Welcome to Part two of my writing journey! If you haven't read part one, then go and do that now otherwise you'll only be getting half the story.
I left at the point when I got accepted onto an English with Creative Writing course at Nottingham Trent University. A year before that, I wouldn’t have thought getting into university was even possible. Most of the people I went to college with went to uni a year before me, but I just wasn’t ready.
But now, I had to be ready, because it was happening!
Being an English Student
I still remember first year like it was yesterday. And I still remember the first piece of writing I took to my first workshop. It was all about having your heart broken, which is kind of heartbreaking to say I’m literally the most single person ever.
But this course wasn’t just about writing. It was about reading. When I got my reading lists, that’s when I started to get truly excited. My first book was Beowulf and I was so eager that I went out and bought it from Waterstones. I would later learn to use the Free Bookshop which is known to most people as The Library (which in my third year became known as My Second Home).
So all of a sudden I was in a creative writing lecture learning writing techniques! I had to pinch myself, because it was everything I hoped it would be and more. My tutors were amazing, my classmates were the nicest people, and everyone was in this brilliant writing boat. And we all sat there, and we all made stuff up. What could be better?
Why do you want to be a writer?
(What I wrote in response to this question at the beginning of my course)
- I love the possibilities available from writing and creating a story.
- I love becoming part of something fictional and immersing myself in it.
- I’ve written stories from a young age and found it fascinating to create a character and give that character a life and a story.
- When writing, I have the control over what happens in the story and where each event leads and the consequences it has on the life and the world of the character.
- I also like the idea of an ‘alter-ego’ and as a writer, becoming that alter-ego in order to form a story around them and fee exactly what they do and know every thought they have, which as a whole contributes to the story.
The whole course was inspiring, and I knew that I was meant to be there.
My First Rejection
We were given the opportunity to submit a piece of writing to the MA Creative Writing Anthology, so I submitted the best bit of writing I had done. I wasn’t very confident, but it was all I had, and it was better to submit something that submit nothing at all.
It wasn’t accepted, and I accepted that.
My Second Rejection
This time I was a lot more confident. I was in my second year, and I had been working on a few pieces of writing for my portfolio. One of them was about my dad, and I’d put my all into it. When I found out the theme for the next MA Anthology, I cried, because it was perfect for my piece, or at least thought my piece would be perfect for it.
I had written about the death of someone I loved, but had ended it on a hopeful note. It included talk of grief, love, death, illness. Yes, it was creative non-fiction, but that was okay.
It was rejected. I cried. I later realised that I wasn’t upset because it didn’t get accepted, I was upset because it was the most personal piece of writing I had ever done, and it meant a lot to me. I’m glad it didn’t get published, it’s my piece to hold onto.
Three Years and Three Writing Projects Later…
During the course of…my course, I began three books. All of them are at varying stages of un-finishedness.
The Village: A village where everyone is born and nobody leaves. Until a man goes missing, leaving his wife and baby son. His son, as a young adult, narrates the story and tried to get to the bottom of why his dad is the only man who ever left the village.
Page and word count: 4 pages in Word, 2007 words.
My Afterwards Journal: Tobias wakes up in the afterlife. He’s given a name badge and a set of rules he must obey. As far as he knows, he died in his sleep. The afterlife, he realises, is strangely like being in a mental hospital…
Page and word count: 97 pages in Word, 55,960 words.
A Dream of Form: James wakes up in the middle of London with no memory and no sense of identity. He must navigate the busy world around him to discover not only what life is, but what it means for him to be living one.
Page and word count: 18 pages in Word, 9,092 words.
Read more about my current writing projects.
Starting a blog
So, I’d been rejected. I was writing stuff but it all seemed to be in vain. The natural solution was to start a blog and post my work there. And that’s exactly what I did! This blog originated as a place for me to share my writing (mostly poetry) and to get feedback on it. Let’s face it, I needed the confidence boost.
It was one of the best decisions I made. Starting a blog is daunting because what if nobody is interested? What if you don’t get any likes or followers? I think these days we’re too focused on the numbers. I’m happiest when I get a comment, someone’s words telling me that they enjoy my writing, that’s where the real gratification is.
What’s even better is that I made some new friends on this site. You all know who you are!
A Poetry Book
From posting my poetry on this blog, I started to see myself as a proper writer. Most of my poems were written to help me with my anxiety, and I had found a whole community of other people posting about mental health and their anxiety. I ended up writing enough poems to fill a small book.
So I downloaded Blurb and I made my own book. Blurb gives you a free ISBN number as well, so I was able to put it on Goodreads, became a Goodreads author AND also get my book in my local library.
It’s not a bestseller, but it’s proof that I wrote some poetry that helped me when I needed it to, and also helped a few others along the way.
Find out more about my poetry book and how to get a copy
A Mental Health Writing Project
One night I was thinking about how I used poetry as a way to cope with my anxiety. I’d written a poem called ‘An Open Letter‘ which was addressed to my anxiety. It suddenly occured to me that this was a kind of therapy: writing to my anxiety helped! So I set up a project called Letters to the Mind and invited people to submit their own writing, creative or otherwise, that addressed their mental health. The response was extremely positive!
The blog is always open for submissions to anyone who feels they want to contribute, or have something to share. Contributions have died down a bit recently, so if you’re reading this and think you might have something for the project, then head over to our ‘How to Contribute‘ page.
A Journalism Opportunity
In my third year, I was sat in a lecture ready to learn all about Gothic Literature, when my lecturer announced that there was a journalism opportunity to write for The University Paper. If we had ever fancied journalism, then this was the opportunity for us.
‘I’ve fancied journalism,’ I thought to myself. So I went for it. I put time and effort into producing an article for the paper…and it didn’t get published. But I was not disheartened, I kept in the loop and wrote a couple of smaller articles which did make it into the paper.
I got the journalism bug. I started writing for The Student Pocket Guideand I met a guy called Matt and started writing for his magazine The Beestonian. I was studying hard for my third year and writing non-stop to build up a portfolio of articles…
The Magazine Journalism Course
…because I had decided what I would do next. I would do journalism. I’ve already written a bit about my journalism journey in a blog post just before I did work experience at Nottingham Post. If you want to read that then click here.
I wrote my personal statement. I wrote all my essays and my dissertation and I hoped for the best. My future was on the line, any hopes of a writing career was on the line. And then I got the email.
I was offered a place on the course! Happiness didn’t even begin to describe how I felt. All I needed was to graduate with a 2:1 degree, so I made absolutely sure and got a first instead.
And that’s where we are today. I’m on my magazine journalism course and the verdict is: IT’S INTENSE.
I’ll tell you just how intense it is in Part 3, which will be the final part of this little writing series.