What do you enjoy most about your course?
What I’ve loved most about the course is that building a writing community is at the heart of the programme. Workshopping our writing drafts takes up a huge proportion of the course overall, meaning we are regularly reading each other’s work, celebrating what has been done well and suggesting what can be improved. This creates a trusting and safe environment in which all students are supported as we get our work up to a publishable standard. This communal writerly support is mirrored in the multiple opportunities the lecturers create for us throughout the year, including; internships working alongside Edge Hill University Press and Arc Publications, editorial positions in Edge Hill’s literary journal The Black Market Review, writing collaborations with other universities and with Edge Hill’s Dance department, external paid writing commissions and opportunities, the MA Short Story Prize and a chance to take part in an MA reading, among others.
You got your first paid creative writing opportunity during the programme. What did this involve?
For the project, I was asked to write a piece of creative art criticism responding to a graduate photographer’s work. My writing is due to be showcased alongside their photographs in an exhibition, First Light, at Waterside Arts. As part of the process, I received one-on-one mentoring with Laura Robertson, a writer and critic, who is currently writer-in-residence at Open Eye Gallery. I’ve learnt how to conduct first-hand research, how to tailor my writing to specific audiences, how to pitch to magazines, how to navigate writing freelance and how to create stakeholders and opportunities for myself going forward. The experience has pushed me out of my comfort zone, as it has also involved interviewing the photographer, recording myself speaking for the promotion of the exhibition and working closely alongside an editor for the first time. I look forward to using the skills and new contacts I’ve gained to get further writing opportunities after graduation.
What advice would you give to others considering this masters programme?
My advice to anyone considering the MA Creative Writing programme would be to be open and trusting with your work. Initially, it takes a lot of courage to share a draft that is raw or close to your heart, knowing that it will be critiqued, but trusting that process helps create stronger, more vibrant writing and allows you to learn more about yourself as a writer. Also, I think it’s important to establish early on how integral reading is in the journey to becoming a better writer. Although the reading list for the course isn’t huge, throughout the year you will be regularly recommended works to read based on your individual style of writing. Ensuring you are on top of the course reading is essential so that you have plenty of time to explore these additional writers, journals and publishers as you go.
How has the course helped prepare you for your future?
What the course offers you, beyond how to become a better writer, is the skills needed to create a foundation for a job in the arts post-university. As well as being taught by practising and well-established authors, poets and playwrights, we have regular Masterclasses with other successful contemporary writers, agents and publishers. At the start of each workshop, we spend time sharing any job roles or opportunities we’ve come across that week. We’re supported in refining our work up to a publishable standard and there are modules designed entirely with the end-goal of being published. We’re taught how to understand the literary landscape and how our work might fit within it, how to engage with editors and how to perfect submissions. The goal is to sustain us as regularly practising writers and we are encouraged to submit work for publication throughout the course.