Studying Creative Writing with a disability

Margot Albrecht


Mature-age, deaf student Margot Albrecht has found her calling in life by studying Creative Writing at Flinders. Her story is too inspirational not to tell. It just goes to show you never know what kind of stories exist around you on campus.

“My writing journey began as a nine-year-old, journaling my family’s six-week sea voyage from Adelaide to England in the mid-70s and the ongoing challenges of our new life in a sullen, discontented Britain; while heartsick for the blues and golds of my birth-land.”

Born in Australia to English migrant parents, Margot Albrecht spent her childhood moving between the two countries. Margot never finished high school, in fact, she left school at16. She finally ended up settling back in Australia at 25 with nothing but a suitcase, hopes and dreams.

Connecting with her interest in creative writing

Margot was inspired to take her passion for writing as a nine-year-old to the next level and work towards becoming a published author. After leaving school, she worked in a series of office jobs for the next 20 years, just ‘getting by’. Her life took a turn for the better when she met her husband in her mid-30s and went on to have two children.

A chance comment by a fellow parent at her son’s swimming class rekindled Margot’s childhood dream of becoming a writer. However, Margot soon realised there was only so much that the internet could teach her, so at age 45, she embarked on her educational journey.

“A decade ago, the time and place aligned and freed a space within me to contemplate the idea of writing a novel. I forged ahead on a whim and a dream, attempting self-education from all manner of creative writing resources. But you can only garner so much from ‘How To’s’ and ‘Idiot Guides.’ I began to understand how much I didn’t know about the writing craft. I needed to be immersed in a learning culture, along with fellow aspiring writers.

Getting into higher education

“I began with WEA Creative Writing short courses. I progressed to an Elizabeth Hutchins workshop, resulting in my WWII recount, Dearest Mother, being included in the memoir anthology Generations: Telling our Stories, launched by the Mayor of Unley in October 2011. Elizabeth Hutchins encouraged me to enrol at TAFE for Heather Eaton’s Creative Writing short course.

“Heather’s course was liberating and enlightening and she, in turn, encouraged me to apply for the Professional Writing Advanced Diploma. I was offered a place, on the back of sitting the TAFE Assessment of Basic Skills and submitting a showcase writing piece.

“For the next four years, I worked hard, expanding my writing theory, knowledge, and skills through studying the many aspects of creative writing; from editing, publishing, law, and contemporary society, to writing online, poetry, articles, reviews, scripts, novels, and short stories.

“I was selected to give Open Day presentations to prospective students and perform my work at Poetry Unplugged and Café Non-Fiction. The course culminated with a negotiated project, working on my novel under the mentorship of award-winning Australian novelist, Vikki Wakefield.”

After she successfully graduated from her TAFE course and left with a Professional Writing Advanced Diploma, Margot felt like there was still a gap in her knowledge that needed filling. Elizabeth Hutchins’ daughter, a good friend of Margot’s who is also deaf, suggested that the next step in her academic journey was to study at university. Using her Diploma qualification, and successfully ‘auditioning’ by showcasing some of her work, Margot was accepted into the Bachelor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing).

Margot Albrecht

The Flinders University experience

After being accepted into Flinders University, Margot began her studies for the Bachelor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing). However, it was not all smooth sailing as she struggled to find her feet in the university campus community.

As a mature age student, she didn’t feel part of the typically younger cohort of students and struggled to get a handle on language and terminologies that didn’t exist when she was their age. This, combined with her deafness which meant she always had to sit at the front of a classroom or lecture theatre, made her feel alienated and alone.

Thankfully, these feelings of alienation did not last for long and many of her fellow younger students soon made her feel welcome and accepted. She appreciated the way that the students all managed to support each other’s learning by bouncing ideas off one another.

Margot relishes the creative freedom and self-expression that is encouraged at Flinders. “We sat choosing tarot cards to inspire an anthology we were going to write. I had that moment again where I was on the outside looking in and remember how I never thought this would be how I would spend a random Wednesday afternoon – looking at tarot cards. I’m sitting there going, I can just talk about anything – and this creativity is accepted and no one’s going to look at me oddly.”

Inspirational lecturers

Margot is especially grateful to her lecturers who have supported and encouraged her. She is particularly inspired by them on a professional level. “Before I had such an inferiority complex where I thought I would not be articulate enough or just plain good enough, but all my lecturers were great.

“They are all top of their fields regarding their own creative writing, and I was able to have confidence in knowing that I was not just being lectured by another teacher, but by published authors in the real world. I feel like I can now really hold my own in a room full of academics and have confidence in myself as a writer.

“The way that they have designed all the courses and the degree, you can start to see the overlaps. The way in which the skills you learn transfer through to other aspects of life has really helped me develop a very well-rounded knowledge base that I can now use.”

Following her tutors’ recommendations, Margot plans on continuing her creative writing journey at Flinders by undertaking a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Honours). She is looking forward to working alongside her creative cohort and working on a major creative project or area of research.

Margot Albrecht

Anyone at any time can undertake university studies

At 56, Margot has been through a whirlwind of a journey up till this point, however, can hold her head high in knowing that she can overcome any obstacle life throws at her. Her life now is very different to her past mind-numbing days of 9-to-5 office work. These days, her focus is all on pursuing her passion to become the best creative writer she can be.

“I am acutely aware of my age, I am aware of my constant battle with my disability, it has been a really long and tough journey, but I know that I can now stand on solid ground because of my experiences and have the confidence to do anything I put my mind to.”

Interested in studying Creative Writing at Flinders? Find out more.

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