Monday, May 15, 2006

I'm almost sad to think that soon I'll pass no more through this doorway on a Saturday morning. Deptford Town Hall, built in 1904 in 'Edwarian Gothic' style, is round the corner from Godsmiths College and is used as an annexe for teaching purposes. These two characters are called Tritons, some kind of mythological sea-gods.

It also houses the PACE offices - I think that stands for professional and community education. It's where I've been doing my Practical Journalism course since September and where I at last delivered my portfolio on Saturday. Apart from a get-together for a class party, that will be it, and I can't say I'm sorry, because although I've enjoyed the course and learned a lot I really want to get back to fiction writing.

One thing I have learned is that Journalism pays badly and is a very insecure form of employment. Whilst I've been attending the classes the tutor, Carole Woddis, lost the Glasgow Herald theatre-critic post she's had for fifteen years. I'm glad to say she's been successful in having a couple of articles posted on a theatre-related website called 'Rogues and Vagabonds' but she says the pay is diabolical.

It's a small class, only half a dozen of us left. Two people were already working as journalists; Carol, a forty-something freelance is currently writing minutes for the council on a two-month contract after being unemployed for a month. Another is an aspiring fashion writer, suitably pretty, who makes ends meet by living in a basement flat in her parents home and works with her boyfriend, who is a photographer. She's currently on a short-term contract with 'Eve' magazine and says her desk is right next t the fashion editor's, so she is pleased.

Apparently the best way to break into journalism is to work in however lowly a capacity in a magazine or newspaper office. One young woman works in the Goldsmiths press office and edited the 2006 prospectus, so at least she can count on a regular salary. There's a young man temping for an office agency who wants to write freelance articles for music magazines. When we did restaurant reviews he wrote a very funny piece about his local kebab shop.

A lot of the time in class was spent reading and critiquing one another's work, which was interesting, and I'm looking forward to the same in the Advanced Fiction class which starts in September. That's if I'm successful in signing on for it.

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