Before I started my PhD I completed my MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, studying novel writing and achieving a distinction in 2006.
The novel that I was working on for my MA, Marilyn and Me, was published in 2007 by Cinnamon Press after being shortlisted in their Novel Writing Competition. In 2008, I began working as an Associate Lecturer with the OU teaching the undergraduate creative writing module A215. I learned how the OU operates and how creative writing research practice works, so I knew I’d be in safe hands!
My PhD is titled ‘The Other Mothers’ and the creative element will comprise a multi-subject biographical narrative, exploring the lives of women who have become mothers through the routes of adoption, surrogacy and egg donation, and their silent partners – birth mothers, surrogate mothers and egg donors. An accompanying critical commentary will examine the ethical, methodological and artistic issues involved in creatively transforming life into literature.
I am interviewing women about their experiences of motherhood and then transforming their interviews into narrative, aiming to produce a hybrid form which mixes documentary interview with creative narrative using some fictional techniques. It’s a requirement of any PhD that you are making an original contribution to knowledge. With creative writing, this may involve new ways of looking at content and form, perhaps approaching a subject from a new angle or using an innovative approach. Much of the body of life writing that exists around motherhood focuses on the biological mother – raising a child you gave birth too – yet so-called alternative routes to motherhood are becoming more commonplace. I’m attempting to represent voices that are underrepresented, experimenting with different ways of portraying their lives.
I learned how the OU operates and how creative writing research practice works, so I knew I’d be in safe hands!Shanta Everington
My advice to anyone considering undertaking postgraduate study or research is to do something that really excites you, especially important if you’re going to be studying the same topic for six years! If you’re not one hundred percent committed I can imagine it could become very difficult.
My end aim is for my PhD narrative to be published as a creative non-fiction book. Previously, I’ve published fiction and some poetry but this will be my first full -length creative non-fiction piece. This October (2016), the OU launches Part 1 of the new MA in Creative Writing, A802, which I’ve been appointed to lecture on which is really exciting. Hopefully, the PhD will enhance my future teaching opportunities as well as impacting on my writing career.