Tahmina Maula

Tahmina worked as a senior manager in education before taking a career break to undertake the Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing

'Before the course I had been working as a senior manager in education. After many years in the field, I wanted to take a career break to do something different and develop new skills. I freed up some time for this by taking up sessional teaching and interpreting.

'During my school years, I was always most enthusiastic and productive when doing creative writing. So, having set aside my professional pen with its analytical focus, I had an opportunity to take up a creative one again. This allowed me to pursue my long-held interest in writing and story-telling. I instinctively began by writing poetry, which breaks considerably with the codes and conventions of the analytical writing I had previously been doing.

'I found writing to be an absorbing process, which freed up my creative imagination. It is however a solitary activity. I knew that if I wanted to make real progress with the craft I needed the feedback and learning, which only comes from working with other writers. I also felt ready to take on a new challenge so a course seemed the right next step. I chose the Diploma with Continuing Education for its broad and appealing structure and content as well as its reputation, even though it was a fair distance for me to travel.

'Whilst I was looking forward to developing my poetry portfolio, I was equally keen to try my hand at other genres. I welcomed, for example, the opportunity to experiment with flash-fiction and screenwriting. At the same time, I discovered an interest in writing ekphrastic poems – inspired by art and, by extension, photography. It was through the course that I also began to appreciate the over-lapping nature of skill-sets between the disciplines.

'Though the return to study presented challenges for me as a mature student, these were outweighed by the rewards. To begin with, the thought of sharing my work with a roomful of other writers was somewhat daunting. My fears however were unfounded. The workshopping activities provided a positive and supportive space for critical exchange and thus, proved invaluable to my learning and development. The Diploma, with its steady timetable of coursework and assignments, can be competitive and demanding so it was important to stay on top of it.

'The tutors are all established practitioners in their own creative fields and I found them approachable and encouraging throughout. This helped me to benefit from their expertise, as well as from their detailed and constructive feedback. It was clear to me by the end of the course that I had progressed significantly with my writing due to the quality of their tutoring, as well as my own efforts.

'Since completing the diploma, I have produced a poetry pamphlet and continue to experiment with prose fiction and to develop my ideas for a novella. I have read my poems at various events including open mic sessions at the Poetry Café in London – something I couldn’t have imagined doing before the course.

'I have a background in teaching and would love to teach creative writing. In order to achieve this, I will need a Masters, which I plan to do whilst continuing my own writing.

'I enjoyed the course immensely and found the process and outcome to have been of great value. It’s been an enjoyable way to learn something new and would also be useful professionally.

'There is potentially so much to gain from undertaking a Continuing Education course, not least the opportunity to meet and make friends with others with shared interests. I would warmly encourage anyone who is considering it, to take the plunge – just do it!'

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