I get teased by my family for loving a certificate. The accepted joke is that I’m always on some course or other, trying to get another piece of paper to frame and put on my wall. And (as with most jokes) there’s more than a grain of truth in it. But finally, I have to say I’ve found a course where the taking part has mattered more to me than the outcome.
Results are out for this year’s Nottingham Trent Creative Writing MA, and I’ve gained my MA with commendation. Given this has been a long-held ambition, I’m thrilled to have completed the course, and with the result. I’d also like to congratulate my friends and fellow students, Jenny Furniss and Kim Slater who both received distinctions. (Click to Kim’s web page to read about her other even more impressive debut novel success http://www.kimslater.com/.)
But, whilst not wanting to knock the results in any way, it’s the process of taking part which has really made the difference. Not only do I feel I’ve gained a tremendous amount in terms of the obvious aspects – improving my writing technique, learning about markets, working with professionals – but, equally importantly, it’s given me the confidence to take writing (and myself) seriously. The peripheral things such as having a web page, promoting my work, and feeling able to talk about it to a wide audience – that’s all come out of the MA.
I’m now more professional about the writing process. I’m studying markets. I’m writing with a specific audience in mind. I’m doing my research. And as a result, I’m starting to get a fair bit published here and there. I’m never going to win the Nobel prize for literature, but I’m writing short stories which editors want to publish (and pay for!). I don’t have any delusions of grandeur about my writing – and I certainly don’t want any J K Rowling-esque fame. But I’d like to get to the stage where someone flicking through a magazine thought “Ooh, Jenny Roman – I always like her stories.”
So yes, when my certificate arrives, I probably will frame it, and I probably will put it up on my wall. But much more important than the piece of paper is the experience. And for that I thank my lecturers and fellow students at Nottingham Trent. Much success to you all.