Thursday 27 June 2013

Talk by Michelle Spring, 18th June 2013

Last week CLG members gathered at the English Faculty for a talk by the author Michelle Spring. Michelle's topic was 'What does a writer do when she's not writing? Teaching, mentoring and the Royal Literary Fund'.

After working as a professor of Sociology at Anglia Ruskin and Cambridge University, Michelle turned her hand to writing crime fiction. However she was able to combine her new career with her passion for teaching by becoming a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. The RLF Fellowship scheme places writers in Higher Education institutions, to support students and staff in their writing. Currently there are three partner institutions in Cambridge - Anglia Ruskin University, Newnham College and Magdelene College, and Michelle has worked in all three of these institutions as an RLF Fellow.

The RLF Fellowship scheme provides students with the opportunity for confidential one-to-one sessions on any aspect of writing they are having difficulties with, ranging from correct use of a semicolon to turning a dissertation into a publishable article. This kind of support is not always available from supervisors and tutors, and can make a big difference.

Michelle also talked about her experiences teaching creative writing courses and mentoring less experienced authors. While creative writing courses are excellent at providing a support network and making new authors get writing and keep on writing, mentoring develops a stronger, long-lasting relationship which can be very rewarding for both the mentee and the mentor.

Michelle with some CLG members
I thoroughly enjoyed this event. Michelle was an engaging and down-to-earth speaker, and I think many of us were inspired to find new ways to support our students with their writing, or indeed to pick up the pen ourselves! Michelle had brought along a list of recommended books on writing, which I have copied below:

Elizabeth Benedict, The Joy of Writing Sex: A Guide for Fiction Writers
Dorothea Brande, Becoming a Writer
John Gardner, The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life
David Lodge, The Art of Fiction, Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts
Michelle Spring and Laurie R. King, Crime and Thriller Writing: A Writers' and Artists' Companion
William Strunk, Jr. & E. B. White, The Elements of Style

Reference for writers:
Writers' and Artists' Yearbook
Collins Easy Learning Grammar and Punctuation
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms

Michelle Spring's novels:
Every Breath You Take
Running for Shelter
Standing in the Shadows
Nights in White Satin
In the Midnight Hour
The Night Lawyer