It’s been eighteen months since I graduated from my BA, and seven months (six months?) since I started this thing called A Job. Having spent a year training prior to starting in September, I knew keeping up my writing whilst doing the job that I do would be very hard, but it’s taken the last few months to really hammer home just how little space I have in my life to write. Even if I can carve out the time, I’m so physically and mentally exhausted by the time I make it through the door, with another few hours work waiting for me before the next day, that I can’t bring myself to do anything other than run for my duvet and crash into a fevered sleep.
Welcome to the life of a so-called Grown Up.
What this has resulted in, however, is my taking further consideration of whether to embark on a Creative Writing MA. I’ve always wanted to do one, and it’s one of the things that led me to doing joint Lit/Creative Writing at undergraduate level, but as I wrote in this blog post, there are many pitfalls to creative writing MAs, and considering that it would involve taking a year off work, without any income, and pushing my chances of moving out even further to the periphery, there are many reasons for me to be apprehensive. I also know that this is never something I could do part-time. Even working part-time hours at work, I’d struggle to carve out the time for both work and a Masters.
But the Writing for Young People MA at Bath Spa University just keeps twinkling away at me.
I know and follow on twitter several authors for YA that have done the MA, and they have nothing but good words to say. When I attended the “Now We Are Ten!” event at BathKidsLitFest, I was swept up into a whirl of optimism of the opportunity to have a year to write and hone my manuscript, surrounded by people who know YA and don’t begrudge you for writing for that audience (sorry, undergraduate teachers, but you are guilty as charged). And it’s that whirl of optimism I find so appealing now – and have done for several months.
The main gripe I had at undergraduate level was that the teachers wanted literary short stories – or, in the case of my final-year YA historical fiction dissertation, a carbon copy of Wolf Hall which I STILL find impossibly difficult to navigate – and not the YA I have always written. It wasn’t always that my writing was looked down on; teachers would give credit and criticism where both were due. But I couldn’t get rid of the nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, I would never achieve highly because there was an integral prejudice against YA. In some cases, I doubt the teachers even realised it came across.
The opportunity to take up an MA programme, therefore, which is full of like-minded people, feels like an absolute dream.
But it’s the real world we’re navigating here. I’m not living off my student loan any more. I can’t take out a student loan to study an MA. Even if I can find the funds for tuition fees, I can’t afford to give up work because I still have a car to run, rent and bills to pay. This is one of the reasons I think that undergraduate study should be free/supplied by grants, and postgraduates should then take out a student loan if they plan on further study. (I’m sure there’s a bazillion reasons that won’t work, but now is hardly the place to be arguing them). So even if I do decide, 100%, that I want to apply to a Creative Writing MA – how on earth am I going to fund something that so many people would justifiably argue is a luxury?
I would hope that an MA in Creative Writing, aside from the wealth of writing skills it would offer me, would also offer me professional development when I return to my current job. I’m not sure that would hold much water with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, but we can but dream. Yes, I would love to do an MA and then afford to become a full-time writer. But realistically, it’ll be back to at least part-time work. And I would want to keep myself at least a little busy, aside from the reams and reams of writing I’d have planned!
Have any of you done or considered an MA in Creative Writing? If so, how have you managed to juggle life as well? Your wisdom is most greatly appreciated!