The End of an Era – Goodbye, Falmouth!

Two years ago, I wrote my first article for FalWriting: Diary of a Student: The End of the Beginning, where I reflected on my first year at Falmouth University. At the time, I’d already taken a huge step out of my comfort zone. I had never moved away from home before, and was terrified that university would go wrong. But I got through my first two semesters and already felt my course had changed me as a writer, in a space of only a few months.

It’s strange to think two years have passed since then. I’m not only at the end of my current year, but the end of my entire course. I have learned so much compared to the rather naïve person I was at the beginning, and I want to use this opportunity to talk about how university has helped me to develop.

When I wrote my first article, it was exciting as I’d never done anything close to this before. It was an opportunity given by the amazing Danielle Barrios-O’Neill, who asked if I would be interested in extra writing alongside my studies. To be able to write about a topic as well as learn about running a website is something I’m still grateful for. Since then, I’ve continued to submit a range of articles, assisting with social media promotion, and even taken part in the epistolary project, Nest. I never expected to do such a variety of projects. Now, I write them almost without thinking, thanks to so much practice.

If it weren’t for those who continue to run FalWriting, Sherezade Garcia Rangel, Amy Lilwall, and David Devanny, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity throughout my course to write about great topics and build my portfolio.

Abigail and her peers won an  Oustanding Industry Collaborator  award for their work on FalWriting. ©Harry Lawlor/Mayn Creative

Abigail and her peers won an Oustanding Industry Collaborator award for their work on FalWriting. ©Harry Lawlor/Mayn Creative

On top of this, my course improved my general skills. I picked English with Creative Writing specifically, so I could gain knowledge in both literature analysis and my own creativity. The first year was very much about dipping your toe in the pool, being introduced to new topics like publishing, writing for your target audiences, and learning how to write a top-quality essay.

Second year is where things got more interesting. It was finally time to branch off into more specific areas of study, such as screenwriting, fiction, radio and literary eras like Romanticism and Modernism. I’d written a lot of fiction before coming to uni, but there was one area of writing I wanted to learn about, screenwriting. Thanks to the expert teaching from former lecturer Eleanor Yule, I wrote my first ever script, which honestly felt like a pivotal moment. It may have only been one short film, but it gave me the ability to write in script-form, opening the door to do more of them in the future.

I also established closer friendships during second year, attending more events and making the most of Falmouth’s vibrant community. This became more integral to my writing practice than I expected, since I’d often talk to friends about my own projects and vice versa. Many of us also wrote articles for FalWriting in our spare time.

This was all fantastic experience during my second year, but I will not lie by saying there weren’t downsides. For one thing, my mental health took a bad turn in the summer that followed. During my time in Cornwall, I would sometimes feel isolated, despite knowing people cared about me and I was never truly alone. As a general loner who also enjoys spending time with people, it’s often difficult to find the correct balance. If I decided to have a night in, I would worry I was missing out on fun experiences, which led to over-analysing and unhappiness. When the summer came and I returned home to work a new job, my anxiety and unhappiness grew worse.

In the end, I received counselling and it was incredible how much it helped. It gave me the ability to box up my feelings and put them in an imaginary corner, looking at them objectively instead of letting them consume me. I think it’s something every young person goes through at some stage, and it’s not unusual for it to happen during university, right when life starts to get serious.

By the time third year came along, I felt prepared for the final chapter. There were big changes, including our department’s move from Penryn to Falmouth Campus, and many lecturers leaving and joining the team, but it was the moment I knew I had to put everything I’d learned into practice. The highlight of my final year was undoubtedly my dissertation, where I finally wrote the TV pilot episode I’d always dreamed of.

During my time at Falmouth, it feels as though I’ve tried everything a writer can possibly try. Despite this, I think I’ve only scratched the surface of what I can achieve. After writing a script for a film and TV show, I know that script writing is the path I want to follow. It’s become like an addiction, and without the teaching of my lecturers, I would never have realised this passion, and that is something I won’t forget.

I want to thank Falmouth University’s English and Writing department from the bottom of my heart. I’m sad at the thought of leaving Cornwall in July, but it’s also exciting to know I’m moving on to bigger things, with the knowledge and experience I need to face them. I’m a competent and self-disciplined writer with a specific goal in mind, even though I’ve got a long way to go yet.

I’m sure I won’t stay away from Cornwall forever – it’s far too easy to grow attached to it! But for now, I want to say thank you to everyone who helped me during the past three years. I appreciate all of you!

I hope Falmouth’s new writers will make the most of everything it has to offer, because it’s definitely worth it!

by Abigail Martin