Interviewing a Creative Writing student is probably one of the easiest interviews anyone has ever had to do. Why? Because they all but write the article for you. Clear, concise and refreshingly brilliant, Venue catches up with UEA Creative Writer Harriet Avery, comfortably seated on one of the sofa’s at Unio Cafe. In fluffy socks, a knitted jumper and the obligatory Arts-student-scarf, she grins and tells me she would rather write the answers to my questions than answer them out loud- which, of course, makes perfect sense. And so she begins typing away the answers almost instantly on her phone.
What does it mean to study creative writing?
“At UEA, there are opportunities to study the three main avenues of creative writing: poetry, prose and scriptwriting – I am fortunate enough to have tried my hand at all three. As well as the (often bizarre!) writing exercises set outside of class, we have weekly workshop sessions overseen by one of UEA’s many practising writers. These workshops normally involve a healthy mixture of reading, writing, new ideas, banter, feedback, pen-ink and certain amounts of chocolate – all of which, I can say from experience, are essential to creative writing.”
Why did you decide to study it?
“Why not? If, like me, writing is what you do, then the opportunity to be obliged to practise and improve and learn seems like a no-brainer. There are very few places in the world that allow you to sit around with actual, genuine, published writers, and exchange ideas on writing with them – as well as with other people who are on the same step of the journey as you.”
Are individual students disillusioned by the course, or does it reinvigorate one’s interest?
“I can’t speak for everyone, but personally, my own interest could hardly be more invigorated, now that I enter my third year. I don’t think the course claims to be anything other than it is – it was the first of its kind in the UK, so naturally it is still innovative and exciting and brilliant. It’s not just the workshops, but all the extras which are involved – the society, the live literature events, the collaboration with other disciplines, the festivals… I could go on and on and on. It has surpassed my expectations every year.”
She looks up at me and hands me the phone to have a read. I don’t have to do a single thing to improve them. So I decide to add my own, slightly harder question: “Do you know what you want to do with your degree after University?” She laughs a little, then frowns, then shrugs. “I don’t know,” she says. “Maybe…do a Master’s?”