Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A363 TMA 1 and reading about writing.

I'm trying to get on top of the coursework for A363, the Open University's advanced creative writing. I've researched the last two years assignments and they follow a simple pattern:

TMA01 - Short story (1500) and commentary (350) or in 2008, there was a life writing option. (15%)
TMA02 - Stage, radio or film adaptation of TMA01, with a running time of 15 minutes and 500 word commentary. (25%)
TMA03 - 1000 word critique of a piece of work someone else has posted to the tutor group forum (this is difficult if the forum is a quiet one, and I can't really get ahead on that one!) (10%)
TMA04 - a proposal for the ECA of 500-750 words, it's compulsory and can be for any form taught on the course BUT it doesn't count towards your course mark.
TMA05 - write 2,500 words of either a short story or life writing OR 80-100 lines of poetry and 750 words of commentary. (40%)
TMA06 - either 1000 words of fiction OR 30 lines of poetry (in the forms in A363, sestina, sonnet, pantoum or villanelle) OR 5 minutes of drama of a section of your ECA. (10%)
ECA - A short story or the start of a novel or life writing (4000) OR 30 minutes of one of the forms of drama suggested OR  140-160 lines of poetry in an associated sequence and a 1000 word commentary.

I don't really understand the weighting of the TMA's but still! It does mean I can do TMA's 1 and 5 now and maybe have a go at TMA02. I don't have to do poetry unless I really want to (80-100 lines is a lot to commit to!) and since short fiction and long fiction are my strong points I can avoid life writing and poetry if I want to. All this assuming they don't change dramatically next year, I can get on and write two good chunks of fiction now and maybe the screenplay, then start work on the ECA. I reckon I can put together a first draft, get feedback, incorporate my combined learning and then get a reasonable ECA in.

I realise some people think I'm barking mad but I have already committed to 180 points at masters level next year, so while the courses are complementary, if I don't want to be overwhelmed I need some TMA's in draft at least, or better still, a bunch of fiction pieces that I can work on during both courses. I managed not to overlap my last two courses by submitting the same piece to both, in any form, but lots of the pieces have subsequently been sent off to magazines and competitions. So that's the ideal, some starting points. I suspect the MA will spark loads of original ideas and masses of new writing, but it would be reassuring not to have to polish more new work for A363!  The reason I have overwhelmed myself with too much work in the first place is that the diploma in literature and creative writing is being withdrawn at the end of 2011 so if I want that, I need to pass A363. All my marks for A215 were between 83 and 93 but I can't guarantee the same next year.

I'm reading books on writing again. I'm presently working on the interesting (and slim!) volume written by a lecturer on my MA. It's called Writing Fiction: Creative and Critical Approaches by Amanda Boulter. It looks at the two processes involved in creating fiction: the mad, freewriting, throw-it-on-the-page process and the thoughtful, informed process of critically revising and constructing the work.It seems (so far) to be offering an argument that creativity can be inportant in both parts of the process. But by understanding the critical process as well as the creative one, writing can be improved.
She quotes Hemingway who said: 'I think you should learn about writing from everybody who has ever written that has anything to teach you.' Anyway, I'm onto chapter 1 for a bit of light reading!

Creatively, I have a new short story on the go and it's from an unusual point of view. I really should be writing it!

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