Author Beatrice Hitchman gives sage advice to the budding artist or author and talks about how her Edinburgh experience shaped her imagination.
|Degree Course||English Literature with French MA Hons; MSc Comparative Literature|
|Year of Graduation||2002|
Your time at the University
I’ll admit it: I was an Oxbridge reject. Crushed, I thought I’d never be an author unless my university experience was straight out of Brideshead Revisited. And then I turned up in Edinburgh one late autumn evening, with the sun all gold on the Meadows, and totally forgot to be sad.
My favourite memories of Edinburgh are countless. I made friends there I’ll have my entire life, and the intellectual experience of having my mind cranked open was completely formative and unforgettable. It wasn’t all about the library (though I was an enormous swot) – it’s also where I came out, fell in love for the first time, fell out of love and in love again, ate good food, partied and travelled. And the freezing, Gothic splendour of Edinburgh – all those dank closes, fiery Beltane celebrations and the endless, endless night of the winter – was crucial to the formation of my writerly imagination, which I suspect will always now have shades of light and dark it would otherwise have lacked….
My favourite memories of Edinburgh are countless. I made friends there I’ll have my entire life, and the intellectual experience of having my mind cranked open was completely formative and unforgettable.
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
After university, I spent a year in Paris (the cliché of the young author abroad!) and then returned to the UK to start an ill-fated PhD. That didn’t last long, but I switched into TV editing, which was a good, storytelling alternative until I decided to finally pursue my dream. I completed an MA in Creative Writing and the novel that came from that course, Petite Mort, was published in 2013. It has been nominated for the Desmond Elliott Prize, the Authors’ Club First Book Prize, the Polari Prize, the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown, and serialised as a Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Drama featuring Honor Blackman. I’m now working on my second novel.
Don’t worry if you want to be an artist, or a writer. It will be OK. The money side will be OK – you can always have a day job. The talent side will probably be OK too – if you’re reading and thinking about this and pursing your lips, you probably have it, and the great secret is that it’s all about hard work and strategy anyway. Above all, don’t wait too long to try – the saddest thing in the world would be the gal with the Audi and the house in France who almost ended up writing a novel...