• Helen Rye

UEA Prose MA

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

Here's a thing I never thought would happen. This month I started at the UEA, on the legendary prose MA, the first creative writing programme to be established in the UK. It actually began in the month I was born, which makes me I-know-right years old. I am keeping that quiet in case they put me on a poster, in this anniversary year, and the whole world finds out how old I am.

I'm starting as the holder of the Annabel Abbs scholarship, which considering I wasn't sure the programme would accept me at all was a pretty heartening boost to my classically frail writer's confidence. We're such an odd bunch, writers, aren't we—we get to do the thing we love most of all, and yet we're rarely all that convinced of our own abilities for more than a fleeting moment on a Tuesday afternoon when the planets align and the sun's at the right elevation. I'm so glad to be here, and so grateful to the incredibly generous Annabel Abbs fees scholarship for allowing me to do this. My luck also extended to landing me in Andrew Cowan's workshop group for the first semester, which was my secret hope. I love Andrew's writing, and he was such a down-to-earth, encouraging presence when he talked to me at the open day I attended like a deer picking its way round the edge of a garden party, earlier in the year, that I left there feeling that maybe writing programmes weren't as scarfy* as I had imagined, and that maybe I could fit in. Thanks, Andrew.

What a massive privilege to be here. Looking forward to a year of focusing on writing in the electric company of so many talented people.

*scarfy: intimidatingly middle-class literary cliques characterised by the overwhelming presence of extravagantly floaty scarves

**I do actually really like scarves

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