By: Sue Dukes who starts the MA Creative Writing this September.
Because I have the opportunity, because I really, really want to; because education doesn’t – shouldn’t – stop when you reach a milestone number of years.
After retiring from a lifetime of tedious work to keep family and home together, I decided to spend time doing what I want to do most: writing fiction. I had a goal and was actively seeking a path to follow, and taking an MA turned out to be part of a logical progression.
I had small successes in genre fiction over the years, but, I was always working in a vacuum. No editor has ever sat down with me to go through my work to indicate areas needing improvement; no agent has evinced the slightest interest in my work; and no rejection has ever come with a kindly note on how to progress. This will sound familiar to anyone who has ever tried to sell fiction. No-one is out there to help you – they are out there to make money from the skills you have.
So, I needed to improve, but how? Firstly I joined an Arts Council funded on-line group called YouWriteOn, which provided reciprocal assessment opportunities, and there I posted various literary offerings. I received responses ranging from the pertinent to the bizarre. I also provided assessments for others. The online group is a stepping stone and a sounding board which I might return to from time to time with new pieces; however, it’s time consuming and the responses as variable as the participants.
So where should I go next? I discovered the Skibbereen writing group, and for the first time in my life began to interact face to face with a group of people interested in the art of writing. We discuss the specific meanings of words, narrative viewpoints, grammar, and all the other associated topics. This is mind-broadening stuff. My horizons expanded.
Then I discovered UCC ran an MA in Creative Writing, and my reaction was instant: I WANT TO DO THAT. It will provide a structured learning process and criticism from people qualified to give it. It will take my writing to a higher level. I will be able to immerse myself in the world of writing. It will push me to a new depth of awareness and competence. I will read work I haven’t considered reading and gain information I don’t know I’m lacking. I’ll receive the education and advice I’ve been seeking all my adult life.
Why UCC? I’m lucky it’s my nearest university. I’ve visited the campus a few times. I love the ethos and the atmosphere, yet when I visit I feel like an intruder into someone else’s world. I want it to be my world, too. Interacting with a group of people on the same wavelength will be as much an education as the lectures. The MA might increase my chances of eventual publication, but above all, I intend to enjoy the educational experience.