Wednesday, 21 April 2010

TMA04 back and the end of the course looming...

Well, after all that I said about life writing I'm writing another bit. I got 90% for the life writing TMA (hooray, hooray!) so I'm on a bit of a roll. I sketched out a few lines for my husband to look at and he suggested I carry on. Now I've got 1200 words and find myself in the odd position of having the ECA (the end of course assignment for those of you not Open University students) being two short pieces not one long piece. I reckon it might get me better marks. This way, if the marker (who isn't known to me) doesn't like one piece he might like the other one! Yes, I realise that means If he doesn't like one piece it will drag my score down, but think positive for me anyway.

Quote removed because I don't want to plagiarise myself! This course is strict...

The piece is about telling a child really bad news, which I had to do when Steve died 19 years ago. My daughter was only 4, and she was the first one I had to tell. It's been triggered by her doing revision, I'm not sure why, except that she is such a perfectionist, beating herself up she gets a few percent less than one of her friends who a) might have worked a lot harder b) doesn't have time for a boyfriend, socialising, a family and c) might just be cleverer at the subject anyway. Trying to get my daughter to understand that a degree - any honours degree - is an achievement and she should be prepared to celebrate it whether she gets a 1st or a 3rd. She's on course for a 2:1, by the way. And who will care after she gets her degree certificate. I have a 2:2 and am proud of it. The hardest 4 years of my life, academically, and a great pass. I might add that she is an amazing person and I love her, while I'm here!

The short story for TMA05 is one I wrote two years ago and it has been through major revisions. I think it's fine for the last assignment, especially as I have already tidied it up and prepared it for publication, which is what the assignment is really about. You have to find a magazine that would suit your work and prepare the fiction or whatever to match it. I'm amazed at the stress this is causing people, as it is just pretend.

I've been working through a book called The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman and I've been writing summaries of important points in my notebook. What a helpful book! He makes the point that an editor might look at the first five pages, and if there's any of a hundred possible faults, he'll be put off. He'll assume that teh same problems are reproduced throughout every five pages in the book. It's not about the first five pages, which are usually well polished, but about the who process of editing a novel for publication. Fantastic. I'm going to use it a s a checklist for my short stories and life writing too - it's already made me look at pacing and settings with completely new eyes.

I'm really going to miss this course. I've signed up for the next writing course, because I can only complete my qualification this year before they pull it. So I have to work hard over the summer writing enough material to edit for the TMA's from Octobver onwards. It's a good job I won't be working in Winchester, I don't know how I would fit it all in. I think I can complete all the assignments up to 4 and 6, that are related to the (HUGE) ECA, at least to good draft level.


  1. Well done, that's a fantastic mark! You must be so pleased.

    I hadn't realised Life Writing would be so potentially... harrowing, so it surprised me once I sat down to work on it. I hope it wasn't too difficult for you x

  2. Hi, well it was a bit harrowing but cathartic, too. Thank you for the comment, I hope you got as much out it as I did.