Do you think the Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) looks interesting, but you’re not sure what your career prospects could be? In fact, the course offers the opportunity to sharpen your writing, critical analysis, editing and research skills in preparation for work as an author, editor, copywriter or communications specialist. But just as importantly, the course lets you hone your craft and follow your passion for writing and literature.
We spoke to two graduates of the Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) about pursuing diverse and fulfilling writing careers.
Poetic license to pursue creative writing
Lou Verga was working as a journalist when he decided to swap sports reporting for poetry. ‘I'd always been interested in poetry and had written quite a bit of poetry,’ he says. ‘That's what called me to this course. I knew there was something in me that I hadn't explored yet that I really wanted to: creative writing.’
Lou says the skills he learnt through Deakin’s Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) helped him become a published poet. Lou's poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Cordite, Quadrant, Pink Cover Zine and Caliper. He’s also working on his first book, Misshapen Strings, a collection of poetry with friend and poet Robbie Coburn.
He says Deakin’s educators helped him learn about himself and how to tap into his inner voice. ‘Creative practice can be a complicated thing, and to feel safe and [feel] like the teachers supported my creative development was really valuable,’ he says.
‘The main thing I learnt was allowing myself to step out of the way so that the poetry, or my natural self, could come through.’
Lou now works as an ESL teacher and says poetry is an intentional hobby rather than a full-blown career. ‘In life, it's really nice to have some sort of practice or hobby, and for me it’s great to have poetry as a constant hobby,’ he says.
‘I know for myself that if publications were my main goal, I'd end up very unhappy and unfulfilled because publication is great but it's not everything in life. The process and the expression is really important, regardless of what that yields.’
The next step in a successful writing career
Penny Reeve – who also writes as Penny Jaye – is an award-winning author of more than 20 children’s books, including the popular Madison and Tania Abbey series. Writing careers like Penny’s require dedication and skill, and she decided to study Deakin’s Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) to strengthen her craft and examine how her work fits into the wider children’s literature world.
‘I was really keen to analyse children's literature and how we identify the ideological frameworks within the texts and how pedagogy has influenced them,’ she says ‘I wanted to look at these perspectives critically, and to see how my own work fit into them or could be shaped and formed by critical thinking.
‘That was one of the main reasons I chose the Deakin course – because there was an emphasis on critical thinking.’
Unsurprisingly, Penny says this turned out to be her favourite aspect of the course. ‘I enjoyed learning and having my mind stretched to think about new ideas, and to wrestle critically with ideas that I perhaps hadn't encountered before or wasn't comfortable with,’ she says. ‘And to then use those critical thinking skills in line with my creative work. I really loved the whole learning process.’
Contrary to what she expected, Penny says the course has made her a ‘more thoughtful’ albeit slightly slower writer. It’s also boosted her confidence because she’s ‘now able to see where the stories that I'm developing fit into the Australian children's literature scene, and also what I need to do to get to the standard that is necessary’.
As part of the course, Penny developed a picture book text, which was accepted by a publisher and is due for release in 2021. ‘It was a much more complex process to build that text than anything I've ever written before because I was using the strategies and the information that the course was providing,’ she says.
A degree that inspires personal growth
Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) careers aren’t always clear-cut, and Lou says open license to pursue creative writing in a wide variety of forms is one of the best parts of the course.
‘It gives you a better idea of your principles in life and a lot of opportunities to explore what you want to do – and from there you can make the next move,’ he says.
Along with publishing pathways, Penny says the course offers perspective on how writing and literature fit into broader aspects of our lives.
‘The course broadens your understanding of how literature fits into society, culture and the development of culture as we are currently living it,’ she says. ‘That knowledge has widened my perspective of the world I'm living in, and given me a greater appreciation of the role of literature.’
Keen to hone your literary and creative writing skills? Find out more about Deakin's Master of Arts (Writing and Literature)