OK, this doesn't make a lot of sense, but I had a moment of confidence and threw myself into writing the commentary for TMA01 - and sent it by eTMA. You see, in the good old days, I would have had several opportunities for second thoughts and doubts before walking the mile down to the post office. Then I could have opened it up, found the two spelling mistakes and one typo that lurk in everything I do even if I've reviewed it a hundred times - I could have given it to various family members, even though they know less about writing than I do. I could have sent it in 4 days late, like normal people, not sixteen days early. Now I am at the mercy of my tutor. Many years ago, on my first courses with the OU, I had two courses on the do (K260 and ED209, if I remember correctly). I sent my TMA's off on the same day, a few days early, and then the fun began. One tutor marked each assignment as it came in, with reams of notes, and I got it back within the week. The other used to wait until the last one had come in (sometimes two weeks late) and then would slowly mark the whole lot. I think mine was probably last. I barely got it back in time for the second TMA, and then I couldn't read any of the seventeen words he had scrawled in hieroglyphics on the PT3 form, which was a faint carbon copy to start with.
So now I'm wondering, what will my present tutor be like? And, worse, how will I cope if I get a terrible mark? A terrible mark, you understand is between 59 and about 66. If I get 40+ or even (gulp) less than 40, I know I have loads to learn and my tutor will help me out with useful pointers. On the other hand, if I get 67 or 77 or 87 (gulp) I know I've got the right idea, I am capable of good marks and writing good stuff and if I do badly I'm just not giving it my best shot. But if you pour heart and soul into a piece of work until you can't think how to improve it - and it scores 59 - you just aren't very good.
The thing is, I really need to be good at writing. I started out with the idea of a search and a freewrite that I'm very pleased with. Then I wrote a short story from the perspective of the person waiting to be searched for and found. Then I channelled something darker and let her ramble with hypothermia after the dinghy she and her husband were in gets overturned in the sea, late at night, a frequent cause of deaths where I come from. When I was a teenager, I saw a body being pulled in by the police boat, the stench trailing behind it, and the sight has stayed with me. I wondered what it would be like to be one of two people who ends up in the sea, where the real enemy is cold, being the one with the life jacket. It wrote itself into a short story, complete with happyish ending, but I'm not sure it's anything like my tutor is expecting. Worse, it wrote itself, and the narrator has been unwilling to let me mess with it too much. I get the impression that if I tried to really move it around she would slowly sink below the surface in protest and it will be one of those dark, dark short stories that I don't like. Who knows.
I've been playing around with the material in the freewrite as well, it does lend itself to a story poem. Poetry is addictive, turn back now if you want a good night's sleep or the ability to relax in front of the telly. I'm loving it but I'm just not able to switch off the sensitivity to words, phrases, rhyme, structure, emphasis, the music of words. Even when playing scrabble. Now I have to get on with TMA02, because I really need December off.