Briony Marshall is an author from the West Midlands in the UK. She is a graduate from the University of Wolverhampton, with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing with English. When Briony is not writing, she’s knitting and when she’s not knitting, she’s drinking coffee. Her debut novel, Unravelled, was published via The Writing Hall in 2017.
The WLV Alumni Association recently spoke to her about her time studying at the University of Wolverhampton, as well as what she has been up to since graduating.
What are your memories of studying at Wolverhampton?
My first memory of University is one of my fondest. It was whilst I was attending one of the University Open Days, I remember walking into this room, which the map had told me was the Creative & Professional Writing room. I bounded in, already knowing that this was the course for me, but would it be my University? Straight away I was greeted by a warm smile and a jolly face. Little did I know at the time that this was the head of CPW Paul McDonald. I remember him instantly taking an interest in me, not my grades, not the subjects I was currently studying but me as a writer. He asked me what I’d been writing recently and I remember telling him I’d recently had my flash fiction selected to be placed in the window of Waterstones book shop. I remember him telling me that with an achievement like that already, he didn’t mind what grades I got, he was happy to have me onboard for the course. It was only a small conversation, but it was a moment that stuck with me from that day to this and was definitely a big factor into why I choose Wolverhampton. Wanting to take a creative course, it was so refreshing to have someone who was genuinely interested in me as a creator.
Over my three years of study at the University I made so many amazing memories, it would take me pages and pages to list them all! I made some amazing friends, I met my boyfriend whom I now live with and plan to spend the rest of my life with I left with a degree I proud of and it is the place where I wrote the first words of Unravelled on paper.
Most recently, thanks to Jackie Pieterick, Paul McDonald and the rest of the English & CPW team, I was able to hold my launch party for my debut novel at the University. The night went down a storm and I couldn’t be more thankful for my lecturers’ assistance in making that happen.
It’s been five years since my graduation and I’m still continuing to make memories at the University, I sure hope that doesn’t end here.
What made you decide to study your chosen course?
When I went to college I had every intention of leaving there and moving on to theatre school. From an early age I loved the concept of performance and genuinely believed it was my calling in life. However, during my time at college I had a complete shift in life goals. During my Drama Studies my teachers comments became harsher and more pressurised and although I wasn’t underachieving by any stretch of the imagination, there were naturally people in my classes who could project louder than me, stand taller than me and be more outlandish than me. However, at the same time, praise from my English tutors became more and more frequent, especially in the areas where creative writing was concerned. English had originally been a subject I had taken just purely because I enjoyed it. I used to dabble in writing in my spare time too, but it had never been something I’d taken too seriously until those finally few months of college. By the end of my study there my outlook had changed completely and when my PT sat me down to discuss UCAS applications all I knew was that I wanted to study Creative Writing, Drama School didn’t even enter my mind.
What did you gain personally in terms of confidence, assurance etc...?
Uni taught me independence and self discipline. I would say one of the main differences between university and college is the amount of independence your given. You literally get out of University what you put into it. They aren’t there to spoon feed you, you’ve got to want to learn to learn, no one’s going to force you, it’s your choice. These are very valuable life skills in a more general sense too. I think after Uni I was a lot more prepared for the world of work because I knew how to both work hard and play hard, without any outside assistance.
Uni also definitely built up my confidence and assurance in my own field of study. Without University I would have probably never applied for my publishing contract, I wouldn’t have been brave enough to.
What advice would you give a potential student of the University?
Study something you love. You have to have a true passion for your chosen subject, otherwise University just won’t work for you. Your degree becomes your life for three whole years and for me that was a dream come true! I would to do it all over again in a heartbeat if I could. Many people told me a degree in Creative Writing wouldn’t lead me anywhere and that I was wasting my time. Imagine if I’d actually listened to those people?
How did the Uni help with your career?
The University gave me the tools I needed and the confidence necessary to become an author. Putting your writing out there for others to read, invest in and eventually buy and engage with can be a daunting adventure. It takes a lot of confidence and skill in the early stages to ever get to the point where you can let your story fly. University helped me hone those skills and build confidence in my own work.
What do you do now?
I am a published author. My debut novel Unravelled is available to purchase now and I am so proud of this achievement. However, as a bi-product of this success I have also become an active blogger and social media content writer, promoting my own work and documenting my writer journey.
In one sentence, describe your experience of the University.
An inspiration that will last a life time.
Are you interested in attending our Homecoming event in June, and why?
Oh, I definitely would be. I’ve always loved those kinds of scenes in movies where everyone meets up years later and they all have their own story to tell. I think it would be really interesting to see how people who studied the same (or similar) course to me have used their degrees in the outside world and to learn about all the different paths we have taken.
Photo credit: Yasmin Qureshi Photography. Yasmin is also a graduate of the University of Wolverhampton and she is currently studying her MA in Photography here too.
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