Check out the latest news – this is Episode One of Less Than Three from S:TV Galway!
Trinity College Dublin (TCD) played host to the National Media Conference on Saturday November 10, in conjunction with The Irish Times.
The idea was devised by TCD students, with tickets only €7, and was aimed at showcasing the abilities of young Irish journalists and to highlight the challenges facing the media today.
Rhian Jones has just finished her year-long apprenticeship with freelance education journalist and The Guardian contributor, Janet Murray, and is now Editorial Assistant at Music Week. I spoke to her at the ‘So You Want To Be A Journalist?’ Conference about how she nabbed the apprenticeship and why a journalist is always learning.
It’s been almost two weeks since I flew over from Ireland and set up camp here in the beautiful city of Avignon, south-east France, for my third year of university. Continue reading “La Vie En France”
I actually can’t believe it.
My dream of becoming a writer – a real, proper writer – is finally coming true.
I’m sitting here in 30 degrees of sunshine, hearing snippets of French drift in from the open windows. Clutching my notebook and a blue pen, I’m scribbling swirls of ideas for articles and thinking about the rough drafts of my book. My future book! (Cue several squeaks of excitement.)
Today I received an email from one Geraldine Mills, a widely-published novelist, short story writer and poet (Wow! Not short on talent). In conjunction with my university, she has become my editor/mentor for a wonderful, blissful year of incredibly challenging work. I will concentrate on the development of my novel during the course of the year, submitting a few thousand words in my weekly revision sessions with her, for my third year undergraduate studies. This is the year I’ve been waiting for since I started college: being able to focus entirely on just creative work.
Over the past two years that I’ve been studying Creative Writing at university (check out writing.ie for my article discussing it), I’ve discovered that it can be so much hard work; dedication and effort are needed in spades to succeed. Writing, though, is so utterly rewarding that every day, I just fall in love with it more.
My writer’s journey is just beginning.
I am writing this post in an angered response to the “writer’s advice” that I read online this morning. The author in question, Ray Bradbury, claims that “you can’t learn to write in college”. This ridiculous statement was provided by a man who turns ninety-one this year, and is out of touch with the brilliant learning experience and outstanding platform that writing at university today can give you.
Au contraire to Bradbury’s opinion, you can certainly learn to write well in college. Writing courses at university are there to encourage and develop creative ability. Bradbury paints writing tutors as disgusting, repugnant people for daring to have the nerve to be renowned experts in the creative fields. “The teachers always think they know more than you, and they don’t.” Excuse me, Mr. Bradbury, isn’t that the purpose of having a writing mentor? Someone to guide and shape your work, offering criticism and positive feedback, not only helping you to improve it for publication, but also increasing your belief in your capabilities? Surely you can only strengthen your chances at establishing yourself as a writer by pushing your writing limits, as well as attending seminars and lectures on your chosen art form, and by talking to those in the profession who you would otherwise not have access to? Creative writing at university is undoubtedly a marvellous opportunity for this.
Bradbury defends his assessment by stating, “They [creative writing lecturers] have prejudices. They may like Henry James, but what if you don’t want to write like Henry James? They may like John Irving, for instance, who’s the bore of all time.”
The writers that we study in college are successful for a reason. Their techniques are there, for the taking, to emulate. You don’t have to like what they have to say, you don’t have to agree with their philosophies or opinions, but you can learn something from them. Just because my mentor happens to have a soft spot for John McGahern (looking at you Dr. John Kenny) does not mean that he forces said writer’s short stories down my throat. In fact, in my experience, creative writing teachers are always open to discovering and discussing new authors. College writing courses are shaped to bring out the best in you as an author, whether your specialism be in poetry, screenwriting, playwriting, fiction, non-fiction, or even all of the above. Having a working and professional writer as a mentor is really important, because they have been in the same position as you – with the bonus that they’ve experienced the publishing game and know how to enforce the word ‘EDIT’.
I am currently undertaking Creative Writing as an undergraduate at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and having a bloody fantastic time doing so, which is why I find Bradbury’s criticism of this so infuriating. I have learned more about writing over the last two years in my course than I have in the total of fifteen years that I have been pursuing this passion, and I’ve gained a lot more confidence in my writing than if I’d dismissed it as a mere hobby and not continued it to third level. I’ve met people who thankfully are just as enthusiastic about writing as I am. Writing in a group has made me less coy about focusing on my writing future, comfortable in the knowledge that I will be spending next year working solely on my writing portfolio. Studying it at university has made me realise that writing, for me, is far more than a pastime. I want to make it my career, and thanks to college, I have mentors who are not only flourishing in terms of their own creative abilities but who are determined to help me do the same.
Link to Ray Bradbury article in ‘Advice to Writers’: http://www.advicetowriters.com/