Blogger's Blag... my MA in creative writing as a crime fiction writer by Liz Mistry



Liz Mistry & Martyn Bedford
 (MA Creative Writing Tutor LTU and YA author)
When I first thought about doing the MA in Creative writing at Leeds Trinity University, I wasn't sure I'd be able to complete the course.  Suffering from severe depression that made it difficult for me to leave my bed, never mind my house for long periods of time, I knew this would be one of the most difficult things I ever did.  I didn't know it at the time but it would also prove to be one of the most fulfilling and beneficial things I've done for many years.



Available on Amazon click here

When I met with tutor Martyn Bedford (YA fiction writer and author of Twenty Questions for Gloria) for my pre-course informal interview, I was petrified.  I'd practised the route to Horsforth and despite the panic attacks and tears I was determined to get there even with the news that the Tories had just won the General election ringing in my ears.  The fact that I spilled coffee down my front didn't seem to put Martyn off too much and I was offered a place. 

Martyn and I agreed that I would aim to complete the first draft of my novel Unquiet Souls, which I'd been working on for a couple of years and then use the MA to edit and fine-tune it. 

The next hurdle for me was whether my health would allow me to complete the course and, truth be told, it was bloody hard, especially at the beginning.  Fortunately, I was seeing a counsellor for dynamic therapy at the time and that helped me cope with the panic attacks and anxiety starting the course brought.
 One of the main issues I faced was my inability to concentrate for long periods and
Release date 30th July
my propensity to drift off.  Organising my time has been a  a major issue for me throughout my illness and I struggled to keep on top of my work load.  Slowly, over the weeks and months, I gained a confidence I'd lost over the years and although still vulnerable to huge mood dips and panic attacks, I use my writing to get me through it. 

The added bonus of being a writer is that I don't have to leave the house and I don't  have to work to a specific schedule (two things I continue to have difficulty with).

Fast forwarding past the academic essays (the bane of my life), I had more or less completed the second draft of Unquiet Souls by January and began to tentatively approach agents with my book.  That was when the rejection emails started to arrive, so when Bloodhound Books suggested I submit my first few chapters and, subsequently, offered me a two book deal I was completely over the moon and, from then on, things have moved pretty fast.  I've agreed an absolutely fantastic cover for my book, and now await edits from the proof editor.  The publication date of 30th July is in sight and I'm still pinching myself. 
My dissertation is nearly complete- (Yeah!) and I look set to graduate in December with a distinction (please keep all extremities crossed). 


So, the big question is - did I need to do an MA in Creative writing in order to get published? The short answer is no.  However the longer more complex one is, YES. 

Leeds trinity University is a friendly organisation, with dedicated staff members and I owe a real debt of gratitude to the lecturers on the Creative Writing MA.  Their talent, approachability and professionalism instilled in me a deep confidence and sense of security.  My fellow students are phenomenal and through their unwavering support and astute work-shopping, my writing has improved tremendously.  I fully expect to see them as published authors very soon and look forward to attending their book launches.  The students and tutors created a supportive network that allowed me to overcome many of my personal issues during the course.  Sharing and work-shopping fellow students work across the genres is an invaluable experience for any writer.  I learned such a lot from  reading outside my comfort zone and many of the conventions of poetry, YA, fantasy, epic journeys etc, have added new dimensions and depth to my own practice.

The talent of Leeds Trinity creative writing students and staff is showcased in the fantastic LTU Anthology Journeys: a space for words. The Anthology was edited by the very talented Lucy Brighton and Stephanie Buick .  It is available on Amazon PB £7.99 click here







Comments

  1. You are a total power house Liz and thoroughly deserve all good things. Thank you for your dedication to us as a group, singlehandedly manhandling us through those independent sessions. You are a real inspiration and I am so happy that all your hard work is finally paying ( they pay us - really?) off.

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  2. Thanks for sharing Liz- you are an inspiration to many people out there both by overcoming mental health challenges and sharing this story but also getting a book published -both are massive achievements v proud of what you have done Best wishes Shirley

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  3. Impressive Liz! I'm slightly envious...

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