Thursday, 5 August 2010

Back to A363 and the final project

A363 is a funny course (weird not ha ha) in that its major pieces of work are very unevenly marked. TMA03, for example, only counts for 10% of the marks and TMA04 doesn't score at all but you have to pass it. No. 4 is an outline of your thinking and an outline of a larger piece of work that will be the ECA, and you get to send 1000 words off for TMA06. So, if you write a short story for TMA01 that gets dramatised for TMA02, and two assignments that link to the ECA, and TMA03 is a critique, then there are only three really original pieces of work in the whole course. A215, including the ECA, had at least 6. Since I have the beginning of a short story for the ECA I have effectively got no. 6 sorted.
So I started on TMA04, assuming I am going to have no time when it's actually due because I will be on the MA.
Write an outline proposal in up to 750 words describing your plans for the ECA...
Unfortunately, planning is not my strong point. The closest A363 has come to it, for me, has been writing the scenario for drama and that makes perfect sense for some reason (p. 89 for fellow A363ers). Having mastered a simple scenario, I found that each sentence (or two) makes a scene with way too much back-story. That's OK, I can show that rather than tell it as I actually write it. I'm still waiting for a couple of recommended books from Amazon, but it has made me go back to an old favourite by James Scott Bell, Plot and Structure, and there is all the information In needed all along. It's as if you get what you can from a book when you read it, each time. I'm obviously ready to look at planning a bit more seriously. There is a three act structure to my short stories,mostly, even if I jiggle about with it.
It's also making me analyse my own work a bit. (Oh, help). I imagine I'm being asked questions about it, maybe by one of the more literary members of the family. ('Yes, but what's it all about?') Half the time I'm not sure myself. But somehow, if someone asks you, you find meaning in it. I always tell the kids and Russell, if they are struggling with a new concept in their studies, explain it to me. Then go and write it down. Sophie makes notes on a whiteboard as if she's about to teach animal cognition or psychopathology and then she can write her essays. Russell explains it in the car, with copious references to rock music to explain the highlights of Wagner or Schubert or whatever he's studying.
So, I think my ECA is about being true to oneself, even if we risk death doing it. It's also about growing old, and the fears and misconceptions that we hold about it. I'm surprised how many older relatives have said to me, 'Just make sure I don't end up in a home.' As if I will have a say, and they won't? As if I think my family and in-laws will fit in in a residential setting? I come from a long line of square pegs. I'm quite sure they will make their own quirky decisions up to the end. I can't imagine the chaos they would wreak if they were somehow tricked into staying for a few days in one of those places, anyway. It would be so embarrassing, to be called into the office to be told your mother or father-in-law has been expelled for starting a protest or organising a midnight feast. Overall, my story is about identity and autonomy. I'm starting to get the hang of this analysis thing.

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