Sunday, 1 November 2009

TMA01 back

I don't know whether to laugh or cry, but I have my first TMA back for A215. I did really well, by my usual standards, but there isn't a score that I can easily cope with, I have so much emotional baggage about writing. So I shall just have to be my own therapist, and let the year be all about improving my craft and developing my writing.

When I was a very unhappy schoolchild (most years I was miserable) my English teachers were very encouraging, and told me I could develop my writing. I didn't, because I was busy learning science, but I still wrote. I found I could write short stories and articles and sell them - though for fairly small sums of money. I couldn't see how I would ever make a living out of it, so I followed a more practical path. Submitting my work for criticism and rejection was heartbreaking, because I had only had one 'B' in five years of school. I saw the B as a failure.That may seem arrogant but in every other respect I was a failure. I didn't fit in with other children, my home life was chaotic and cramped, I couldn't do maths or french and was bored by most subjects, and my English books were reliable validation, full of A-, A or even A+. That B haunted me, because for that one homework, other people wrote better than me.

So, here I am, being marked out of 100 compared to a group of people, many of whom will be better that me. So my task now is to put the past aside and remember that I am working on the craft of writing (my own writing style, not necessarily the best literary style)), and the people who are doing better than me on my course, are a selected group of bright, creative people.

My tutor was very encouraging and liked the imagery in my description. She liked the short story, but made some suggestions. Once my wounded feelings are soothed, I'm sure I will be happier with her suggestions. She also wanted me to look at punctuation around speech, which would be useful anyway. I have a feeling that this first mark, no matter what it was, would be painful. This is an exercise in growing a thicker skin and letting go of the marks, instead, learning new skills and working on improving my work overall. And recalling that getting the diploma is the main aim from the marks, and the real benefit is my tutor's ideas and feedback.

So, slightly shattered by our Samhain celebrations and only slightly downcast (once the panic, crying and sobbing stopped - only joking) I am ready to take on the rest of the course with, really, a very satisfactory mark.


  1. Well done on your TMA results (I'm sure your mark was excellent).

    I think getting feedback on your work gets easier. At first it's heartbreaking to hear anything other than "this is the best thing I've ever read". But I think you get used to constructive criticism, and begin to enjoy it once it becomes less wrenching.

    I used to be so mean to my boyfriend when he read my work, and now all he dares say is "it's good", because I was so volatile about any criticisms he made. When people offer suggestions on my work now, I have a more cavalier attitude: ignoring the comments I don't agree with and thanking them for the ones I do. It does get easier, I promise.

    And regarding your angst about your mark: you seem to be one of the first to get their results. You never know, you might turn out to have recieved one of the highest marks in the group - would that help?

  2. Thank you for your comments, I do feel a bit more relaxed now. Our writing is like our baby, it can be fat and dribbly and smelly, but we love them even if no-one else does. I knew criticism would be hard, and I'm just trying not to take it so seriously.

    I sent mine in early so got marked early, but you ahve a point about where I am in the group. I was horrified to think actually - I need to be best. Ridiculous, I just need to be getting better, I shall just try and put a bit on each time. Incidentally, I did worst on the commentary, which I'm still not sure how to improve. Good luck with yours.