I have recently embarked on a PhD in Creative Writing with The Open University, focusing on a life writing project, supervised by Dr Derek Neale and Dr Sally O’Reilly.
The Other Mothers will explore how creative life writing methodologies can be used to portray hidden lives, and extend our understanding of what it means to be a mother, in a different but equally valid way to social sciences research.
The research will combine practice-based and critical approaches, to produce a multi-subject biographical narrative of mothers through adoption, surrogacy and egg donation, and their silent partners - birth mothers, surrogates and egg donors, whose stories remain largely untold. I will be will investigating how material derived from interviews can fuse with imagination to transform into creative narrative which uncovers and presents ’truths’ through ’versions of a life’.
The project is situated in the context of other contemporary life writing, including women’s life writing, multi-subject biographies, writing about living/unknown subjects and writing interweaving biographical and autobiographical elements.
The critical investigation will explore the history and traditions of life writing and its subgenres, the ethics and methodologies of the project, the nature of truth, techniques and debates around transforming life into literature, and reflections on my personal journey through the project.
My life writing piece, Violent Possibility, appeared in issue 3 of Friction Magazine, published by Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts.