When I was still working at the University of Salford I remarked to a group of my colleagues that I actually enjoyed marking. They gave me a curious look.
Then one of them beamed. “Ah, that’s because you get to read lots of stories.”
He was right. I was marking mainly short stories, extract of novels for young adults and other bits of fiction for other young readers. Yes, there were also reflective commentaries, some essays, some bits of memoir and a few poems. There were also stage, film and TV scripts; these also contain stories. So yes, about three quarters of what I was marking was story and anyway the commentary on it was interesting and added to my understanding and appreciation of story.
And it goes on even now that I’ve retired.
A typical day looks like this.
As soon as the alarm goes off I get up and make a cup of tea and then read while I drink it. About three-quarters of what I read is fiction.
Mornings I spend up to three hours writing and editing my own work. Again, three quarters of what I’m reading is fiction.
Afternoons are for admin but also some editing. Stories again part of the time. If the admin is very boring I’ll put on the TV in my office while I work. I enjoy reruns of dramas. Stories yet again.
Evenings are spent largely working on other people’s prose. Again, I’m reading fiction.
I relax later by watching a little TV. There is some excellent drama around. Fantastic stories.
And I read in bed just before I go to sleep.
When I’m out and about I find myself making ups stories about people.
So, I often watch The One Show for a bit of a contrast. Okay, so all the stories here are true but they’re still stories.
I believe the world needs story-tellers – probably more than ever now. Stories help us make sense of the world. I hope I remain part of that community but anyway I’ll never stop reading stories and consuming them in other ways. I’m sure I’m not alone. This bodes well for those of us who write.