Lizzie is a third-year Creative Writing PhD student. She completed a placement as Guest Editor for our in-house publication, The Letters Page.
Where was your placement and what were your tasks?
"My placement was with the in-house publication The Letters Page, where I fulfilled the role of Guest Editor from September to December 2021. The journal itself publishes essays, poetry, stories, travelogues, memoirs, and criticism, but all in the form of letters, and from all over the world.
I ran workshops for masters students in the School of English which enabled them to learn about literary journals and online platforms, and to create content for The Letters Page’s social media.
Together, we created blog, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok content. I managed the social media channels, as well as the incoming submissions for the next volume of the publication."
How did you find out about your placement? What made you want to do one?
"The role of Guest Editor was advertised on Unitemps, so I applied through them. I had worked with The Letters Page before when I was a masters student and absolutely loved it, and I had editorial experience from working on the university’s literary journal, Laced, as well as some teaching and workshop experience, so overall the role seemed like something I would really enjoy. I also run my own Wordpress blog, The Thing With Feathers, so I felt confident in my ability to run the social media side of the publication as well."
What was the most enjoyable part of your placement?
"Working with my team of students, without question. Everyone was so enthusiastic and excited to be part of the placement, and they were all so talented. It was such a joy to be able to read their blog post and social media submissions and work with them during the editorial process. They all had such interesting and thoughtful things to say. I especially loved reading the interviews they conducted for the blog, I learned so much from their interviewees. A lot of heart went into this work, which was incredible to see. We were lucky enough to have our workshops in-person as well, while adhering to Covid safety guidelines of course. It’s been such an unusual time to do something like this, but my students were so dedicated throughout to the project, and I’m really thankful for that.
I also got to read some of the submissions that came in for volume 6 of The Letters Page, which was such a treat. To read letters that have come from all over the world, see the handwriting of a stranger from miles away as they offer you a little piece of themselves, that’s really special."
What transferable skills did you gain?
"I learned how to adapt content for different social media sites depending on the format of the post, the word/character count available on that platform, and I certainly broadened my understanding of Wordpress, which our blog is hosted on. So in many ways, I learned a lot about developing clear and concise writing, and gained technical skills that I am sure will be valuable moving forward. I developed my presentational skills when I was running the workshops, as well as organisational and time management skills. We were able to post a lot of content online which was fantastic, and I really learned how to organise that process from submission to editing to posting so that everything ran smoothly and to deadlines."
Did you learn anything new or unexpected about yourself?
"That I can make TikToks! My team and I set up the TikTok account for the publication entirely from scratch, and in order to boost the amount of content we had on there, I made a few introductory TikToks about the publication, showcasing the printed journals and things like that, which was really fun. I hadn’t created much in terms of video content before so that was a really interesting learning curve, and it allows you to be so creative. The students made some fantastic ones, from stop motion videos to short films, all contained within just a few minutes. It was really amazing!"
Have your future career aspirations changed because of your placement?
"I would absolutely love to work for another publication in this kind of role, either as an editor or as a social media manager. I’m passionate about literature, so getting to showcase that was a dream. I really enjoyed the creativity that went into the role, as well as how much I was able to learn from my team and their pieces. The atmosphere of our sessions was fantastic, I really feel incredibly lucky to have been able to do this."
Anything else to add?
"Read more literary journals if you don’t already! You have no idea whose next words will inspire and impact you, what might change a little piece of you."
Visit The Letters Page website
More about the Creative Writing PhD