On the 29th November, along with authors Oliver Clark and Sana Aslam, I graduated with distinction from my Masters in Creative Writing.
This really did feel like the end of an era. Not just saying goodbye to local and international friends I’ve made along the two years studying the course, but also to talented and supportive tutors. It was also bidding farewell to a university campus that really has been my second home since 2006, when I started my B.A.
Studying creative writing isn’t for everyone. It isn’t even for all writers. It plants a critical (some might say cynical) seed in your brain, ready to sprout whenever you read something new. You analyse and you workshop without meaning to. ‘As’s and ‘and’s jump off the page. You notice when characters walk about or make food, filling space without doing anything. In many ways, you do lose some of the ‘fun’ of reading.
But I do believe this is a sacrifice worth making. I now read novels more effectively – looking for deliberate plot devices by the author. I agonise over word choices in dialogue, because it all has to lead somewhere – maybe somewhere amazing!
And, of course, it has made me a better writer. I finished one novel and began two others, as well as having short stories published in nine different places. I feel as though I don’t waffle to fill a word count, and am more willing to rein in characters who threaten to take over the page. I have also developed a deep, deep love of workshopping, something that some of us on the course have been unwilling to say ‘goodbye’ to.
So, congratulations, Class of 2014. Didn’t we do well?