Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Sensory modalities and reading/writing

My husband and I listen to music completely differently. I just wander away into it, no real thoughts, just feelings. I like music when it's familiar, I've heard it a couple of times. He listens to it, for want of a better cliche, with his head, admiring how it was written, performed, the technological efforts that produced it. He loves new music. He also loves radio plays, just sits there and enjoys them (or occasionally doesn't) depending on the subject and the play itself. I don't seem to be able to listen and engage my brain at the same time (oh, this explains a lot of my school experiences!). On the other hand, he looks at text and gets slowly bored. He likes short sections of text, possibly autobiographies, preferably the shortest writing for the maximum information. Reading bores him, listening is easier for him. I hate course CD's and download the transcripts. I like long books, big stories, and get immersed in them.
When I'm writing, I 'hear' my characters' dialogue very distinctly. I see the locations (though my characters are a bit iffy, I describe them when I remember from actors' bios and pictures). The words, as read visually, have music for me, they build up lovely sequences of sounds and meaning. Reading them aloud makes them sound stilted and slow to me. Yet my radio play efforts sound clear in my head at the speed at which I can type them. It's only when I come to read them that they look odd.
One of the advantages of A215 is that I can look globally at my writing and judge whether it's good or not (at least, when I don't have a deadline looming). And, bizarrely, the radio plays are good. It makes you think about realistic dialogue, expressing more of the story in less cues. It's a very helpful exercise. Defining not only who the character is without any visual cues or internal thoughts, but also their emotions and ideas entirely in speech or sounds is a fascinating exercise.The BBC encourages people to submit scripts, even if they are the wrong length etc. and are willing to allow a bit of devlopment of a promising radio writer, by the sound of it.
It's all taking my mind off the move in a couple of weeks time, anyway! 


  1. Hullo - high time to send congrats on that Distinction. Enjoy the year - quite a challenge but such potentially enjoyable immersion. How you both hear music, radio plays, etc an interesting comparison. Novels bore me - I took to reading the last chapter first and thinking, that can't have been very exciting book. With classical music I put a CD on before evening meal and watch buzzards circling and soaring over giant oaks and swallows sweeping the grass and our large pond and dipping therein, and quite often a deer, and nearly always a couple of pheasants... and often finding if I am 'writing' a lyric in time to it all. (True!) Then I realise I've drunk enough ;-} (Also true.)

  2. Hi,

    Just came across your blog and wanted to say hi. I'm a veteran of A215 too, which I absolutely loved. I finished my BA Eng Lit a year or so ago and have been mulling over doing an MA ever since. A shame the OU shelved their creative writing one. I hadn't heard about the Winchester MA, though. Hmmm, must check that out.

  3. Hi Tony, I'm chuffed with the distinction! I sit and look over the nature reserve after dinner myself and watch nature get ready for bed, but that somehow finds itself more into fiction than poetry. Hi Simon, I was waiting for the OU MA too, but have given up. Some of the MA's are over 2-3 years as well as the 1 year route. I think it will be great! A363 is the second half of the creative writing diploma - might be fun.

  4. There's a banjo to the top of your blog page! I can see the frog looks unhappy playing it, but still... a banjo.