About this time last year, I was preparing my application for Oxford University to take part in their Masters in Creative Writing. There were many redrafts of my Personal Statement, valiant attempts to track down the appropriate referees, a scrabble to put savings together. I really, really, really wanted it. Anyway, I got all of my paperwork sorted out and became very singleminded. The course is competitive with up to 200 applicants for 30 places. I tried not to trouble myself with that and just focused on doing myself justice.
I got in. That was a Very. Good. Day.
So what’s it like? Speaking in very general terms…
It’s challenging. And you have to keep up. I’ve had to dig deep at times, particularly because of my job. It requires a great deal of discipline.
It is intellectually stimulating. I’m writing things that I never thought I could. I am meeting fellow writers from all over the world. I am realising how much my identity and culture and background play a part in my writing. I once thought that my perspective on the world was not unique but have realised that this is not the case. I am taking myself more seriously and paying closer attention to my ideas. In one word, it is expansive. Damn, I didn’t intend to be so gushy.
I think it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. And the photo opportunities are immense.
[Selfie taken at the Sheldonian Theatre]
[Matriculation Ceremony at the Sheldonian Theatre]
[Just one of the very many beautiful college buildings, not sure which one this is. Seems there’s something to gape at around every corner.]
[Spot the pigeon mid-flight! Here’s the very grand Ashmolean Museum, just around the corner from where I have my workshops.]
[A filthy, coffee and lipgloss stained cup – sorry. But I do rather like the fabbo insignia.]
What I want from the programme is Challenge and Discipline. I have to rise to the great challenges presented to me. I have to find the discipline to work very hard at my ideas and get the words onto the page. Writers need to train like athletes, and we need to reach for something.
I’m very glad to be at the beginning of something that I know is going to be life-changing.
My book You Have To Make Your Own Fun Around Here is on sale in Ireland and the UK. Check it out!
Here’s some nice stuff people are saying.
‘Few writers have articulated the intricacies of female friendship – the dependency, the uncertainty, the fragility, the pecking order – with as much authority. Most female readers (and quite a few male readers, come to think of it) are likely to squirm at the glorious recalling of these adventurous, curious girls and their nascent friendships.’ Irish Independent
‘This atmospheric debut looks like a rural Irish coming-of-age novel, but it’s cleverer, darker, more unreliable.’ Daily Mail
‘From a young age, Katie is in thrall to her spirited, selfish friend, who comes across as a modern-day Baba from The Country Girls.’ Irish Times