Real life does get in the way of creative writing, it turns out! Looking after an old lady, even from a safe distance, is difficult. I speak to her, and all the concerns and all the problems of the past tend to creep in. Now she's phoning before dawn every morning to tell me she's all right, although I can't do anything about it if she's not...
I have written about her in a piece of life writing for TMA04 for A215 and it's helped me realise those feelings are legitimate. I don't think I'll be doing life writing again any time soon, though! Anyway, the TMA. My tutor has suggested that we a) attempt the present tense and b) that we be ruthless with adjectives and adverbs. I'm enjoying both, though writing about the past in the present tense seems weird to start with. It does make description very immediate though, and I like that. The description part is a challenge with a limited range of adjectives. I booted it over to a fellow student for a mutual critique, and she managed to find several adjectives that I could live without. Changing small sequences of words increases the power enormously. One other thing I wasn't sure about was her comments on where I was in the piece, as I sound very unemotional and if it's autobiographical, where am I? It made me work on me in the piece, putting my feelings in as well as my voice.
Then, to explain to the reader, I put three words in, that still crush me. Léonie is dead. It was Steve's birthday, my husband who died the year before Léonie, and then it hit me, that's what Hilda is in my life, she is a link to these people that I loved and whose deaths shattered me for years. So Hilda is dying, and I'm grieving for them, I'm loyal and helping for them, not for the embittered old bag who on several occasions has wished me dead.
I was looking back over this course, and how I have managed it, what I have learned over the last months. I have learned that it's OK to struggle, even fail; it's OK to take chances, experiment; it's important to read more widely and read good literature. I recently picked up a crime thriller and it's literally badly punctuated, the dialogue is sloppy, the pace is uneven. And all enjoyment, admittedly, is muted - but I am enjoying books and authors that I wouldn't have tried before. So, if you are planning to do A215, be aware, it may change your reading habits! I have also written 20k of book 2 so am still writing 500 words minimum every day (more like 1000 most days!) That has probably been my biggest gift from A215, getting a writing habit. If I can't think of anything to say, I work on a TMA or short story. If I can't face that either, I go and highlight a bit of the Big Red Book and do one or two of the exercises. Keeps the habit going.