Friday, 13 August 2010

No Time To Say Hello! Goodbye!

Things are hectic as usual, and there are some big changes happening. Recently, I was accepted onto the Creative Writing MA at Royal Holloway, University of London. (Woo hoo! - Looks like Hogwarts, don't it?). Last week, I handed in my notice at work.

Many, many people think I have a screw loose. Leaving paid employment at a big publishing house, in a national economical crisis, to go back to being a broke student, and to study such a flopsy subject like 'creative writing'?

Yes, I can see how that sounds crazy.

But it is something I have been considering for a long time. It is my dream to be a published author, and if I don't try to achieve that dream, I'll regret it. I would rather fail knowing that I've tried than not try at all.

But an MA won't make you into a published author, I hear you cry. Indeed. I know that. I know the pros and cons, and I know the risk. (And boy do I know the financial risk!) But the way I see it, I'm investing in time to write, and legitimacy to write (somehow I don't think my mum would approve if I just quit my job to write - at least at the end of this I will have another qualification). And hopefully, I'm also investing in a creative, supportive environment. I felt I got a lot out of my BA, so I'm hoping I will suit being in the MA environment.

Now is the right time for me. Firstly, I want to get in quick before the fees go up. Secondly, I squared it with my lovely mother so that I could live at home for another year (paying a bit of rent), which means my living costs will be minimal. I shall commute into London. Thirdly, I have a good year's publishing experience under my belt now, which will hopefully help me get another job after I complete the MA. Fourthly, I have a few contacts now, who I believe I can draw on for some freelance work so that I can keep a bit of cash coming in.

So fingers crossed that I'll get what I'm looking for out of this.

Funnily enough, I have published an article in the second issue of Inkspill Magazine called 'Creative Writing Courses: What are they good for?' by Charles Christian, which has some less up-beat views about creative writing courses than my hopeful post here.

The PDF eVersion of Inkspill Magazine is available now. As some of you may know, I have been experiencing some trouble getting the printed copies of this issue, but thankfully that is nearly sorted and they should be on their way soon. Issue 1 is on sale at the moment to compensate the delay of issue 2! Please buy it. I am soon to be a very broke student!


  1. Many congratulations. For what it's worth, I think you're doing exactly the right thing. A few years ago I left a large educational publishers (if you're based in Harlow, it's probably the same one that you're about to leave) to do the MA at UEA. I experienced those same doubts about impending financial insecurity (I'm still living with those) but would not swap the money for the experience I had, so much so that I'm now doing a PhD. You're right that an MA won't get you published, but that time to write is a luxury that few get to experience.

  2. Indeed, Mr/Ms Anonymous, it is the very same publishing house. You have me curious now as to your identity! Did you work in editorial?

    I did my UG at UEA. I had a wonderful tutor in my third year, but I felt that my writing and learning styles didn't quite mesh with many of the other current tutors, which is one of the reasons I didn't apply there to do the MA. That and I felt like I wanted something brand new. Of course, UEA is the most famous for its excellent course. Are you doing your PhD there?

    Good to hear you understand my predicament since, essentially, you were me a few years ago!

  3. Sophie, congratulations on your acceptance into the MA programme! What a gorgeous university. Yes, the risks are huge, but I also think it's worth the effort. Good luck and hope you keep us up to date about your MA journey.

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  4. Sophie, you've just become my new hero! It takes a lot of guts to do what you're doing - but I know you're doing the right thing so don't listen to those niggly little doubts. Life should be an adventure and when you're old and grey you'll be glad you took a few risks. Good on you, girl!
    Please keep us posted about how it goes.

  5. Thank you, Judy. I will be sure to blog all about it :)

    Sandra - Awesome, can I have that in writing? Oh wait - *print*. Seriously, though, thanks - that's really nice of you.

  6. Sophie, Congratulations :) I'm sure you're going to have a lot of fun and time to write. Don't forget to keep us updated with your course :)


  7. All sounds good, Sophie. I'm confident that one day your dreams will come true. I wish you all the best, and look forward to seeing your name in print.

  8. I saw your tweet retweeted by Publishing Spy and was intrigued!

    I've only been at the same glorious educational publisher as you for a couple of months now, but I did have a similar predicament as you last year as I was still trying to get into publishing whilst working for a national newspaper, and so I decided to apply for an MA in Publishing to try and get my foot further in the door and get a job. Not quite the same area as you're going I know, but I'm hoping to get into the trade side of things at some point. Good luck with your MA! I think you've made the right choice.

    P.S. Going back to uni is not the same as the first time around. There was so much more work to do!

  9. Good for you, Sophie! Every journey starts with the first step, and so on. My advice - don't wait until you have a thermometer's worth of degrees to actually start writing something - who needs sleep? :)

  10. Thanks for all the lovely comments and well-wishes :)

  11. Hello, just read your blog and can 100% agree with you. Im actualy going to Royal Holloway in September and am going to study Drama and Creative writing. I've had so many doubts as im leaving quite a well paid job but just like you said, it's all ive ever wanted to do. Whole heartedly agree with your decision.
    Beth Sullivan x


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