Meet Dr Mimi Thebo, lecturer in MA Creative Writing.
Tell us about your journey into academia…
I didn’t really want to be an academic – I wanted to be writer! But when I did my own master’s in Creative Writing I found the whole process extremely inspiring. I didn’t just love what happened to my own writing, I loved the whole process. Watching people go from being okay or good-ish writers to being truly wonderful writers was terribly exciting. I just couldn’t walk away from it.
That was nearly 20 years ago…
My writing and my teaching grew together. My first book was my MA manuscript. My PhD was done between books three and four but before books six and seven. Book five happened in the middle of it – Drawing Together with Walker Books. It’s for early readers, has sold over 250,000 copies and has been translated into five languages. I think more of my PhD went into that little book with Jess Meserve’s illustrations, than into the actual dissertation novel! Writing, researching and teaching have been the perfect combination for me. I can’t imagine life without all three of them.
What’s your favourite thing about teaching on postgraduate taught programmes at Bristol?
Bristol is a vibrant, multi-cultural city. As a harbour town, it has always gone out into the world and has always welcomed the world into itself. Many writers live in or around Bristol, and it’s always had a lively literary culture – largely because of its cultural richness as a harbour.
The University is a well-established Russell Group establishment with superb resources and solid administration practices. That’s why the new master’s in Creative Writing can take chances. We can support the extra administration of admitting both full-time and part-time students. Our admissions department could work out ways for students who hadn’t done a first degree to be credited for their prior knowledge. Estates and timetabling could ensure that we could teach in twilight hours, making parking cheaper and letting people work child care and paid work around their studies.
To make it even better, this flexible degree is taught in one of the top ten English departments in the UK, and it is exactly the experience and the solid, traditional university infrastructure of Bristol English that allows innovation and widens participation.
What’s your number one top tip for prospective postgraduate students for the MA in Creative Writing?
Read contemporary literature and write. It’s just that simple. If you’ve been doing both for a few years, you might well be ready for a master’s in Creative Writing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re old or young, what your background’s like or whether you’ve had previous study in the subject. If your writing is everything to you, it will also be everything to us.