"Mulled Wine" (a tribute to a tutor)

I'm adding a short post here today to bring some sad and unexpected news that's come my way this month about a writer I knew who's recently died. Her name was Chrissie Glazebrook and I was taught by her on the MA in Creative Writing I studied for a few years ago.

Unfortunately Chrissie finally succumbed to a form of cancer she was suffering from for a long time - the full details of her career and life can be seen at this Guardian Obituary for her, and you can get a brief glimpse at her recent creative spark here, but I really just wanted to say something briefly here about the person I knew, who I will definitely look back on as one of the personalities in my formative years of trying to be a writer...

I first heard about Chrissie when applying for the postgraduate course as she was the "poster girl" for the MA, being one of their recent successes with her first book, The Madolescents, but in the second year of the course itself, I was assigned as one of her students for one-to-one tutorials in the "developing a novel" part of our studies. At a time when I felt like the course itself didn't support wannabe children's writers, her patience and gentle enthusiasm for the historical novel I was trying to craft was a real inspiration, and she especially was instrumental in encouraging me to keep going with it when I was unsure whether to use it for my final major dissertation.

One particular anecdotal story I remember was that she helped me see that my writing then was full of "Americanisms" - probably from me being fed on a diet of US sitcoms and films growing up - but I remember struggling with the idea that "gotten" wasn't actually part of British written English. Chrissie, with her humourous approach to teaching was able to illustrate to me how (especially in a story set in Elizabethan England) this just wasn't working...

I’ve named this post “Mulled Wine” and it's appropriate at this time of year but to be honest I can only just stomach tasting the stuff each Christmas... I do like regular wine however, which the mulled variety is obviously made from, and like mulled wine, with it's contrasting tastes, it was a strange mix of contrasting feelings that were conjured up when I first heard about Chrissie's death. She was someone I wasn’t particularly close to but was an acquaintance who made quite an impact on my early writing life, and so I feel privileged to have met her and to have received her guidance about my humble scribbles, but at the same time I am also immensely saddened by her passing.

The final words are perhaps best left for Chrissie herself from her final blog post, which is an important record of her last year of life - the comments as well are worth reading there - they and Chrissie's own thoughts are both truthful and bold,... as well as eternally humourous, as Chrissie always came across as being...

...so to read some of Chrissie Glazebrook's

parting words on her blog journal


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