Honesty, as Billy Joel memorably sang - "Such a lonely word" - but so important in writing and life. 

I enjoyed / suffered a period of honest reflection on Friday evening, after a very uplifting afternoon. 

I'd been seeing one of my students, Jack Sheeran, who's secured himself a place on a journalism masters course for next year. We were doing some mock interviewing, ready for his visit to City University, London - 


Jack was good enough to thank me for guiding him into a career, which was most kind (actually, it was just down to his hard work), and that evening I was thinking about what I do in life, and how.

This is where the honesty bit comes in, so prepare yourself for a shock - 

I think I'm a decent writer - (1) a pretty good journalist (I should be after 20 years of it), and (2) a passable novelist (enough to get published, but not an award winner by any means).

But what I'm best at is teaching. Which is a darned happy thing, because it's what means the most to me. 

Conclusions like that, tough though they may be, don't make me blue.

Honesty is so important, because it means I can hold onto what I'm good at, and treasure it, like a hot water bottle through the colder nights of life. 

And it also means I'm aware of, and can work harder at the bits I'm less good at. 

I never got the hang of writing about relationships, for example - so I practice that more. And maybe get a little better at it (although writing sex, I fear, will forever be a step too far.)

It's just what I say to my students, whether in journalism or creative writing. 

The bits you don't like doing, the parts you skirt around or skip over, are the ones you've got to work the hardest at to improve yourself. 

Honesty - often tough, but always necessary.