I’ve very much enjoyed reading Elaine Jeremiah and Raewyn Hewitt’s Thursday’s Children’s posts for a while now. I like the idea of thinking and writing about what inspires me on a weekly basis, and so this is my first Thursday’s Children post.
I started teaching the undergraduate lifewriting course at Bath Spa University in January, and being a newbie at lecturing I jumped at the chance to attend a New to Teaching Creative Writing course at Corsham Court a couple of weeks ago. It was an inspirational day in many ways. Firstly, it’s always a great thing to meet fellow writers and authors whether in person or over the Twitter and bloggersphere, and the bunch of writers I met on the course were no exception, a mix of people from all over the country with different writing backgrounds (think novelists, short story writers, poets, recent MA Creative Writing graduates and lecturers of various forms of writing).
The course was held at Corsham Court, a hidden gem of a building set within the historic town of Corsham just a few miles from the beautiful city of Bath. I always find historical places inspiring to walk around and Corsham, packed with 16th, 17th and 18th century houses, was no exception. It was easy to imagine horse-drawn carriages instead of cars on the high street and ladies in empire-line dresses lifting up their hems off the dirt engrained street as they avoided piles of steaming horse dung. Stepping through the gate of Corsham Court itself, any hint of the 21st century peeled away when I was greeted by a sweeping drive leading to the intricate stonework of an Elizabethan manor house. To my left curved box hedges peaked above a tall stone wall and a peacock let out a cry from where it roamed on the grass to my right. Heading through the gate to the side of the house a lawned area dotted with trees led down to a mist covered field of sheep.
But I digress, despite the beauty of the setting and the amount of history seeping from every nook and cranny, there was another reason why my day at Corsham Court was so inspiring. When I did my MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University back in 2004 – 2005, the focus of the MA was firmly on attracting an agent and then a publisher for our novels. Weekly talks gave us a chance to listen to and ask questions of influential agents, publishers, editors and authors, and the aim of the MA was for us to not only produce work to a publishable standard but to ultimately (and hopefully) secure representation. Fast forward eight years and talking to recent graduates of the Creative Writing MA and current lecturers at Bath Spa University it’s evident that things are changing. The self-publishing route is no longer frowned upon, in fact it seems to be considered a viable option and a smart move; to take control of your own creative destiny is an exciting and inspiring prospect. Digital publishing courses have been introduced and there are so many more options out there for writers besides traditional mainstream publishing than there were just a few years ago. There’s no need to wait any longer in the hope that an agent or publisher takes a chance on you and your book and makes your publishing dreams come true. Instead make those dreams come true yourself and on your own terms.
What conversations or places have inspired you recently?