Coming back to university is difficult enough for most students after the summer, but to come back after twenty years out of education seems daunting. Not so though, for Rufus Craze, 37, who after an extended break, has returned to education to study Creative Writing at Falmouth University. When asked what brought him here he told me, with a laugh, of an ex-girlfriend and a very eventful bet: ‘I was going out with a girl who was a primary school teacher, an old friend of mine, and we were joking about the fact that I had no education, because I literally had one GCSE.’ He continued, ‘I had made a bet with her [his then girlfriend] that I could get a better degree than she had. So I took myself back to Truro College, and through that got a place at Falmouth.’
As an avid reader and an equally keen writer, this course offers him the essential experience needed to hone his craft. I asked him what he has found helpful, to which he replied that ‘really going back to basics and asking questions like what is genre, how do you form a sentence, what is the context, all those things, actually, are really worth learning.’ While it may seem obvious, nailing down those types of questions is tricky, and any help a budding writer can get is no doubt more than welcome. ‘I definitely think my writing has improved massively, and I feel much more confident in getting to the point of sending stuff out for publication.’
Writing a novel is a dream that many young authors share, and for Rufus, it’s a goal he’s had rambling around in his head for quite some time now. ‘This course has helped me develop that [his novel], definitely.’ When I pushed him to any details regarding his idea, he keeps his cards close to his chest, revealing only that ‘one is coming out as a clear, clear idea now which I could sustain for several hundred pages.’
I spoke to Rufus about life outside of university, and in particular how he finds his experience of living on a boat. Rufus first bought himself a small dingy and taught himself how to sail, ‘And the next year, I bought the boat which I live on now,’ he told me. To say that he has an affinity for the water would be an understatement. Completely self-taught, Rufus isn’t one to shy away from a challenge when it comes to sailing. ‘Everyone I was talking to said “Oh, you know, it takes years to learn how to sail, it’s really difficult” and “well maybe you could sail it [talking about his new boat] if you were really good, you know.”’ But undeterred by these warnings, Rufus took his newly purchased boat to a river in North Devon where he picked it up instantly.
Rufus lives on his boat, choosing to moor in Falmouth harbour, as ‘Plymouth is a bit grim.’ When I asked him how he finds life permanently on the sea, he tells me it’s all about compromising. ‘You trade off the price you pay for convenience, being able to turn on the taps to get water and watch the TV, for free living.’
We look forward to seeing any work that Rufus produces, and hope that he enjoys the rest of his course here in Falmouth.