Matthew Munson: Sharing fun times and settling in at university

Matthew and Bryan

I’m writing this week’s column on Friday, as I have a quiet half an hour before my university course starts, and I can concentrate for a while. I like getting in early to university if I can, as it lets me take a breath before starting the lesson.

One week at the beginning of term, I got horrendously lost in the depths of the campus. I wasn’t late to class, but I only got there five minutes before the lesson started, hot and bothered, and a little out of sorts. As I get used to the campus, that doesn’t happen any more, thank heavens.

Do you ever find yourself thankful about the upcoming weekend? This last couple of weeks has been busy – Bryan came along with me to a Christmas fair I was a part of in Ashford last Sunday, and it was a lot of fun (we also raised a lot of money for charity, I should say), but it was a long day, and then the week started again on Monday. So this weekend (which could well be partly or fully over by the time you read this) is going to be a lot calmer.

My son goes to a dance school a few days a week and some of his peers are performing at the Margate Christmas Lights switch-on and fair, so we’re going to see their stint on stage to be supportive. I like going to one or two of these events, even if it’s just for an hour or so; it’s a bit of fun, and if I can support local traders in some way, then I’m glad to.

I look back and have to admit that I feel a bit like I’ve blinked and watched the last four and a half years of being a dad just fly by. I try desperately to savour these years, because being a dad is a privilege I’d never swap  but when Bryan’s an adult, the role of parent is different to when they’re a child and a teenager. So when Bryan asked if we could go and support his peers at the lights switch-on, I looked for a reason to say yes rather than a reason to say no. For as long as we can do all these things, I’ll keep turning up.

The logistics of going to university and working whilst being a parent haven’t proved to be quite as complex as I had feared. I have to be very organised in planning everything out, and I don’t know if I could do this if Bryan was a toddler, but the balance (for the moment) seems to be working. I hope I’m not tempting fate by saying that, but so far, so good. I’m doing two modules at the moment, and one module after Christmas; I’m studying part-time, so that’s helped, although it does mean I’ll be at university for double the amount of time that my fellow first-years will be. That’s not a major problem, as I knew that going in, and I’m already looking at ways I can get involved with voluntary activities over the next few years so that I can keep busy.

Christ Church University has a nice campus, and I’ve not encountered anyone yet who isn’t friendly and kind. I’ve felt really inspired to write more in these first couple of months of the course, which is at least part of the point!

I’ve also felt confident to look back at older pieces of work, and it’s pleased me to see that my writing style must have improved over the years. I’ve tried to learn from fellow writers and readers who give me feedback, and from books I’ve read where I think, “Wow, that’s brilliantly written.” Terry Pratchett is a writer who, whenever I re-read one of his books, also helps me find something new; subtext or humour that I didn’t see before. I’m always keen to learn and improve, and the reduction in the number of semi-colons I use is one such example where I’ve listened to feedback and done something positive about it. I’ll always listen to honest feedback constructively given, even if I don’t always follow it. Feedback that’s given unconstructively, or is just plain unkind, is usually ignored.

I enjoy writing. It’s one of the biggest passions in my life, and I’d be devastated if I couldn’t write any more, even if it were just for my own interest. I’m thankful that I’m on a course that helps me develop my skills and is going to be pushing me over the next six years to do new things. When I do a module on poetry, of course, that’s going to push me firmly outstanding my comfort zone – but let’s try anything once.

1 Comment

  1. I think that colons and semicolons are sadly neglected.
    Each has its use: and, used in the right place, it can enhance a piece of writing.

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