I have always been a keen writer, and after writing my way through my teens, twenties and thirties, I realised this was probably not just a phase! But there was something stopping me going further. I had ideas and dedication but I knew that my writing was missing the mark somehow. I needed the guidance of professionals; I needed to go back to school.

I was delighted when I got accepted onto the Creative and Professional Writing degree course. I enrolled part-time, so that I could continue to work and look after my family. Six years seemed like a long time to commit, but honestly, it went by in a flash and it was the best thing I ever did.

All the lecturers on the CPW course are writers. Actual professional, working writers. This is invaluable. To be taught by experts in their field has been amazing, not just for their knowledge of the craft of writing – and let’s face it, they know their stuff – but because of their first-hand industry knowledge; who better to teach you how to write a pitch to an agent than someone who’s been there!

I learned so much. Every module was a revelation. Even the modules I expected to be less enthused by, found me evangelical by the time I came out the other side. I loved learning how to write in different genres and being taught by industry professionals of those genres.

The biggest lesson for me, the thing that finally stopped me missing that mark, was the art of editing. Six years of being told to “Cut it!”, “Edit, edit, edit!”, “Kill your darlings!” makes you pretty handy with the delete button.

Late last year I was offered representation by Hayley Steed at the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency. Earlier this year, I signed a two-book deal with Pan Macmillan in Great Britain and Putnam (Random House Penguin) in the USA. My first book The Twelve Dates of Christmas (which I wrote whilst studying for my degree) will be out in Autumn next year. Without the experience of studying at CCCU this wouldn’t have been possible.

I will be eternally grateful for the unwavering support of the CPW team, who tirelessly create their own art whilst passing their knowledge of the craft onto people like me. I am genuinely sad that my degree is over, but I will take everything I have learned with me. I have absolutely loved my time at CCCU.

Jenni Bayliss