Making a difference in life has always motivated Jenny Bloomfield.

After completing a PhD in mathematics in 2011, she has undertaken a range of charity work throughout the last six years, focusing on policy, public affairs and government relations across various areas including mental health and education.

Her current role – a policy officer at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) – sees her advocating on behalf of the voluntary and third sector to politicians, government and other decision-makers, alongside helping the sector understand new legislation.

Now, she has started to look at the possibility of making a difference via an alternative medium – through creative writing.

Jenny is currently half way through her MA in Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier. The course is offered both at full-time and part-time options, and it was the latter that appealed to her given her work commitments. Despite always having an urge to write, it was not until she stumbled across the programme’s dedicated blog that she realised it was perhaps the correct time – and the right course – for her.

She said: “I was web searching creative writing courses in Scotland and I came across the Edinburgh Napier course. In particular, I read a blog on the type of course the tutors here run. I particularly liked that I could combine my interest in ‘making a difference’ with my writing – almost undertaking campaign work through it. It sounds silly now, but such an idea had never occurred to me before.

“Since starting the course, I’ve become really interested in graphic fiction – thanks to David Bishop who is one of the tutors on the course – so at the moment I’m working on a graphic novel. It is about a lesbian who faces difficulties with her family and neighbourhood when she comes out – before the happy ending. It is at a super-early-stage and might never see the light of day, but we will see.

“I’d always imagined that I’d do something like this once I’d finished university; once I had a house; once the (not-yet existent) kids were at school, etc. It took me a while to finally realise that there is no perfect time to do it – you just have to go for it.”

Studying part-time has been good too. You get such insights not only into writing but also into how to be a writer. And you get to keep paying the mortgage while you do it!

Jenny Bloomfield

Part-time MA Creative Writing student

So how does the work-life-study balance work?

Jenny added: “I am lucky in that my week splits up very nicely: I work Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesday for SCVO; attend Edinburgh Napier on Thursdays; and then study at home on Fridays and Sundays. Saturdays are for lie-ins, hangovers and doing the laundry or food shop!

“I work as part of a team so if I need to take a few extra days’ leave to meet a course deadline, there is usually the flexibility to do that. And because I cut my hours to three days a week, I generally have plenty of time to study.”

What does the future hold for Jenny?

She said: “I’d love to get published and to pursue a writing career to run alongside my current one in the voluntary sector, as I really enjoy doing both.

“The course has been great so far. My favourite bit has been meeting real-life graphic fiction writers who are making a living doing this: asking them questions and seeing how they make it work has been really instructive.

“Studying part-time has been good too. You get such insights not only into writing but also into how to be a writer, i.e., how to get on in the industry. And you get to keep paying the mortgage while you do it!

“If you’re thinking of doing the course, I would say to just go for it. There never is the ‘perfect’ time, so why not now?”

Student Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier