The intention of this book is to assist any student of who wants to read my ramblings about the time I spent at university studying Creative Writing. It's also useful for those who just want to reassure themselves that their grades could be worse! I have included actual assignments, both creative and critical. Where possible, I have also included comments by tutors along with the mark I received. I must add that not all of those comments were deserved - some were downright bitchy and kind of stupid really - yeah, I'm still bitter and twisted about the whole deal but there it is.
I’m not going to lie – enough people are doing that to you already. My student days weren’t the best days of my life, and anyone who tells you they were the best of theirs are lying. And if they try to convince you they will be the best of yours, well they’re... you know the drill.
I spent seven years at the University of Birmingham and five of those were on a Creative Writing degree, which I graduated from in 2009 with a 2:1 with honours. The most powerful feeling that came over me on that ceremonial day – relief. I had worked so hard for so long and I could never see the end but suddenly, here I was – 25 years old with a diploma in my hand that I couldn’t believe was real. Sometimes, I still can’t quite believe the years of toil and graft are over but my photographs prove that they are. I can’t believe that I did as well as I did because some of the other students seemed to work so much harder than me but the success I’ve had proves I deserved it.
University is expensive, long, depressing at times, slave-‐driving and full of stress and change when you’re totally not ready for it. Not lying. There are always parties and you can skip lectures without getting detention; life outside the lecture theatre is buzzing. Also not a lie. But students rarely have time to take in much of that in – not if you’re determined to get the best degree you can.
Which I did.
About half of my course was dedicated to proper creative writing, stories, poems and such. The other half was more theory based, studying writers and techniques. I didn’t like the theory parts because that didn’t seem important – still don’t actually – but they had to be done. You can’t pick and choose which assignments to do. Imagine how easy uni would be if that was true... I could have coasted five years just making stories up! But you can’t just cruise it. Twenty seven grands worth of fees and you just drink them all away or something. No. For that kind of money, you want to work. Make it worth something.