MLitt Creative WritingHannah Lee, UK

Tell us a little bit about your background...
I grew up in Falkirk and going through high school I never knew what I wanted to do. I always flip flopped between ideas but never had anything I was passionate about pursuing. I thought I wanted to do law, and then teaching and then business but these all really felt like things I was picking because I had to – not because I wanted to.  

I have always enjoyed reading and writing but at the time, I was of the mindset that the two were just a hobby. It wasn’t until I looked at the Strathclyde prospectus that I was even made aware that Creative Writing was a viable option to study after school. I have always been a bookworm and English was one of the only subjects I enjoyed during high school so things started to click into place when I discovered I could do a joint honors with Creative Writing and English Literature.

What inspired you to study Creative Writing?
I’m not sure inspired is the right word. I feel as though Creative Writing is something that I fell into rather than actively pursued. I have always loved reading, so I knew that studying English Literature was a good choice for me. It wasn’t until my more senior years of high school that I started to find my feet with writing and even then, never thought of it as an option to study after school. I did the course thinking that if nothing else, it would be a good way for me to experiment with something I loved but once I started the course I couldn’t get enough.

What drew you to the MLitt in Creative Writing at Strathclyde?
I loved the variety and flexibility with form that is offered in Strathclyde’s MLitt. I never felt as though I was being pigeonholed in to one particular genre or form.  I have always pegged myself as a short story writer, but I saw that the master’s encouraged students to experiment with form and step outside of their comfort zone. I also saw that not only did they teach the art of creative writing but also went into the intricacies of publication, agents, and funding alongside the hoops to jump through when it came to synopsis writing for publishers and encouraging students to submit their writing to magazines and competitions. They don’t just teach you how to write, but how to be a writer.

Did you seek any support during the application process?
I got a lot of support from lecturer, Andrew in my final year who firstly drew my attention to and then encouraged me to do the masters but then also advised me on what piece I should submit for my portfolio.

What has home learning been like in comparison to your traditional form of learning?
I have missed being on campus. I am quite a social person, so I craved the social interaction with my peers however in saying this I think the way that the online classes were structured was brilliant. I feel like despite being at home, my education wasn’t impacted and although at home learning was something I had to get used to. Once I got over that hurdle, I felt there was little difference between that and being in a physical classroom. The lectures were engaging, and I feel as though everyone was very understanding about one another’s at home environment. Sometimes the days were a bit long when I was just sitting in front of a screen all day however I often took breaks to go outside which helped a lot.

Tell us a little bit about your projects you had the opportunity to write about during your time studying the course?
The MLitt has really opened a multitude of different avenues for me to explore. Before the course, I would never think about writing about myself and would stick to strictly fiction however I was encouraged to write about my own life and ultimately wrote about my family history as Chinese immigrants in 1970’s Scotland for my Major Project. Without the encouragement from my lecturers, I would never have been brave enough to write about the things that were extremely close to me.

I wrote poetry for the first time about my experience being a student and living in Glasgow which will be published in the 20/21 Strathclyde review. Alongside this, as part of an assignment in Semester one I wrote a piece that I submitted to NEON, one of the longest running literary magazines in the UK and am being published in their Autumn ‘21 edition in October.

What would be your advice for people considering taking this course?
My main piece of advice for people considering taking the MLitt is to experiment with your writing. It is such a great opportunity to learn how to be outside of your comfort zone whilst also having access to endless support from lectures and peers at the same time. I learnt so much about my writing by trying things that I never thought I would and that has really made me grow into a better and more confident writer. Although I went into the course with a different view on the things I saw myself writing, I chose to experiment with different styles which I think made my time in the MLitt more worthwhile as I was able to get constructive feedback about a huge variety of stylistically different pieces.

What are your ambitions for the future?
The end goal is to be a successful and published author but that always sounds so scary when I say it out loud. What I wrote for my Major Project is something that I have learned to be incredibly proud of and I hope to develop it into a full piece for publishing. Thinking of the near future, I would like to continue to submit my work to literary magazines and competitions.

I also would like to do my PhD but first, I want to spend a few years outside of education to develop my writing and find my feet on my own before I commit to that. I even see myself lecturing in the future, being a high school tutor previously I feel as though teaching would be a good fit for me.

In the meantime, I have just finished a traineeship with the BBC as a Script Editor for series six and seven of Shetland and am having discussions with other production companies to try and land myself more experience in the field. I can’t imagine myself ending up in a position where I couldn’t be creative in one way or another.