Monday, 26 October 2009

Mission Impossible?

The Course
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:

1 comment:

  1. In my opinion, it is possible to learn ad improve your style. But you need to write write write and more than anything: you've got to be talented.

    You're right: writing fiction in a second language is really a challenge. It takes an additional effort and it's always a risk: you're not native and the thought that a native will always use the words more properly than you is alays in the back of your mid -that's my case too-. But reading your posts and living in London, if I were you, I wouldn't worry about that.

    Your friend pobably thinks that Shakespeare never took writing classes, but it's possible -and even useful- to learn something about how to combine words, how to find better metaphors, how to make your sentences look more appealing to the reader, etc. Another plus is you will be in touch with a community of writers, sharing common interests and finding better chances to get published.

    But as I said, you need to feel the writing fire inside you. That's the most important when it comes to write.