Helen Marshall, Creative Writer and Lecturer of Creative Writing and Publishing

Helen Marshall, Creative Writer and Lecturer of Creative Writing and Publishing

BY: as told by Helen Marshall / as written by Catherine Nygren

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For my PhD in medieval studies, I researched the conditions of English literary production, c. 1280-1415. In the final two years of my PhD, I was working as the managing editor for an independent press, as well as working on my own creative writing, which lead to grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council. This funding was critical for my final year, when my SSHRC ran out. While non-academic work may have slowed down my degree, it’s increasingly necessary for students to develop a secondary career path alongside the PhD.

After my doctoral work, I moved to a two-year post-doc at Oxford. I taught some creative writing courses at the Manchester Metropolitan University and the Oxford Master of Studies in Creative Writing, as well as writing a novel. Afterward, I applied to positions both in medieval studies and in creative writing.

My job as an editor had given me another set of networks to draw on for jobs, and it was through these connections that I met the director of my Centre at a science fiction conference. When a job opened up for a lecturer in creative writing and publishing at Anglia Ruskin University, he thought of me as a good candidate for the position because of my combined experience in book history and creative writing.

My current job is very varied, and draws upon many of the skills I learned during my PhD. Experience with grant applications and funding is a huge asset, as is organizing events like conferences. Independent learning, complex writing, and presentations are also important, but I credit my experience working outside of the academy with teaching me how my PhD skills are useful in the real world—and how I can combine my alt-ac and academic expertise.

A lot of my creative writing comes out of my knowledge of medieval literature—my post-apocalyptic novel set in the modern world links back to the modern world, for instance. Writing my thesis also taught me how to write a novel: both involve aiming for incremental progress, understanding the writing and editing process, and committing to writing for hours a day.

 


 

POLL – Networking

For my PhD in medieval studies, I researched the conditions of English literary production, c. 1280-1415. In the final two years of my PhD, I was working as the managing editor for an independent press, as well as working on my own creative writing, which lead to grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council. This funding was critical for my final year, when my SSHRC ran out. While non-academic work may have slowed down my degree, it’s increasingly necessary for students to develop a secondary career path alongside the PhD.

After my doctoral work, I moved to a two-year post-doc at Oxford. I taught some creative writing courses at the Manchester Metropolitan University and the Oxford Master of Studies in Creative Writing, as well as writing a novel. Afterward, I applied to positions both in medieval studies and in creative writing.

My job as an editor had given me another set of networks to draw on for jobs, and it was through these connections that I met the director of my Centre at a science fiction conference. When a job opened up for a lecturer in creative writing and publishing at Anglia Ruskin University, he thought of me as a good candidate for the position because of my combined experience in book history and creative writing.

My current job is very varied, and draws upon many of the skills I learned during my PhD. Experience with grant applications and funding is a huge asset, as is organizing events like conferences. Independent learning, complex writing, and presentations are also important, but I credit my experience working outside of the academy with teaching me how my PhD skills are useful in the real world—and how I can combine my alt-ac and academic expertise.

A lot of my creative writing comes out of my knowledge of medieval literature—my post-apocalyptic novel set in the modern world links back to the modern world, for instance. Writing my thesis also taught me how to write a novel: both involve aiming for incremental progress, understanding the writing and editing process, and committing to writing for hours a day.

 


 

POLL – Networking

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