Tessa Fenley

Student spotlight details

The confidence Tessa gained from our Writing Fiction online course helped her to refine her novel and enter her first flash fiction competition. 

'I have always been passionate about language which is why I read English and German at university, majoring in English literature. Having worked as a marketing exec for over a decade, I felt at a professional dead-end, and returning to my first love, literature, seemed like the natural thing to do. Having cherished the dream to become a writer since childhood, I felt it was time to stop procrastinating and have a crack at it. Not knowing how to get started, though, a friend referred me to the Oxford Continuing Education website. The course ‘Writing Fiction’ seemed like the perfect fit for me.

'Irony has it that one week after I enrolled, inspiration struck and by the time the course started, I had finished the first draft of my novel. Needless to say, the course could not have come at a better time! I completed every task with my own draft in my mind, taking away as much from the assignments as I could to improve it.

'The course accomplished what no one else could: it boosted my confidence as a writer. Our tutor was very helpful in encouraging me and it is thanks to him that I mustered the courage to further develop a piece I wrote for the course into a flash short story called ‘Love Equals Loss’. I entered it into a competition, like he suggested, and it was selected for publication. A childhood dream come true! 

'Furthermore, the course enabled me to confront my work with that of my fellow participants which was both daunting and instructive. As a writer, you put your heart and soul into your writing. For many of us, it was the first time our work was read and commented on. An online course implies written feedback which can come across as harsh or disheartening. I should not have worried, though. It was a joy to comment on the work of my peers and receive their feedback in return. It all went smoothly, and I felt greatly encouraged by my peers as well our tutor.

'We were stimulated to further develop our personal projects which is exactly what I am doing at the moment. I am currently reworking – editing and polishing – my book; a detective novel set in England. Besides, after I entered my first flash story, I discovered that the genre suits me and I have been writing flash short stories and entering into competitions ever since. I enjoy developing stories with a limited number of words because they challenge me to be both precise and inventive. Thanks to the course, I now feel able and ready to further develop my writing skills. I intend to write as much as possible – it’s highly addictive! – to become the proficient writer I aspire to be.'

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