What the Actual F Is a Creative Writing PhD?
Good question . . .
I get really uncomfortable telling people I'm doing a PhD. It's supposed to be this highly esteemed level of academia that makes people immediately revere you. I get that reaction when I say I'm doing a PhD but then they ask, "What in?" and I say "Creative Writing". I'm given a"Hmm" *head tilt* or a "Oh, cool" *furrows eyebrows* or "What does that entail exactly?" Or my personal favorite: "Isn't a PhD for people to discover cures and inventions?"
No, I'm not looking for the cure to cancer and I'm not building the next Fortune 500 Company. I am doing this PhD because I wanted to do it for me. I'm not looking for it to help my resume, but it will help my goal that I've had as a little girl: to publish a novel (check out this post).
what does a creative writing phD actually entail?
There are two parts to this Creative Writing PhD - the creative piece and the critical piece.
Let's start with the boring one of the two: the critical.
I must submit a 25,000 word (roughtly 55 word doc pages singled spaced) critical essay related in some way to literature. I could, if I wanted, relate it to my creative piece. I've decided to research three novels written by Scottish authors that deal with the idea of morality and the devil. Basically, I'm going to talk about how the devil encourages the human characters to be their true self (though they've tried to be something they are not.) Not getting it? I'll give you an example: Gideon Mack is the son of a priest, he studying divinity in university and becomes a priest, all the while he doesn't believe in god or the afterlife.
For the creative.
I must submit a 75,000-100,000 word (166-222 word doc pages single spaced) creative piece. This could be a collection of short stories, a few novellas (a piece between 50,000-20,000 words), poems, nonfiction essays, or a novel. I'm writing a novel.
Sorry, but I'm not going to disclose what my novel is about, but if you paid attention to what I said about my critical essay, you'll get a good idea of what I'm writing. And it's set in Edinburgh. (How could it not be?)
I have monthly meetings with my supervisor, a writer and tutor I've known since the beginning of my masters program and he has helped me SO MUCH, I'm so lucky to have him as a supervisor.
During the first year, I had to submit 5,000 words at the end of the first term, and then I will submit 10,000 words at the end of my first year. An in-depth meeting with my supervisor and whoever was assigned to read my work will follow a month after my submission.
I will submit 10,000 words again at the end of the year. As you can see, I am given a lot of freedom. A LOT. If I want to go home for a month, I can. If I want to bugger off to New Zealand, I can. If I want to write my ass off for 4 days a week and chill for 3 days a week, I can. What I put into it, I get out of it. It's all about discipline.
I finish and submit ~125,000 words in total and then I'm off to find an agent and the publishing process begins, baby!