I’ve been slowly getting through some of the more important things that I’ve done / been to over the past month or so, and have finally reached what might be the most exciting news…
I may have mentioned on this blog that I was going for an interview, but I was a bit coy about what it was, mainly because I didn’t want to advertise what a lovely thing it would be because if I then didn’t get it it would be very sad.
You’ll probably have gathered by now that whatever it was, I got it, because I’m about to tell you what it was! A few people said beforehand that they were certain I’d get it, or have since told me they knew I would, but bear in mind that after a year and a half out through serious illness, my confidence wasn’t as high as it might have been. Also, a year and a half out probably means a year and a half less experience studying/working than other candidates…
Having decided that my time at Literary Review was interesting, and that journalism was something that I fancied doing, I realised that I ought to have done a bit more of it, be that at uni or as work experience during holidays, for example. It’s possible that, having been ill, I could have returned to Literary Review, but for various reasons I decided against that.
- It is a very small magazine, and naturally when I got ill somebody else took my place. As it happens (and it was pure coincidence), he’s a good friend, but that’s irrelevant. What is relevant, though, is that going back would have been a bit more complicated in terms of where I might fit in…
- Lovely and wonderful as the job and magazine was, literary journalism simply does not pay well enough. That’s why most people who do it do it as a hobby, having another source of income.
- Having been ill, I felt that a new start would be in order. If I had just settled back into my ‘old’ life, it would almost have felt as though nothing had really happened. New me, new job. Or something.
So where was I? Journalism, right. Not having a huge amount of experience (though 4 months at Literary Review was excellent, particularly for the sub-editing side of things), and being a bit rusty after a year and a half not working (though this blog has hopefully kept up my writing skills), I decided early this year that a journalism course might be a good option to get me back on track. So I looked around, and discovered that a lot of deadlines were approaching very fast indeed.
Rather than rush out several half-hearted applications, I made the eminently sensible decision to put all my eggs in one basket. But which basket? After some research, I decided that the MA at Goldsmiths would be the most suitable course: it’s in London (New Cross, in the south-east); it’s Journalism rather than Magazine Journalism or Newspaper Journalism or Broadcast Journalism or Web Journalism (and at this stage I want to keep my options open… and believe that these days there is such crossover between the different media that having cross-media skills is very useful); the course has a good mix of the theoretical and practical; it was a bit cheaper than, say, City; it seems to be very successful in terms of student awards and people finding jobs after completing the course; etc.
So I applied, in spite of the 15:1 applicants:places ratio, and to my delight was invited to interview. This was the interview in question (towards the end of March), and I was glad to feel at interview (there was a tour and Q&A session too) that I had made a good choice. The interview was tricky: I found myself having to back up a couple of throwaway lines I made; but it went on for twice as long as expected, because we were having a good debate about state school pupils getting full scholarships to go to independent schools…
Anyway, I got it! I was even in the first batch (if people turn down the offer, they send another batch), which I was absolutely delighted with. I didn’t really have any reason to feel confident – I may have an Oxford degree, but my journalistic skills are relatively untested. Getting onto the course meant that someone believes I can be a good journalist, which was something I just didn’t know.
Best of all, perhaps, it was the first real thing I had managed to achieve since being ill. After so long of not knowing what the future might hold, and not being able to make any plans, it’s wonderful to have something definite lined up. The course starts in September, and takes a year. There are 14 students on the MA (hurrah – a student again! I’ll even get a student oystercard), and all in all I’m dead excited.
One of the things the interviewer did say, though, was that I could do with a bit of newspaper experience before doing the course… Fortunately, I’d already organised a week’s work experience at the Chichester Observer, which though not a huge thing, is better than nothing. I did it last week, and it was interesting to see how a local newspaper works. I did some rewriting of press releases and sports reports, and wrote a couple of pieces (one based on a couple of phone interviews, and one on research), but it didn’t leave me particularly desperate to work for a local paper… What was nice, though, was that they were very impressed by what I did, and wanted me to apply for the trainee reporter position they were interviewing for that week. I declined, but was flattered that they thought I should go for it, particularly since I hadn’t been putting in any special effort to get noticed!
Anyway, in just over a week’s time, I’m moving to London. I’ll be up from Monday 7th, but am not moving into my room in Balham (did I mention that? I’ve got a room lined up in Balham with a couple of uni friends and a couple of others) until Friday 11th. It’s very exciting to be moving back up to London, and is another important step in me getting my life back to something like ‘normal’, whatever that may mean. I’ve probably got a job lined up (basic admin etc at a financial PR company) that should pay for my living costs, but I’m yet to finalise details and confirm that. It’s not going to be the most challenging job in the world, by any means, but it’s only for a few months and there aren’t many places looking for someone for such a short time. Also, it’ll be interesting to see how a PR company works, they seem very nice, and having been ill it might be quite nice for my first job back not to be too much of a strain!
So, everything’s going pretty well at the moment! Famous last words, perhaps… but it’s exciting nevertheless. Oh wait, I’ve got a bone marrow biopsy on Wednesday. Bugger.