BA (Hons) MA PhD (Creative and Critical Writing)
Writer, filmmaker and lecturer
I studied A Levels in English Literature, History, Theatre Studies, and AS Level in Performing Arts at Collyer’s from 1998-2000. I feel like I really became myself at Collyer’s after a difficult time at my secondary school. I was able to explore literature, theatre, and History in-depth discovering my lifelong passions for these subjects. I felt inspired to read and write in my spare time, launching me on my path towards becoming a writer. I am still friends with plenty of people I met at Collyer’s, and I remember it very fondly.
I then studied History at the University of Manchester, where I obtained a BA with Honours degree, and then moved to the University of Sussex, where I achieved an MA in Literature and Visual Culture.
I believe I have made a difference in people’s lives as my writing has often focused on trans rights and representation, political and cultural history, in the hope of making things better for trans people in particular, and the LGBTQ+ community more widely. I have been invited back to Collyer’s a couple of times to talk about my work, and that meant a lot to me.
Currently I write, make films, and teach at several universities, so I am always giving something to the world. I often think about one of my favourite writers, Blaise Cendrars, who talked about how most people just keep the cogs of society turning – he was lucky enough to create something on top of that. I am also an associate lecturer at the Royal College of Art, the world’s most influential postgraduate institution of Art and Design, teaching on the Contemporary Art Practice course.
In terms of my typical day, I start by answering emails, and usually sit down to write around 9.30am – at home or in my studio. I stop for lunch around midday, and then maybe do more in the early afternoon, trying to reach whatever target I have set myself (500-1000 words usually). In the afternoon, I often read or watch a film, or go to an exhibition.
I love my job as I get to create things to make a difference to people and will hopefully be remembered for a long time. I have a lot of freedom, too as I can structure my day as I wish.
For someone looking to get into a similar role you need to be able to write, which is practise of course. Read widely, write as much as you can, listen to constructive criticism, ignore anyone who tells you that you need a “proper degree” for a “proper job” and be very organised and self-motivated.
Looking back, the advice I would give to a younger me is the same advice that someone gave me when I was struggling with my writing and stuck in a boring job – “You become a loser when you give up.”
What next Juliet? More of the same! I have got myself exactly where I want to be and that is an incredible feeling.