Jessica Ryn is a full-time carer, has two children, and her debut novel is due to be published on 28 May 2020. She has a two-book deal with HarperCollins HQ Stories, and is currently working on book number three. She has a Creative Writing degree.
The first time I studied here I was training to be a midwife. I’d worked in a range of different roles before this but deep down I had always wanted to go to university, and I decided to begin a career in healthcare.
It was while I was working as a qualified midwife that my husband became ill, and I had to leave my new career to care for him as well as our two young children.
During this time, writing was therapy for me. I had written as a teenager too, and started to realise that this was something I wanted to focus more energy on.
This University immediately stood out to me as the best place for me to pursue my writing – I’d loved studying here as an undergraduate, and the distance-learning element of the MA meant I could fit the course around my caring responsibilities.
The best thing about studying here was the practical advice I received – the academics are professionals in their field and I would never have known how to approach an agent or find a publisher without their industry knowledge. My first novel, The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside, is due to published this summer.
I actually met my agent through university too – she had made a video giving advice to people trying to get published and it was suggested as a resource in one of my modules.
She seemed approachable so I thought I would pitch to her and it ended up being her that signed me – without the university this literally wouldn’t have happened!
I love both reading and writing about positive topics; I’ve spent a lot of my career working with people in difficult circumstances, as a support worker for people with disabilities, in homeless shelters, in mental health services, and all those experiences have informed my writing - it can be a depressing world and we could all do with being uplifted.
If you’re considering higher education just go for it – it’s easy to find reasons why you think things won’t work out but there’s always a way around any barrier, you’ll be surprised at how things fall into place. Also – it goes really quickly, so make the most of your time!