From Teacher to Writer by Kerry Postle
Yesterday I gave my first radio interview. John Darvall interviewed me for BBC Radio Bristol and he asked me about teaching and writing. Very informative , especially for me, as it dawned on me why I wrote The Artist’s Muse and the connection it has to my teaching.
If you want to listen to the interview, here it is –
The interview with me starts 2 hours 5 minutes in (after the Michael Jackson track).
A life can change in a heart beat. One moment all is well with the world, and the next, one random act can turn everything upside down. Like getting attacked in the classroom. I’d turned up at school one sunny Monday morning to do the job I loved. One hour later and I would never be able to see it in the same way again.
How did that happen? I’m still not quite sure. A new boy had joined us (expelled, I was to find out later, for attacking a student and a teacher – both female – in another school) and he took exception to the fact that he wasn’t allowed to use his mobile phone throughout the lesson.
Although his attack on me, both verbal and physical, was brutal, I pitied him. Still do. I chose not to press charges but he was still expelled. I never saw him again. I chose to carry on teaching, but it was never the same, despite first counselling, then reducing my hours. The writing was on the whiteboard and it was telling me I had to go. It was only a matter of time before I exited teaching in a secondary school forever. It broke my heart as well as my bank balance.
No job, no money coming in. What was I to do?
For a while, a very long while, I wallowed in self-pity. Destined to wander aimlessly for all time, I was unable to talk about what had happened to me without bursting into tears. No need to wear a t-shirt with victim printed on it, I was doing a pretty good job of making that apparent myself. No props required.
Then, one day, I was wandering round a gallery (which a friend had very kindly paid for me to visit) when I knew what I had to do. As I looked around the exhibition I saw rooms full of paintings of the same artist’s model. She was everywhere. I wanted to find out about her, this woman who had been mistreated by the artist who clearly owed her his reputation by robbing his model of hers.
I therefore decided to give her a voice so that she could fight back, tell her side of the story. I was going to write a novel. I wanted this artist’s muse to be written back into history by allowing her to tell her story (please don’t groan). She would encounter obstacles, suffer misogynistic attacks, feel a victim, but, in the end she would triumph.
I had no idea what I was doing at the time but by writing the story of the artist’s model I was unwittingly exorcising my own demons. Well, no, it’s true that I’ve never been an artist’s model and I’m certainly not a young girl, but in every other respect the artist’s model and I are like twins separated at birth. It’s now all so clear to me.
And so that’s how life can sometimes work. It throws you lemons and you… You know what I mean.
‘The Artist’s Muse’ by Kerry Postle is published by HQDigital, an imprint of Harpers Collins, available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Artists-Muse-Kerry-Postle-ebook/dp/B06Y5175Z5/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8
To find out more about the story, art and historical research go to