Tag Archives: MA Creative Writing

A Considered Response …

terrifyingI’ve been so fortunate to receive glowing reviews of my book on Amazon and Good Reads, and I treasure every single one (often reading them when I’m having a low day).

However, I had one the other day which made me stop and think.

The essence was, ‘loved the start but at the end … so much of it rambles on and is not really in the realm of most MS’ers, eg. taking on an MA’.

Do I ramble? Yes, most definitely. I even have a category on my blog labelled, ‘My Ramblings’.

It was more the second part which stuck in my head. Let me explain:

Due to MS, I have had to give up my entire career path. It just won’t happen, especially after being sacked for having MS. I was derailed. Luckily I was offered a job by my best friend, which, although fulfilling and excellent at fitting around the myriad of appointments I suddenly have, has no real career path. I will no doubt end my working days with this company.

I needed something else; something mind-expanding and difficult. As I struggled tremendously to complete my degree just when MS struck, I thought, ‘OK MS, you almost won, but get this, I’m going to try something even more challenging.’

I hit on the idea of a Creative Writing MA. Could I write anything else apart from my blog? Believe me, it’s looking like I can’t. But at least I tried.

I’m not that different from MSers who run marathons, who raise money for MS charities or hold cake bakes. Or the MSers who progress through their career path, defying their detractors. My way of pushing back the frontiers and limitations of MS is to indulge myself in something I never thought I would be able to do.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been hell. I’ve cried, almost withdrew from my course several times, torn up endless manuscripts and sniffled in class when my short story was brutally dissected.

Perhaps an MA is ‘outside the realm of most MS’ers’. Just as jumping out a plane is for me. Or winning a gold medal in Rio.

My MA is precious to me – it shows me I still can. 

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What Have I Done?

scooby snackWell, my MS-versary passed without major incident. I ended a very pleasant evening out still talking fairly intelligently to my friends rather than random trees or street signs (it has been known).

Life was looking good. I was in a good place, feeling, um, good.

Until an email pinged on my phone. A weighty document from the university, detailing a reading list, term dates, rules, regulations, how to get a student ID card (yay!) and plagiarism warnings.


Have I been a bit too hasty in signing up for an MA? Will my brain have the last laugh? I scanned the book list, the phrases ‘developing effective analysis and argument’, ‘critical thinking skills’, ‘Harvard referencing’ leaping out at me. Assignments include a 6,000 word novel chapter, a 3,000 short story and a 10,000 word dissertation.

Perhaps my expectations have been a little on the low-expectation side. I imagined Creative Writing to be, well, creative and artistic. I had a vision of myself scribbling important thoughts in a battered notebook with a lilac pen. I would be sitting in a dingy cafe wearing fingerless gloves and studenty clothes. Me and The Teenager would cook beans on toast and lentil curry on alternate nights, warmed by the glow of our last candle. Perhaps we would visit the market at the end of the day to pick up plums and turnips that had fallen on the floor.

The last time I critically analysed anything, it was a letter from my neurologist detailing the sorry state of my brain, and even then I had to Google the long words. This course would be a whole different brain-game. Am I really up to it?

In a bid to calm down, I listened to my ‘You Are Intelligent and You Can Do It!’ relaxation thingie. Unfortunately this left me more stressed as I couldn’t count down my Stairway To Success without losing track of where I was. And when the American voice told me I was a worthy and special being, all I heard was ‘you are a special bean’. I snorted with laughter and missed the next bit about creating compartments in my mind where I could store important information. Gah.

In a fit of optimism,  I ordered everything from my reading list and I have a pot of freshly-sharpened pencils on my desk. Am I ready for September? About as ready as I was for my lumbar puncture….

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