This Thursday is the ‘Creating Friction’ conference: the UK’s first interdisciplinary creative practice postgraduate conference. Working with steering committee members Isabella Streffen from Fine Art and fellow Creative Writer Jane Thomas has been both fun and useful. When we started, we had no idea that chat between Creative Writing and Fine Art PhD students would throw up so much common ground to grumble about and share tips over, as well as highlighting future networking possibilities.
Thanks to the volcano, we’ve lost one speaker (flying from Canada), but I’ve just heard that our Keynote Speaker – Dr Sharon Kivland (Sheffield Hallam) – is safely in London and not stuck in Northern France as we had feared.
During the first couple of years of my PhD, I presented a lot of papers at conferences in the UK and abroad. I hate public speaking, so forcing myself to stand up and read both creative and critical work in front of my peers was a challenge, and a confidence boost. Attending those conferences was also a real boon for the progression of my research, as fellow students suggested theorists and fiction for me to read, as well as commenting thoughtfully and intelligently on my work.
One of my favourite conference experiences was back in 2007 when myself and Dr Siân Harris were funded by the AHRC to travel to the University of Alberta, Edmonton to make a joint presentation on the work of L. M. Montgomery. Siân’s research was presented in the form of a traditional academic paper about Montgomery’s Emily trilogy, and mine was a short story in response to both Siân’s research, and the diaries Montgomery kept whilst writing the trilogy. Integrating my creative work with Siân’s critical work opened up new possibilities for future collaboration, and has led to a lasting friendship.
The ‘Creating Friction‘ conference will be the first conference I have either attended or organised at which Creative Practise PhD students will be both the focus and the majority. While I’ve gained a lot from attending non-Creative Practise conferences, I’m really looking forward to the new perspective that this could shed on my writing and my thoughts about a future as a writer in academia.