The Diary of an Unpublished Author #10: Back to University

Dear Diary,

It’s been a while since I’ve written to you. I guess it’s been a while since I’ve written anything at all. Since self-publishing my book last summer, I’ve been in a bit of a slump. Stuck in a limbo of what now. I’ll be the first to admit that self-publishing was never my end goal, so to have done just that felt simultaneously thrilling and deflating. You’ll tell me I’m wrong, but in many ways it felt like I had failed.

I want to tell you about a moment in January earlier this year when I had a sudden realisation that felt so heavy and so right, it nearly knocked me off my feet.

The beginning of the year is always a time for reflection and resolutions and on a trip back to my childhood home, I found myself surrounded by reminders of my past self and everything that I had once wanted. This wasn’t my past self of years and years ago, it was post-university Beth, fresh from her studies, ready to fight for everything she wanted. And I always knew exactly what that was: being a writer. It was the Beth who had moved to Germany and spent her free days finishing off her first novel. It was the Beth who had worked evenings in the pub and worked days editing and re-editing the many drafts of her beloved book. It was the Beth who was so sure that this was what she wanted to do, that she got a tattoo of her book’s symbol permanently etched onto her skin.

It was the Beth I had somehow lost in the years of moving to London and working full-time.

And the thought made me weep.

I think I was crying both for the past version of myself, and for the future version I would never have the chance to meet. I had the overwhelming feeling that along the way I had already given up, and that was before I’d really ever got going.

At the grand old age of twenty-five I had already written myself off and I can’t believe just how much of a mistake that was.

Something had to change and I knew in that moment exactly what I must do.

I started researching Creative Writing Master courses immediately and after a sleepless night of tears and frenzied dreams my mind was already set.

From there, everything fell into place almost too easily. I was able to drop my hours at work to part-time, and after a couple of open days, interviews and applications, I got a place on Royal Holloway University’s Creative Writing MA, starting next month. In every way it felt like the right thing, and the fact that it worked out so well makes me think that this is exactly what I was meant to do.

Creatively, even just making the decision to apply seemed to open the floodgates of my mind, and suddenly it was like the compass of my life had sprung back to true north. I was dreaming in stories, imagining plots in that strange land between wake and sleep, and there’s this excited hum in the back of my mind that won’t go away.

My novel remains finished but unfinished, and the sequel feels like right now like a great big lump of 60,000 words. But the best thing about this whole thing? I am writing again. I am writing different things in different formats and I’m not letting the burden of my novel stop me from pursuing different avenues.

To quote my application: “The problem is that writing has become synonymous with the trilogy I simultaneously love and loathe, and while this work remains uncompleted, I’ve felt unable to follow new ideas, or venture into the waters outsides of the genre. In many ways I’ve felt like I’ve been lacking direction in my creative writing.”

So, of course, there’s the best thing about this whole adventure and that’s that I will be forced to write. What – I have absolutely no idea, but to challenge myself every week, to hone and discipline my craft, and to throw myself in the deep end is an opportunity I will relish in every way.

I’m going to re-dedicate myself to my dream and I can’t wait to get started.

Yours in excitement,


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