Yesterday was our last residential day on the MA. Just over two years ago, I’d just heard that I’d been offered a place and I thought that all my dreams had come true – two years later and dreams I’d never even really contemplated have come true. It’s been an amazing time that has just sped by and the benefits have been immense. I’m going to be reflecting on the technical skills I’ve developed and the craft the course has helped me to develop but right now, right here, I just want to reflect on the collective hive mind of my course and the benefits that has brought.
I don’t think it’s necessarily true that being a writer is an entirely isolated career any more – after all, a good part of it is now self-publicising which means interacting with people every single day. But I think what else modern writers benefit from is a collegiate and supportive approach. There are all sorts of different groups out there, the fantastically named Killer Women for example, and these bring so much support and advice for aspiring writers and established members alike. I’ve been incredibly lucky to be surrounded with a group of fantastically talented individuals on this course who have simultaneously lifted me up while making sure my feet remain firmly on the ground. They’ve offered advice, information, proof reading, promotion, tips and an ear… everything you could ask for when you’re just starting out. And although the course has officially ticked our attendance off for the last time, I know that some of these relationships are going to prosper over the years to come.
What I particularly appreciate about our hive is how different we all are. Perhaps that’s one of the things that enables us to be supportive to each other – although there might be a twang of jealousy when one of us gets a sniff of interest that the others don’t (perhaps just me!) we know that fundamentally we aren’t in competition with each other. There’s a wealth of crime fiction out there and each one of us is writing something different, something unique that there is space for in the market. And more than that, the variety brings such a wealth of interest and ideas to each experience. I have colleagues, friends, writing historical crime, crime set in far flung places, fantasy crime, domestic crime… all the kinds of crime that you could imagine and it’s all fantastic.
So beyond the support and advice of my course-mates I know I’ve got so much more. Twelve amazing books that are going to be augmenting my bookshelf in a couple of years time. What a lucky person I’ve been to be surrounded by such dedicated, talented and interesting people. Long may it continue.