Friday 19 September 2008

In the beginning Debbie wrote a letter...

Leiden, February 2008

Dear Sir/Madam,

When I read the description of the MA in Creative Writing on your website, I immediately decided to apply, because I recognized the education that would match perfectly with my personal learning aims.
In this letter I shall explain why I feel like my life, so far, has led up to this MA at Brunel University.

My wish to become a writer has been a leading theme throughout my life. From the moment I could read, I felt a strong desire to produce the thing that gave me greatest pleasure, a good book. Ever since, I have been writing stories, articles, poems and diaries. As a student at the Stedelijk Gymnasium Leiden (an institution for pre-university education that includes the study of Latin and Greek), I was a reporter for both the school paper (Socius) and the parental newsletter (Pro Parentibus).
I decided to study Philosophy at Leiden University, with a view to place my stories in a context of truthfulness. Moreover, I aspired to attain profound knowledge and proficiency in contemplating human existence, in order to introduce multiple layers of meaning, and thus enhance the significance of my narratives. When I completed my undergraduate degree in 2006, I had developed skills such as analytical, creative and out-of-the-box thinking as well.
In addition to Philosophy, I took several courses in Literature Studies. Also, I completed the minor programme in Journalism & New Media at Leiden University, to further practice my writing.
I wrote a large number of articles on various themes for Thauma, the periodical published by the Faculty of Philosophy with a printing run of 500 copies. In 2003, I was chosen as the editor-in-chief of Thauma, and, as a MA student in Philosophy of a Specific Discipline (European Languages and Cultures), I still occupy this position with great enthusiasm. I also published in other media, for example an article on racing psychology and mental training for racing drivers, in the magazine Auto Motor & Sport, and an account of my personal experience as a participant of the Dutch National ThinkTank, in the newsletter that is sent to all students and staff members of Leiden University.
Thanks to my internship at the editorial department of literary publishing house Prometheus/Bert Bakker, I got well acquainted with the Dutch publishing industry. During this internship, I reviewed and edited manuscripts, checked translations and wrote blurbs. I also introduced author Th.C.W. Oudemans, one of my professors at Leiden University at that time, to the publisher, which resulted in the printing of Echte Filosofie (“True Philosophy”, ISBN: 978-90-351-3122-4). After my internship, Prometheus/Bert Bakker hired me as an editor for a year, to work on this book and other projects.
In 2007, I participated in the Dutch National ThinkTank (Nationale Denktank), an annual volunteer project. With 21 other highly gifted MA and PhD students, I investigated the Dutch educational system and came up with 12 inventive improvements. Because of my creative input and writing skills, I was asked to write the report with four other participants. The report, Succes op School! (this title is ambivalent in Dutch, and means “Good Luck at School!” as well as “Succes for Educational Institutions”, ISBN: 978-90-787-570 2-3), has a printing run of 1000 copies and is available as a PDF free of charge at the website
All this professional writing does not mean I have not been creating fiction. On the contrary, I have brought forth many Dutch short stories over the past years, and I won several writing competitions, for example Write Now! 2005 at The Hague. Most of my Dutch tales are published under my pseudonym, *** at my website (my section attracts approximately 500 visitors and 2500 page views per month, search engines excluded). Some stories have also been published elsewhere, for example at the website of literary magazine OpSpraak ( and in Het Leidsch Dagblad, a local newspaper.

Because I wish to refine and develop my creative writing skills further, I have been looking for an academic MA programme in this field. For example, I wish to learn 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 produce catchy dialogues, to write towards a good plot or denouement, to develop a style that fits the products of my pen, and last but not least, how to prepare a submission package and make a living as a writer. The Dutch universities are for want of a programme that meets with these wishes.

Recently, I have experimented with writing fiction in English, and was delighted at the experience. I think writing in a second language is an enormous inducement for creativity and originality. Leading examples of this are Vladimir Nabokov, Khaled Hosseini and Agotha Kristof, and I humbly hope to tread in their footsteps. Therefore, I intend to explore my capacities as a writer of English fiction at a British university.

The full-time MA programme presented in your Postgraduate Prospectus and on your website is very appealing to me, because I can fully identify with your career-oriented vision of unfolding creative talent. I also choose to apply to Brunel University because the curriculum seems intense and challenging.
In writing communities, I have experienced it to be very rewarding to discuss work-in-progress with peers, and I expect the academic context of your university to take this to a higher level.
My expectations of the Theories of Practice module are very high, for I think studying contemporary literary theory is the breeding ground creativity needs in order to flourish.
The unique industry module, I believe, will add greatly to my experiences with the Dutch publishing industry. I am looking forward to both the taught course and the two-week work placement, because I am very eager to get to know the thriving literary scene of London.
Furthermore, I am very enthusiastic about the dissertation. I think it will be an enlightening experience to work on a major prose project, especially one-to-one with an experienced creative writing teacher like Rose Atfield, a great novelist such as Fay Weldon, Celia Brayfield or Sarah Penny, a poet like David Fulton or any other member of your impressive staff.

I very much look forward to having the opportunity to develop and refine my creative writing skills further at Brunel University. Please do not hesitate to contact me at *** for more information or to arrange for an interview.

Sincerely yours,

Deborah Klaassen

1 comment:

  1. Well hello Deborah! If I wasn't convinced yet of your writing talent, I'd surely be after reading this letter!