Cultivating Confidence Through Spanish Creative Writing

Cultivating Confidence Through Spanish Creative Writing

Woman on a mountain

“For me, the biggest benefit of studying creative writing was what it did to my confidence…My advice is to never stop learning, because you never know where it will take you.” - María Fernanda Rodríguez Aguilar, SCS learner

When María Fernanda Rodríguez Aguilar was a child growing up in Ecuador, she would write short stories and hide them in her desk. “I’ve loved writing since I was little, but I was always too scared to share my work with others. When I came to Canada 17 years ago, I stopped my writing because I was so focused on learning a new language and starting a new life,” reflects María Fernanda. “But it became impossible for me to live without writing, so I decided to try a creative writing course at the School of Continuing Studies (SCS).”

In 2016, María Fernanda started taking Creative Writing in Spanish, led by SCS instructor and author Martha Batiz. “Studying creative writing in my native language felt wonderful. As I worked my way through the Creative Writing Certificate, both Martha and Grace O’Connell taught me to not be afraid to share my writing. As someone who had always been embarrassed to share my work, learning this was door-opening,” recalls María Fernanda. “I learned how to be brave and share my work, receive comments and constructive criticism, and also how to review and critique the work of others.”

While working and studying at SCS, María Fernanda also began pursing a Master’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of Salamanca in Spain. Her educational pursuits kept her busy, and throughout her certificate at SCS she produced a collection of short stories narrated from unique perspectives, titled Usanza. After receiving encouragement from the administrative team at SCS, María Fernanda submitted her work to the Marina Nemat Award for Creative Writing, in the Creative Writing in Spanish Category. “I received notification on my birthday telling me that I had won the award. I was totally in shock,” she says. “I’m so proud and thankful to have been chosen. Thinking back to 17 years ago, I never would have thought I’d be winning a writing award.”

Today, María Fernanda’s writing no longer hides in a drawer; with a Master’s degree and SCS certificate under her belt, she’s currently working to have Usanza published. “For me, the biggest benefit of studying creative writing was what it did to my confidence,” asserts María Fernanda. “My advice is to never stop learning, because you never know where it will take you.” 

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