On 3 March our AS Creative Writing class was lucky enough to have Marcus Sedgwick – former writer-in-residence on Bath Spa University’s well-regarded creative writing course – as our guest teacher. Throughout the ninety-minute session he challenged us with amusing and rewarding exercises involving different approaches to writing: describing a landscape without the sense of sight; limiting sentences to just seven words; avoiding the letter ‘e’: these were particularly helpful for writing poetry, as Marcus does in his latest novel, The Ghosts of Heaven.
‘The usefulness of trying bizarre things …’
It was a privilege to work not just with a great novelist, but also with a fantastic teacher. Marcus brought the group together with an impressive talent for remembering names, and an approachable manner that gave us confidence to share our work. He acknowledged that writing is a subjective process, and talked our ideas through, rather than seeking to push them in particular directions. He showed enthusiasm for whatever we decided to share, no matter how awful, or undeveloped, we might have considered them.
‘Keep thinking outside the box and don’t use filler: what you choose to include is vital.’
As well as being approachable, he was also incredibly humble, never talking down to us, but teaching us as equals and emphasising how writing was a different experience for each of us. He also proved very interesting about the research that went into some of his books, and honest about his writing schedule (or lack thereof!). Overall, it was a very helpful session, filled with new methods and approaches we shall all take away with us, to ease our writing. We are all very grateful to Marcus, and hope to see him again next year.
Rhiannon, Year 12
We are already looking forward to a return visit from Marcus in Spring 2016.