Some people say it´s impossible to learn how to write fiction. Either you´re talented, or you´re not. At least, that´s what they say. Frankly, I didn´t give a shit about whether it was possible. I just wanted to have a great year of experimenting and writing a lot. And that´s exactly what this MA offered me.
During this MA, I have experienced it to be very rewarding to discuss work-in-progress with peers, who helped me discover that I’ve got a talent for writing horror and dialogues. I’ve learned how to compose a novel or novella, to raise an idea so that it will be fit to sustain a full-length novel, to manage fictional time, to develop characters, to write towards a good plot or denouement, to develop a style that fits the products of my pen and how to approach a literary agent and prepare a submission package. My teachers arranged a two-week work placement at literary publishing house Bloomsbury for me, which was a useful way of getting into the thriving literary scene of London.
I’m very proud of my dissertation, which is a horror novella. My tutor, the famous author Matt Thorne, was very helpful and taught me a lot about how to write a book.
Writing in a second language
The network of international students at Brunel University is vibrant and fun, but it’s not beneficial for acquiring a British accent and authentic vocabulary to limit your circle of friends to Turkish, Indian, Russian and French students. Therefore, I made sure to get to know as many native English students as possible. Also, I often sat in pubs eavesdropping and jotting down other people’s conversations to practice writing British dialogues.
Before I went to London, I got a band score 8 in the IELTS exam. At that time, my German was a lot better than my English because my specialty was continental philosophy (Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, etc.), but I’ve learned a lot in a year’s time. It would be interesting to take the test again and find out my new IELTS score.
Though many people told me in advance that it’s impossible to write fiction in a second language, I’ve experienced it as a challenge and an enormous inducement for creativity and originality. I believe I have proved these pessimists wrong, because I got good results on my tests. I had three B’s and one A. (An A is the highest you can get at Brunel, they don’t give A+ or A++.) I don’t know what grade I got for my dissertation yet, but a lot of people have read it already, and they’re all very enthusiastic.
source image of Toby Litt and Matt Thorne: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2008/apr/01/whereareourliterarysalons