Although I received my official MA results back in June, last week was the graduation ceremony to officially celebrate my achievement.
The ceremony was held at The Lowry, Salford Quays on a glorious, hot Thursday afternoon.
I was thrilled to arrive in the robing queue at the same time as members of my graduating cohort so the lengthy queue went by without incident as we caught up with each other from the previous summer.
What made this day extra special for me was the attendance of my loved ones. Sons, husband, parents and father-in-law all braved the blistering heat to watch me walk across the red carpet at The Lowry.
The ceremony began with a band and a singer all associated with the School of Arts and Media at the University.
Speeches were made and thankfully I wasn’t waiting long before we were gathered to begin our queuing to the stage. I’d forgot that they award the highest to lowest educational attainment.
Those receiving their PhD’s were first up, followed by my group of Postgraduates.
I recall being extremely nervous when receiving my undergraduate degree in 2009, but this time I had my family on the front row and I could only see my youngest son’s huge smile when I walked up to the stage steps. How could I be nervous when that beautiful smile was beaming proudly at me?
The ceremony lasted an hour and it was superb from start to finish. I savoured every minute of it, being with my classmates and family under one roof.
Once the ceremony closed I marched my family upstairs to more queues. I wanted a professional portrait with all of them before we finished the day with a lovely meal.
It was the perfect day to mark the end of one of the biggest journeys of my life so far.
From that very first lesson back in September 2011 when I nearly didn’t go back to class after the break because I thought I was in way over my head. The course not only educated me in terms of learning the craft of scriptwriting, it has sparked a real passion in radio drama which I didn’t know was there and has given me the confidence to rise to any challenges that come my way in future.
Thank you University of Salford. Here’s to the next journey.
Get out of your comfort zone and do something that terrifies you. That’s a healthy motto – right?
One of the aspects of my MA which challenged me the most was the collaborative group project in semester two.
An eight part radio drama where I worked with seven other writers and devised a radio serial with a forty-five minute episode written by each member of the team.
It was a challenge to say the least. Not only a divide in age and gender, but also in sense of humour. We spent most of the semester arguing about the serial storyline and at the last meeting still hadn’t nailed it down fully.
Firstly it’ll be great to get my writing on the radio again, secondly it will be good for the CV if I can show that I’ve worked as part of a writing team in a professional context, and thirdly if I don’t have someone giving me strict deadlines I fear that my writing will only occur when meeting competition deadlines.
This project is at the very beginning of becoming a radio soap opera, and with a team of twelve writers we won’t all get commissioned to write an episode. Which mirrors real life on a television soap opera too.
Last night was the first get together of this new writing team, and I thought I would blog about the journey from inception to writing that first episode.
The writing team is a diverse group of local people from Manchester who are a mix of volunteers at the radio station, writers and others who just want to get involved in this thrilling project.
We began the session by reading aloud a couple of short radio scripts. When asked for volunteers there was an uncomfortable silence so I put my hand up. Reading scripts out loud doesn’t phase me anymore as I’ve had two and a half years of doing this week in week out.
We were then given a large selection of photographs of people which had been cut out from newspapers and magazines. A range of ages, gender and ethnicity were covered and each of us chose one picture. Mine was a woman in her mid-twenties in a yoga pose. I thought I could have a lot of fun in creating her character as she looked quite chilled and peaceful.
My aim is to make my character the least stereotype for that particular image which is what I did when writing her character biography.
Other groups worked together on each of the characters, but the group that I was put in we worked solo and then shared our ideas. I found this approach better as the least conflict at the early stages the better.
Briefly we then came up with a long list of places that would be featured in our make shift soap opera world. Pub, café, library, bridge, park and pound shop were just a few of the suggested places that would feature in our community.
We also need to name our community in the upcoming weeks.
It’s certainly exciting to be part of something new creatively, and of course getting to know new people in this context is something that I find beneficial. Who knows, today community radio – tomorrow the writing team on House of Cards!
Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night crippled in terror that there are just not enough hours in the day, or days in the week?
I’ve been feeling like this for a few weeks now. Just wishing there were more hours in the day, and also wishing the things that I’m doing now in my life which are really giving me a lot of fulfillment – well I wish I had done them ten years ago when I was younger, in better health and had more energy,
This feeling co-incides with deadlines that are looming. And I mean really important deadlines to me.
I’m interested to know how other writers who also hold down full-time jobs manage their time.
Any hints of tips would be gratefully received, because I have to tell you that I don’t like the feeling of being overwhelmed all the time.
It manifests itself with the knowledge that I have deadlines looming. If I have a particularly stressful day in the day job and I come home feeling exhausted, then I end up doing nothing except feeling guilty.
If I decide to sit on the sofa and unwind, or listen to a radio show then I then have a feeling of guilt that I should be writing.
I’ll be functioning normally for a couple of weeks but will then start to feel so exhausted mentally that by the time I get home in the evening I can barely string two sentences together, never mind write a script.
How do other writers manage their time between working, writing and general life. Please tell me!
The last time this happened was three weeks ago. I’d been feeling increasingly annoyed at myself that my evening writing had become practically none existent due to feeling tired every night. This then sent me on a downer as the realisation that I’d wasted four nights of valuable writing time hit home.
My current writing schedule is that I have two 45 minute episodes to write to second draft by the end of March (approx. 15,000 words). These pieces are for my final major project for my Masters degree. They are passed to my supervisor for notes at the end of the month and the clock is indeed ticking.
On top of that though I am conscious that I really want to try and write for the blog at least once a week, even if its utter nonsense from my head like this post is.
I’m still reviewing theatre shows and did I mention that I have my own weekly radio show now which I am trying to get off the ground?
This is what I seem to do. I take on way too much than I should, and then have a hissy-fit when I run myself down to the last drop of energy.
I’m sure there is some psychological reason why I constantly push myself with challenges. Who knows? Mid-life crisis or just pure self-destruction?
Last night when I got home from work, I sat and had my dinner with my family. We talked, we laughed and then we watched some television together. Perfect. It actually was perfect, I can’t remember the last time I led on the sofa cuddling my son.
I was really enjoying the evening, until the demon in my head told me that I was wasting valuable hours enjoying myself when I should have been on the laptop editing draft two because that deadline is creeping towards me.
Again it’s been a while since I last wrote a post on this blog.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a long list of ideas to blog about and of course here comes the excuses.
There haven’t been enough hours in the day recently. Working on a 90 page script for my final project in my MA has taken every ounce of energy out of me since Christmas.
It’s not over, not by a longshot it merely means that I’ve handed in my first draft and I’m currently awaiting my supervisor to send me her notes. Once I receive her notes, I then have to work on draft number two which has a deadline of the 12 March. The same process happens that she’ll send me her notes and the third draft is submitted in May alongside a 3000 word report.
As if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been writing my first stage play since October. I say first, it’s not really my first stage play, but it’s the first one that I’ve finished. I’m going to write a separate blog about this, because I really am quite excited about this piece of writing. They say that you’re only as good as your last project, I hope this project gets good feedback at its rehearsed reading next week.
Finally, did I mention that I’ve also been volunteering at my local community radio station?
What started out as me just going along to a session to try and find out about writing scripts for them has turned into me being trained as a presenter, presenting on three live shows and I also wrote them a 60 minute radio play which was broadcast over the festive period.
Having written all that down in this entry, add to that that I work 40+ hours per sat
week in my day job, match report for an ice hockey team at weekends and try and find time to be a mother and wife……well no wonder the blog has been abandoned somewhat.
I only have one regret about all of the above. Why didn’t I do all these exciting things that make me feel inspired and proud of myself ten/fifteen years ago when I was much younger.
In my case youth was definitely wasted on the young.
A mascot is : A person or thing that is supposed to bring good luck or that is used to symbolize a particular event or organization.
One thing I enjoy about taking part in the #wpad challenge is that some of the prompts make me start to think about things in a different manner.
I’ve never contemplated having a writing mascot before; does a bottle of wine count as one? Because when that bottle is by the side of my laptop and I’ve consumed a glass or two then for some bizarre reason my fingers and brain come alive. I guess the alcohol from the bottle symbolizes a sudden rush of creativity – therefore would be classed as a mascot?
Maybe not then.
It’s something I will definitely consider for the future. It’ll also be a good excuse to trawl through the writer websites which I adore but never purchase from such as
As I embark on my final masters project in September which will hopefully produce not only two exciting episodes of television, a calling card script and some confidence in my ability. Perhaps it would be a worthwhile investment in purchasing a writing mascot that accompany me to my graduation ceremony if I pass the script-writing degree.
This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of July.
Last night I logged onto the #scriptchat conversation on twitter and asked the same question to the panel which were @Bang2write and @Julie_Gray. As I anticipated they didn’t favour one over the other, it is entirely a personal choice.
I’m an advocate of education – just as well as I work in a university. Having undertaken many courses over the years to build up my qualifications for work and also as a personal goal. I’m a firm believer that it’s important to have qualifications, but just as important to have relevant experience, skills and knowledge.
I was a late starter when I undertook my degree. It was something that niggled me throughout my twenties as there were many jobs in the public sector that looked like something I could do, but the person specification always requested “educated to degree level”. Early 2005 I did a magazine journalism course, which followed by me signing up for a degree at the Open University.
After I graduated in 2009 I had a burning ambition to then study for a masters, but I was adamant that it would be in something that I felt passionate about. Scriptwriting ticked both those boxes, so I was ecstatic to be offered a place on the course.
Now I am at the end of the postgraduate diploma part of the course, I must admit that although I could have just bought a lot of books about scriptwriting, and if it works for people then that will save them a heap of cash. However, for me attending a class every week, listening to lectures, masterclasses and then receiving feedback from my peers has been invaluable.
I have experienced aspects that I never would have if I was self-taught. The best experience was during my radio drama module where I was present at the drama being recorded in a radio studio with a group of talented performance students. Hearing your words and characters come to life is really valuable. With the medium of radio too, it is easy to spot mistakes that have been made with the script which don’t work in an audible medium.
Being part of a small community of like-minded individuals has kept me motivated during some difficult times over the two years. There are times when you wonder whether you can actually do this, especially when those rejection emails come from the writers room and other script calls. Personally without my class mates I’m not sure I would have got to the end of the course,and I’m hoping that my dissertation will give me the calling card I need.
I know other writers through twitter who were entirely self-taught, and this goes to show that it is a personal preference. I absorb information if I can hear somebody talk, and for me to take notes. But, it’s also reassuring for any future writers that there are a lot of very good text-books out there that can do the trick as well.
How about yourself? Do you favour education or think that self-taught is just as effective.
This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of June.