Coming to study in the UK as an international student could be intimidating, but Katrina found it easy to adjust and settle-in at Reading. She also fulfilled her lifelong ambition to study Creative Writing, which she was determined to pursue, despite already having successfully published several books.
Here she tells us why she chose Reading, and her experience on the course.
Building a Creative Writing career
It was something I had planned to do ever since I was in high school, which was the time I started authoring my own stories. It started off as posting fanfictions online which then led me to blogging. I took up a Media Production program in college thinking it would open more opportunities for me in the workplace as I’m also interested in film and television, but I promised myself I’d take up Creative Writing as a masters. While building my career in the past few years, my passion for writing has only burned brighter and is something I genuinely enjoyed doing. I’ve published several books over the years, but even so I am constantly trying to learn more about my craft. Last year, the opportunity to pursue my postgraduate studies came up and everything just fell into place. Choosing to study Creative Writing is not only fulfilling a promise to my younger self but also fulfilling the desire of my present self to better my craft.
Choosing to study Creative Writing at Reading
One of the reasons I chose to study here is because it is a reputable institution in a really good location. I wanted to stay close to London but also have that distance from a bustling cityscape to be able to write in a peaceful environment. Reading provided that. The green spaces on campus are wonderful, the library is my favorite place to write and do work, and the university has provided me with a safe and comfortable place to call home. For an international student, it was very daunting to move across the world alone, but the university made it easy to adjust and the professors and staff are always so helpful. Program-wise, I love that we were able to pursue projects we were interested in and received full support from our professors and peers.
Gaining new writing and editing skills
Years of writing and publishing books have taught me that the best way to learn the craft is through practice. However, there is merit in reading other writers’ works and receiving critique as well. From the workshops and the practice sessions, I believe I came out not only a better writer, but a better editor of my own work. I have gained a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses in my storytelling techniques, which led me to better my process and improved the way in which I structure text and handle worldbuilding. Pursuing this MA felt like going back to basics and going deep into the roots of my writing style. I have discovered details in my work that I would have never been able to see without the help of my professors and classmates.
Becoming part of a supportive and diverse community
The most enjoyable thing about this entire experience was being able to pursue a project I’m deeply passionate about and having the complete support of my professors and classmates. They were all just as excited as I was about it and it was heartwarming to have been part of a group that respected each other’s crafts. Another thing that I enjoyed was the diversity in our class. I was able to read and critique poetry, screenplays, and short stories. Workshops were never boring because we discussed a variety of writing styles, and I also believed it had expanded my knowledge of their genres and has helped me read more widely across different genres of literature.
Plans for a Creative Writing Future
I want to keep writing books. Pursuing this postgraduate degree only solidified my love for writing and literature. I do want to try other genres as well, try my hand at writing poetry perhaps or create a crime thriller. Taking up the course has also made me want to pursue a career in publishing, and I hope to be able to work either as an editor or as part of a marketing team that cultivates books here in the UK.
Additionally, my main goal for the book I worked on throughout this course is to grow my readership. Having only published books in the Philippines, there’s a limit to who can read my works. So, I hope to finish the rest of my novel soon, and sell it to an agent, which would hopefully lead to my being published internationally and achieving commercial success.