My MA course started last week so I will soon start feeding back to you the cool and interesting things I’m learning. Next week’s blog: the poetics of topography! (Don’t worry, I’ll explain when we get there. I promise it’s interesting.) This week, though, I want to talk briefly about my thoughts going into the course.
Initially I was really quite scared that I wouldn’t be up to scratch. I’ve never had any formal training on creative writing before, and this is a Master’s degree. I was very aware that all my techniques were self-taught and imagined that all the other students would be citing critical analysts that I’d never even heard of, whilst composing mind-blowingly beautiful prose. I’m relieved to find this isn’t the case. I’m amongst peers, and can therefore stop worrying about their opinions and get on with learning.
(Yeah, I thought I’d got over caring what other people think too. Turns out, not so much. Especially when it’s people or a subjects that really matter.)
Anyway, I submitted my first assignment on Monday and got some feedback from the course leader. In effect, he said that my technique was good but my subject matter lacked originality. Now, my immediate response (which I didn’t give) was that this assignment was the very beginning of the story, the scene-setting, and originality would come when the story got into its stride. But the beginning is your one opportunity to hook the reader. It’s the worst possible place to be unoriginal. So that’s a terrible excuse. I need to do better.
On a related note, last night I went to a retelling of fairytales with Doctor Nick and Dewey827 (aka Team Sensible). One of the sessions was a fairy godmother, who expounded on the power of heart’s desires and focus. What is my heart’s desire? I asked myself.
To become a writer.
I’m already a writer.
To become a good writer.
I’m already a reasonably good writer.
To become a successful writer.
Define successful. Is it getting published, or being remembered, or making enough money from it to write full-time? Do I even know what ‘successful’ means to me?
To become an exceptional writer.
… Then there’s some things I need to change. My characters need to be deeper, my plots more compelling and (yes) original, my prose more evocative. And I think I can do all these things. I just need to focus harder, be a little less lazy and a little more thoughtful in my compositions.
See? One week in and I already feel more determined! So look out, brain. You’re about to have to kick it up a gear.