...I’ve been writing a novel. I’ve also been taking a creative writing MA. I decided to take the course because I wanted to move away from what began to seem to be the almost magnetic pull of genre fiction. Although my limited success as a writer has usually involved crime stories I really wanted to write a serious novel. I’d always been told you should ‘write what you read’, and I read mostly literary fiction. I thought taking the MA would help. But the magnetic pull back to crime fiction is still there. What has surprised me most though is that, although our reading list contains absolutely no genre fiction, some of the tutors are pushing me back towards a life of crime. After all, it’s the sort of novel that sells.
But is it the purpose of a creative writing MA to concern themselves with markets? I’m not sure. I decided to take the MA because I wanted to focus on the art of fiction rather than the business of it. I also had half an eye on the American trend in which the route to publication is now typically via a university MFA programme. It’s a growing trend here in the UK, too. It’s just that some universities here don’t appear to be sure of what their version of the MFA is intended to achieve.