I love working with other writers. When your day job mainly involves sitting in a room staring at your own book and trying to make it work, to turn your attention to someone else’s writing is a wonderful thing.
I’ve done a lot of creative writing teaching over the years. My partner Craig and I have taught weekend courses in Cornwall and London, and have given workshops at festivals and in schools. We’ve hosted an intensive group of six people with almost-finished books around our kitchen table, and we’ve also run a massive session, all miked up, in ‘The Greatest Tent on Earth’ at Camp Bestival. I’ve taught at the Arvon Foundation and at Falmouth University, where I’ve worked as a supervisor with MA Professional Writing students over the past few years. I know there are people who insist that creative writing cannot be taught (and the innate ability to write cannot, of course, be bestowed upon anyone), but a bit of technical help and encouragement can make a huge difference, very quickly, and it is the most gratifying thing in the world.
A group always assembles in a room for a writing workshop feeling and looking nervous. The moment they’ve all written something and read it out, the group is bonded. It changes completely. Everyone’s in it together.
So I was absolutely delighted to be asked to be Writer in Residence at Falmouth University this year. It comes on the back of some very intensive writing and editing of both my next book and the one after that, so getting out into the world will be quite a treat: making other people do the writing is going to be a welcome change of pace.
I’ve got a six week programme of workshops, tutorials and lectures, and I’m already slightly wishing it was longer. I know that the people at the School of Writing and Journalism are lovely, and I also know that they have a wonderful writers’ room with beanbags and a nearby coffee machine. I get the novelty of ‘going to work’, which my children are finding amusing.
Most importantly, I get twelve students to work with. I can’t wait to find out what they’re writing.