Showcasing our creative talent
As the Creative Writing Online 2018 showcase opens, MSc students discuss their thoughts on the programme and its impact on their work.
Each year, students in the final year of our Creative Writing Online MSc are invited to contribute to a digital showcase of their work.
The showcase is compiled and edited by the students themselves, working across geographical boundaries and time zones to bring together a collection of fiction and poetry that reflects a diverse range of contexts, styles and interests.
As this year’s showcase launches, we’ve been talking to some of the students about why they chose to take the programme and how they feel it’s helped or influenced their writing.
'The dream course for me'
Iain Armstrong has had a lifelong love of literature and spent many years teaching English in Asia and Europe, before moving to Edinburgh. 'Rain From A Cloudless Sky', which features on the online showcase, is his first novel.
Having previously completed a degree in English Literature, Iain says: "I always wanted to continue with my education and do a Masters degree. I knew that Edinburgh University had such a good reputation and when I looked into the details of the course it looked like the dream course for me, and that's the way it turned out."
“I was introduced to a lot of wonderful authors. Through analysing great work, and thinking about my own work, I improved a lot… [especially] my understanding of the craft of writing”.
Hear more about Iain's experiences in this video:
'I wanted to develop my passion'
Matthew Boyd lives and works in Randalstown, Northern Ireland, where he studied English at the University of Ulster.
Reflecting on his undergraduate degree, Matthew says: “The modules I enjoyed most always involved Creative Writing. In addition, I was a member of Ulster University's poetry society which, contrary to the name, allowed me to read out prose at its events. I wanted to develop my passion for Creative Writing further, and a bit of research led me to the MSc at the University of Edinburgh. I believe there is a stark difference between my writing at the beginning of the Edinburgh course compared with the end. Through assessment from my tutors [and] comments from others on the course... I feel I better understand how my stories are being read and have thus been able to make my writing more accessible."
Along with fellow student, David Escorial, Matthew is one of the co-editors of this year's showcase, which features his piece 'At the Other End of the Universe'. Talking about the editing process, he says: "This involved drumming up enough initial interest to get the showcase off the ground, taking submissions and distributing them to other contributors to be edited a first time, before repeating this with a second copy-editor. We made sure that all pieces were finalised before the deadline, and David got everyone to send author and cover photos to go along with their writing before the completed showcase was passed along for online publication [by the programme team at the University]."
"During the months [of editing], I felt very involved in the course. It gave me a great feel for what it might be like to be in charge of a group of people. Although at times it was stressful, I really enjoyed helping to bring the showcase together."
The power of honest feedback
L. Soviero was born in Queens, New York and now resides in Melbourne. Her most recent work can be found in 'Gone Lawn', 'Cease Cows' and 'Molotov Cocktail', and she has contributed 'Dolores' to the showcase.
"My reasons for [taking] the programme were numerous but one was that I was ready to spend more time on my writing. The year before I registered, I had fallen asleep on a plane and paralysed my hand. I couldn’t deny the symbolism and decided to stop wasting time."
"It was nice to be in a community of writers at first and then all the sudden it became very clear the people I had met in the first day were changing. Everyone was getting better, myself included, through the power of honest feedback. That’s pretty cool."
'An excellent grounding'
Nitsa Anastasiades has taught in countries around the world, with much of the realism in her fiction and letters having been prompted by her multicultural experiences. The showcase features two of her pieces, and she is currently compiling an anthology of short stories and prose poetry, while also completing two novels set in Bahrain and Cyprus/the UK.
"The programme has, without a doubt, developed my writing skills - not only narrative technique, but it has also helped me to discover my strengths and gifts as a writer. Reading a wide range of award winning authors from around the globe has encouraged me to experiment with form and style by putting my ideas and concerns into action, in order to explore themes, concepts, and in turn evaluate how my writing style and voice best brings these to fruition."
"Edinburgh is a prestigious university, which has a top ranking for the Creative Writing MSc programme. The programme was robust in delivering and giving access to, for example, the latest in academic writing theory, and interviews with experts in the publishing and writing industry with question/answer sessions, all of which contributed to the development of my writing."
"I really have loved every minute of it; it has given me excellent grounding for my writing career. I published a short story in the first year of the programme, which, as you can imagine, gave me enormous confidence and self-belief. The showcase, for which I contributed two stories, was also a wonderful opportunity to get our voices further heard!"
Are you interested in Creative Writing in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures?
Our Creative Writing community is currently comprised of postgraduates studying on campus and online, though we will be moving to on-campus only from 2020. Highlights include our annual industry event, The Business, and lots of opportunities to share your work, including the online showcase and ‘From Arthur’s Seat’ anthology.