A Fond Farewell

Well folks, this is my last post to y’all out there in applicant land. It has been an absolute pleasure to share my experiences of Edge Hill with you. I hope you’ve enjoyed them, learned from them and, ultimately, made the right decision for you on your education.

I’m hoping to go and start my MA course in Creative Writing this September. Where do I want to study? Edge Hill of course! Yep it’s been a wonderful three years already, and there should be another two to follow for me. I’m sure if you do decide to study here you’ll have just as good, if not better, experience and I wish you all the best with your studies.

Goodbye, so long and I hope to see you around Edge Hill’s campus soon. Peace out.

Memories Are Made Of This – Part 3

Okay, so here is the third part of my ‘Memories’ series, where I look into the most memorable parts of my English and Creative Writing Degree. I think today I’ll look into the fiction writing part of the course, which is generally what most people I’ve spoken to think about when you mention that you write (specifically novels).

Again, all I can say is that in general Edge Hill has had the most positive influence in terms of challenging stereotypes and letting your passions run wild. When I first came to Edge Hill, I was thinking that I would write novels. Novels are what I’d read for GCSE and A-Level study, so I kind of naturally assumed that fiction revolved around the novel. How wrong I was.

Put simply, I’ve loved every moment of my time writing fiction at Edge Hill, but the time that I found most inspirational was when we looked not at the short story, but at something even shorter: flash fiction. The short story is something that Edge Hill is very passionate about, there are a number of short story competitions, but the fact is that their competitions are respected far more than just locally, and have genuinely improved the reputation of the short story as an art form within the country and beyond. All you need do is check the university’s press releases to see how much impact is has on the local area and even further.

But these flash fiction stories go beyond even the challenge of the short story. I recently entered a ‘flash’ competition recently where the word limit was 250 words. A whole story in 250 words? Believe me, you will feel inspired to tackle such challenges and then feel hungry for more when you come to Edge Hill. Our lesson in flash fiction included ‘stories in a sentence’ (think about Hemingway’s famous flash, as seen here: http://www.sixwordstories.net/2008/12/for-sale-baby-shoes-never-used-ernest-hemmingway/) and seriously, you will not find a more vibrant and inspirational atmosphere as you will at Edge Hill.

I used to be able to write fiction badly. Then I came to Edge Hill. Then I could really write stories. Narratives became easier to create, but then craft appeared and it became easier to write short stories and then flash fiction. I couldn’t have asked more from a course, when most people’s original perception of your creative area is ‘simply’ the novel. That’s why I recommend coming to Edge Hill. You don’t just learn, you’ll become creatively electrified.

The Start of an Era

Last Friday saw my final lesson as a BA student at Edge Hill. It was quite a poignant moment – realising that your three years’ study is coming to an end and that you and all the friends you’ve made will all be moving on. Rather than being sad, though, we had a great send-off and kept up a Creative Writing tradition: the end of year reading.

As tutor Robert Sheppard pointed out, this is a form of publication (i.e. making public) of your creative work, and a fantastic opportunity to show your skills. It took place in the newly refurbished Hale Hall (you can see it looking all new and sparkly in the background of the picture there) and there was a reasonable turnout too, which doesn’t help the nerves, but the more the merrier when it comes to sharing your work.

The past two years, the reading has been grouped according to the year you’re in, but this time first, second and third years were all there to listen, and some to perform. Mostly people read poetry, but there was a short story and even some music, which just goes to show how diverse the range of chances is at Edge Hill.

It’s not compulsory to read out at this event, so don’t let it put you off if you don’t feel comfortable, you can just sit back and enjoy the other performances. As you can see by the picture (apologies, I know I’m no oil painting!), I couldn’t resist reading out one of my pieces (from my own writing, rather than class work) and, as always, the reception was very supportive.

I bet you’re itching to give it a go, aren’t you? Well, all you need to do is come to Edge Hill and you’ll get the chance!

Is It My Birthday?

No it isn’t, but that hasn’t stopped Edge Hill giving me (well, less solipsistically, all Edge Hill students) another great gift. Media students have been able to team up with the university’s ever pro-active and approachable Student’s Union to form a production company going by the name of ‘Edge House Productions’.

This is a brilliant opportunity that any screenwriters will have coming to Edge Hill (don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to get published if scripts aren’t your thing!). It’s a great opportunity for budding media students too. In fact, it’s awesome whatever course you’re doing. After all, it’s not every university that can boast the ability to nurture so much talent across the show-business spectrum and produce great things ( also the on-campus Rose Theatre is proud of its work with students http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/rosetheatre/about).

I’ll certainly be taking advantage, probably send them a short film. The only question now is what will you do when you come to Edge Hill?

Another Visit From a Legend

To anyone thinking of coming to Edge Hill to study Creative Writing, I’ve got to say that you’re thinking of a great choice. Last Friday we were visited by Cliff Yates, a poet, who came into our class to read some of his poetry and do some writing exercises with us.

I saw Cliff a year ago at a reading at The Rose Theatre on Edge Hill’s campus, and I really like his poetry. It is warm, amusing and evocative, yet can be very poignant and startling too. As a man, he really is the epitome of a good bloke: open, talented, energetic and friendly. The session he ran went really well, I’m actually developing a poem further that I wrote in one of the exercises.

When you’re looking at universities, ask exactly what you’re going to get out of it. Edge Hill’s Creative Writing tutors are all published and practising writers, but the course is never allowed to get stale with the inclusion of these visiting writers. They really do bring a fresh burst of inspiration into the room and, if you have your common sense hat on, they bring an opportunity to expand your network of contacts in the industry.

Your course will benefit you massively in what you want to do with writing; your skills will vastly improve and your employability will be better. What more could you ask? Oh yeah, your course will genuinely be fun, inspiring and awesome, take it from me!

If you’d like to know more about Cliff Yates, here is his blog: http://cliffyates.wordpress.com/

The Forefront

Today I thought I’d blog a bit more about my poetry classes, being fairly controversial as they are at the minute. I don’t mean controversial in a bad way, but they are dividing opinions amongst me and my friends, so I thought I’d let applicants know what they may be letting themselves in for!

The module I’m studying has been titled ‘Experimental Writing’ by the tutors, and it certainly does have a feel of alchemy about it. It essentially deals with multi-sensory approaches to poetry (for the mind, the ear and the eye). I’m sure we’ve all been brought up on the kind of poetry that rhymes and conforms to a certain metre (Sonnets being a classic example of people counting out syllables), so when you learn in the first year that ‘to rhyme is a crime’ and making the metre regular is a waste of time, it’s a bit shocking. This module goes ten steps beyond that, believe me!

An alphabet-structured poem using associative cognitive methods of writing sounds interesting. A poem involving two different words (‘like’ and ‘attracts’) placed in a certain way around the page is bizarre. Poems inspired by the five vowels, including Monty Python-esque screeching in their performance are unsettling. This is a small sample of what we have covered in one lesson. That gives you a flavour of what we look at, and you might be like some of the students who say ‘that’s definitely no poetry’. You could be like some of the others who say ‘there’s method in that madness’. You might even be like me, you can see the pros and cons and aren’t really sure what poetry is anymore (not that I’m sure I’ve ever really put my finger on it!).

But in this kind of confusion, in this place that is so far out of our comfort zones, there is a rich diversity of new possibilities for writers. Right or wrong as our opinions may be (if there is such a thing in this case), the potential is immense, and I think that if you want to come to Edge Hill, you have to be prepared to walk the untrodden paths, get a little lost in it all but be safe in the knowledge that your hard work is going to produce breathtaking results in the end.

P.S. The poem featured at the top of the page is the one that’s currently on our module handbook, Bob Cobbing’s ‘Square Poem’.

More Newness pt. 2

This is an update about the new features of this year for me as an English and Creative Writing Student. Now that I’ve had lessons in all my new modules, I know what the assignments are going to be like. In the poetry module, we’ll have to write a collection of poems based on exercises that we have talked about in class.

This may seem like an irrelevant thing to say, but it reminds me that the first years’ modules have changed since I did them. They have a greater number of exercises to do that are based on what you do in class.

Personally, I think this is a great idea. Some people I know pay their money to come to university, only to not attend their lectures and seminars. Where’s the sense in that? Well, most of the people I know have gotten away with it so far, but this change to assignments is a good way to encourage people to do what they signed up for.

I’m sure readers of this post don’t need any encouragement, though, and if you want to come to Edge Hill you are passionate and have enough common sense to take advantage of everything the uni has to offer!

More Newness!

One of the most exciting parts of this time of year is the starting of new things. I’m not talking about New Year’s resolutions (you’re a bit late if you haven’t already started them!). No, I’m talking about new modules. I have three new’uns this semester: Beyond English as my language module (analysing the aspects of languages across the globe) along with two new Creative Writing ones. There’s a poetry module, which is all well and good, but even more interesting than that is the ‘Writers’ Workshop’.

Due to the way my course breaks down (being half Creative writing, quarter Language and quarter Literature), I don’t get chance to do a dissertation. To some people, that could be a blessing, though I would like to try my hand. Instead of this, however, in Writers’ Workshop I get to do an extended piece. I’ve chosen to do an hour-long script, which is an awesome opportunity to hone my skills and will also give me something I can give to future employers so they can get a flavour of what my writing is like.

The times they are a changin’, and I love it!

Visiting Writer!

Just a quick note to let you know Alison MacLeod is visiting us this Thursday (the 1st of December) at the Rose Theatre! It’s one of the compulsory readings us Creative Writing students have to attend, but it’s by no means exclusive to us!

If you like literature, these readings give you the chance to hear the authors perform their own work, and there’s usually a questions and answers session at the end, which are not only interesting but useful, sometimes, for developing your craft.

Here’s a link to the Rose Theatre page for more info on Alison: http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/rosetheatre/2011/12/01/alison-macleod While you’re there you can check out what else is coming up at our on-campus entertainment factory. Tickets are £4, by the way, and it begins at 1930hrs, so don’t be late!

Calling All Media/Writing/Performing Arts Students!

Don’t forget tomorrow’s talk by Carolyn Reynolds, CEO of Lime Pictures! She is renowned for developing talent on and off the screen (writers, directors and performers), so there will be something for students from a wide variety of courses to take away from the talk.

Having been the Executive Producer of Corrie, a big player in the rise of Mersey TV and now CEO of Lime Pictures, the company responsible for ITV 2’s ‘The Only Way Is Essex’, there really is no-one better to hear from!

Find out more about Carolyn here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/24/carolyn-reynolds-mediaguardian-100-2011

The talk is taking place tomorrow (24th November) in H 2, 1400-1515hrs. Hope to see you there!