From September 2018 to 2020, I was a student on the MA Prose Fiction course at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK.
The world-renowned MA Prose programme, which has been running for half a century, centres around the creative writing workshop: an extremely intense weekly three-hour session in which you shut yourself in a room with a mid-sized group of people who have read, assessed and annotated your work on a word-by-word level and who then spend 45 minutes telling you what you’ve done wrong while you remain metaphorically gagged for the duration. (To be fair, they also tell you what they loved about it).
The creative writing workshop can be fun; it can be brutal. It can also help make you a better writer.
At the end of each academic year, the students put forward a couple of thousand words they’ve been working on during the course for inclusion in an anthology.
Bloom is the 2020 cohort’s anthology. I chose to submit the opening of DEEP WATER, which I was re-drafting while at UEA. The manuscript was called, at the time THESE YELLOW SANDS, a reference to a line from Ariel’s Song in Shakespeare’s The Tempest:
Come unto these yellow sands
And then take hands:
Curtsied when you have, and kiss’d
The wild waves whist
Between sending in my submission to the anthology team and Bloom being printed, I received the news that my manuscript – a story about a newlywed couple and a remote Indian Ocean island with a dark past – had been accepted for publication by Simon & Schuster.
DEEP WATER is being published in summer 2022. Here, in Bloom, is a little part of it: rawer than it will eventually be, yet on its way to being polished prose, thanks to the input of all those at UEA who I worked alongside in workshop.