Teaching, History and Self-Publishing – Thursday’s Children

Thursday’s Children – A weekly blog hop where writers come together to talk about whatever inspires them.

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.

Inspire and be inspired by clicking on this linky and joining in with the Thursday’s Children blog hop. Big thanks go to hosts Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez.

What conversations or places have inspired you recently?

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  1. Being an Anglophile from way back, I am TOTALLY jealous that you got to spend time in such an amazing spot. Self-publishing has certainly changed the industry in many ways, even for those of us who choose to follow the traditional path.

    • Thanks Rhiann, it really is a special spot and I do feel very lucky living not far from places like Corsham and Bath. It’s definitely an exciting time to be a writer whether you’re self-publishing or taking the traditional route.

  2. Oooooh, looks like an amazing place to snag some inspiration! I can picture the horse-drawn carrigaes myself!

  3. It must be awesome to spend time in those lovely old buildings! They have so much atmosphere. You’re inspiring my next post on historical writing–immersion!

  4. Oh wow, your photos were so evocative for me. I first visited the Royal Crescent when I was 13 and every time I go back I still feel 13.

  5. Wow, I’d like to visit Bath and take your course. Thank you for sharing your experiences with me.

  6. Very nice post Kate! For me, sometimes the simplest things inspire an idea- seeing a mother play with her little kid, listening to my boss tentatively talk about what he’s going to do after he retires…I’d love to one day visit someplace like Bath, wow, that would be unbelievably inspiring!! But for now, it’s the little things that become ideas for a story. Thank you for sharing such a lovely post : )

  7. I’m inspired by the idea that some agents are encouraging their clients to both go the traditional route and self-publish at the same time. So much flexibility that just wasn’t there before.

    I’m totally jealous. What an inspiring place and course!

  8. I love Corsham! It’s so beautiful. I went there a few times when I was in the process of applying to do the MA in writing for young people there. I had my interview there, but unfortunately I didn’t get on the course. It is a lovely place though. And very inspiring.

    • I didn’t realise it was Corsham you went to for your interview. Doing the course was my first visit to Corsham – can’t believe I’d never been there before. It really is a beautiful place.

  9. It’s amazing how quickly the face of publishing is changing! And also, I am so insanely jealous – I would *love* to go to Corsham. :)

  10. So glad you joined Thursday’s Children this week – they’re a great group. I am totally jealous of your course – a diverse group of writers and an inspiring location!

  11. I love Bath! Such a beautiful place. Your post reminded me I haven’t been there in a while… I find most of my inspiration in London. I didn’t know you were going to self-publish, I’m looking forward to following you on that journey!

    • Ah thank you. Just got my novel back from the proof reader, now for the formatting, finishing the cover, marketing and promoting…

  12. Thanks for joining us!

    Crazy to see how the curriculum reflects the current thinking on representation vs. self-publishing. In fact, I’m sure it’s still a few steps behind! I’m sure you’ll be able to bring a practical POV to your classes and really motivate your students to find their own way.

    Hope to see you again next Thurs!

    • Thanks John! I’m glad to be joining in and discovering lots of other writers.

      I agree writing MAs/courses are playing catch up with what’s going on with self-publishing but it’s good news that being an indie author is, and will continue to be, a very positive thing.

  13. Thanks for reminding me that I need not live in fear of taking control of my own creative destiny. It’s still kind of scary, so reminders like yours are always wonderful to get! And perhaps we will meet soon! I am having a conversation with Elaine Jeremiah over on her blog about my trip to London next month. It’s a very short trip (4 days), but if there’s time, I would love to meet!

    • Hi Shanah. It’s scary but exciting at the same time to be in control of our creative destiny and we just never know what might happen.

      I’ve just read your conversation with Elaine over on her blog. Very exciting that you’re coming to London to do research. I would love to meet you too if time allows – what dates are you going to be in the UK?

      • I’ll be there from May 11th to May 15th (flying out on the 15th). The 13th or 14th will be taken up with a meeting, and I’ll need at least a day to gallivant all over London to get my location photos and take notes. It’s kind of packed, but a trip your direction is very intriguing. I’ll keep you posted and hope for the best.

        • Sounds like a very busy but fun few days. Definitely keep us posted and we’ll see what happens. :-)

          • Hi there. I am pretty sure budget and time for this trip is not going to work for any side trips out of London. :( But rest assured, I will be doing my best to go back to the UK with any opportunity I find. If I was traveling alone, I would be working a little harder to make it work, but I am traveling with a friend who has an agenda of her own this time. Hopefully there will be another time! In the meantime, I look forward to reading your books, your blog and your tweets. 😀

          • That’s a shame but completely understandable with just four days in London and a lot to pack in. Definitely hope that there will be a next time and yes, let’s keep in touch via our blogs, tweets and books! :-)

  14. I’m so jealous! I want to go there.
    I look forward to hearing all about your journey to self-pub. Thanks for sharing!

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