Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Performance and Cultural Industries

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Michelle Ballestrasse

M.Ballestrasse_editMA Writing for Performance and Publication

About me

I received my BA from San José State University in California in Creative Writing, during which time, I was published in and worked as an editor in literary magazines. Afterwards, I worked as a freelance writer for online publications such as examiner.com, while also teaching high school English, and English as a second language. In my free time, I enjoy skydiving, learning Italian, and writing short stories with friends.

Why I chose Leeds?

I’ve wanted to go to England since I was a child, and I’ve always wanted to study abroad. I had a friend who attended the university as an international student before me, who would often tell me quite enthusiastically about her positive experience at Leeds. When I researched the English programmes offered, I was really excited about the Writing for Publication and Performance Programme, because it filled all of the gaps that I desperately wanted to fill in my bachelor studies.

Areas of research

I’m currently studying scriptwriting, not only for film, but television, theatre, and radio, as well as learning the legal aspect of the creative process, such as copyright law, and what the writer can expect as far as legal protection of their work. It’s easy to think that producing a piece of creative work is as simple as writing it and having it published, but that’s far from the truth. It’s imperative to learn about how to protect yourself and your work, and that’s what this course has helped me to do.

My experience so far…

My experience so far has been very positive, since I’ve had the opportunity to meet, and learn from, people who have more practical experience and knowledge in the field of creative writing and publication. It’s opened my eyes to different channels that creative writing can take me that I hadn’t thought of before, such as writing for comics, radio, or for marketing. It’s also enhanced the education that I received back home, in that I’m thinking harder in terms of character, theme, and style.

At the moment I’m working on…

I’m currently working on my major project, which I hope to publish as a novel. In the meantime, my job has been encouraging me to write more articles about feminism, which is a particular passion of mine, and social commentary in general. I’m also working on a script for a contemporary radio drama, which is a first for me, since I’ve never written a script for radio drama in my life. It’s definitely getting me out of my comfort zone!

Getting involved

I recently obtained an internship at a local magazine as an editor in training, in which I’m encouraged not only to edit people’s articles, but also to produce creative pieces of my own. It’s an amazing opportunity for me to finally get into the more practical side of publishing and editorial work, which I didn’t manage to get at home, while expanding my personal portfolio.

My aspirations

I hope to go back to the United States with a much more thorough understanding of the practical side of creative writing, especially in editing and publication. It is my goal in life to be a published novelist, but I still have a love of editing and publication that I would like to take with me as part of my career. Being in another country has brought me a whole new perspective but I hope to take home with me, and I hope that the skills that I obtained here will make me more marketable in a difficult economy.

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