Back to School with Alan Glass

Author of Oliver’s Outline

Today feels like my first ‘back to school’ day for 2015, with a grown up twist. I’m sitting on a Kulula flight to Joburg, heading up to a strategic planning meeting for the year ahead. The passengers are a mix of business commuters and holiday travellers returning home. It’s pretty clear that the holiday is over!

I have the usual ‘back to school’ feelings of anxiety and anticipation, but I’m carrying a little extra of both this year on behalf of my children. It’s my older daughter’s matric year, and my younger daughter’s last year of primary school. Matric! The word makes the hair on my arms stand up, but going through school for a second and third time with my children has been an opportunity to learn some of the things I missed out on or slept through the first time round. I’m much better at projects now (Google is so much easier than Encyclopaedia Britanica) and as the resident assignment assistant, I’m always eager to see what mark ‘we’ got for a project or essay. I even know how to do long division now!

I wasn’t a big fan of school. Not because I didn’t want to learn things, but rather because in the early years I was terrified of getting left there. I’m not sure where this anxiety stemmed from. My parents were both very punctual and in truth I was never left anywhere. Maybe it was something to do with being the youngest sibling of four, and by a long way at that. By the time I got to grade one, my oldest sister had finished school.

2015 really does feel like a new beginning. I’ve recently acknowledged and celebrated half a century on the planet, and I like to think I’ve gained some knowledge and experience on the way. Hopefully enough to set me up for the next fifty. (My Peter Pan complex not withstanding!) I’m adopting a ‘Glass half full’ attitude and trying to apply this to all I do.

Another reason for the confluence of anxiety and anticipation, is because at last this is Oliver’s year. Oliver’s Outline, due out in February 2015, is my first officially published children’s book. I have a couple of others as part of the Beautiful Creatures children’s music and book series, but because we produced those ourselves, Oliver’s Outline represents something new for me, a big tick on my bucket list.

The first draft of Oliver’s Outline was written in 2008, at a very different stage of my life, and although it was not a continuous process, this is the culmination of a six-year journey. A journey not unlike Oliver’s own metaphorical exploration of life. The search for my personal ‘outline’ is an on-going process, and so, as I embark on the 2015 journey, I will endeavour to apply Oliver’s positive outlook on life, and ‘always look forward and seldom look back.’


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