No I don’t mean of the spiritual type although this does often appear in my writing as you know.
No I mean life after your MA! Something I talked to some lovely students about yesterday. I met some creative writers at the University of Chester (thanks for having me by the way!).
I see the MA as one of many ways to get feedback on your work and hone your skills as a writer. And I love that often when I speak to MA groups the ages are varied, we come to writing sometimes later after we’ve lived a little but not always. And the question that often comes up is how much, if any, of a head-start do you get if you have those letters after your name?
It’s interesting, MAs in Creative Writing are varied in structure and design from institution to institution, and the emphasis can vary, as can what you personally take from it. But, as was asked, interestingly yesterday, was if the MA would be enough for someone who also wanted to get into editing for a living, if they approached a publisher. I think the MA is something people look at when they look at my credentials but I’m sure credits to my name as editor (intern work for a publisher is good for this) and then if they send work as a kind of test is where they can see if you know how to do it. As I said yesterday I’m not certain the MA in Creative Writing teaches you how to edit or proof read — apart from your own work? It is different making the transition to looking at other people’s work professionally. But you can learn and there are courses for this too so I think an MA and a qualification from the Society of Editors and Proofreaders will certainly help.
I think what we have to be aware of when we study for courses like the MA is it can make a positive difference to our writing, but it is still only one step towards the goal and while there most certainly is life after the MA, it comes from hard work. What it is not, is a fasttrack pass that bypasses the line, although it might shunt you forward a little. I prefer to think of it as pointing you in the right direction.
And I think what is also important to remember is, if your goal is to be a writer, a bestselling author, you have to do other things too — be it in terms of marketing yourself and taking centre stage even if you would rather be behind the computer and tucked away somewhere, or in terms of other jobs, you have to do to pay yourself and support your writing dream. But as I pointed out, if that other job is writing-related, as mine is, there is no doubt in my mind it feeds into my own writing and makes me a better writer.
I like to think I am living proof there is life after an MA?
But what do you think?