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Oblomov

Creative Writing MAs

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Hello fellow scribblers/typers/quill manipulators

 

anyone studied/studying/applied for/applying for a creative writing MA?

 

am in the (overly long) process of doing so at the moment and was just wondering whether anyone was in the same boat/vessel?

 

I ask partly with the thought of mutually bemoaning the application process with someone, and for general advice on what seems to be both an under-informed and varied trial from course to course.

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Hello fellow scribblers/typers/quill manipulators

 

anyone studied/studying/applied for/applying for a creative writing MA?

 

I ask partly with the thought of mutually bemoaning the application process with someone, and for general advice on what seems to be both an under-informed and varied trial from course to course.

 

Applied and was (mercifully) rejected.

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I've had a bit to do with the programs and I think it's important that students be really focussed on what they want to get from the degree, right from the start. There are some real advantages; a workshop group that is chosen along less random lines than anyone-who-turns-up-at-the-library can be a good way of getting a critique from people whose own work is likely to be at a similar level to your own. Writing is a lonely business and the company of other writers can be a good thing. You are also quite likely to work with academic supervisors who will be the closest thing to editors that you will see this side of a publishing contract (in fact, many publishers these days have very tight budgets and provide minimal editing - my theory is they're picking up MA-ed work because so much of the polishing has been done, but that's another story).

 

But there's another side to the programs as well; different universities seem to have different standards of academic rigour that they expect from the exegesis/critical essay that most want to accompany your creative work. If you aren't interested in literary theory or something else suitably academic, you want to find out really early if a 'why I decided to write this story' piece is likely to be acceptable because it might well end up being a lot of heartache at the end of the program if it isn't (and boredom - and a distraction from the creative work that is probably your primary interest - too).

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thanks for the response Kimberley.

 

interesting theory on the MA-poaching as a means of lessening the editing needed.

 

I've already looked into the courses and know exactly what you mean about the shifts in focus. In England, Birkbeck seems to be an example of a very commercial, even genre-based programme...the application partly probes career and genre choices. On the other hand, Royal Holloway seems to offer a very technical course based on classic or traditional studies of theory and literature in general.

 

Would also agree that one of the simplest benefits of an MA is actually the stronger guarantees of a similar peer group. Something that seems to be slightly overlooked in the increasingly razzle-dazzle era of celebrity tutors for these courses.

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What did you decide, Oblomov? I have considered doing an MA in the past, but have just decided to knuckle down and get on with writing my book. One other option if you are just looking for mentoring on a specific project is a literary consultancy, not cheap but a heck of a lot cheaper than doing an MA...

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I have considered doing an MA in the past, but have just decided to knuckle down and get on with writing my book. One other option if you are just looking for mentoring on a specific project is a literary consultancy, not cheap but a heck of a lot cheaper than doing an MA...

 

Agree absolutely with the above. I suspect many fledgling writers assume that an MA in Creative Writing is the first step on a career path. Many universities offer this somewhat suspect qualification. It all began with UEA and spread out from there. Ishiguro and McEwan are usually cited as trail-blazers in the CW enterprise, but few since them have made headlines.

 

Far better to begin by joining a writers circle, keep writing and submitting, join online writers groups and when ready use literary consultants such as The Literary Agency and Fiction Feedback. They don't come cheap, but they don't pull punches, which is what you need in the final stages. I would also recommend going to writers' conferences, such as the AWC in Winchester.

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Far better to begin by joining a writers circle, keep writing and submitting, join online writers groups and when ready use literary consultants such as The Literary Agency and Fiction Feedback.
One other thing to add is, if writing short stories, keep submitting them: not only to magazines, but to competitions. If you win any of the latter, then it's another tick in your favour and in getting a favourable reading for your manuscript.

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