Monday, 3 February 2014

Creative Writing Degree

Creative Writing: Is it really worth it? Short answer, yes. Creative answer, this:

When choosing a degree to study at university there are a lot of factors to consider, sometimes so many it makes you want to live in a hole under a rock. I had never really thought about what I wanted to study, or what career I wanted in the future, until I visited a University Fair in my final year at college. I didn't know Creative Writing was even a thing and was looking into universities that taught Journalism; although I was a little apprehensive about that. I didn't think I'd have the confidence to be a journalist, not really; especially after I found out you'd potentially have to a screen test in front of cameras and possibly an exam before you'd even be accepted into a university. No thank you. In that respect finding Creative Writing was a life saver. All the creativity and writing without an emphasis on scary public speaking and exams.

Having studied Art, English Literature and Language, and Media Studies at A-Levels I was used to the comments about 'doss subjects', and my work not being very hard. It's true, I never found it hard, not because it was 'doss' though, but because I was good at it. I didn't mind the comments as I would rather do these creative 'easy' subjects that Science or Maths, which just thinking about makes my toes curl and my body shudder.

Choosing Creative Writing for a degree didn't mean the comments stopped. Out of my home friends I was practically the only one doing a creative subject, while most of my friends did some sort of science or humanity. That was fine by me. My first semester, while hard because I was away from home, was thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring, yet when I came home for the Christmas holidays I was bombarded with the 'doss' comments again but in a slightly more condescending and passive aggressive way. My friends said things like, 'I have lectures from 9 to 5,' and then upon hearing that I had a maximum of 12 hours a week they would reply, 'What could they really teach you anyway?'. Or, 'My tuition pays for the chemistry rooms and all the lab equipment, yours only needs to pay for pencils and paper.' (the sore point being that Arts were getting cuts and my university didn't even supply that).

But while they acted like their courses were far superior to mine, I was never jealous, because I enjoyed my course; I was excited to do the work and it was easy for me. I didn't have gruelling exams which required late night revision sessions; my essays were subjective so there were no wrong or right answers as long as I had the evidence, meaning I could express myself happily without (too much) fear. Not only that, my essay subjects were interesting, too, I got to write an essay about Batman, for goodness sakes! To top it off, my set texts were (mainly) enjoyable fiction, something you would voluntarily read, not hefty books of equations and numbers, which make your head spin. While others sat in the pub and complained about the work load, or going home early to revise, or the stress of their dissertation, I would smile a secret smile to myself and think of all the brilliant short stories, poems, screenplays, comic books, first chapters I had written, and how it had been so perfect for me.

I was sad to leave university, although happy to get away from overly harsh and picky markers my lectures had become. But I definitely believe my degree helped to shape me into the person I am now. I was a bit lost before university, being painfully shy and self-doubting, with no idea where my future was heading. Creative Writing opened a world of possibilities while not restricting me at all. It's amazing where a degree like this can lead you.

Considering the current job - money - housing - life crisis our country is currently facing, I was lucky to get a job only a couple of months after leaving university, and in something relevant to my degree. My employer admitted that it was my degree in Creative Writing that caught his eye, and not a day goes by without him saying something like, 'I'll leave this to you, you're the creative one,' or, 'You probably already know this having studied Creative Writing.' He comes to me for advice on many things regarding the company, Litphonix: a brand new audiobook company, and lets my creative energies flow.

A friend who studied Chemistry is still sending out job applications daily, while
sitting at home bored, watching multiple television shows. Another friend with a degree in Engineering is stuck in an administrative job while he searches for something better in his field. A lot of the others will be going on to do Masters, for lack of job opportunities, or for the security that university offers, allowing them to put off the adult world for a little bit longer.

If you ever doubt whether Creative Writing is a suitable subject, stop doubting it right there! It's more than 'making up stories', and I know I won't be the next J.K. like everyone jokes, but it was incredible in helping me find who I was, what I am, and who I can be.

Look at all my favourite pieces of work: here.