Studied indifference

At the weekend I finished my last assignment for my Children’s Lit diploma – for this year, anyway. It was quite fun – as I’m studying by distance, they send you a picture book and you have to open the package on the appointed day and analyse the book on the basis of what you’ve learned over the year.
So it begged the question: what have I learned?
Firstly, I’ve learned that I could have written a whole book in the time I’ve spent studying this year, so I’ve had to weigh up whether or not it’s been worth it.
It has, in one sense. After my Masters, I had sworn that I’d never study again until I reached retirement age, which seems like the only realistic time to do a PhD.
But then I developed this unexpected career in writing for kids, and felt like I needed to understand a whole lot more about the field, and particularly about picture books, which I’d like to write (well, I have written a couple, but whether anyone wants to publish them is another matter, which in turn seems to have nothing to do with whether or not they’re any good). So I decided to go back to school – and it was a great deal more work than I envisaged.
Yet there are lots of things I know now that I didn’t know at the beginning of the year about how picture books, in particular, work. My other subject was largely to do with poetry, which mostly confirmed there’s a lot of crap poetry about, including poems written for kids – but also some gems, like the work of Catherine Bateson and Steven Herrick in Australia.
Will I keep going?
I’m not sure. I never cared about getting another qualification, so it’s now a matter of deciding how I should best spend the next twelve months or two years. We’ll see. Watch this space.

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