Hello again Roehampton! I have fond memories of the fun I had in your leafy nook of London. It’s Dr Sarah Walton here – I’m now a novelist, Doctor of Creative Writing, Digital Consultant, Coach and Public Speaker. You’ve been an important part of an exciting journey – which hasn’t finished yet!
You were the reason I ended up at university in Barcelona in 1993 doing sociolinguistic research about language switching between Castilian and Catalan Spanish – and where I forged lifelong friendships. The stories I heard from Catalan families fed the novel I’m currently writing. It’s my third novel, a psychological thriller with a Spanish Civil War sub plot. I’m deeply grateful to my teachers in the Department of English who made it possible for me to study in Spain and France.
Last month I went on a research trip to Mallorca with an old Roehampton friend from Southlands campus. Out of the blue Hayley suggested we meet in Palma. I’d been sitting in Caffe Nero where I often write in the mornings, contemplating a list of minor research questions – like what did the plaque on wall of Can Mir prison – now a cinema – in the Plaça de Espanya in Palma say? Google didn’t provide the answers and as I contemplated a research trip Hayley’s message magically arrived. The only answer was, ‘yes!’ We live at opposite ends of the country and I hadn’t seen her for eleven years. Three weeks later we were sipping Cava in Palma reminiscing about our days at Roehampton. We even made a trip to Palma’s El Cort library to revive our memories of hours spent studying in Digby and Southlands libraries in the nineties. It was just like old times – we got the giggles!
What I do when I’m not writing novels – Digital Consulting
When I left Roehampton I got a grad job at a Magazine Publishing house in London’s Soho. Back in the nineties it was a pretty misogynist environment and I got fed up being asked to make the tea. So I offered my time for free at a design agency (featured in a magazine) as an apprentice in the multimedia studio to learn the digital tools that fascinated me. The deal was that if I completed the work to standard it could be presented to the clients. Within eight months I had a portfolio that included several big brands.
Imagination & dot.com start up
While on the digital design apprenticeship I started up a dot com with a friend (this was before Google and there wasn’t much imagery online, mostly text). We raised funds, built a prototype and went to Silicon Valley. It was a wild time. We didn’t become billionaires, but my time studying in Rennes and Barcelona universities had taught me how to operate successfully in another culture. Douglas Englebart, one of the three fathers of the internet joined our management team and I was mentored by some of the best brains of the Age of Internet Domestication (i.e. when your granny could start using email).
How brain injury & PhD turned me into a writing coach
Back to the UK, I’m now a Digital Consultant. The rest of my time I write and deliver Creative Writing Retreats all over the world. In 2004 I had an accident and acquired a brain injury. The bump on the head wiped out a few years, but it’s been a gift. I was no longer able to write and as I was in the middle of Rufius, my debut novel, this was devastating. When I started to recover I taught myself how to write from the intuition. I developed an approach to writing that I call Soul Writing. During my PhD in Creative Writing I developed the method further and now teach Soul Writing in private sessions and run writing retreats in exotic locations. Rufius was long-listed for the POLARI First Book Prize in 2017!
In a few weeks I will be self-publishing my first novella, Sophia’s Tale which will be available on Amazon. In May I’ll co-facilitate a Writing Retreat centred around William Blake, whose poetry I developed a love of at Roehampton. And in October I head to Thailand to run Soul Writing Retreats.
Thank you, Roehampton! You gave me so much.
If you want to read more:
Rufius, A novel of Ancient Rome (on Amazon) – Long-listed for the POLARI FIRST BOOK PRIZE: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rufius-Sarah-Walton/dp/1909954160
Founder – Counterpoint – www.counterpoint.bz
Founder – Soul Writing Creative Writing – www.soulwriting.co
Digital Identity Profile – https://womeninidentity.org/2019/02/21/dr-sarah-walton/