Called Inspiration: a Space for Words, the anthology is the second instalment of the three part series with award-winning publishers Indigo Dreams Publishing and Wordspace, the University’s creative writing imprint.
The anthology was co-edited by MA Creative Writing students, Lynn Bauman and John Gledhill, as part of their assessment for the Writing as a Profession Module on the MA. We caught up with Lynn to find out more about the anthology, the editing process, and how the MA has helped her to make the transition from aspiring writer to published author and editor.
Tell us about Inspiration: a Space for Words
Inspiration is a collection of poetry and prose from students and alumni of Leeds Trinity, as well as guest authors at the Wordspace Open Mic nights. It is part of a three-book deal – negotiated by Oz Hardwick (Professor of English and Programme Leader for the MA in Creative Writing) with Indigo Dreams Publishing – to promote the university imprint, ‘Wordspace’, and develop it as a brand from Leeds Trinity University. This anthology is the second of that deal, and the tutors on the MA in Creative Writing course decided that allowing two of the MA students to edit the book would be an excellent opportunity to explore the other side of writing, as well as be the focus for the final project for the Writing as a Profession module. I jumped at the chance to be a part of this, because the hands-on experience of editing an anthology would be invaluable – this different perspective would help me to improve my own writing, and be an excellent addition to my own writing CV.
What did the role of co-editor entail?
Being co-editor covered pretty much every aspect of the anthology. With Oz’s help, we put out several calls for submissions, read all the entries, contacted authors with edits, engaged in discussion over the edits, developed the order of the pieces, put everything into the publisher’s format, sourced the cover art, wrote the foreword and dedication, and assisted in reading the final proofs. It was an intense project, and I was in daily contact with John and Oz throughout – I had to be reminded at one point that it was Mother’s Day!
How did Leeds Trinity support you through the editing process?
Oz Hardwick was a huge help throughout the project, offering his own suggestions and edits after our initial edits, answering our questions and guiding us along the way. He supported our choices, but let us get on with the job – no micro-managing, and that was probably the best way to learn this.
What’s your favourite piece in the anthology?
Now that’s unfair; kind of like asking if you have a favourite child! If pushed, with a gun to my head, I’d have to say that Glass and Mercury by Steve Toase is my favourite piece. It’s both creepy and beautiful; after reading it several times, I found there is a thread of hope and sunshine throughout.
What have you learnt throughout the process of editing the anthology?
That’s a whole section out of the final essay I wrote for the Writing as a Profession module on this! In a nutshell, I learned how to read critically, to stand apart from the emotional impact of the words and say this is good, this needs tightening, this is not grammatically correct. I learned how to edit to improve a piece and not lose the author’s voice in the process.
You’ll also have a collection of short stories published under the Wordspace imprint this year – can you tell us more about that?
Again, thanks to the three-book deal with Indigo Dreams Publishing, this was another opportunity presented to all the MA Creative Writing students to become a published author, this time as a solo act. The first two – An After Dinner’sSleep and Inspiration – were collections, and the department had decided that offering this third book to a single author would be an excellent way to showcase the breadth of writing that happens at Leeds Trinity University.
The third book was essentially a competition: submit a (mostly) polished manuscript, with a proposal in which you suggest ideas for marketing and promoting the book, and what you would do to raise the Wordspace imprint profile. A panel of five readers (several of whom are not associated with the MA, ensuring impartiality) chose my collection of short stories, Dark Doors. Martyn Bedford (Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University) is my editor on this project, and we’ve already put the manuscript through three rounds of editing. All that’s left is formatting for the publisher and organising the cover art. We have a tentative release date of August 2015, but nothing more specific at this time. I am all the clichés about this book and this opportunity – over the moon, chuffed to bits, pleased as punch, grinning like the Cheshire cat.
How would you describe your writing style?
What made you decide to do an MA in Creative Writing?
Back in November 2012, I started to include writing in my daily life. I researched the publishing business, did an online course in publishing, read dozens of articles on becoming a better writer and on getting taken seriously as a writer. From all this, I knew that I had to start investing in my writing – if I showed agents and publishers that I was serious enough about my skill to put my money where my pen is, then they would be more inclined to look at my work from a different perspective. I looked around at online novel writing courses, as well as at MA courses across the country with a distance-learning option. But when I saw that Leeds Trinity offered the MA in Creative Writing, I jumped at the chance to apply. Here is a good university, just around the corner from me, with an MA course that had everything I could want – the chance to work with and learn about writing from world-class authors in the department. It was the one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.
What difference has the MA in Creative Writing made to your writing?
The MA has made all the difference to my writing. It has shown me my foibles and quirks – the usual mistakes I make – and taught me how to stop making them, or how to fix the mistakes when I do make them. My writing has improved, become more professional but without losing my own voice along the way. Most importantly, the MA has taught me to value my writing, and to see its strengths; I’ve accepted that being a genre writer (horror, fantasy) is not a bad thing – it is MY thing, and I’ll stop being ashamed of that. Other people can write the literary fiction – it’s the way they create their best writing. But I’m glad I’ve found my own niche and strength, and I’ll write genre to the best of my ability.
You'll complete your MA this September - what next?
So many things! I’m attending the Festival of Writing 2015 at the University of York in September, where I’ll meet with agents, publishers, book doctors and authors, and I’ll be promoting Leeds Trinity's MA to anyone who will listen, and flog the Wordspace books all weekend. In October, I’ll be performing with the inimitable Steve Toase at the Ilkley Literature Festival Fringe, reading our horror stories for a massive audience. I’ll be promoting Dark Doors and Inspiration at any and all events that will let me in the door, and will be a regular at the Wordspace Open Mic nights. I’m currently a school librarian and loving the job, so I will be looking into getting my Librarian certification whilst working, because I need to be learning all the time! Somewhere in there, I’ll finish the final draft of the work in progress that the MA has helped to polish, and fling it at agents and publishers. I’ve got two more books to finish writing, as well, and all the short stories that nibble at the edges of my brain will keep me entertained and writing for years and months to come.
Get your copy of Inspiration: a Space for Words from the Indigo Dreams Publishing website.