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From summer school to masters - part one

We talk to Elspeth Reilly, who attended the Scottish Universities’ International Summer School in 2016 and is now a Creative Writing MSc student in LLC (2018-19).

In 2016, Elspeth Reilly was selected to join the SUISS Creative Writing programme, one of five courses in the Scottish Universities’ International Summer School (SUISS).

Based at the University of Edinburgh, the four-week course offers developing writers a supportive environment in which to further their writing skills in fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction. Students have a unique opportunity to attend author-led Masterclasses and readings from established writers.

Asked why she applied, Elspeth tell us “I’ve always had an interest in writing, but hadn’t previously opportunities to explore it. There is no better place to fully immerse yourself into writing than SUISS.”

“Firstly, Edinburgh is an UNESCO city of literature, the birthplace and home to many famous authors - the atmosphere alone is inspiring. But more than that, this is a program of talented and dedicated professors, all passionate about the craft of writing, who are invested in your growth as a writer.”

"I just fell in love with the city of Edinburgh, an environment that I found well suited to writing as a profession and as an aspiration."

You will undoubtedly grow as a writer

For Elspeth, SUISS was an opportunity to be around “likeminded individuals who all had a strong passion for writing”, and she loved its diversity. “The year I attended not only had students from around the world, but also students with a range of ages, and writing experiences.”

“Subsequently, there was a great range in genres, styles, and topics being explored, and exposure to this variety will encourage you to experiment in ways you might’ve not previously considered. You will undoubtedly grow as a writer, and you’ll watch your peers grow alongside you - it’s a truly unique experience.”

“The workshop environment, wherein you present your writing on a weekly basis for group discussion, is the best way to promote growth in your writing. You will be encouraged to write as the deadlines push you, and your peers and professors will offer constructive feedback, and week by week you’ll notice improvements.”

Edinburgh keeps a hold of your heart

Originally from Virginia in the United States of America, Elspeth is now back in Edinburgh taking a one-year Masters in Creative Writing in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC).

A number of LLC staff play a key role in the Scottish Universities’ International Summer School, including Professor Greg Walker (SUISS Dean) and Dr Robert Irvine (SUISS Associate Dean), both of whom are based in English Literature in LLC.

Speaking about her return, Elspeth says “Edinburgh is a city that keeps a hold of your heart. I walked away from SUISS with a new fervour for writing, with friends from all over the world, and with memories that will last a lifetime. [But] the University itself is just such a fantastic institution that I felt such a connection to this place and this School that I had a strong desire to return.”

“The workshops in the Masters programme have been very beneficial to my writing because they give me a reason to produce, but also the inspiration from my classmates is invaluable.”

“I’ve been placed among a small group of poets, which has been a very intimate experience. There’s six of us currently all working alongside one another. Their poetry inspires me. I have such a diverse collection of writers, just like in did in SUISS, I find that all of our styles vary vastly, and that allows me to experiment more. It pushes me to write better.”

The Scottish Universities’ International Summer School (SUISS) Creative Writing Programme 2019 runs from 8th July - 3rd August at the University of Edinburgh.

Applications are open until Monday 29th April 2019, though scholarship applications must be received no later than Friday 29th March 2019.

Find out more on the SUISS website

Are you interested in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh?

Our Creative Writing community comprises Masters and PhD students specialising in either fiction or poetry. Programme highlights include our annual industry event, The Business, and lots of opportunities to share your work, including the ‘From Arthur’s Seat’ anthology.

Find out more about our MSc in Creative Writing

Related links

Read 'English Literature goes graphic': reflections on a collaboration with Edinburgh College of Art

Watch our interview with Sonali Misra, Editor-in-chief of this year's 'From Arthur's Seat'