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My MA Writing for Young People

Luke Redfern shares his experience of the course.

I took the MA Writing for Young People as a part-time course over two years. During that time, I’d spend the first three days of my week working in my regular job, crunching numbers for an energy company, then on the fourth day, I’d go to Corsham for writing workshops and lectures. For the rest of the week, I’d write, aiming to do at least two full days of writing from 8:30am until 5pm, as though it were a day in the office. When I told a colleague that this was my writing routine, he asked me where I found the motivation to write for a whole day. I told him that I hadn’t always had it, but as I’d been writing in my spare time for a while, I’d built up the concentration and determination over time, like someone who goes to the gym a lot and gets stronger.

But that was only partly true. My writing muscles have grown stronger, but I think the main reason I gained the ability to sit down and spend so much time writing was because I was studying on the MA.

On the MA, it didn’t feel like I was writing a novel on my own; I had the brilliant encouragement and criticism from my manuscript tutor, Lucy Christopher, and I had inspiring weekly writing workshops with Steve Voake and CJ Skuse. Also, I had my new friends: fellow writers who were experiencing the same ups and downs of the novel-writing process as me. I was learning a lot and I was doing challenging work, but I also felt supported in my writing.

When the lockdown came along, I appreciated this supportive aspect even more. I began doing my office job from home, and when the weekend arrived, there wasn’t a lot to do, apart from more writing. So, I got a lot of pages of my novel written, but sitting at the same desk and looking at the same monitor seven days a week became arduous. If it hadn’t been for the lectures (now on Zoom), manuscript meetings, and text messages to my friends, I’d have found it really tough.

Now I’ve finished the MA, hopefully I’ve not just absorbed all the writing lessons, but all the positive voices of encouragement too. I’ve realised that writing a book is like running a marathon, and getting to the end is something that deserves to be cheered on. The MA gave me that support, that cheer from the side of the road; it kept me going and got me to the finish line.

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