Anyone done the City University creative writing MA? Would love to hear your thoughts – also interested in other creative writing MA experiences…

(7 Posts)
Bitzer Mon 25-Nov-13 11:59:13

That's it, really. I'm really keen/ready to start writing more seriously, and torn between doing a shorter course or really going for it and applying for an MA. The City course looks fantastic but it's a huge commitment in all senses of the word. Haven't been able to get hold of the course administrator yet so still have a number of practical questions (for example, I don't yet know if it will be possible to carry on freelancing while doing the course) but, more generally, if you've done this course or another like it, what was your experience like?

My big fear is that I could dedicate two years and a lot of money to this – not to mention sacrificing a good deal of family time, then have nothing to show for it. At the moment I'm a freelance writer/editor but I'd inevitably have to turn down work and lose contacts etc over the two years. And if I don't end up writing anything that anyone wants to read, it'll be difficult to regain lost ground career-wise.

The pros are that the course structure looks fantastic, and very practical, and that I suspect that level of support, structure, study, feedback etc would give me the best possible chance of success.

Feels like a huge gamble though. And of course it would mean actually telling people what I was doing (rather than doing a surreptitious evening course).

Would really welcome opinions e.g. what was the application process like? where are you now? what areas of your writing did it help with? what did you like about the course? were there any weak areas?

ninah Mon 25-Nov-13 17:14:33

I have deferred entry to an MA, starting next year. I don't see it as a gamble I see it as an investment in skill.

BitScary Tue 26-Nov-13 08:54:24

I've done one. PM me if you like. Not sure what to tell you. I had an absolute blast and it was so good to allow myself to dedicate the time and space to my writing.

BUT

It didn't leave me out of pocket - at the time I did it funding/grants were available and essentially the cost to me was zero.

I'm not convinced you need to do an M.A. to strengthen and progress your own writing. It will absolutely help to give you focus and room for thought and you will make good contacts. You could still achieve this, I think, by finding a good writing group or taking a really good evening class.

I don't think you'll regret it if you do it, just as long as you go into it with the right frame of mind, and it sounds like you have the right frame of mind (some people think it's a short-cut to fame/becoming a better writer - it's not, really). Don't see why you couldn't still freelance - I took 3 months off work to complete some coursework but still did a 28-hr week at work while I was doing mine. Didn't have kids at the time though!

Sorry, I'm not helpful. I can never get my thoughts straight when people ask me if I recommend an M.A. Lots of different variables to consider.

Bitzer Tue 26-Nov-13 10:21:10

Thanks v much for responding.

Ninah yes, 'gamble' was probably the wrong word on reflection. I suppose what I mean is that I could commit to a 2-year course and spend a lot of money only to discover that I'm not actually any good at writing creatively or that the things that I'm interested in writing about are of no interest to anyone else. But yes the investment in skill is the big attraction. best of luck with your course.

BitScary thanks so much for sharing your experiences, I may well PM you in the next couple of days (need to make a decision one way or another this week). Delighted to hear that you were able to manage a 28-hr working week at the same time. There would be a lot to juggle. DC would be 4 and 6 at the time of starting, so in full-time education, but DH works crazy hours so I'm the one who organises almost everything home-related and I'd have freelance work to juggle and a social initiative that I set up towards the start of this year, which probably takes up about 6 hours a week. Anyway, you've given me some food for thought - thanks.

Have you found that having an MA (rather than doing an evening course that's unassessed) has made a big difference to you in terms of opportunities that have opened up since? I don't necessarily mean agents etc but do you feel it's made you more employable in any way? That's absolutely not why I'm considering doing it and actually I can't imagine it having a bearing on any job I'd apply for but I'm interested in whether having the discipline to complete an MA is something that is widely recognised or whether, because of the subject, it's something that a lot of people consider to be purely a 'hobby'?

BitScary Tue 26-Nov-13 11:01:32

Some good questions there Bitzer. I'd have found it really tough to work and wrangle kids and do my coursework all at the same time (though at the time mine was an office job with regular hours and not freelance work). It was quite a juggle and it was very tiring. My course was only 1 year though so I just stuck it out.

I do think that an M.A. looks good on your C.V. In my case, because a) I got a good mark and b) my M.A. was vaguely (vaguely!) applicable to my job, I was able to negotiate a small pay rise once I went back to work full-time and my results came through. I might send you a PM to explain this a bit more because if I say anything more specific I might out myself grin

In terms of other opportunities...the jury's out! I have published a book and some other stuff in various places but I don't have an agent and I haven't gone looking for one yet. This is because right now I have nothing commercial to 'sell'. I'm working on some new stuff and I probably will look for an agent in the future. But I know that the timing isn't right just yet.

But overall my answer is yes to enhanced employability. An M.A. requires discipline and focus, no matter what the subject is. You might get some annoying questions about 'are you the next JK Rowling then' hmm at interviews or something, but apart from that...it's a good thing, I'm sure.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Tue 26-Nov-13 11:42:41

I loved it but in terms of your questions, I don't know.

I did a two -year part time MA at Goldsmiths. DC was v. young at the time, but I had no job so I wasn't making a loss financially.

It was an incredible experience and I think all of us really developed as writers. I keep watching out to see if any of us have made it: I'm not sure, a few are on the cusp now, I think. If anything I learnt how slow a process it all is.

I did a novel through the MA and got a good agent but he couldn't sell the novel. Sigh.

The MA also helped me get work as a creative writing teacher...

I would say go for it. I look back on it with great pleasure.

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 04-Dec-13 11:27:19

If I was thinking about doing the City course I would be rethinking after this piece by its director:
here

Not because the City course focuses on litfic - which is fine if that's what you want to do - but because the quality of argument in this is so poor and he's clearly so ignorant of things outside his field but feels qualified to hold forth on them. It would make me worry about the academic underpinning of what was being taught.

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