Term 1 Assignment: MA Creative Writing Summary

After spending the first eight weeks of the course working on the core skills and techniques, it was time for the assignment.

The assigment was in two parts; participation, which was related to how active you were on the forums, discussions and workshops, and also written work which was a body of your own creative writing (4000 words) and a personal creative writing ‘manifesto’ (2000).

I had planned to write a short story for the creative writing element but, at the last moment, took a risk to update the first chapter of my novel and use that – after all it would be marked by published authors and it gave me the chance to get some excellent feedback.

The manifesto itself, which can be found here, I found quite difficult simply because I felt I had to tell someone how writing should be and I don’t have any authority to do it.  The only way I could complete this was to convince myself that this manifesto was personal only to me.

All-in-all, I felt this first term was very successful for me. I learned a lot about the basics of writing and picked up some good knowledge on my own work (and others) via the use of the workspaces.  The writing exercises kept me busy and the reading material was, in the main, intersting and worthwhile.



End of Term #1 – Creative Writing MA Summary

Wow, it’s all gone so quick, where has all the time gone? I had planned and putting out a more detailed weekly update on the blog, but work and study have meant I struggled to do it so I’ve opted for a summary of each week which I hope to get out over the next eight days or so.

I have to admit that I’ve really enjoyed this term and found it great to be back in the discussion forums and workspaces with other authors.  As writing can often be quite a solitary task, I do tend to miss being somewhat interactive and being able to see how other authors write, and think, about a particular subject gives you an insight into the workings of other minds.

Moreover, our online tutor, interviewed a number of other people during the term and I got to see how the creative mind works in other mediums, such as script/play writing and photography.  Being able to fire questions out to these guests and pull out some invaluable answers was an excellent way to find out about these mediums worked, something that I’d never really been exposed to.

The reading list for this course is HUGE and although I’ve been told I don’t need to read every book on the list (and many excerpts / books are provided in the online library) I do have an an old dusty shelf that needs to be kept occupied.  Second-hand, almost all the books cost me less than £50 which isn’t too expensive and pales into significance when you consider the costs for the MA itself, as well as the time I’ve chosen to invest in it.

The term culminated in a piece of graded writing split into two parts; a Manifesto, which I plan to put on the blog once it’s been marked, and a piece of prose for which I re-wrote the first chapter of my novel based on the techniques and skills that I’d picked up.

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable eight weeks that has flown by and I can’t wait for term #2, Writing and the Self to begin.

Studying for an MA in Creative Writing

So, the good news about my studies is that I’ve been accepted onto an MA for Creative Writing; something that I’m really excited about. I’ll be starting the course very soon and will be studying with Teesside University. I had a number of chats with the tutor, Dr Sophie Nicholls, and it all just felt very ‘right’.

The MA details can be found here; Creative Writing MA Distance Learning

I’ve decided to take it over two years; the first year covering all of the pre-requisite knowledge and the second year will be a final project that I’m looking forward to. I’ve even been out and got fresh notebooks and pens ready for the start.

The only person who was a bit worried about it all was my son who, just going into his own final year of University, caught me reading the information about fresher’s week and panicked at the thought of me attending. I set his mind at ease quickly enough, but the thought of a paint party did pique my interest.

Time to go back to university..

It’s that part of the year again when I look to expand my knowledge and to gain a step on the ladder toward being a University Lecturer.

Any followers who were with me last year will know, I failed to get into the one-and-only University that I had applied for. So, this year I’m taking a few days out, looking around the various options open to me and then choosing three of them (as it will be all distance learning, I can throw my net out quite wide).

Early runners are as follows;

Manchester Metropolitan University (Online MA Creative Writing)
Lancaster University (Creative Writing Distance Learning)
Teesside University (MA Creative Writing Distance Learning)
University of Edinburgh (Creative Writing Online Distance Learning)
The Open University (MA English)

Almost all of these Universities require an application that includes references, a sample portfolio, and the ability to pay the fees. I’ve been putting some money away each month to help pay my fees and I’ll probably have to keep a hold onto my car for another year or two. I have a couple of people in mind for the references, and they’re willing to write one for me. The portfolio and close-reading samples are down to me alone.

My heart really wants an MA in Creative Writing as that’s the area I want to be involved in at some sort of lecturing capability. However, my brain suggest an MA in English could be a strong second option – the Open University have been good to me and, thanks to the their less restrictive requirements, I’ve gotten a BA, BSc and MSc already – they just don’t do a Creative Writing MA 😦

I’m going to be spending much of this upcoming week working through the various forms and requirements and will whittle my final decision down by the end of the week. I know I need to produce at least one ‘close reading’ sample, so I also need to find a suitable book (the ones I’m reading are both middle books of trilogies).

I’ll root out the one that I did for last year’s MMU application and put it up on my flash fiction page.

A Rejection letter I wasn’t expecting

It seems that Manchester Metroplitan University aren’t offering me a spot on their MA in Creative Writing. I’m not sure how to feel about this.

I want to be angry, I want to ask what the reason was, and I want to ask why they never responded to my phonecalls and emails since mid July asking about my application. To receive a letter of exactly six lines less than a week before the course was due to start doesn’t feel fair. I supplied 2000 words of prose, I completed their application form, I asked people to write references on my behalf and I saved up the fees in advance so I wouldn’t suffer financially through the year.

As it turns out, although the letter wished me the best and hoped their decision wouldn’t affect my future aspirations, the reality is that it has. All of the alternate courses have now closed their registrations for this year, apart from one which is charging almost triple the fees.

Being reflective, the letter has also made me think about my writing and whether it is good enough. I’ve always been accepted onto my academic courses without an issue and this one rejection has hit me hard. Now I’m wondering whether I should concentrate more on my new role at work and put my writing apsirations on the back-burner.

Fortunately, the stubbon part of me won’t let me do it. The stubborn part of me wishes to thank the MMU for the kick in the pants and wants to remind me that many authors have succeeded without any formal qualifications whatsoever. It wants to prove the MMU wrong.

So, I’m going to turn this frown upside-down and use the letter to my advantage. Whilst I forgo another academic year to apply for an MA in English Literature (I’m not specialising as much next time), I’m going to bleed the internet dry of online creative writing courses and use this time to build up my own academic exposure. If I can’t hope for the MMU to help me, then I’ll do it myself.