So, what are you going to do with your MA? The dreaded question.

20:58 Sophie Flynn 6 Comments

I started my MA in Creative Writing around six weeks ago, I knew I was going to do it about three weeks before that and in that relatively short amount of time I must have been asked the above question approximately 15,000 times.

I graduated with a BA in Music four years ago, and I don't really remember all that many people asking me what I was going to do with my degree. It just seemed like the natural thing to do, go off to uni, get a degree, come home for a little bit, figure it out and then get a job. No one seemed shocked I wanted to have a degree, no one questioned it. But doing an MA seems to be a totally different ball game.

As soon as I started telling people I was going to be studying again, they immediately asked what I would do with my masters when I finished. Everyone from my boss (so you'll do it then just quit here when you've finished?) to my friends (yay you're going be a famous writer) had rather dramatic versions of what I may do with my yet-to-be-gained MA.

The problem isn't that I don't know what I want to do with my MA, the problem is I'm embarrassed to say it. Both my boss and my friend's predictions are exactly what I would like to say I am going to do. I'd like to say yes, I'm going to graduate in 2018, by then I will have already had my book read by a top agent and publisher, they will offer me a book deal and I will quit my job. See, I do have a plan. Easy.

In reality, I am not quite so na├»ve. But it's a nice dream. I think the point is, the above is not completely out of the question (apart from the quitting my job bit, I don't think books pay all that well quite from the start) it has happened to people on my course. It can happen to people, normal people, writing a book, being a writer, it's not such a crazy dream that it is unachievable, but it is unpalatable to most people – to be trying to do this. I still feel a little silly when I tell people that's my plan (though mostly I don't tell anyone). I can feel their inward eye rolls, such a dreamer. I tried it out on my sister the other day, when she asked the dreaded question over lunch, and instead of giving one of my vague stock answers 'well it will help me write', 'I could look into teaching', 'it's a good qualification to have'.. I said 'well I'd like to finish my book, get it read by an agent and get it published.' She didn't look too horrified, if not mildly disbelieving, 'it does happen' I continued, 'people from the course have had books published from it' this is my favourite line (they really have!) she asked in reply 'who?' 'well, Catherine Chanter was on my course, she wrote The Well' her reply 'I never got that book, couldn't finish it.' And the conversation was over. But I said it – I'm going to be a writer.

Maybe I will, maybe I won't (it hurt to write that) but I'm glad I'm doing an MA. Yes it's costing a lot of money (thank you Student Finance England) yes it's a lot of work, yes I'm exhausted, yes I know it sounds crazy to think I could give up my comfy job in the public sector to be a writer, but I'm glad I'm doing it.

So, next time someone asks you 'so what are you going to do with your MA?' don't tell them the things they want to hear, that you don't know, that you thought it would be a good idea, tell them the real reason – the reason you might be embarrassed about admitting in case you fail and they laugh, tell them your dream, tell everyone, even if they don't ask – because the more people you tell the more likely you are to achieve it.  

6 comments :

  1. Nothing wrong with those dreams. Hope the masters goes well and you continue to enjoy your writing.

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    1. Thanks Helen, loving the masters so far, so fingers crossed I'll get through the next 2 years :)!

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  2. Quite right oo! If you say it often enough, it could happen. KEep dreaming and keep writing. (Lizy for TB)

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  3. I'm thinking of starting a creative writing MA next year (I have to finish my work related MA in HR Management first). I also dream about writing but rarely share that with people. How beneficial have you found the course so far?

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    1. Really beneficial, the lectures are fantastic we have a different lecturer each week at the moment all of whom are novelists/poets/journalists with really good careers, so you can definitely trust what they say. I've just had my first bit of feedback which was tough, I've done a lot of writing groups and classes but the level of feedback is completely different on the MA which is scary but hopefully will help me improve. I'd definitely recommend the course so far :)

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