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Natasha Collins

Natasha CollinsOwner, Literary Lifestories

MA Media and Communications Management, 2013

What is Literary Lifestories?

Literary Lifestories is a service that I set up shortly after graduating from Middlesex, which offers the public a chance to turn their life story into literature by recreating it as a biographical tale. I work alongside the client initiating conversations and making observations. We then start writing. The result is a beautifully designed book, bespoke to the individual, that serves to deepen the world’s understanding of that person and also, I’ve found, their own understanding of themselves. The whole process is an experience which enriches everyone, both reader and life story subject.

What made you want to study MA Media and Communications Management?

I had worked as a journalist for about ten years prior to embarking on the MA. I thought it would be a wonderful way to brush up on the latest innovative thinking in the world of media and communications. The reality of the daily grind is that practices often remain impassive to cracks for example.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

I really enjoyed the subtle way the lecturers opened our eyes to the flaws. Each one left their handprint on my mind. Throughout the course, it was as though each lecturer gave us the key to unlock the door and it was up to us to go through and discover for ourselves. I also thoroughly enjoyed being a mature student, i.e. approaching the study with experience behind me. It certainly raised the interest levels, because whether I was aware of it or not, I was able to apply what I was learning, adding another level of relevance.

What inspired you to start Literary Lifestories?

While conducting research for my dissertation I stumbled across an Esquire Magazine feature, published in 1966 on Frank Sinatra. It was a celebrity profile which was extraordinary in its attentiveness. The writer, Gay Talese, had taken a genre and made it his own by showing us the subject using techniques normally ascribed to fiction. The thought then came to me, ‘perhaps I could do something similar for the everyday person, as a way for them to communicate who they have been in their lives for their loved ones and others’.

What do you find most rewarding about your writing?

When my writing gives people hope and when understanding is fostered.

What has been your proudest achievement to date?

Writing and publishing Literary Lovestories, an anthology of heart-warming ‘How I met…’ tales; Winning the Santander entrepreneurship competition, postgraduate category, here at Middlesex University last year; Appearing on the Nick Coffer show on BBC Three Counties to talk about my work; Current work assisting a gentleman make sense of his life by writing his life story, all serving to deepen meaning.

I think anything completed is an achievement, including the MA!

What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?

Believe it or not, writing is so much more than being a good writer. If you have determination but your writing needs improving that’s better than being a brilliant writer but cursed with laziness or even worse – nothing worthwhile to say. Listen to what writers call ‘deep within’ and do whatever you can to run with it.

What does the future hold for you?

I would be happy with a penthouse overlooking the Thames… Joking aside, hopefully the retelling of some enjoyable life stories for present and future generations that can make people think. That would be my gift to the world.

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