With a novel written but yet to be published, a friend suggested that Julie Salt enrol on a Master’s degree at BU with a view to achieving her goal.
Julie had worked as a BBC journalist, teacher, blogger and commercial copywriter when she embarked on the MA in Creative Writing & Publishing at BU. She said, “I hoped the course would give me all the tools I needed to publish my novel. When I came to the Open Day, the course leader at the time, Helen Jacey, impressed me so I signed up for the 2018-19 academic year.”
Despite her professional experiences, Julie still found the course had lots to offer in terms of new challenges. She said, “Writing and presenting pieces, while getting feedback from other students and tutors was very helpful. The course also offered valuable insights into the publishing side of the industry. Away from the academic content, making friends with people from different age groups and cultures was brilliant.”
During her studies, Julie helped to proofread submissions for the Fresher Writing Prize and longlist them for publication in the 2019 Fresher Writing Anthology: Volume 5. “This enabled me to see a wide range of writing styles and ideas”, she said.
Since graduating, Julie has been involved in multiple projects. In 2020, she self-published her book of poetry: ‘I breathe in: Poems of Loss, Love & Hope’ and edited another book, ‘Come the Evolution’ by Nabil Shabka. In the same year, during the pandemic, Julie’s father died. Since then, she has been writing her experiences into a work of creative non-fiction. She said, “Based on true events, the story is constructed in an unusual way. It deals with themes including fear of death, historical family loss, depression, family relationships, and the complexities of death during COVID-19.”
Earlier this year, Julie also had an opportunity to work on ‘Memory Makers’; a pilot project initiated by BU’s Dr Brad Gyori. Julie explained how this involves a group of writers creating meaningful stories or poems based on photographs belonging to people with dementia. “The aim is to inspire social interaction and help dementia sufferers feel less isolated”, she said.
On being asked what advice she would pass on to current and prospective students, and other graduates, Julie said, “Taking a Master’s degree at BU turned around my career as an author; it gave me the confidence I needed to achieve my goals. If you believe you have stories to tell, this degree can help you put them onto the page.”
“Be aware however that being an author is rarely a job that brings big bucks. It’s also not only about your writing. It’s an extremely time-consuming job which requires a range of skills, including daily commitment, networking, and the courage and imagination to promote both your product and your expertise. I’m still working on some of these skills myself – and have yet to publish my novel – but I’ll get there!”