Project Manager for Uncertain Truths, Alison has previously worked in arts management. She now works part time in a school library, writes lots of short stories, and is currently studying for the MA in Creative Writing at NTU. She is working towards her ambition to have a collection of short stories published.
Why I decided to do an MA in Creative Writing
I have always written. One of my earliest attempts was a piece called Working in a Factory at the age of ten. You should understand at this point that my parents were not guilty of enforced child labour. I had as much idea of what it was like to work in a factory as what it would be like to go to the moon. But it won highly commended for a Daily Mirror writing competition. Winning a writing competition hasn’t come so easy since!
Later came the school magazine- a story about an unwelcome cat, and heart felt entries in the teenage diary about boyfriends and breakups. In my twenties it was odd poems, short stories and more heart felt entries over another breakup. I think you will see a theme developing here. In reaction to losing an important relationship, my job, and Thatcher’s Britain, came the traveller’s diary. Disillusioned I left the country and embarked on the modern equivalent of the grand tour on a shoestring or should I say a pair of bootlaces. I was accompanied by my notebook and a backpack packed with a sleeping bag, chocolate, emergency freeze-dried meals, and money to phone home; this was in the time before mobile phones. I returned six months later to a new job and new relationship, leading neatly to marriage and children. For a while writing took a back seat; fitted into notebooks filled with occasional frantic evening scribblings and a starting to write course which fitted in with ‘life’. Like an unseen lover who I had the occasional dalliance with, my relationship with writing remained on the side for some years.
Six years ago, in response to several major life changes and losses in the space of five years, I turned to writing more regularly initially to ease the pain. There were outpourings on the page not dissimilar to the teenage angst but this time I was middle aged. My ‘lover’ comforted me, made me feel less alone and in the strange relationship that a writer can have with their writing, listened to me, and came up with helpful and sometimes not so helpful suggestions to express ideas and emotions. Like all lovers it had the power to delight, to entertain, to help me escape, and sometimes to frustrate me. Eventually stories formed and I created more and more of these which proved to be more interesting than the angst. Writing surprised me by offering a way out of pain to bring new things into my life. That is not to say the angst is not useful. It can be fuel for my writing as life experience will often creep into the stories. After five years of writing stories and a couple of courses with East Midlands Writing, which evolved into a small group of writing friends, I decided to apply for an MA in Creative Writing, encouraged by the friends.
I chose the MA at Nottingham Trent for its good reputation as one of the longest established courses in the UK and for the variety of modules it offered; fiction, script, poetry, and writing for children and young adults. It provided an opportunity to study under experienced professional writers and receive feedback on my writing through the regular group workshops. Not only that, as a student I had the opportunity to have my writing published in an anthology of creative writing called Uncertain Truths!
In my application for the MA, I wrote that I hoped it would give me the space to focus on and reflect more on my writing.
The MA has certainly achieved that, perhaps more than I anticipated. A couple of months after receiving an offer of a place we entered the strange new world of a pandemic. The first lock down gave me time to prepare for the course which I started last autumn and during the last twelve months it has proved to be a faithful companion. It has supplied me with the company of imagined characters and places to travel to when I haven’t been able to see family and friends (other than in zoom calls) or go to real life places. It has also offered me the company of my small cohort group – albeit via Teams. We have got to know each other through our writing, and I hope in the coming year ( I am currently studying part-time over two years) we will have more opportunity to meet in real life.
So, I have another year to go. I hope to write a collection of short stories and I still can’t decide between the script or writing for young people modules for next year.
I am still here with my love of writing, committed and moving forward. Who knows where my writing will take me? But it is a valuable and life enriching experience.