Thursday night I snuck into a reading organized by Bath Spa University's MA in Creative Writing programs. Not only was it a pleasure to hear some great work, but I got to catch up with some old writing friends, including my beloved tutor Julia, and meet some new students fighting to finish their novels by September (oh, do I remember that!). Plus I got to spend a whole evening talking writing!
Though I believe every student I met asked me the same question: "What is it like not having workshop anymore?"
I should have taunted them with how much free time I have, how many books I've read for pleasure lately, how I just signed a six-figure publishing contract... but instead I tried to answer their question honestly! And it got me to thinking, too. What is life after an MA in Writing like?
The hard part, of course, is to keep motivated. Many of my former classmates have struggled to fit writing into their regular lives. I've been lucky enough to not have to work, but the solitude of sitting at home working full-time on writing has been a challenge, too. It's been a struggle to keep believing my characters are sympathetic enough, that Project Demo is anything anyone would want to read, and that I'm a good enough writer to pull it off.
"But haven't you kept in touch with the students you graduated with?" one person asked me.
Yes. But keeping in touch, and critiquing each other's work now and then, isn't the same as two three hour workshops a week, strict deadlines, and dedicated tutors.
The good news is that since finishing the MA program, I feel much more capable of critiquing my own work. I also know I've written one good novel, so intellectually (if not emotionally) the second seems feasible.
And that's the current challenge, isn't it? Figuring out how to write a novel without constant feedback, strict deadlines, and dedicated tutors. Speaking of which, I better get back to work on Project Demo, which I'm determined to finish by the end of this summer!
What are your summer writing goals? And for those of you who have done a course in writing, what has the "after" been like for you?