My Masters Creative Dissertation was the hardest piece of work I have ever done and I am still reeling from it now. Yes, I’d completed one for my undergraduate degree and that was hard but this was on a different scale. People enjoyed reminding me that “they don’t give Masters degrees for nothing” and I understand this; I knew from the start that it would be a lot of work but I didn’t realise how short the time scale would be to complete the dissertation module. One of the key reasons I chose to study this Masters degree part-time was this module and I’m so glad I did. I am upset we’ve not had the opportunity to graduate alongside the friends I had last year as that was a great year but I think I did make the right choice. My physical and mental health was a priority and I stand by my decision. Two years of hard work led to this module and I’m pleased I used the summer in between the two years to plan my project.
Immediately, I knew I wanted to write more of Realms of Magic as my creative dissertation. I had already written Chapters 1-3 of the first book for a previous module last year, but I could only submit 10,000 words from Chapter 4. I already have an initial plan for the first book in its entirety so this may be easy to start.
The difficulty came when I realised how inaccurate the breakdown of my book had become in the time I had worked on it; characters and plot lines had changed and I realised how much waffle I had put the book in between the action which was no longer needed. Having a maximum of 10,000 words allowed me to trim unnecessary material but it was difficult to sacrifice some content that I felt was good for the story. I was often reminded that it was my story and I needed to keep in what I thought was best for the progression of the story and characters and I often needed to be reminded of this. I needed to be able to defend my baby to others so it needed to be my ideas and my decisions.
The research came into it when I had to write a reflective essay of 2,500 words of prose and the thoughts behind it. An annotated bibliography of four primary and four secondary sources formed part of the research and influenced my essay. The annotated bibliography was hard as you had to justify exactly how it was used, I didn’t know if I was giving enough to justify it. Other referencing was easier and I was grateful for it, I had already written several reflective essays. I had learnt to leave the essay and referencing until last as it saved a lot of time and any issues seemed easier to manage.
It has given me the opportunity to look at my series through a magnifying glass and depict key plot points of ‘otherness’ in my character and her self-identity and the environmental rules, then people’s perceptions of my characters being ‘othered’. I never realised how many depictions of ‘otherness’ I already had in each of my full books that drove the series on.
Now that the module has finished, I feel like I can breathe again. I will not be studying a PhD, my MA has been a tough but rewarding time, but physically and mentally, I am exhausted. Time for rest and relaxation in time for Christmas!