Departures is a semi-regular write-up about the lit-scenes in other cities, countries and continents for writers who wish they had wings on their feet and multiple passports. Before we buckle you in and head over to the greener islands here are a few handy points to get you started:
res artis is an association dedicated to taking creative people, including writers, out of everyday life and placing them in an environment that allows for artistic development. Their up-to-date database allows you to find a residency to suit your artistic medium and budget in a country that appeals to you.
The Australia Council for the Arts has a number of grants to fund prospective travels.
Early Career Residencies are for artists in the first five years of their artistic career. You can apply for up to $30,000 so contact them to discuss your application if you have an individual or collaborative project itching to prosper. Applications close February 24 2014.
To the just graduated, or graduating, writers out there, an ArtStart grant will help kick-start your career by funding writing-related costs. The next round of applications closes February 3 2014.
The Copyright agency Cultural Fund has several application rounds in a year – their grants can be used towards travel for residencies and the like. Head to their website to find more information about the Cultural Fund and Careers Fund.
Departures: The United Kingdom
The UK is a hub of literary activity, a proud home of long-standing literary journals, residencies and prizes. If you love the colours green or grey, gooseberries and mud on your shoes, then you should think about heading over to England for your next writerly escapade.
What to take
Jumpers, so many jumpers
Vegemite (or a tin of Milo)
Vitamin D-in-a-bottle – you’re going to miss that Australian sunshine
What to read on the plane
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride. Available in Australia through Text Publishing, McBride’s debut novel was rejected by publisher after publisher until, finally, a small press picked it up. It has been described as a ‘cult classic’ by Anne Enright, and is violent but oh-so-sweet.
Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux. Marcel Theroux, a British writer and broadcaster, will have you hooked with his latest novel Strange Bodies. This unusually-plotted thriller will have you sleepless on the plane as a dead narrator has you grappling with questions of the body, humanity and mind. In an interview with Faber and Faber, Theroux said that he was imagining the book as an Milton-esque epigraph, that ‘Books are magic, books are a kind of vessel of a person’s consciousness...’ and I think you will find yourself scrawling furiously post-read in thematic response.
Where to reside and write
Have you fantasised of living among cathedrals and cycling on cobbled paths, ink stains permanently on your fingers? Well there are some options to ‘live’ as a writer in the UK.
One option is to undertake a postgraduate degree. This allows you to live there, network and focus on your writing within a structured setting. Our top pick is the University of East Anglia located in Norwich, about two and a half hours from London. Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Tracy Chevalier and Anne Enright have all studied there. Their Masters in Creative Writing Prose is a one-year full-time course that could be your ticket to writing a prize-winning novel.
For all you budding academics out there, or those of you who are unsure of what part of the writing or publishing industry to venture into, then the two-year part-time Master of Studies in Creative Writing at Oxford University could be for you. It is an intensive course that offers a placement at a literary agency or publishing house to give you real industry experience.
Studying in the UK is a large commitment of time and funds; for writers lighter on the finances, one option is a residency. A residency gives you space and time to focus on your creative practice without everyday distractions. While they can have associated fees, generally the investment is less than study and they still afford the opportunity and the impetus to get writing done.
The Arvon Foundation runs residential courses throughout the year in fiction and poetry. The residencies here are designed to create intimate support networks and are best for a first-time residency or those who do not like to write alone. They have four centres located in Devon, Inverness-shire, Shropshire and Yorkshire. The Yorkshire Lumb Bank centre is located inside the old house of Ted Hughes. Courses aren’t cheap; you will be dropping a minimum of £700, with grants offered to British Residents only, but this includes all meals, a room, the course, some new writing-mates and hopefully some extreme productivity.
Winters in the UK can be miserable but if you like writing in front of an open fire and rugging up then you should consider the Allenheads Contemporary Arts organisation, which offers winter residencies at the Old School House in the North Pennines. They promote a nurturing environment with a focus on creative and professional support. It costs £460 per month with artists expected to provide their own food, materials and contribution towards heating. Email your applications to them by the end of March 2014!
Where to submit
There are scores of literary magazines and journals produced in the UK, but we have narrowed them down to a few of our favourites.
Let’s aim high first and submit to the infamous Granta. Since 1779 Granta has published the best new writing four times a year, kickstarting the careers of writers such as Julian Barnes, Jeanette Winterson, David Mitchell and Zadie Smith. While it’s known that they hemorrhaged good staff in the past year, Granta remains a well-regarded journal. So submit that story you have been agonising over.
The White Review is a young, crisp number from London. It is a quarterly art journal published in print and online. Submit poetry, lengthy fiction and non-fiction for their print journal (minimum 1,500 words excluding poetry) and they like shorter pieces between 500–3,000 words of cultural analysis for their online counterpart. So email them your ideas and stories but do expect, at this stage, to be unpaid.
Sometimes things are just more satisfying when done the snail-mail way. Arete is a poetry journal out of Oxford that only accepts hard-copy submissions. It’s an intelligent journal with fine taste, worth reading and definitely worth submitting to. Find some good quality paper, type out your best poems and send them off.
Though it’s currently closed for submissions, The Manchester Review is a journal that you add to your favorites bar. Do. It. Now. It was founded at Manchester University and they publish fiction, non-fiction, prose and poetry submissions. Their website is damn fine, and we are digging James Robison’s ‘Watergate’.
For stories that have been written for performance, BBC Four’s Opening Lines Series showcases first time and emerging writers. They are looking for original short stories that have a strong emphasis on narrative, avoiding too much dialogue, character description and digression. Submissions close February 14.
But like always, ensure you keep an eye for the finer details of submissions, like the type of document or how to submit your work.
Where to be festive
The Edinburgh International Book Festival is where they celebrate all things bookish. With over 700 events and 800 authors the city becomes overrun with great conversation and pure inspiration. This year it’s happening from August 9–25 with a program to be released in June, and no doubt it will contain some bad free comedy and rowdy all-nighters ending in Cowgate.
The London Book Fair is an industry event from April 8–10. It will be educational, promotional and emotional as you find out what is really going on in the lit world.
The Manchester Literature Festival has just been, but it will be on again next year! Keep an eye out, both for the prizes and the panels. Manchester is becoming a leading front in the UK writing scene.
Bath is a history-filled white-stone city that has a star-studded festival this year from March 1–10 . Hilary Mantel, J.K. Rowling and P.D. James are all going to be there. Go on, embody your Austen alter ego and bathe in some soothing waters after doing the ridge-walk around the city.
Occasionally, as an emerging writer, you wonder how that person won that prize, or that person was nominated for that award. It’s simple, they entered and they submitted, over and over again. If you are going to tackle any international scene you have to build: first the courage, then the confidence, to submit.
The UK has quite a lot of pounds and titles available for the taking. The New Writer, a publication for emerging writers has you sorted with their list of up-to-date prizes for poetry and prose.
This is your chance to have your English campus fantasy made real: Myriad Editions Publishers are going tag team with West Dean College to offer unpublished prose writers the chance to win a week’s writing retreat, with full board, living on a campus situated in an area of majestic beauty north of Chichester, South East England. It’s open entry with six shortlisted entrants given the opportunity to receive feedback from industry experts. The deadline is February 4, 2014.
The Bridport Prize isn’t just any writing prize. It was founded in 1973 at the Bridport Arts Centre and now it’s a fairly big deal. The prize aims to gives emerging writers the chance to be known while promoting literary excellence. They have over £15,000 in prize money for fiction, poetry and flash fiction and entries close 31st May 2014.
Next time we are heading over the Atlantic, but until then don’t forget to write some postcards! Prose-style.