Archive for October, 2009

First Assignment Submitted

I have submitted TMA01, and it’s early by about 24 hours . This is astounding, because my previous track record, as vaguely mentioned before, is poor. While doing my degree I frequently began an essay the day before it was due and just wrote all night until I felt it was finished. Bad bad bad Rosie. I really can’t imagine doing that now, and it wasn’t that long ago.

But now I care what I write and I examine the structure, the sentences, the word choices… brilliant!

I’m a member of a Writers’ Group in Birmingham, and I’ve become friends with someone through that group who is very meticulous about grammar and structure. Fortuitiously, he also seems to enjoy reading through my writing and advising me about it, which is splendid luck for me. He’s a bit of a Devil’s Advocate, too, so occasionally he says provocative things to make sure that, if I feel strongly enough about something I’ve written, I’ll ignore his comments (this is important).

So now it’s time for some serious catching up on the rest of A215 – where did I put the BRB? I’m so behind on the Activities!


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TMA Fatigue

I write this through blurry eyes.

I feel like my TMA01 is in a good position, although I may feel differently when I re-read it tomorrow. I wrote the first draft last weekend, and it probably took about an hour, not including whining and moaning about not being able to write anything adequate and panicking about failing.

Rewriting and editing, on the other hand, are another kettle of fish entirely! Being a bit flighty with a short attention span, I’ve rarely redrafted or edited a piece of work properly. I didn’t realise how time-consuming and just plain knackering this could be!

So my ratio for creative writing vs editing is currently 1:6 or something equally unbalanced and un-creative. I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be though – even really good authors create shoddy first drafts, apparently.

Do you guys have a system for editing your work? Any hints or helpful tips?

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Day School

Out Tutor Group hasn’t been particularly active on the forum, so I was interested to see whether the Day School would bring people out of their shells and into a more active frame of mind for discussions and critiques.

Everyone seemed very nice and said lots of intelligent things. Their writing was good – I was impressed.

About a year ago I enrolled on a creative writing course which shall remain nameless. I was bitterly disappointed by the teacher, who was more interested in her image as a writing teacher than actually teaching any writing. Her feedback for one of my pieces actually said “[Prompt] is a good idea which you can take in many directions, isn’t it?”. She had set the prompt!

I didn’t go back.

Anyway, the OU Day School was a lot more promising and our tutor was good. I enjoyed the discussions we had and tried to continue one of them on the Tutor Group forum once I got home. I hope I don’t look too swotty – no one else is saying anything!

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TMA01 – Thoughts

It’s Tuesday night and I have nine days until the first assignment is due.

I haven’t started it yet. OK, that’s not strictly true: I just did five Focussed Freewrites – one for each provided prompt. One of my Freewrites starts as follows:

“[Prompt]… what the f–k kind of prompt is that?!”

Perhaps I’m not getting into the spirit of things as well as I should? 🙂

I’m really enjoying this course, but I’m panicking about the first TMA. I feel like I haven’t left myself enough time and subsequently I can’t think of anything to write. I’m just being silly – I’ll manage it. I think I’ve just described the problem – I’m enjoying this course so much that I need to do well. And I’m worried that I won’t.

I need to break out of this self-fulfilling prophecy (do those actually exist?) and just write. Maybe I’ll feel better about it after some dinner. Maybe it’ll be like those exams you had at school, where you come out of them thinking you’d done absolutely terribly. When you got the marks back they were actually your best. I hope so!

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Morning Pages

A few times over the past couple of weeks I have remembered to write Morning Pages.

(For those of you who might not know what these are, it’s a suggestion for writing to harness your unconscious and train yourself into writing freely. You are meant to write as soon as you wake up, for as long as you can. You do this before you read anything or talk to anyone).

Before I go to sleep I carefully make sure my notebook and pen are within reaching distance of my bed. When my alarm goes off… well, about ten minutes later, really… I blearily grasp the pen and peer through the dusky morning at the pages of my notebook.

I often find myself writing about the dreams I’ve had – those I can remember. I don’t think it really matters what you write. It’s the habit which is important. I can’t say I’ve been miraculously inspired by what I’ve written, but the BRB does say you’re supposed to do this every day for three weeks before you notice any effect.

It doesn’t matter – I like writing down my dreams, and occasionally one springs into an idea for further writing. I also like the surreal ideas which emerge from my dreams, and it helps me to remember what my unconscious has created. All very positive.

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This is an A215 blog, right?

And A215 has now started.

So where are the posts? Where are your A215 ramblings?

I wish I knew! I must apologise for my absence over the past couple of weeks. I could say “I have no excuse”, and I will: I have no excuse.

Now I am going to inundate you with excuses.

Last weekend was the Birmingham Half Marathon, which greatly hindered my A215 work for a surprisingly large amount of time. With that over, work stepped deftly into my path, with two nights away for a huge meeting. I also strongly suspect that a little bit of my social life may have got in the way. Oops. Then this weekend I had the Day School (more on that later), and had to immediately hop onto a train up north for my sister’s birthday weekend.

I’m finally back home with all the best intentions of catching up with A215 work and getting my head around things properly. I’m behind with it already, but I fully intend on catching up properly, so I know it’ll be OK.

Here’s my list of things to do for the course:

  • Finish Week Two’s Activities
  • Read through Week Three and begin activities
  • Participate in Online Tutorial within my Tutor Group Forum
  • Start eTMA01 so I can set it aside for enough time before redrafting.
  • Continue Morning Pages and the occasional half-hearted haiku.

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A215 has officially started now.

I’ve read Chapter One of the BRB today and this week I will practice clusters  and freewriting for 20 minutes every day. I have the best intentions.

I loved freewriting, but I find clusters difficult, as I have a voice in the back of my mind saying ‘this is pointless and is doing no good’. I do think they will be useful if you hit a wall in the middle of a story, though, or for expanding themes when redrafting.

Other writing-related things I’m planning are:

  • Finish Stephen King’s On Writing. I started reading it yesterday and it’s very useful.
  • Make a second draft of the story I’m working on. I will do this once I’ve finished reading King’s book, as it seems to offer advice which will be helpful for my redraft.
  • Begin to think about eTMA01, which is due three weeks on Friday. Perhaps start working on something, as it’s not the end of the world if I end up with a couple of potential eTMAs to choose from.
  • Read some anonymous manuscripts and make constructive comments for Writers’ Group on Wednesday. (Don’t panic, OU people, this has nothing to do with A215).

Non writing-related plans include:

  • Closely monitoring knee in advance of the Birmingham Half Marathon on Sunday. Last Sunday I ran ten miles and aggravated an old injury, so I’m halting training to allow the knee to fix itself as much as possible before October 11th. Cripes… I’m worried that taking two weeks off training immediately before the half is a bad idea, but surely my fitness levels can’t plummet significantly, right? I will finish this race.
  • Cooking vegan-friendly meal for vegan friend on Tuesday. I’m thinking red lentil dahl.
  • Buy a ‘Congratulations on your engagement’ card for a friend. She’s 22 years old. Try not to write ‘Please don’t do this’ on the card.

Other things I am thinking about:

  • I have bought a book: Rediscover Grammar by David Crystal. They seem to have tried to make grammar seem fun by including ‘amusing’ cartoons throughout. If I ever open it, I’ll let you know whether it’s any good.
  • My computer is stubborn and refuses to load FirstClass. It’s definitely a problem with the computer itself, as FC operates properly on my work computer. I think my computer is missing some files, and refuses to download any Windows Updates. I’m currently weighing up two options: paying £35 for a complete service of a very old computer or buying a new one.
  • I’m thinking about trying to stop watching TV (except Coronation Street, which doesn’t count as ‘TV’, as it’s a Way of Life). It would mean I could do more reading and writing. I’m reluctant, though, because I do like to switch off my brain sometimes and TV is a good way of doing that.

Martini time.. 🙂

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