Category Archives: MA

MA in creative writing

This is the end, beautiful friend.

I’ve done it! I’ve handed in my dissertation. Edited until I almost went blind and it’s probably still full of mistakes. I don’t care though it’s gone now which means that officially I do not have to write another word for this course ever again. Yey! It’s a good feeling. It’s also a strange feeling. I’m on my own now. My novel is a bit like a half built castle. I’ve got a lot of building to do, but the foundations are there. I just need to put in the hard work now.

The good thing about finishing the course is that I don’t have to write for anybody else apart from me now. I can just solider on with it and fix the mistakes when it’s all completed. The bad thing is that I haven’t got that support and advice anymore – well, apart from the poor unfortunate souls from my course who I force my writing on.

Last night I thought I’d celebrate by having a well deserved rest and watching the television. There was nothing on – it was rubbish. So I suppose that after a few days to get my thoughts in order I’ll be back writing again. I will be finishing this book if it kills me!

Am I allowed to be proud of myself? It’s a bit self satisfied, but I am. I think I’ve got everything I wanted to out of this year and hopefully I’m a better writer because of it. So, some of my essays could have been better, but who cares? For me it was all about self improvement and getting the confidence to finish a novel. Completing a novel doesn’t seem impossible anymore.

Every time you write you get better so that’s all I’ve got to do – keep writing. Tap tap tap – one sentence at a time. One scene at a time…. Oh yes, and I will be getting drunk to celebrate this weekend, because it would be rude not to. Wouldn’t it?


Filed under MA, Novel in progress

Last tutorial

This week was my final workshop. I’ve come out feeling inspired and ready to get on with things.

Things have been progressing with the novel, I’ve been messing with the voice, which has been challenging. My tutor wants me to have a go at writing it from an older perspective looking back. She’s advised me to have a go at rewriting some parts from scratch if I don’t feel that they’re working properly. Apparently anything good will remain and I’ll loose anything that I don’t need. It’s something I’m going to try. I’m going to have a go at writing one of the chapters with a few different perspectives to see what difference it makes. A lot of the things I’ve written already have changed so much now that this feels like a different character from the one that I started off writing anyway.

I’ve also had a character cull. I dragged them out of their houses while they were sleeping and lined up against the wall. It was cruel, but it had to be done. The idea was to finish them off quickly and painlessly, but in the end I couldn’t do it. I turned away and told them to run for their lives. They escaped into the woods and I’m going to let them live out there until I call them back for a short story. I hope they behave themselves.  

Things feel like they’re back on track to the way that I wanted it to be. All the advice I’ve had this year has been great. I’ve realised how much adding in layers and editing is so vital in really lifting a piece and making it work. It’s going to be hard not to have that feedback from experts, but it also gives me the chance to go ahead and follow my instinct. The next plan is to be organised and make sure I get back into good writing habits. I know I’ve got a long way to go but I’m not going to let that bother me, one step at a time. 

In some ways it has been a bit of an abrupt end to the course,  but I’m ready now to get on with this novel now. I hope I don’t break my neck, but I’m going to try to fly. Pick me up if you see me mangled on the floor will you?

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End of workshopping

I am celebrating. Last workshop done and dusted, no more pressure for me now to have to deliver bits of the novel for close editing for a while.  As usual I got some good pointers and a better idea of what I need to do to move things forward. The fact that I am writing for myself again feels like a new freedom to write whatever I want. So I’ve got a good flow on this week and it feels great.

I have managed to finish a novel plan which is a huge step forward, it will probably change, but this is all progress. I might even know where I’m heading now. I might even have some idea of the end??! Or possible endings. Hopefully this will not all change after I’ve slept on it. For now though, I’m celebrating. 

We had a visit this week from Tim Glister, an agent from Janklow and Nesbit. The last agent that came to visit told us to use Twitter, but Tim said that he didn’t like it because they have the rights to use your words at a later date. He did like blogs however and was encouraging about starting one. It is to be expected that everyone will have differing opinions on these things. I have found Twitter to be good for steering you towards events and sites that you may not have known about, once you start following similar people I think it is a useful source. He told us to have a look at The View From Here magazine, Ambit and Myslexia and to try to get something published in places like these as this would increase your credibility.

We had more about the importance of deadlines and not letting people down, delivering things on schedule. To be honest about how long it takes you to write things. He mentioned that work that crosses over genres is something that interests them. All very interesting again, but you do need to have something finished to a really high standard first.

Reading the Quickening Maze this week by Adam Foulds for class. So far so good, I might even have time to ponder it after reading this week. In fact it is all going swimmingly well, so much so that I am going to write a piece of flash fiction today about a swimming pool in honour of it all.

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Filed under Events, General, MA, Novel in progress

Last submission

Handed in my workshop submission, amazing how you know exactly what is wrong with it as soon as you hit the send button. Have been desperately trying to crowbar in some strands to this story and am now going to spend the evening writing them all out. Have I got enough of a plot now to start – plotting it? Not sure yet, but I’ve got a bit more which is progress. I’ve got a better direction of where it’s going at least. I keep writing some more and then looking back and realising the previous bit wasn’t quite right and needs changing. If I carry on like this then this will never ever be finished? Interesting stuff this writing lark.

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Filed under MA, Novel in progress

David Peace

This week we went to an event with David Peace. He was saying that the he felt that the novel as a form was dead and that society is too fast pace and fragmented for this kind of writing. His aim is to write a poem length novel. He was a really interesting guy and we celebrity stalked him afterwards to get our books signed and had a quick word with him.

He mentioned how he copies out writing that he admires and then changes the tenses and the point of view just to deconstruct it and see how it’s put together. He was talking to us about how the second person narration is underused and that he thinks it is a really great way of creating immediacy and engaging with the reader. He also said that you should make sure to find your own voice in what you’re writing and not to be constrained by the rules that you’ve been taught. To explore new experimental ways of writing and see where they take you.

I thought he was a thoroughly nice bloke and really encouraging and down to earth too. I have to say that I loved Red Riding when it was on t.v. so I’m going to have to read some of his stuff now.

Speaking of nice people I had a meeting with Jenn Ashworth as well this week. She is working for the University as a kind of mentor for us at the moment. I sent her the beginning of my novel and we had a chat where I’m up to and what I need. She’s going to help me look at plot and structuring so this is really brilliant as I’ve just started to realise that it is alright creating this world and these characters,  but now they are actually going to have to do something and go somewhere. She’s on the culture show this weekend as one of their upcoming new novelists so that is really exciting for her and brilliant for me to able to have all these excellent people advising me. Lucky lucky me.  

It’s me workshopping again on Monday so I haven’t been doing a lot of new writing this week, just trying to beat something into shape ready for Monday. I am trying to move things forward a bit and add a bit of back-story and flesh out the characters a bit more. It’s pretty hard when you’re not there yet. Just realised that I need a whole load of other threads to this story and I haven’t got them yet. If I know what’s wrong with it already maybe I could suggest we all just go to the pub and everyone can think up some plot lines for me instead of ripping this piece to shreds. Yep.

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Filed under Events, MA, Novel in progress

Presents please

Here’s some blue sky for you. There’s not been much for a while has there? I got a brilliant mark for my workshop writing yesterday and an appalling one for my criticism. So I’m smiling with a tear running down my face today. Boo hoo, hurrah, boo hoo, hurrah!  

We had a visit from a agent called Anthony Harwood last week, he was pretty interesting. He told us just to write what we want to write and not what we think is popular and might sell. So that’s nice to know. It’s what I’m doing anyway.  

We were also advised that we should start tweeting and blogging and all that internet stuff to get ourselves an internet presence. No not presents, you don’t get anything back, it’s presence. I’m already forcing my ramblings on people so I thought I’d start tweeting as well. I’m tweeting under SJLuddem if you feel like having a gander. It’s pretty good, (twitter that is, not my ramblings), although I’ve forgotten why i was doing it and just been enjoying the insights from all the great people out there instead. Particularly enjoying the messages from the fake Queen telling me when it’s gin o’clock. Very good. I recommend it whether you want presents or presence or whatever, but don’t forget to write your novel too – no slacking now.

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Filed under Events, General, MA

Back to the river

I had my workshop this week and it went well, I got lots of useful feedback. My tutor seems to have noticed that I was actually just treading water a bit with my ideas and not getting stuck in however, and guess what? He was right, they know these things, they are like all seeing guru types. I have been advised now to write as much of this novel as I can so that I have an idea of where it’s going and what the characters have got going on in their twisted little minds. I’ve got to send weekly word counts of how I’m getting on. Oh no pressure then! Just bash it out as fast as you can. This is good in one way and terrifying in another. It has given me the permission not to worry about my writing and just to get it all down which is quite nice. There is also the worry that there is going to be a lot of crap in there too. Never mind.  

I’ve got quite a bit more on this now so that’s good and have managed to recycle some of my old work on this that I had put to one side. Think I’m back on track with it again already. Funny how things veer off one way then the other. Not sure how I’m going to have time to read The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst which is my next weeks book. Still my typing is getting faster, there’s smoke coming off my fingers after this morning. Trying hard to keep the feel of the original idea is quite hard too I think I’ve got a tendency to want to make it all funny when I’m not really writing a funny book here. Oh well. It’s time to get the meat cleaver out and put the clown nose back in the drawer.

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Filed under General, MA, Novel in progress

Bristol Prize

I’ve entered something in the Bristol Prize on my mission to enter more competitions. Don’t think anything I’ve been entering is particularly earth shattering but it’s good practise and it will get me in the habit. There’s time still it isn’t closing until March so there’s still time to enter if you’ve got something that IS earth shattering good. Obviously I’ve submitted another dark story, I think I need to lighten up. Maybe I should go on holiday and get away from all this Stockport rain. There’s the Marple Writing Competition that closes in June too. I’ve not got anything for that so maybe I’ll try and write something lovely and sweet, bet I don’t though…   

Last week we had a lesson on Alice Munro, it was alright but didn’t really excite me, although some of the prose was good. However, just started to read JM Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year for next week. After feeling marvelously confused I am now starting to like it.  

In our creative writing class last week we looked at the difference between plot and story and the chronology of The God of Small Things. It’s all over the place, it’s brilliant. How do you keep all that in your head?? We were told to look at that afterwards though so it’s something that you’d do after your novel is finished. Just painstakingly go through it and mix it up to create more interest. Or just throw all your papers in the air and see what order you pick them up in maybe?

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Filed under MA, Other writing

Eye Bleed

Help me, my eyes are bleeding. Too much editing of my workshop piece.  

Last night we went to listen to Ian McKewan talking to Martin Amis. He read from Solar and I have to say that this did not make me feel any better when I came this morning and re-read my tripe. I’ve spent hours editing and I’m nowhere near to the beautifully polished prose that he read out. He left me with an image of a girl with long hands like salad spoons. It must be nice to have a connection with people and leave them with an image that you have created.  

I’ll get back to writing about acne and puss and try to forget that there are brilliant writers out there doing things better.


Filed under Events, General, MA