Last year, I talked about my plans to apply for a MA in Creative Writing at my local university. For me, this isn’t just the chance to study the thing I love. It’s the culmination of the redemption that my recovery from severe depression has given me. It’s me regaining control of my life, and getting to make my dreams reality.
You see, I dream a lot, but I rarely dream things for myself.
I dream about characters that I love, those of both mine and others. About fantastical worlds and lives that are not mine. In the past few years, I’ve only really had two dreams for myself.
One – to have a novel professionally published. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dreamt about getting picked up by agents or meeting editors or any of the many steps along the path to being published.
Two – to go back to university, to do it full time, in house, and get that experience that was my childhood dream. I didn’t get it before; I was too sick. I wanted a second chance to do the thing I always wanted.
And it’s happening – because I got offered a place last week, and I accepted it.
I’m still slightly in shock, to be honest! Not just because I was so scared of being rejected, but because a few days before I got the offer, things all went – well, a bit wrong.
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or watch my Twitch streams, you’ll know that I cancelled a stream last week because I’d gotten some bad news. Well the bad news was that I’d been emailing with the university, who had contacted me to let me know that there wasn’t a lot of, if any, opportunity to write genre fiction.
This hit me really hard. Fantasy stories are my love – the thing that gives me solace and the space in which I am freest with my creativity. To hear that the chances I would be able to write in this genre within the course were slim was really hard. It felt like I was grieving.
I was utterly convinced that I was going to have to say no. I didn’t withdraw my offer, though – I still wanted to see if I would get in. If I was good enough. But it felt like the dream I had was collapsing around me. I cried. I wrote perhaps the most emo poem I’ve written in years. I told only a few people and couldn’t bear to talk about it more.
And then the offer came in and I – well, I was really confused!
Because after that email exchange, I was more convinced than ever that I wouldn’t get in. All of my writing samples – the thing cited as most vital to your application – were fantastical in nature.
And then suddenly there was this email in my inbox saying I’d got a place.
I was overwhelmed. I was so, so happy, but I felt conflicted in that happiness. I wanted to accept instantly, but I didn’t know if that was true to how I’d been feeling. I mean, a few days ago, I’d felt like my heart was being crushed with disappointment.
Fortunately, I’m incredibly lucky to be surrounded by a lot of really wise, really clever people. And even more fortunately, I’m now in a place where I can actually ask for their help when things like this happen.
So I talked. I talked a lot, to at least a dozen people, none of whom were at all judgemental of me flailing and changing my mind and being overwhelmed. Some were surprised, but all of them were incredibly supportive.
I accepted the place just a few hours later.
Here’s the thing – yes, I love magical stories more than any other. But I also love writing people. Complicated, broken people. That’s the core of what I write even more than fantastical worlds are. It’s why I love the writers I do. I love people who are broken and trying to mend themselves.
And I am going to study this because I want to do things I haven’t done before. I want to be pushed out of my comfort zone and challenged and made to do things I’ve never imagined.
Part of the course involves studying in Paris for a term – a residency where you immerse yourself in the world around you and the culture and history. In the wisdom of those teaching you and the ingenuity of those you’re learning with.
I honestly can’t wait. I’m barely even scared. I should be terrified. It’s everything that I am scared of. New people and new places and lots of demands.
But I’m not. I’m just ridiculously, joyously excited.