Each year, Tŷ Newydd awards around 20 bursaries to help writers to attend a course at Tŷ Newydd. You can read about our bursary fund and how to apply here.
Briony Collins lives in Prestatyn, Denbighshire. She’s always written as a hobby, but didn’t start thinking seriously about it until September last year, when she had to write the opening of a novel for college coursework. After encouragement from her teacher, she finished the book, and won the 2016 Exeter Novel Prize with it. She’s now represented by DHH Literary Agency, working towards her dream of publishing it.
Though she’s had success with her prose writing, Briony also very much enjoys poetry, which lead her to apply for the Spring Poetry Masterclass with Gillian Clarke and Carol Ann Duffy in spring 2016. She was chosen as one of 16 poets from 40 applications. Briony said:
“Without the bursary, I would not have been able to attend. The bursary gave me the opportunity to meet wonderful poets, to learn new techniques that improved my writing, and helped me to realise that my situation didn’t have to hold me back. Tŷ Newydd went above and beyond to make me feel welcome, and I have never met such fantastic people in my life. The tutors, the staff, and all those on the course were outstanding, and I learned something from each of them. The house was beautiful, and the grounds around it were perfect for inspiring creativity. Although the workshops were helpful, the most important lesson I got out of my time at Tŷ Newydd was to be confident in myself. It is not often that I am proud of myself, but I was after attending the masterclass, and was pleased with the work I created during the week.”
To learn more about Briony, read her answers to our quick questionnaire:
- How did you come across Tŷ Newydd? Is this your first visit?
A college teacher suggested that I apply for the poetry masterclass at Ty Newydd. Prior to that, I hadn’t heard about it, and this was my first visit.
- As a writer, do you have a specific place that you go to for inspiration or to write?
I don’t have a specific place that I go to. Instead, I usually carry a journal wherever I go, and write when the mood strikes, wherever I may be at the time.
- Do you have a writing routine? Do you set a target to write a specific word count each day; have a special pen; a specific desk?
I’ve never been one for routines; I find that they stifle my creativity. I set myself very loose targets, such as a chapter per week of a novel, or set aside a free day to work on poetry. I almost never keep a schedule, and just write whenever I can until I meet my target.
- What’s your favourite book?
1984 by George Orwell. Ever since I read it in high school, I have loved it. I’ve lost count of how many time I’ve read 1984, and every time I discover something new about it.
- If you could be the author of any book, which book would you chose?
I’ve been fortunate enough this year to be making progress on my own, but if I had to choose another book, it would definitely be Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I think it’s such a brilliant concept, and a unique take on the frailty of the human mind. That book means a lot to me.
- If you could choose any three writers, dead or alive, to invite for supper, which three would you chose?
First, I’d choose Stephen King. His book On Writing made a huge difference to the way I approached writing, and pushed me to finish my own novel. I owe a lot to his genius. Michael Crichton definitely belongs on this list too. While I was growing up, I read every book of his in both the public and school libraries. Even now when I go to a new library, I always head to ‘C,’ just in case they have one I haven’t read yet. Finally, I’d love to have met Maya Angelou. Her poetry uplifts me, and inspires me while I work.
- Who or what inspired you to write?
I can’t remember what my initial inspiration to write was, because it has been such a long time. I wrote my first story when I was eight, about a family of pelicans, and just haven’t stopped since. I discovered how powerful words can be, and use my writing to tell the stories of people that often don’t have voices in the real world. I think art has such immense potential to bring about change, and to bring balance to parts of the world which are still imbalanced and unfair.
- If you could be any character from the literary world, who would you be and why?
Claire Fraser, from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. She’s tough, smart, and independent. I’m only halfway through reading the series at the moment, and I’m excited to learn about Claire’s new adventures!