Just sent off my first piece for A363 Creative Writing at the OU. So glad its written but a wee bit apprehensive about the next one as I have sooo much to earn before doing it. It’s script writing about which I know diddly squat so it’ll be a bit like starting from scratch all over again.
Have had a weird four weeks with family dramas, fun times spent on a mushrooming weekend, totally surreal Bob Dylan concert at the Albert Hall and lovely, lovely day in the Smoke with Uni undergrad girlies drinking champers in Harvey Nic’s. Also got long listed for Bath Flash Fiction Comp which I was well pleased with. Will post my not winning entry here. Its a wee bit crap but I wrote it last March doing a TMA for the OU and had forgotten all about it so I was really, really pleased when they emailed. Have entered a rash of free comps in a wave of enthusiasm. Will paste here what happens. Next week when I’m back on the OU studying bandwagon I’m going to make this visible then I’ll have to keep writing it.
Loving the Write Club. They posted a ‘cluster’ yesterday on the Facebook page and told us to pick a word and paste a freewrite in the Forum which loads of us did. Its called the Cluster Club.
What is a cluster I hear you future people cry (because no-one except me can see this yet). Its a creative writing exercise where you put a word in the middle of a blank sheet of paper and create word connections as they pop into your head joining then by little dashes that look like chains; links of associations. When you run out of that thread you go back to the middle and start again. By the end you have a fractal of connectvity. Freewriting is when you just pick up your pen and write whatever comes.
This is my free write that I put on the Write Club Forum, using one of the clustered words yesterday. I chose ‘litter’ not sure why its a rubbish word (ha ha).
Litter, bitter, pitter-patter rain splashing like grey crowns in puddles and muddles that befuddle or belittle like tiny wee small things that tittle-tattle making no sense as the words flow like water, like rivers, like the river Ouse which lives outside, just beyond the road. It earns its name all the time, breaking it banks and oozing like dung brown treacle over the greeny grey unmarked track.
The boys can’t fish when the river gets too big which is ironic really. The fish are set free to swim where there used to be grass and free from the rod and hook because the boys can’t get them there in the far way field. They say spare the rod and spoil the child which was a horrible way of condoning beating littlies. No wonder there are problems in the world when that’s what we think is ok. Fish don’t beat small fry and squirrels don’t beat little squirrels I don’t think. What are baby squirrels called. So why do we?
Weird or what? Anyhoo its meant to spark off ideas and unleash your creativity which it did a wee bit.
Developed my shite story for A363 for my first Tutor Marked Assessment, known to all students of Advanced Creative Writing as TMA01. Its called The Breakdown, because its ambiguous and because I have to try to develop tension and contrast and mix genres a bit better. Don’t like it much, my story I mean, but it has to be done. Not feeling very inspired. Still wound up by the crappy story ‘The Violin Teacher,’ but just need to get over myself. Found myself developing character again, making Paulie a bit more three dimensional probably at the expense of the tension but I feel sorry for him. See, this is what happens, the characters do what they want or what’s good for them. Its got a happy ending now.
Its difficult blogging. You never get any flippin’ time. Thank goodness no-one can see this yet.
I’ve started looking at the OU course materiel. It’s mostly in the form of a Blue coursework book, the Big Blue Book (BBB) that’s full of readings, exercises and guidance. I have to say I’m a bit disappointed with it compared to the Big Red Book (BRB) of last year’s course A215 which I found very helpful.
I wrote a story using the techniques the BBB wants us to develop, creating conflict, tension and contrast but its all very unsubtle. I like tiny nuances and subtle hints rather than in your face misleads. They irritate me when I’m a reader so I try to steer away from them as a writer. This story doesn’t sound like me at all.
The author of the BBB keeps papping on about a story he wrote called the Violin Lesson (it’s the first reading we have to study) and the trouble is the story is a bit crap. Don’t get me wrong there is suspense, you do think that the first person narrator might have murdered someone for a wee while but the prob is the characters are crap. There is an irritating caricature of a stroppy, wise-arse kid, an even more irritating because it’s uncleverly sexist, caricature of his pretty blonde sister and a sad caricature of a lonely, sex-starved carpenter who we’re steered to suspect of something horrid because he doesn’t get out much. All very epsilon. I had to force myself to read it.
The next reading was miles, miles better a wonderful story called ‘A Real Durwen’ but the BBB doesn’t keep going back to that one, just the pants story. Anyhoo will plough on with it and see how I get on. I will post the story here if I can get it any better.
Have revitalised my Twitter page now I don’t have a work one anymore. I set it up in 2011 then forgot it existed. I have started following people/books/groups/spaces with respect to creative writing. As this grows and as this blog gets populated, I will link this Blog to it and my Facebook page then people can actually see what I’m writing. My Uni Course goes live on the second of October so I’ll do it then.
So this blog has taken back seat to a hectic few weeks involving: going back to school and starting college for the boys; getting my course materials for the Open Uni for A363 Advanced creative Writing; Dad visiting; Granny Dot visiting to take the boys to Edinburgh festival; Uncle Jeff Mangnall dying unexpectedly; a trip to Bolton to go through Mum-Anne’s clothes and to attend a 25th anniversary celebration at Dunscar Golf club for the group she set up, Bolton Cardiac Support Group.
Bobs party was fab (as mentioned last post.) He and his mate got mullered and had to stay for tea the next day to let the vodka, beer , cider be metabolised.
This morning I have the opportunity to tap here as Nick is on a course, George stayed at Jack’s last night and Harry and Murray (Murray’s staying for weekend whist his mum and dad take his bro back to Uni) are having a lie in after a very busy first week back. Writing wise I’ve just been free-writing every day in my notebook as diary entries and to try and think of a new story idea. Think I will write here instead to see if it works to generate ideas and pop ideas into my head.
Last week I wrote a short story about the refugee crisis which needs serious editing though I sent it off to Mslexia. I will let it rest a few weeks then go back to it. Its no good for Uni TMAs though as it’s 2200 words. I have entered a couple comps which I have no chance of doing well in. It was just for the disciple of writing to deadlines that I really wanted to stick to. They are: Bridport, (story is Self-reflection and needed editing which I’ve since done and its now much better), Norwich Writers Competition (the Story is a Walk in the Park which I had to edit from 2700 words to 2000 to fit the brief, Ursula Le Guin style, and its lost its weird ‘faraway’ feeling in the edit though the exercise of severe revision was good to do), a competition by a tea manufacturer where I entered my story about postnatal depression after serious editing to work in the title and thread ‘Moonlight Jasmine’ which is the name of one of their teas. You had to use one of four pretentious tea names as inspiration. My story is totally unsuitable but at least it will be read. When I don’t win that, I’m going to send the pre-edit re-edited to Mslexia called Monster once again.
I joined Write Society, a new writers group at the OU. I pasted the post natal depression story in its first draft which was called Monster at the time and 5 people commented.
In addition to these no-hoper stories, I’ve entered one comp. where I might get short listed, The Cheshire High Sherrif’s prize. The story is the Time-travellers daughter and is about dementia. I wrote the story for my new course but when I googled comps I realised it was almost (after a couple of re-writes) perfect for the brief. I’l find out in November.
I can hear the boys getting up. Off to rugby at school later and then taking Ros out for 81st birthday dins in St Ives.
Wrote a short story at the weekend about postnatal depression. I think I’ll send it to Mslexia and see how it gets on. It might be ok for their themed Dec issue. Been getting ready organising things for my sons 30th birthday on Saturday. My brother, sister and Dad are coming to stay and Bob’s bringing a handful of friends from his Uni days. I reckon we’ll be twenty five for tea so I’ve ordered a pig. Can’t believe he’s 30. Only seems a minute since I was! Having a boozy gathering might give me some inspiration for more writing with any luck.
Today is the 46th anniversary of the death of the lady who bore me, my Mum Jaqueline Wendola Kaneen (nee Vickers). I didn’t know her for very long but she had the biggest impact on my life. This is for her. Thanks Mum
I’m always with her. I’ve always been with her, whispering in her ear but she never hears me. I’ve watched her live and laugh and cry and learn and make mistakes and set them right, but she never sees me anymore. All her life I’ve shared her happiness and grief, held her hand, dried her tears but she didn’t feel my touch or know I was beside her. I sprinkled shooting stars through the night and she saw them all but didn’t know they were gifts from me. The spider’s cobweb, glistening with my tears in the dry afternoon, the smell of bluebells in January snow, midnight trees that murmured her name on still summer nights, were all my gifts, returned unopened because she didn’t stop to think and all the time I was longing, aching to be heard.
In her dreams, I appeared out of shades of ash, a long forgotten face of flowers and dust. I perfumed the night with my scent so she could taste me in her mind’s eye but in the morning I didn’t exist. She forgot my name though I left it on the tip of her tongue.
I tried an icy touch, desperate to make her feel my presence. I used all my love to creak the new floor boards and worry her dog so it would leap up growling before her into empty space, hackles raised, to make her believe in me, but nothing. I breathed out her candle as she soaked, warm in lavender and tapped at her midnight window from the branchless garden but she had moved on, like they all do, had children, grown older, old enough to be my mother. Her focus was always the here and now, the living, today. I almost lost hope until tonight.
Tonight, I stand behind her, intangible hands on her shoulders, guiding her busy fingers as she taps unaware. She opened her imagination and let me in. I slipped inside unnoticed, like the thief I am to borrow her voice, to touch her soul, to tell my tale.
Stayed up until 5am (didn’t mean to) testing and trying, playing and changing then changing back blog-wise and though not much has changed on the surface, I know a lot more than I did before I started. On the upside I think I now know what I want to do and have a vague glimmering of how I might do it. On the downside I’m a tired walking husk of a woman who’ll be very lucky to get through the day without several power naps. Have added this picture of flowers to see if I can.
Got up and started fiddling with my new blog with very little idea of how to use it. The fact that these words are on the site at all are evidence that by 10.30am I’ve learned summat, Will log in at bedtime to record any further progress.
Well its 8pm and I’ve uploaded a short story though I’ve not got very far at all. Hope for more progress tomorrow. 🙂
I am a student of creative writing and this space is for my creative and other scribblings. I'm also a Mum, daughter, wife and sister, friend and human being studying the tricky subject of being a good human being.