Wednesday, 20 January 2010


Well, two entries for this year's Myslexia competition in an envelope, ready to go! Scary. I've decided to up the ante and work on setting aside real time to write, while I have that time, anyway. So, every day I'm going to work on what needs doing and towards the novel part 2. Though I'm a bit blocked there. Also, trying to do a bit of A215 every day as well, even if just half an hour. On the plus side, I have TMA05 and possibly the ECA in draft form already. Unless I won a prize (unlikely!!!) I can put my myslexia entry experience to good use for the 'going public' TMA.

I've found a better way of editing than chucking the baby out with the bathwater and then banging my head on the floor. I'm highlighting the 'good bits' and then working to link them up with more 'good bits'. That's helped with the short stories anyway.

As part of my 'What on earth am I doing?' virtual sort out, I printed off last year's output (50 pages of it! Close typed!) and I'm already collecting together stuff for 2010. I've written a short story about a book club (in the editing phase) and one about a true experience I had when patient was threatened (mostly edited). I have made up a very unscientific scale for work - 1/5 means just raw material and 5/5 means as good as it's going to get. 6/5 means I overdid it and even I don't understand it any more. This means I can see at a glance where everything is and what needs doing on my whiteboard. Now I just need to clean up my folders on the PC. The same short story might be in half a dozen folders. I have a feeling if I made a folder called absolutely never save anything in this folder it would be full of random drafts by the end of the week. At least one draft would be an empty page. I would have no way of distinguishing one draft from another, maybe better one. So I have to be strict and archive the 2009 stuff and start again with 2010. Oh, and write something for the OCA that I like, rather than just think is OK!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Posting on the conference

The open University provides us students a forum to share information, even drafts, on as well as moans, wails and tips from other students. I'm finding it a bit difficult to post on, partly because I'm naturally worried about someone saying' What are you on! This is rubbish, utter rubbish!' (a comment I had in school many years ago). The other problem is my tutor will see the posts, and there's a part of me that is worried she will see my fumbling first efforts and she will be prejudiced against my efforts at the TMA stage! Even writing these fears down makes them seem ridiculous - they are so deep rooted and childish, so I'm working on them now. I thought I could write notes for a poem about school and maybe get it out of my system a bit. I can hear some of the same fears in posts by other students, maybe this would be therapeutic for the other people who are too scared to post on our forum.

On the plus side, I'm really looking forward to the day school in February, I learned masses at the last one, even though as an agoraphobic the time was intensely stressful and I talked non stop all the way home. Fortunately we picked up my daughter on the way home, so I had someone to talk to so the driver got a break! I am anxious about the experience of doing poetry exercises in public, even though I'm realising I have a good ear for language and can easily hear rhythm in words (what a good scrabble word rhythm is! 15 points and no vowels!) I have found if I bold the stressed syllables I can hear rhythm better than I could, obviously it's a learned thing. It's made me go back and review my earlier poetry with a critical eye, and pull them to pieces but in a positive, reconstructive eye rather than just jumping up and down.

so: Meeting the QE2

Nan is on the QE2, crooked teeth and brittle blonde,
works because it has repeating patterns of stresses. The next line is much more awkward to read.
Crimpolene amongst silks, organdies, gauzes and tweeds.

It's given me time to look again at earlier work and take out the good bits and look at building new poems around them. I'm never going to be a poet and fiction is more my thing, but I'm liking poetry more and more.

Friday, 8 January 2010


I've been writing loads of poems, all first and second drafts. I even wrote a villanelle. When I was thirty one, my husband died suddenly of what turned out to be leukaemia. I went to register the death, and he asked: 'Who is registering the death?'. I replied 'His wife,' and he wrote carefully, while reciting it slowly 'the relict of the deceased.' I never forgot being downgraded to a relict, not to mention I had to cope with the word widow, as well! Horrible day... Anyway, I stuck the villanelle up here but have had to take it down as I might need it for TMA03!

Anyway,I've been working on a poem a day and reading a handful of poems a day. I started on 'The Gentleless of the Very Tall' today by Linda France. Very interesting though I bought it second hand and someone has made rather dismissive notes in the margin.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Hooray Hooray Hooray!

TMA02 came back in the nineties, and I am singing and dancing! The short story really perplexed me and I still didn't know what was expected of me for the commentary, but fiction is my natural genre and I'm thrilled that she liked it. And thank you to no.1 son who pointed out a few last minute irregularities, he needs to get on with his final TMA for A174 now. I don't care if I don't do well on the poetry, it doesn't matter as much as I'm not trying to be a poet (I want to be a novelist). It counts for 30% of the marks, which was very nerve-racking at the time because it adds a layer of extra stress. Why can't the last one be the heaviest weighted. Anyway, riding high so got to get on with the OCA one now!

Sunday, 3 January 2010


Time to knuckle down and work on the poetry. I'm working on a villanelle, hoping if the strict structure doesn't come off I will still have a good poem. I had a sudden realisation - I have always thought of myself as the eldest of four - which for most of my childhood, I was. But another way of looking at it is that I was one of three sisters, and I am the only one who survived. (My elder sister died shortly after she was born prematurely). The weird thing is, I have often been aware of a missing sibling, even more pronounced now my younger sister is dead too. So I'm trying out words that rhyme with womb/tomb because the principal lines are coming from there and have found too few rhymes to make it work. Zoom, room, flume, bloom, boom etc. are difficult to work with. Dead is much better with head, lead, read, bed, fed, led, red, shed, wed, zed, bled, med, sped,instead, head, red, led, stead, bread, tread, wed, shed, bled, dread, led, spread, shed, ahead, instead, bread, sped etc. Maybe I can make it work.

My other poem will probably be a listy type of poem, something inspired by the Delia Smith poem in the coursework, where a poem was made out of the index of one of her books.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Finished! Hooray!

Well, that's a relief! 500 words of carefully crafted commentary (OK,you can have too much alliteration!) and 2,200 words of short story - with, get this - an actual ending. I did a freewrite on the experience of standing in the mortuary and all this poetry pours out. Including an ending. Fantastic, I love this course. When I'm not beating myself in the forehead with the big book, or frozen at the computer saying, 'why? Why?' Did I start it, of course.

But I did, and I'm glad I did. Of course, I'm on the sunny side of an assignment with all the coursework down for the poetry and just the assignment to do. That's the problem, I think it will take most of those weeks to do! On the plus side, I have the perfect life writing story, I think. My family tree turned up an anomaly in my father's family, and my daughter and I suspect we have enough evidence to patch the story together. And I have the perfect piece for TMA05, I wanted to submit to Myslexia anyway. And then I can work on the book, and a chapter would be perfect for the ECA. So I feel like TMA03 is the last big obstacle.

Now to the OCA assignment, which I still haven't done. Ow.