MA Week Ten - guest lectures

Last Thursday we had two guest lectures, one after the other.  I'd cleared this day of day-job stuff, so I felt almost on holiday, and it was all very exciting.  Kate McCoy, who runs writing workshops in HMP Styal, came to talk to us about an internship programme they'll be running next semester with students from our course.  Three students (or six, if they do a second round during the summer) will get to jointly run a six-week long workshop course in Styal, which is a women's prison out by Manchester airport.  So they'd come up with a lesson-plan, a series of projects, or one extended projected to deliver over six three-hour workshops with a group of women prisoners in April/May 2010.  I've put my name down, it sounds really interesting.  I haven't really done any teaching since I was an undergraduate and I was one of four students who ran a literacy centre to help mature and underprivileged students on access courses to develop their writing and essay planning skills in preparation for university.  Still, because it's a team effort, we'll be able to help each other out, and we'd have Kate there too, as support and back-up.  Anyway, I might not get selected, so we'll have to wait and see.

Afterwards, two representatives from Mulcahy-Conway, a literary agency, came and chatted to us. They sponsor a manuscript contest each year for the fiction strand of our course - they read our dissertations (15,000 words of prose) and shortlist three - the winner gets £1000 and an agent.  They were announcing the winner after a reading of the finalists' work that evening, so came in to do a Q&A with us beforehand.  It was interesting stuff, and they were very friendly and informative people, and it turns out that one of them is the agent for Evie Wyld, whose book After The Fire, A Still Small Voice I've just this week asked my mum to get me for Christmas, after it won the John Llewellyn Rhys prize, beating off people like Chimamanda Adichie, no less.  So she's a sharp agent!  The readings later were in the committee room of Manchester Central Library, a lovely room that I keep wandering back to for various events, and the winner for the money and agents was Marli Roode, who I've mentioned before, and who read a very intriguing extract from her novel.  Go, Marli!  The other two finalists were also offered contracts with the agents, as it happened, so that was cool, and got us all very fired up and determined to get stuck into our own manuscripts.    

So a good and busy and writerly day was had by all.


Susan Gee said...

Hi Val,
I was just wondering if you came to your course with an idea for a novel already or are you still coming up with ideas?

Valerie O'Riordan said...

Hey Sue,

I came with an idea in mind, but it's only really solidified in my head over the last few weeks, after my workshops. I'm terrible for changing my mind! I must have rethought the whole thing five or six times over the last six months, but I think it makes sense now. I had planned on coming in to the course with a chunk of a first draft already done, but I didn't really get it together during the summer as much as I'd have liked. Some of my classmates came in with a work-in-progress already under way, and more have been developing ideas this term. And of course some are doing short stories. At least one person has concentrated on short stories this term, and plans on developing a novel idea next term. The tutors aren't at all prescriptive about it.


Susan Gee said...

It must be interesting to hear how the rest of your classmates are approaching it as well. You sound like you are really focused, so I'm sure your idea come together brilliantly.