LRB Tutorial Prize

Shelley in tutorial over Skype, supervised by Dinah the Office Chicken
Shelley in tutorial over Skype, supervised by Dinah the Office Chicken

As a “distance learner” in the PhD in Creative Writing program at Lancaster, I miss a lot of on-campus activities. Granted, I knew that when I signed on, but still, I can’t help but feel a little wistful when the announcements of postgraduate (PGR) events come in my inbox. Author visits. Coffee and thesis readings. Stories at the Storey. Three-Minute Thesis competitions. If something doesn’t have a video feed (all of the above), I don’t get to participate.

Not whining. Just stating facts, ma’am.

But there are events where distance learners are welcome and the technology is in place. Case in point: The London Review of Books Tutorial Prize.

What is that? you ask. It’s a department competition where two undergrads, one graduate student, and one postgraduate student are chosen on the basis of three pages of their work for a private tutorial (read: personal critique workshop) with Christopher Tayler, reviewer and editor at the London Review of Books. This is a Big Deal. The British equivalent of a private workshop from the editor of the New York Times Book Review.

Guess who the postgrad student was. 😀

Our session was this morning at seven a.m., which is three p.m. in the UK. Mr. Tayler liked my “clean” writing style, and as he said, because of my publishing experience, he could dispense with his usual “what it’s like to be edited” talk and go straight to specifics in my pages. He gave me some good feedback on these opening pages, which, as any author will tell you, get a lot of attention because they have to hook the reader. Mr. Tayler said that he’d keep a lookout for The Comforter, because he wanted to know what happened next!

Mission accomplished. And music to an author’s ears.

Now, back to the writing (and The Monster Bibliography That Ate My Life) for the next year and a half!


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