To be honest I didn't spend much time editing the commentary, and perhaps it could be more concise in places, but I'm fairly happy with it, and I'm sure it's more than enough to get a pretty good pass. I went into town today, went to the university, submitted my EMA! I have surprised myself! I've also surprised several others who, like me, weren't convinced that I'd be able to meet Friday's deadline, let alone submit my piece early. Now that I've written the first three chapters I want to write the rest, but it's going to have to wait, because now I have all that OU work to catch up on, and last Thursday I started my second PGCert module - Memoir Writing. Maybe one day I'll be able to say that I'm on track and running to schedule, but my decrepitude keeps interfering with that, and it seems that whenever I'm on the cusp of achieving this goal I end up in hospital or almost in hospital or full of POTS-iness. Most frustrating. However, I've got this far so I'll press on.

There's an elderly woman from church, A, who comes to see me every few weeks. She's part of the pastoral care team and has been visiting me for a couple of years now. In name it's for my benefit; in practice it serves us both. We're quite different, not least in age as she's 81 (although extremely fit and sprightly), but A's lovely and we get on well. We chat, sometimes we have tea/coffee, we tell each other what we've been doing with ourselves, what we plan on doing, and how we feel. Basically it's friendship, and it's lovely. I was telling her today a little about my studies, how last week had been POTSy so I hadn't got anywhere with my studies, but that I'd worked my socks off since Sunday and had got my Newcastle University project done. She was not only pleased for me, but said that she didn't know how I did it. To be honest, I'm not sure how I do it ... except that it's self-belief that I can do it and the knowledge that I want to do it. I want finally to achieve my academic potential, and when I'm behind at the moment I remind myself that my OU course will be finishing in about three months time, and on 16th September I'll be graduating. Me! Me! The person who under-achieved all through school; the person who got ill with depression when at university studying nursing when she was 19/20; the person who became immobilised by depression for many years and didn't achieve anything much (or didn't feel like she did). Me, I am going to graduate! ...I just need to get to the end of this current Open University course, and the end is in sight. And the plan after that? To continue with post graduate studies at Newcastle - finish the PGCert in creative writing and go onto either an MA or MLitt. I never used to believe I could achieve anything like this, like that. These days I do. My teachers weren't ever very encouraging, and I never got the impression that they believed I'd achieve anything much, although none of them ever said this explicitly. My father didn't believe in my academic potential. So many, including myself, didn't think that it could be done. Here I am doing it.

I have a book of poetry called The Swallow, The Owl, & The Sandpiper. It's a fantastic poetry book, and is published by Finks Publishing in aid of The Sandpiper Trust. The following is taken from their website: 'The Sandpiper Trust aims to provide Scotland’s doctors and nurses, who have been highly trained in accident and emergency skills by BASICS ( The British Association of Immediate Care, Scotland), with appropriate emergency medical equipment known as the Sandpiper Bag.' That's a very small snippet of what they do, but it's a great cause and a fantastic book, which you can buy directly from their website. On page 56 of the book is a wonderful poem that my mum read out to me on the phone one day when I was in hospital and I'd come through another life-threatening asthma attack (Mum originally bought me the book as well as a copy for herself). The poem is 'It couldn't be done', by Edgar Guest:

It couldn't be done

Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That, 'maybe it couldn't' but he would be one
Who wouldn't say no till he'd tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, as he did it.

Somebody scoffed: 'Oh, you'll never do that;
At least no one we know has done it';
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, as he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle right in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That cannot be done, and you'll do it.

- Edgar Guest


Dawn said...

I love that poem :)
Well done on completing and submitting your EMA. It sounds like you're one of those people who can achieve virtually anything when they put their minds to it!
Dawn xx

B said...

it's hard for me to even start to believe that you were considered 'not academic' having seen the range and depth of your work. your commentary for your ECA blew me away. i had no idea why i wasn't getting marks as good as i wanted until i read that. then i understood. yours was setting the bar much, much higher than i had reached. i wish i'd read them sooner :)

they said running a mile in 4 minutes wasn't possible either, but after one person did it loads of others turned out to be capable. i think your achievements are just as impressive (maybe i'm just easily impressed, but i don't think so!).

well done on submitting early :)

BeckyG said...

Dawn, it's a great poem, isn't it? I think it's quickly becoming my new favourite :oD Thanks so much for the congratulations on completing my EMA. It certainly took a lot of effort and persistence, but then a lot of life is like that.

B, I don't think it was necessarily a matter of not being considered academic, per se, but that I never achieved my potential. I missed a lot of school because of my health, and that certainly didn't help, but even when I was at school I was so unhappy that studying was pretty much the last thing on my mind. And the unhappiness contributed my lack of self-belief. That said, I certainly wasn't encouraged and didn't ever feel like I was believed in ... in fact, some definitely squashed me. It's taken a heck of a lot for me to start believing in myself, in my academic abilities, and it's really only been the past 2 or 3 years that it's sunk it that I'm okay at this academic stuff after all. Thank you for your encouragement. Thanks.