Welcome to another week of the A to Z Challenge – we’re nearly halfway through! Today’s letter is M, and the topic is Masters Study.
I’m currently working towards an MA in Creative Writing with the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). For our final project, and worth 60 credits, we have to write a novel. Well, duh! That’s only to be expected. As someone with two novels under her belt, and another on the way, writing to length isn’t an untried skill. But the question of what to write has weighed heavy on my mind.
When I applied for the MA, Can’t Live Without had only just been published. I had no idea if anyone would read it, I only knew I wanted to study creative writing and improve as a writer as much as possible over the coming years. I imagined I’d write something ‘literary’ for my project, maybe try out some different styles and voices along the way. For last month’s Writing Workshop module, I submitted four – yes, four – first chapters of books I’d started. Most of the other students in my group had already decided on, and started, their final project novels, and continued to submit chapters for workshopping. My first chapters became a bit of a joke: they said I was really good at first chapters – especially first lines – but at some point they’d also like to see a chapter 2!
Then came the point where I really had to decide which book I was going to focus on and commit. But what to do? I began the MA with the intention of pushing myself, of exploring what I was capable of as a writer. But now, with two women’s fiction novels published and a cosy mystery on the way, would it be wise for me to spend the best part of two years working on something that will probably be a complete departure and not appeal to the readership I’ll have spent years building?
I’ve really struggled with this decision, getting the advice of trusted writing friends and my course tutor. I did a kind of ‘self-coaching’ session, weighing up all the pros and cons. And, finally, I’ve come to this conclusion:
I am going to write something different for my Masters. It won’t be women’s fiction primarily, and it may or may not appeal to existing readers. At this point in time I don’t know what it will turn out to be genre-wise – I’m just going to write it and see. And I’m going to enjoy the process, and learn as much as I can. Choosing to study at this level is expensive and a big commitment – there’s no point doing it at all unless you can extract as much as possible from the process. So I’ve decided to take a risk or two. Who knows what will happen!