Student Spotlight: Phoebe Morgan
Phoebe Morgan studied Advanced Fiction Writing with us in 2015, and this year saw the publication of her debut novel, The Doll House. She explains how studying with us helped make her dream come true.
"I found out about Morley College from a friend who had taken a singing course there. I was really pleased when I discovered there was a creative writing course – it was so reasonably priced and very convenient for me as I lived not too far away, and could easily fit it in of an evening after work, without having to rush to get there.
"I had taken a few creative writing modules at university as additions to my English Language and Literature degree at Leeds University, and been trying to write in my spare time around a full-time job in publishing. I’ve always written little bits and bobs, short stories etc, but it can be hard to find the courage to start taking it seriously – there are always the fears of rejection, fears that it isn’t good enough, worries that it should just be kept as a hobby. Writing is something I’ve always felt incredibly passionate about, ever since I was a child, but I didn’t tell many people that I was trying to write more seriously until I actually got the publishing deal. I think a lot of people are quite secretive about writing, actually!
"I’d been working on The Doll House before I started on the course, but it was in quite a rough stage and it changed quite a bit during that summer. I had a literary agent, who had been working with me editorially too, preparing to get the manuscript up to a good enough standard to send out to prospective publishers. We must have done about seven drafts in total!
"I decided to take the course because I thought it would help incentivise me. I work full-time as mentioned, so I needed something which would really force me to commit to writing – turn up every week, put the hours in, do the assigned reading – all of which really helped my learning process and contributed to my final manuscript. It was great having an environment in which everyone took writing seriously, where we all had the same goals, and I met a lovely group of writers whose ideas and talent inspired me further. A lot of writing courses particularly in London are very, very expensive and I was so impressed by what good value the Morley course was in comparison.
"The course opened my eyes to some other types of writing – each week we looked at another person’s work, and that was really fascinating as we were all writing such different things. Mine is a psychological thriller but within the class there were people writing historical, women’s fiction, science fiction – and it was so interesting to hear from them too. The course tutor was also very encouraging, and provided us with lots of reading material which I may not otherwise have come across. The course also helped me to just get the words down – we did exercises where we just wrote for 15 minutes without worrying, which I found very helpful indeed. I think it’s much, much easier to work from a finished draft than spend ages getting every word perfect – there’s time to go back and sort it all out later!
Morley was for me a resoundingly positive experience – a lovely library, great tutors and lots of talent.
Phoebe Morgan, The Doll House author
"I think one of the most valuable things I learned was the way good writing hones in on detail – the course tutor described it as having a magnifying glass and always pushing that little bit closer in order to really immerse your reader in the world you’re creating. She taught us how focusing on seemingly small details can help build a picture in a reader’s mind, and that’s something I still use in my writing today. There was also a session on finding a literary agent – although I already had one, I think this was a hugely important and beneficial part of the course as it can be a daunting thing to think about and there’s so much contrasting information online that having someone explain the process and recommend agencies can be really useful.
"I was so impressed by the calibre of the other writers in the group – I’m sure some of them will go on to do great things! We did all continue to meet up for a while after the classes had ended, critiquing each other’s work, which was lovely. I also found that the feedback everyone gave was very encouraging and constructive – reading your work aloud can be a terrifying thing, but the friendly environment was great for new writers.
"Morley was for me a resoundingly positive experience – a lovely library, great tutors and lots of talent. And if you have a hobby that you want to start taking more seriously, then go for it! I didn’t get published overnight; it does take hard work and a tough skin, but it was one of my dreams and I’m so grateful to Morley and the Advanced Fiction Writing course for helping me achieve it."
The Doll House became a #1 bestseller this year and is available to buy now!
Phoebe also works as a commissioning editor at HarperCollins and blogs about writing and the publishing process at https://phoebemorganauthor.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @Phoebe_A_Morgan.