A Community of Writers

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All photographs were provided by Hanna Andersson and copyright remains with her.

Hanna is 26 years old and has just graduated a BA of Arts at the University of Roehampton. She is now working as a nanny, as a bartender, and as a freelance writer. She likes sport, beer, reading, coffee, and the change of seasons. She is also a blogger and takes every opportunity to write and to meet new people. Her best quality is that she makes everyone feel comfortable, and her worst quality is that she can be unproductive.

Being a writer can seem lonely. And it is, sometimes. You can write anywhere at any time, and often by yourself. But, I have discovered that the time between writing sessions can be far from lonely, and very important for a writer.

I started studying Creative Writing and Journalism at University of Roehampton in 2015. I knew no one. I was, and still is to some extent, the annoying I have an opinion teachers pet, and I felt lonely sometimes. I joined or, rather, started discussions in class, with teachers and other students, and thought that I was in the gang. But as soon as the lecture or tutorial was over the rest joined their clicks and disappeared whilst I stayed and talked to the teacher. Not always, but often.

As time went on I made friends. My little group of uni buddies who I really enjoyed getting to know, even though I didn’t hang around much after class. I kept talking, and kind of pushed myself onto my fellow peers. I found a few creative minds that I clicked with, and let everyone know that I was always up for editing sessions.

Somewhere during this time, between my first year and beginning of second year, that I understood the beauty of a writing community.

I could pretty much text anyone of my Creative Writing friends and they would give me feedback on what I had written. I have to admit, it was not the same in the Journalism group, whose students seemed much more competitive, although I have my little group of Journalism editors today.

In my Creative Writing group, there were so many ready to reach out a helping hand, and I am so grateful for having that support. I would do the same thing for anyone who needed it. I showed my passion for editing and discussing stories, plot holes, structure, and conversation, and other students started open up to me and ask for my opinions, as I did theirs.

I love editing others work and seeing a story from another perspective. I want to take someone’s work and add something or change something to make their words even more beautiful and interesting. I want to see their vision, and help them push it through. I can get a text saying, ‘Hey, can you have a look at this?’ and I let go of everything to do so, because I enjoy it so much. I was in the middle of producing a magazine in my last term at uni, and a good friend of mine asked for feedback on a script, I set my magazine aside to have a look at it, which actually inspired me to work harder with my project. I would gladly drop stop in the middle of grocery shopping to edit, as long as I have a cup of coffee somewhere close by.

University has taught me to be a good editor, a critical eye to others work, and this community has also taught me to handle criticism in a better way. I know how to give feedback in a direct but pedagogic way, and I think about this when others criticise my work; they want to help.

Which bring me to the teachers, who I also feel like I could email at any time and ask for a reference, some advice, or just an opinion on an article. Because I stayed around, always raised my hand, and gladly talked to my teachers, they knew that if I reached out it was because I was unsure or confused, not because I hadn’t been bothered to listen. I went through a period where I was very stressed about my workload, and I emailed a few of my teachers for advice and guidance, all of them got back to me.

Here, I am happy to say that the journalism teachers have been as helpful as the creative writing teachers.

My lecturers have pushed us to connect with our classmates, and other people in the industry, like our guest lectures or former Roehampton students. They have pinpointed the importance of a community, and the support you can get from other writers.

Roehampton Journalism have an Instagram that does just that, support graduates and current students, whilst the Creative Writing community constantly support each other on Facebook.

Sharing each other’s work and being active on social media really helps to not only promote your own work, but to also promote others.

My years as a “writer” in London has also encouraged me to approach writers and ask them about their story and how they feel about certain things in the industry. I have met former Roehampton students (shout out to wonderful Haley), I have met teacher´s colleagues, I have DM’d people on Instagram, and I have been curious of anything writing related. From blogs and social media to hard core politics and essay writing.

I have started following other writers and creative spirits on Instagram and they are the best at engaging with their followers. One of them, Grace Latter, is a wonderful role model who has invited me into her community where so many inspiring people are gathered. She kindly invited me to her “a year without tumour” anniversary and I got to meet many of the writers I have been following on social media. Her community is awesome and I am happy to be a part of it!

Writers are known to, sometimes, be a bit pretentious. That they know more than most, and that if you don’t understand their fancy words or deep thoughts you are not worthy of their time. I remember a girl in my first year. I asked her what books she read, and she said I wouldn’t know because they were too dark and sad. These were the writers I have been the most anxious about getting to know. I am lucky to only have met a few of these writers, and I am also happy to say that the writers who put themselves above others are the ones without a writing community, and will create work that is less inspiring. I love writing about these pretentious characters, but that’s another topic.

My writing community is getting bigger by the day. Even when you are lonely, you’re not lonely as a writer. Because if you are a writer, you are also a reader, and you can see the world reflected in others work anywhere and anytime you want. You just have to open a book, read a poem, scroll though an influencer on Instagram, and you can feel inspired and supported by a whole world. But, when you find people you do feel are on the same page as you, interact and get to know them. You can, and will, meet so many inspiring people that can push you to explore more and to learn more about other interests, cultures, and people. Your community will grow and you will grow with it.