… luckily, I have big feet!
OK, who are you?
I’m Pippa, the new Development Director for Nottingham Writers’ Studio. I’ve been spending the last week or so learning the ropes. Even before that, I knew Robin Vaughan-Williams was going to be a hard act to follow, and now I’ve seen what actually goes on behind the scenes, I’m quite frankly terrified. But that is only one tiny part of the emotions that have been swirling around my mind since James Walker called me to say I’d got the job. Most of all, I’m EXCITED! Robin’s always said this is his dream job, and I know just how he feels.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I came to Nottingham from Reading in 1984, initially to study for a BSc Psychology, then I stayed around to get a PhD in Computer Science. I continued in research for a while, then went to Experian as a software developer, working on desktop and web applications. When I got bored of programming I moved into middle management. Eventually I was made redundant in 2008, and sort of fell into a drastic career change. I joined the Nottingham University BA Creative and Professional Writing programme with the intention of writing a best-selling novel, set up the student anthology project there, graduated in 2012 and am now teaching on the degree. In the meantime I got a part-time job with Five Leaves, a local independent publisher run by the incomparable Ross Bradshaw. As the Five Leaves elf, I have learned a huge amount about the publishing industry and the process of producing books. I’ve also established a successful freelance career as an ebook producer/teacher, typesetter, proofreader/copy-editor, and writing workshop leader in schools, prisons, art galleries, universities, museums…
Along with Viv Purkiss (another NWS member) I set up the EU-funded Dovetail project which runs from July 2012 for two years, and involves a group from the Writers’ Studio meeting with writers from Karlsruhe and Budapest. I’ve been secretary of Nottingham Poetry Society for over two years now, and am involved in organising Beeston Poets and Nottingham Festival of Words.
Outside my three days a week at the Writers’ Studio, I will continue to work at Five Leaves for a day a week and teach a couple of modules at Nottingham University. I’ve also signed up for the Creative Writing MA at Nottingham University – part-time, of course…
Enough about you. What are your plans for the Studio?
My role is to be a facilitator rather than a manager. Of course, all the basic administration is my responsibility, but it’s not my job to personally set up and run all the projects the Studio is involved in. It is my job to ensure that, as far as possible, members can get what they need from the Studio in terms of support for their writing lives. Specific initiatives to further that aim include:
- Running the existing mentoring scheme and establishing additional schemes
- Arranging an autumn programme of workshops and short courses
- Organising the autumn Words of Mouth (Word of Mouths? Words of Mouths?)
- Establishing a NWS periodical journal to showcase members’ work
- Raising the profile of the Studio and encouraging more writers to join
- Investigating funding streams and bidding for appropriate grants
- Learning everything there is to know about everything
That should keep me busy till Christmas…!
What about after Christmas?
In the longer term, I’m interested in the possibilities offered by digital technology to all aspects of writing, and I’d like to establish links with artists in other fields to enable collaborative work. There is definitely scope for further European funding if members are interested in getting involved. And, of course, I’m keen to meet with members and find out what their ideas are.
Finally, what will your next tattoo be?
The first line of a poem by Hungarian poet Sándor Petőfi – Ki vagyok én? Nem mondom meg. It means Who am I? I will not say. And I kind of like it.