This piece first appeared on Ian Kirkpatrick’s personal blog.
On the Curtis Brown Creative Six-Month Creative-Writing Course, we have been discussing the importance of the mid-point in our novels. This represents the point of no return; the point at which the narrative has achieved a critical mass. With a certain symmetry, I realised that we had reached the mid-point of the course itself, and personally I feel that my novel Ilona has also reached a critical mass. I have been rewriting the novel throughout the course using the feedback from the group to address some of the core issues.
For me, the process of submitting extracts for a group critique has been one of the highlights of the course so far. The comments from our tutor Louise Wener and the other 14 students have been supportive and encouraging. The criticism has been constructive throughout and particularly illuminating for me. I think it helps that as writers we are all facing similar challenges, yet we’re prepared to share insights and suggestions. The sense of support for each other has been tangible and I am very grateful. Ilona is slowly becoming a better novel in the process.
We have all now submitted two 3,000-word extracts to the group and we are just about to start on the third and final round of submissions. These have provided tantalising glimpses into the various works-in-progress, rather like watching a succession of film trailers. I have found it fascinating to observe the physical writing process and the different ways that we each approach our craft.
I have been impressed by the format of the Curtis Brown Creative course and by the excellent way it has been managed by CBC director Anna Davis and new-writing editor Rufus Purdy. The range of speakers they have organised have been superb and I particularly enjoyed Nathan Filer and his agent Sophie Lambert, and the engaging Tom Rob Smith with his agent Felicity Blunt. Both authors were very open in sharing stories of their own journeys, which I found inspirational.
The quality of the teaching has been first-rate with a great mix of tutors. Louise’s practical and down-to-earth advice has been motivational. And as a crime writer I particularly enjoyed the sessions with guest tutor Tobias Jones. I will be forever indebted to him for introducing me to the writing of Ross Macdonald.
So as we move into the second half of the course, I am excited about the ongoing work with Ilona and in finalising my novel ready for submission. However, in the first instance maybe my third and final 3,000-word extract needs one more polish!
For more information on Curtis Brown Creative courses, please click here.