Sunday, June 21, 2009

I'm a Winnie The Pooh Fellow

Several people have asked me recently about my teaching, and I think I can announce this officially now, so here goes - from September this year, I'm going to be the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the London School of Economics. I'm looking forward to it for so many reasons, not least having a proper job, meeting new people, getting to know the LSE, being able to take the fear out of writing for students, helping people to express their thoughts, and also having the thinking time for my own writing that teaching creative writing doesn't always allow you.

On Tuesday, we all (the new fellows to the scheme this year) met up in London to be 'inducted' and I came away with two new reasons to be grateful - firstly, I learnt that the scheme gets its money from the sale of the AA Milne estate to Disney. So we are really 'Winne the Pooh Fellows'. I used to love the Winnie the Pooh books when I was a child, not just the words but the physical bookiness of them (and also because I could see how much my parents enjoyed reading them to me. It's a lovely thing to share that real enjoyment with your parents, even if you're too young to recognise exactly what it means.)

And secondly, I loved hearing about the importance of the one-to-one consultations between the fellow and student that are at the heart of the scheme. For some students apparently, this might be the only time they are offered an hour of one-to-one talking about their course during the whole of their degree. It feels like a real privilege to be in the position to offer that.

It's interesting about nerves. Because as well as being excited, I've been nervous about the scheme - would I be good enough, what did I know about economics, or politics, and heck, all the students at LSE were bound to be cleverer than me because all I am is a jumped up ex-fashion student after all.... I'm sure you've all been to what my friend, Shaun calls 'that place' in different guises and at different times so you'll know what I'm on about.

But after Tuesday, I've been thinking about it differently. Cor blimey, Sarah, it's not all about you and how bad (or good) you are. No, it's about the student, and what they want to say. And I'm looking forward to hearing them talk about their studies, and what they need to make it a bit easier for them in terms of writing skills.

Plus I'm going to have my Quick and Dirty Grammar tips handy (as well as a pot or two of honey!)


Another good thing from Tuesday was reconnecting with the Scottish writer, Linda Cracknell, who will be the RLF Fellow at Stirling University. We found we had so much in common, not least a passion for short stories, walking and writing, small books, and much much else. We'd even just bought the same book about designing and producing your own books - do I need to say more?

You can read one of Linda's stories here, or buy her collection, The Searching Glance from Salt Publishing. You won't be disappointed.


SueG said...

I think this is such a fantastic opportunity for you, and for your soon-to-be students. How exciting! And how lucky they are to have you (and I'm not just saying that because you're my friend :-) )

Kathryn said...

Sarah, you will be such an excellent fellow. A jolly good one. You always seem to know exactly what to say to give inspiration at just the right moment. Good luck (though you won't need it) X

Sarah Salway said...

Aw thanks for that vote of confidence, both x

Vanessa Gebbie said...

terrific news, Sarah! many many congrats. And can I echo your warm comments about Linda's great collection - a fab book indeed.


Debi said...

How wonderful. Sitting here singing 'For she's a jolly good fellow ...'

sarchi said...

did you know that poo bridge is in fairwarp [ashdown forest] my sister used to have the property there