Amber Patton, USA – MA in Creative Writing
My name is Amber Patton and I am earning my MA in creative writing at UL. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing at Pacific University in Oregon. During my four years of college in the U.S., I minored in music and literature as well as studied abroad to UL during my third year. My undergraduate thesis was titled, World Building in the Fantasy Novel, and it explored two main elements of creating a completely original fantasy world. For the past five years I have been writing an epic fantasy novel which includes new races, religions and languages. I am very excited to continue my education and will finish my novel under the guidance of Joseph O’Connor during my studies in Ireland.
I was first introduced to UL through Pacific University in the states. As a third year undergraduate student, I could choose to study in three different English speaking countries, Australia, England and Ireland. I had no idea then, but choosing to study in Ireland would change my life. It exposed me to authors like William B. Yeats, James Joyce, Claire Keegan and other famous Irish authors I would have never had the chance to read back in the states. I made friends from all around the world, and I had the chance to grow and mature away from home.
What first drew me to study in Ireland was the rich culture of music and literature. As a musician, I was ecstatic to learn more traditional styles of playing, and I knew I would have the opportunity to practice with new instruments. I wanted to experience living in a new culture, one with such a rich history in mythology and folklore. I knew my writing would also benefit from my travels. By living in Ireland I would have easy access to the rest of Europe, one weekend I could fly to Rome and the next be in Pairs.
As many study abroad students might say, choosing UL was the best decision of my life. Back in 2012 I became very involved with the Archery club and went on to place nationally in the Barebow Nationals at NUIG. I won over 13 awards with the club and competed all over Ireland. In 12 months, I travelled to over five countries, and visited over 20 European cities. Academically, I attended enthralling lectures on Yeats with Dr. Margret Harper and read what felt like a mountain of books.
The best part about my study abroad experience was the friends I made. I was very close to my roommates from France, and the Archery team became my family away from home. However, 12 months flew by and I had to return home to the states to finish my degree. Leaving Ireland the first time felt like I was leaving a home away from home as well as the UL community who had become my family. I knew after I earned my Bachelor’s degree I wanted to continue my education in Europe.
There were a lot of factors that drew me back to UL in pursuit of my masters in creative writing. UL became my home when I studied abroad and I was eager to return to the campus and city. However, the key reason for my return was the opportunity to work with and be mentored by Joseph O’Connor, author of Star of the Sea, The Thrill of it All and countless other favourites. During our interview he explained that he wanted to make the MA a place that would not only prepare writers for a life as an author but also give students opportunities to meet editors, publishers and agents. Choosing this program would expand my options for finding work in Ireland after I graduate which is my ultimate goal. The MA in creative writing felt like the perfect fit for my life, and I was excited to be part of a new program and help define it for future writers to come.
Studying under Joseph O’Connor has been enlightening and a thrill. I am working with eleven amazing and talented writers from all over Ireland and the UK. From day one, our writing has improved and we’ve bonded as a class over weekly workshops and afternoon café getaways. Besides workshops and literature courses, we also have one-on-one lectures from famous Irish authors like Clarie Keegan and Colum McCann. We are currently teaming up with the MA in English students to create a beautiful and brand new literary journal, called The Ogham Stone. So far, this MA has an incredible mixture of creative writing, literature and editing and publishing; four very important parts of being a quality writer in today’s society. Next semester, our lectures and workshops with Joseph will continue, and we will carry on improving our writing.
After I graduate, I plan to remain in Ireland and start my career with an editing and or publishing company. I will continue to pursue my work as a freelance writer and travel the world. My ultimate dream is to finish my fantasy novel in the next few years and work towards publishing my life’s work.