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Surrey Adult Learning Creative Writing Tutor Ruth Brandt mentors Learners to Master’s Degree courses

Ruth Brandt started her journey with Surrey Adult Learning many moons ago. She originally gained a Maths and Physics Degree and worked on major crime investigations. Once she had a young family she decided that she needed some adult "brain stuff" and was determined to get out and about in the community. She approached SAL to enquire about courses and signed up to a Juggling and Circus Skills course - quite fitting for a mum on the run! - then a Cake Decorating course.

Ruth's father was a painter, so back in 1999, she wanted to explore our painting courses. They were full, so Ruth was encouraged to try out Creative Writing. At first she felt she did not belong; however, it wasn't long until she caught the infectious bug that so many writers can relate to and began to write. Ruth got together with other budding writers in a writing group and her writing came alive. After some time she began teaching with SAL.

She said, "More than 500 Learners have been through my classes and I remember them! I encourage people to express themselves creatively and just write. Grammar and spelling can be corrected and as my classes are composed of mixed abilities, so I don't want Learners to get hung up on grammar that they can be taught. The creative aspect is key."

She also said, "I am not a teacher, I just help my Learners to find the skills they already have."

Ruth is an approachable and knowledgeable Tutor who expects high standards from her Learners, which includes creative input for every session. The class all work together as one team, amplifying and refining skills. The Creative Writing courses have a clear structure which help Learners improve and enjoy Creative Writing. This involves weekly homework, with the expectation that every Learner will deliver 300 words either prose, poetry, a short piece of written work or part of a larger story.

The creative writing is read out in class and receives both peer and Tutor feedback. Ruth stressed the importance of understanding critique as a tool to improve and refine skills. The 300 word count is due to the consistently high class numbers, so that everyone is included in the class. Ruth said: "as a Learner you are learning your craft, so if someone has written something, they deserve to be heard."

In discussing aspects of Creative Writing, Ruth says: "when you tell a story, tell the truth but tell it slant; everyone has a story." Parting advice from a successful creative writer equally included the following: "Look at a story sideways, not head on, or you will crash…"

Recent Writing successes from Ruth's Learners' include:

  • Ruth has had at least 2 Learners accepted on the West Dean MA course for Creative Writing.
  • She also had one Learner join her class who was recommended to her by West Dean as he did not have sufficient skills for the MA course and because those of her past Learners are very well prepared for the MA course.
  • Former Guildford Learner long-listed in the Brighton Flash Fiction Competition
  • Esher and Woking Learner long-listed in the Brighton Short Story Competition
  • Woking and Saturday course Learner long-listed in the Reflex Flash Fiction Summer Competition
  • Former Learner signed by an agent for her children's novel; Learner has also previously been signed by an agent for her memoirs and graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University in 2016
  • Guildford Learner completed an Open University undergraduate creative writing module, 2nd level, and is studying a 3rd level course
  • One Woking Learner: long-listed in the Ink Tears, Bare Fiction and Reflex Fiction Competitions; included in the Reflex Fiction anthology; 2nd in the Farnham Short Story Competition; won the Winchester Writers' Festival flash fiction competition; shortlisted in the Farnham Flash Fiction and Froome Short Story Competitions; has gained a place on the Surrey University Creative Writing MA
  • Woking Learner published online by Reflex Fiction
  • Esher Learner won a place on the Chicken House's (children's publisher) Golden Egg programme
  • Guildford Learner accepted on the West Dean MA Creative Writing course having been sent to SAL classes to prepare him
  • Woking Learner's Poem published in People's Friend
  • Guildford Learner accepted on the Surrey University MA Creative Writing course
  • Esher Learner awarded a bursary for a place on the Top Write Scheme (for young writers) to attend the Swanwick Writers' Summer School
  • Woking Learner recorded two memoirs to be broadcast by Radio Northumberland and invited to become involved in a social history project
  • Guildford Learner creates a piece of flash fiction published by 101 Words

Ruth's 2018 Writing Successes include:

  • Flash fiction story Some Place to Eat published in Fictive Dreams - July 2018
  • Short story The Chair published in The London Reader Magazine - June 2018
  • Featured as Author of the Month by Cut a Long Story - March 2018
  • Poem The Easter Egg Hunt published in Bunbury Magazine Issue 18 - February 2018
  • Shooting Waters published in Into the Void Issue 7 - January 2018
  • The Sundance Kid published in Bandit Fiction Winter 2017 Pamphlet
  • Flash fiction Nocturne published in Firefly Magazine Issue 11 - November 2017
  • Currently Writer-in-Residence at Surrey Wildlife Trust
  • Upcoming short courses running at West Dean College this Summer and Autumn

There are some remaining spaces on some of Ruth's courses starting this Autumn; if you have been inspired to pick up a pen and join in, click the links below for details about the courses and how to enrol:

  • Updated: 01 Aug 2018