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Writing Motivation: The Adventures of An Older Student

By Marie Marrinan

I have always been the oldest student in my class. From kindergarten upward. This January baby was always held over to the next year. So, being the oldest student in my class today is the norm for me. Sure, it’s awkward. But I like to think of life like Joseph Campbell did. He said, “Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.”

Well, I have not been called away just yet. I worked in healthcare for 50 years. Now, I want to be a playwright. My head is filled with characters and stories waiting to appear on the stage. I need instruction and guidance to hone my craft, just as I did when I was a newbie working in the emergency room or the bone marrow transplant unit. And, in order to succeed as a nurse practitioner, all other considerations were made secondary. Sadly, the characters who swim through my thoughts were not free to realize their full potential. I vowed to keep them secure and well-nurtured until time and circumstances allowed for their liberation.

Unfortunately, naysayers dog my trail and tend to catch me, unawares. Often, in an attempt at sharp witted critique, these generally well educated and successful individuals seem compelled to ask, “What are you going to do with it?” Currently, this “it” is my attempt to earn a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.

I presume some of these people are innocently asking how I can monetize my education. My other advanced degrees have helped me both professionally and financially. However, when I deviated from my studies in healthcare and ventured into English Literature and Creative Writing, many colleagues, friends and family members just could not understand the change. I never know how to answer that question because I honestly do not know why they ask it.

Oddly, no one questioned me when I married at 40, or when I took up the guitar at 50, or when I began hiking at 60, became a stage manager at 65, or even when I stopped drinking at 67. At most, I heard “Oh yeah? That’s nice.” Many people may not view those activities in the same light. It takes the investment of time, inspiration, perspiration and money required to obtain an additional advanced degree. But, to me they are. It’s all about the effort and interest in something new, engrossing, and long awaited. My education makes perfect sense to me. “It” is simply working to fulfill of a promise I made to myself long ago. Wish me luck!

Photo by Kyle Head on Unsplash

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