Month: February 2016

Down memoir lane

By Kamila Zahno

I recently retired from a very active life as a freelance public and voluntary sector consultant and decided to take part in  City’s Narrative Non-Fiction short course.

I had planned to write my memoirs and needed inspiration and structure. I could not find many non-fiction writing courses in London and was glad when I came across this one. The fact that it was offered by an established institution gave me confidence in the quality of education I would receive.

The best thing about the course was the logical structure employed by the tutor, Peter Forbes. He covered a lot of ground in just 10 two-hour classes.

Peter was very organised in his approach, yet there was room for comments by other students. The tutor would read and critique our work and put it up on the overhead so we could all discuss the points raised. He also sent us his slides after each session. These were invaluable as they included a plethora of reference material.

Even with limited time for student interaction due to the intensity of the course, I got to know some of the students quite well. We were all so different with a myriad of writing styles! I learned a lot from our sessions, particularly from the writing tips and examples from selected books.

The course exceeded my expectations. It was very practical and the notes were excellent. We had plenty of varied assignments. In addition, the tutor gave us information about further editing and mentoring help we could get as well as tips on publication.

Throughout the duration of the course, I was able to write my synopsis and book proposal, which was a great start to my memoir. I am now halfway through my manuscript and have submitted 2,000 words to an anthology of the ‘mixed race’ experience of families. This has now been accepted for publication.

This short course provided me with the skills to write my memoir as well as encouragement from both the tutor and fellow students that my story was interesting to a wider audience.

The next step for me is to finish writing my memoir and find a publisher!

Kamila did finish her memoir and has now published it as Chasing Ghosts.

Peter Forbes’ Narrative Non Fiction course runs termly as part of our non-fiction writing course offering.

Consultant on the road to re-invent himself as legal writer with a journalism short course

By Richard Firth

I took City’s short course in  Freelance writing: How to get published in print and online course.

I decided to do the course because, like most of us, I am a newspaper reader and was curious to know how journalists operate. I would like to reinvent myself as a legal writer. I felt that the course would buttress my ambition.

I chose City because I had previously attended an evening class here on public speaking and was impressed with it. But also, my father had been an engineering undergraduate at City between the World Wars so I liked the idea of visiting his alma mater!

It was, of course, important to me that City is a reputable institution. It also offered a valuable bonus – access to a good library.

What I enjoyed the most about the course was the ability to hear of the experiences of past and present students.

I’d describe my course tutor, Susan Grossman, as energetic, dogmatic, kind-hearted… She made sure that all of us could contribute to the class. She was very skilful in teaching practical skills, something which, I know from my own practical experience as a teacher of legal drafting, is very difficult.

The course fully met my expectations – I learnt something new in every session.

As for relations with fellow students, my advanced years (67 and a quarter) were not an impediment!

Although I’ve not yet been able to apply what I learnt on my course directly, it helped me to formulate my arguments and win them!

Richard Firth is a lecturer, writer and consultant on derivatives. In the past he has held positions of Senior Consultant at Linklaters LLP, Hong Kong and Director-Legal at Barclays Capital.

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