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 ūüė¶

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.

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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.

Interview with AJ Dalton (SFF World)

Shamelessly taken from SFF world via AJ Daltons own blog.

If I’m successful in my application to Manchester Metropolitan University, then AJ Dalton will become one of my tutors in September. I’ve taken a look at the other tutors and¬†he seems to be the one with the biggest foot in the fantasy genre (is that even a saying?) so he may well be my main focus of inspiration and enlightenment. Of course, that’s a big responsibility and many may pale at the thought but, as he isn’t a follower of my blog, he probably won’t¬†know the weight upon his shoulders.

So, with a two-week holiday coming up on the 12th July, I’m going to shoe-horn his books into my reading plan for 2014 and get through them whilst I sit on the deck of a ship somewhere in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.

As he is an author of epic fantasy novels, if the ship decides to sink, I can always strap his trilogy of books together and use them to keep my wife and I afloat until we are rescued.

My bags are packed, I’m ready to go.

500 word book review… check!

2000 word short story… check!

2 references from professional organisations… check!

Finally completed my application to study the MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).¬† If successful, the eternal student in me will be getting out of the box again in early September.¬† Unfortunately, as I have a family and a full time job, I’ll be utilising distance learning so the eternal student will only be packing his virtual bags. It doesn’t bother me too much though having passed my previous degrees in a similar manner, as well as the Future Learn course that I’m currently doing.

However, this time just feels different.¬† I’m not sure if it’s because the MA is specific to Creative Writing and will focus on areas that I’m really excited to understand, or whether it’s because it’s a different university (all my previous qualifications were from The Open University).

The application process is certainly different; there was no need for reviews / references with my previous university (although I think that is because they focus more on the mature-student) and then, of course, there is the money.¬† I was fortunate(?) to have passed one degree when the UK fees were still quite cheap, and was in the middle of another when the fees increased sharply.¬† The Open University honoured the lower fees so I’ve been quite lucky, especially when the post-graduate fees haven’t increased so they are still (somewhat) affordable.

I do know this is going to be my first real venture on the path to becoming a writer and, to some extent, a lecturer. This is my first career gamble; I spent years building a career in IT and Computing, only to find myself in a role where I sit on the sand watching the tide of technologies come and go without ever getting my feet wet. I liken it to working in a library but being told you can never open the books.

I’ve played it quite safe so far with fairly generic degrees (IT & Computing, English Literature & Language) so this will be my first specialised step toward a goal and that is what I think is causing the butterflies in my stomach.

“Go to where you do not know what you do not know. That is where you will find all your opportunities.” (Jeffrey Fry)