13 February 2014

My first two weeks as a CBC student

Ian Kirkpatrick
by Ian Kirkpatrick Course News, From Our Students

The Curtis Brown Creative Six-Month Creative-Writing Course began two weeks ago and those students who nervously shuffled into the reception area of our London office that first night are now, after the first few workshops, starting to relax and get to know each other – and us – a little better. Ian Kirkpatrick, one of the 15 who secured a place on the course on the strength of his ‘mid-life crisis crime novel’ Ilona, has posted his impressions of the first fortnight on his personal blog – and we’ve nicked it for ours. Thanks Ian.

I have been fortunate enough to secure a place on The Curtis Brown Creative Six-month Novel Writing Course, co-tutored by Louise Wener and Anna Davis. The course includes 15 authors writing across a wide range of genres and each at different stages within the writing process. Some have largely completed their current works-in-progress whilst others are just setting out on the journey. The thing that struck me about the group as a whole was the shared sense of passion about the writing process, and the professionalism that each author appeared to bring to the table (apart from the table itself, which is currently missing from the Curtis Brown boardroom!).

For me, it was quite a daunting first evening as we went round the group, each conducting a very brief pitch of our novels. So many strong ideas. So clearly presented. My carefully rehearsed pitch went completely awry. Lesson number one – better preparation.

Even at this early stage there seems to be a real sense of camaraderie amongst the group. The second session included a critique of the opening chapters from the unlucky three members who were selected for this dubious privilege. However I was delighted that the feedback around the group to Brad, Amy and Anna was so positive. The criticisms when due were presented in a supportive and constructive fashion. It made me feel slightly less nervous about presenting my own opening chapter.

Last night’s visiting-speaker session featured ex-CBC novel-writing student SD Sykes, accompanied by her Curtis Brown agent Gordon Wise. Gordon had sold Sykes’s debut novel Plague Land to Hodder & Stoughton and it will be published in the autumn. I thought that it was a stroke of genius to have the first visiting session being an ex-student who had recently gone through so many of the struggles that we are all currently grappling with as fledgling writers. I found SD Sykes inspirational, practical and realistic. Gordon was also an excellent speaker and he gave an eloquent account of hearing Sarah’s first reading and being captivated by her novel. Rufus Purdy also did a great job of chairing the evening and teasing out some great stories from the two guests.

So overall my first impressions of the course have been overwhelmingly positive.

Inspired to take a Curtis Brown Creative course? We are currently accepting applications for our Three-Month Novel-Writing Course (starting on 1 May) and our Online Novel-Writing Course, which begins on 22 April.


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