There are lots of stories of success, aren’t there? People writing books and, BAM. Fame, fortune. There are courses you can do that seem to guarantee earnings. I don’t know about them, but when I googled ‘Creative Writing’, Manchester Metropolitan University’s MA came up. Oh no, I thought, not another load of patronising fools mamby-pambying about, talking in metaphors and sniffing flowers. Besides, I live in the Black Country, right in deepest, darkest West Midlands, so no way was I going to Manchester. No. Way. I had another glass of wine. And out of interest (because things seem interesting after a couple of glasses) I clicked on that link, had a look at that course, saw the words ‘ONLINE COURSE’. Thought, What? No need to even attend in person. Well, look, I’ve got to say I didn’t know how that could work, but I’m telling you this, it does. I completed that course, logging on every Tuesday night from 6pm until 8pm – sometimes wearing a onesie (no-one can see you. No-one), uploading work, critiquing and being critiqued, ‘chatting’ to some really, really talented people (and staying in
touch with them) and having to read books I’d never have read myself. I hadn’t realised I needed encouragement, feedback. I hadn’t realised I needed to commit to it. The best thing was the requirement to write a whole novel as the ‘dissertation’ piece. I gather many Creative Writing MAs don’t require it. MMU does. I wrote The Black Country. Salt Publishing published it. Now I’m writing another now. Broken Dolls, it’s called, and A.M. Heath Literary Agents represent me. Making that leap into that course, committing to it was the right thing. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know.