Uni Results

I can’t go into too much detail, just … in accordance with Open University study rules, I need to be careful not to divulge too much. I can’t reveal exact results but what I will say is I have been marked higher than I had hoped for or expected and I am very, VERY happy with my results.

It has reassured me that I am on the right path and that Creative Writing is definitely the subject I want to progress through.

After a crappy and disappointing past 48 hours, I feel upbeat and grateful.

By way of celebrating, I’m going to place a photo of this beautiful adonis here to gawk over to my heart’s content.

Photo courtesy of Horst Waschinski.

How’s That Summer Break Going?

Hello! It’s been a wee while. I was hoping that I would be posting here a little more than I have during the summer break away from uni.

I guess June was kinda crazy. Busy here and there. A few gigs and one that I couldn’t make due to Glasgow receiving a downpour of biblical proportions. I set out to go and made it as far as Buchanan Street then spent 45 minutes sheltered under a shop frontage before trying to continue on to the venue before finally and swiftly admitting defeat and heading home.

Towards the end of June I started getting my teeth into writing. I’ve taken out a subscription to a writing magazine and an online membership to their website. I’ve compiled a list of writing competitions that I am interested in entering over the next few months and have already been busying myself with researching and writing down ideas and actual fictional content and short stories. 

I’m also reading as well. I read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and am currently around a quarter of the way through reading Thackery’s Vanity Fair. 

I am also still a consumer of podcasts and have recently been enjoying series two of Uncanny, as well as a few documentary style podcasts – one called Shiny Bob about the Edinburgh judicial system. Another titled A Very British Cult, about a life coaching ‘company’ called Lighthouse – which I’m quite bloody scared to mention here to be honest, given how they were portrayed.

Currently I am nearing the end of a podcast on the K-pop sex scandal. It’s called Burning Sun and is a series aired as part of the Intrigue podcast series on BBC Sounds. It’s really a very disturbing listen. The systemic sexual abuse of women in South Korea is absolutely abhorrent. And the fact that these outwardly looking ‘shiny, clean’ male K-pop stars behaved this criminally and disgustingly behind closed doors is beyond alarming. It’s truly frightening what lurks behind some country’s cultures – how we believe we see them and how they outwardly project themselves to be compared to how they truly are. How these kinds of behaviours can somehow be regarded as mere “cultural differences” is shocking.

If you can deal with the darkness of this podcast – for there are very stressing details on sexual assults and incidences of suicide discussed – then I recommend you listen to Burning Sun. You can find it on BBC Sounds – Link to the podcast HERE

I have another couple of weeks to wait before I get the result for my previous module and find out how well (or otherwise!) I did on my final assignment. Of course, I will let you know here (as much as I can) about it – bearing in mind that I will need to be careful just how much I can share about my mark and pass.

I’m also hoping to write here a little bit more often, in between writing work for the writing comps I’d like to enter.

For now, take care.

Four Weeks To Go

It’s been a while. 

How’s it all going? Well, I had an attack of the doubts over the past few days. Before that I had been procrastinating. I had been a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing and was staying away from writing for uni. I submitted TMA05 on April 4th and got my mark on April 7th. I have to be very careful about what I discuss, having gone over the OU’s rules on discussing things about assignments online. 

Suffice it to say it was a pass and I was happy with the result. 

I took an early Easter break and had planned to get back to study from Tuesday, 11 April but…that didn’t really happen. I went through a period of demotivation and took all of that week (which was officially Spring Break anyway) off. I was doubting my ability to be “commander of my own ship” in terms of independent study. I feel a little out on a limb when it comes to that. I feel I have a good sense of what my strengths are with my writing but I’m finding it hard to know what to do about my weaknesses. I grapple with really understanding the concepts and techniques around narrative voice and point of view. I know that I also need to get better at creating settings. Creating dialogue for me is VERY strong. I can have characters waffle on all day long – but then to explain where they are and what surrounds them? That’s the hard part. And the other hard part for me is the voice itself. Are they giving a monologue? Is it internal? Is it a soliloquy? Is it solely from their perspective or is it coming from them being observed by someone else? And is that narrator part of the story or not?

I know all this will come with time and through experience but I want it now! Lol. 

In my dilemma, I completely wrote off the story I had been working on (and a lot “off”) for the past 4 weeks. I started to believe it was just too big! There was too much going on with it and there was no way I was going to contain it within 2000 words! So, yesterday I started something else. I began a completely fresh story based on this little niggling idea I had about a story that I wanted to explore stemming from the lyrics of a Simple Minds song – Special View.  It flowed and I have around 1500 words of a story in no time at all. I spent a small amount of time researching – but it was nothing compared to the research I’ve done so far for the first story. So, it flowed and all that’s left is to end it. I don’t know what that ending will be, yet. If indeed I keep it as a back up and extend it to 2000 words. 

At the moment I think the story based on Special View might be something I work on in conjunction with the assignment story just as a kind of distraction for when/if I get stuck. Assignment story now feels fully back on track. I did a lot of work with it today. I didn’t add that much writing to it. Maybe only about 500 words today. I guess it just didn’t feel like much because it all flowed so much better today. But considering it was sitting at around 900 words when I came back to the story on Monday, then…that’s pretty bloody good! Assignment story now sits at 1500 words also. I just need to write the end for it. But I have the ending formulated, I just need to write it out. 

It’s coming along nicely. There are exactly 4 weeks left until submission date (18 May) and after a few days of feeling not so good about it, today I feel much better.

Write Like A Writer?

Two more assignments to go before year’s out.

Do I want to be a writer? Do I really feel as though I can BE a writer? Will I ever feel comfortable with the idea of calling myself a writer? 

I feel so much uncertainty with where I should go with my studies. Today I have been looking at the next module. We’ll move on to Stage 2 with the next module and that’s when the more focused point of study begins. I love writing! I enjoy it so much. I find it so rewarding. Before starting this module I had done very little fictional writing. I strongly felt it was not something that I would be very good at. I accepted my weaknesses and felt my strength lay in life-writing – that is, autobiographical and biographical writing. These past several weeks have opened up a new world to me. One that I felt was out-of-bounds for me. I convinced myself I would never be good enough to become proficient at fictional writing (I avoided using the term “to master” because I doubt I will ever “master” it). I’m still not sure I will ever do so. 

I keep trying to silence the inner voices. At the very least I am trying to talk back to them and tell them they’re wrong. Those inner voices that keep saying to me, “you can’t.”

The biggest stumbling block I had was never knowing how to start writing a piece of fiction. I was daunted by the blank page. Since learning how to break the blank page curse, I find that lots of ideas come to my mind. I have even found myself dreaming of stories. I know they are dreams of stories because I’m not even in the dream. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced dreams that I have never actually been a part of. If I have then I never really thought about it in this way and never thought of it in terms that I am dreaming a story and I should do something about it or with it. 

A few nights ago I dreamed about a female protagonist called Jessie Orange. Yes… she had a name! Completely from nowhere because I don’t know ANYONE called Jessie Orange. Jessie is Northern Irish and she dislikes her surname because of the connotations it has. She’s an activist and a protestor – but she protests for peace and a united Ireland – but she’s not Catholic, she’s Protestant. 

I woke up with such vivid visions and ideas for Jessie and I immediately wanted to go to work and do something with her story. But…I haven’t. Other than now giving the synopsis of Jessie’s story, I’ve not written a single thing about her or her story. I think Jessie was an amalgam of watching the play Cyprus Avenue at the Tron Theatre a couple of weeks back and then seeing Elaine Malcolmson at McChuills on Sunday afternoon. Exposure to Northern Irish people and themes fuelled my imagination.

I’m still very ratty when it comes to capturing those kinds of ideas and doing something proactive with them. My enthusiasm is building into having several writing projects on the go at one time. This idea scares the bejaysus out of me at the same time.

I am loving the research that I am doing writing the prose for my EMA (End of Module Assessment). I’m worried that I am enjoying the research itself more than developing the story from what I’m learning through my research. I don’t really want to discuss what I am researching in case discussing it would be deemed too revealing about my piece of prose. The piece is history-based but entirely fictional. For the assessment we HAVE to write a fictional work. I am conscious of it needing to have verisimilitude – an authenticity to it. It needs to be believable and tangible. The other aspect I am worried about is that my piece will run away with me. The prose can be no longer than 2000 words and I’m worried that I have set myself a story that will be very hard to contain or work effectively within the constraints of 2000 words. There’s a part of me that wants to be selfish and start something fresh so this piece can be given the wings to soar and allow me to expand it and have the potential to make it something of a more considerable length.

My days alternate between feeling brimmed with enthusiasm and creativity to feeling as if I am going down the wrong path entirely and that it really is just academia in general that gives me a kick. It’s learning more broadly that inspires me and perhaps I shouldn’t tie myself down to a specialist subject?

How “well read” writers need to be makes me apprehensive too. I enjoy reading. Of course I do! But I’m not a book worm. I’m not as avid a reader as I should be. I do wonder whether I should stick to English Literature to begin with and then move on to CW? I also love etymology and linguistics – the concept of words, how they came to be, how we use them, their lineage, etc. I can study this as well. But then I look at the Creative Writing module at Stage 2 and there are things I am keen to learn about (like life-writing) but I can see we’ll also be looking at poetry in greater detail and that puts the fear of god in me. Writing poetry I like, reading poetry is what I find scary. I know! I love song lyrics. It’s ridiculous of me to say that I’m scared of reading poetry. It’s the complex stuff that scares me. Clever syntax and blank verse, etc. Pam Ayers? Great! William Blake? HELP!

I’m just in a very pondering mood today and wanted to jot some things down. 

I love the story I am working on for my EMA. I’m a little concerned I don’t have an exact end for it, yet. It’s very early days and the EMA isn’t due until 18 May. Before that there is another TMA to hand in which is due on 6 April – just over a week away. It’s worth the lowest overall percentage of the module mark and is just 800 words. It’s a reflective task and study plan mapping out how we are working on our EMA. I’m trying not to get too hung up on that. I’ve made a tentative start and will start pulling it into focus over the weekend and into early next week.

Lastly, my grammar worries me greatly. I am very conscious of my weak points and I am being particularly mindful of my sentences at the moment. I think about every single word I write and worry whether I am using all my words in the right context. I am 52 years old and I still feel like a 14 year old girl. I still get a basic sentence wrong all the time. I keep trying to understand and work out where I am going wrong and rectify it but a lot of the time it feels like locking the stable door after the horse has bolted. That’s the final voice in my head. The one that keeps refuting all the examples of “you’re never too old.” That voice keeps saying “Yes you are! You’re far too old already. Why are you even bothering?” Trying to suppress that voice is REALLY hard!

Now The Hard Part Starts!

Yesterday I completed reading Jane Eyre and started on the course material. There is a lot to work through and it will pretty much have me reading the book all over again. It also has me fearing that I am going to struggle with the essays now.

My two previous results had lulled me into some moderate level of confidence which plummeted over the course of yesterday afternoon as I began to work through the course book and see how much I have to write in discussing the context and plot, etc, of Jane Eyre itself. Let alone what is to come with writing out a 600 word essay on both it AND Twelfth Night.

I slept well despite my misgivings, but a new dawn has brought renewed waves of misgivings. The doubt and concern continues into thinking about Creative Writing. I feel as though I need to be moderately good at English Literature and understand how I need to be able to deconstruct novels to potentially make my own writing good…and that scares me because I don’t feel as though I am not that good with close-reading and the skill of studying and analysing text.

I don’t want to spend the next three weeks feeling uneasy but I am not sure how to abate it and how to quell this attack of the modicum of self-confidence I had gained from my enjoyment of the past few weeks of study and from my assignment results so far in module A112.

I guess I need to just …. Breathe and take it a day at a time…

First 79, Now 80!

I received my mark for my assignment this afternoon. I honestly was not expecting it until the New Year. I always feel ssoooo nervous when the email notification comes in letting me know that my mark is ready for collection.

I can see the mark before I actually collect my tutor’s assessment and feedback. Again, as I arrived to the page to collect, I see a score of 80 and I’m just bloody stunned!

I can’t really go into any more detail than that. I have to be careful with what I discuss. Once again I am incredibly happy with my mark and fully understand and realise why I was deducted marks – or not scored as highly – for certain things I didn’t do right or shouldn’t have done.

Overall my result is really good and I got very positive feedback.

The tough stuff is to come next year. Tough in that these are the subjects I am doing my diploma for – English Literature and Creative Writing. I have William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre to tackle next with 600 word essays to write on each one of them.

In the meantime, there is some stuff happening with the house that’s going pretty crappy. When one part of your life seems to be going okay, other areas will be crap. It’s always the way!

I must apologise for the disruption to the blog today. I was sorting out my domain linking and changing over the blog’s theme to something I liked more. I hope you like it too.

Lastly, here’s another bit of Kerr Christmas fun. Yes…Jim will feature here now and again…he’s unavoidable. I’m more comfortable with him featuring here than my personal stuff and uni stuff featuring on the Simple Minds/Music blog.

The Relief Of Making It Over The Finishing Line In Time

That’s another assignment completed! Two assignments completed by Christmas! That’s pretty good going. I’m not sure when we’ll get our marks back, but I guess it won’t be until the New Year – probably the middle of January. Maybe at the end of the first week of Jan if we’re lucky. Either way, I won’t be stressing about how well I did. I’ll just relax and enjoy Christmas and think about the next phase of the module to come. It’s all down to the nitty gritty next because we’ll be tackling the English Literature and Creative Writing topics in the New Year and into the spring. I’m feeling quite a bit nervous about it. Will I really be any good at this? Who knows. In the meantime – IT’S CHRISTMAS!!!!

Yes, one fell off the wall and I’ve yet to get the frame sorted out and replaced. And the is paint peeling off the wall. Such a great look! Lol

One thing I will say is that for one part of my assignment we were asked to write a short piece about a portrait that we’d recently come across. With the image above in mind – just one of my bedroom walls adorned with an endless array of Kerr portrait photographs, I seriously contemplated doing this short piece about one of my photos of Jim but I became waaaaay too worried about how that might reflect on me to the other students and decided to make a different choice. All for the better, I think! Which one of the Jims would I have chosen? Well, to have made myself a little less like a woman of 52 acting like a girl of 12, I probably would have gone for one of the photos of him on the stage performing. Our task for this part of the assignment was to write about what we thought the portrait’s purpose was. I’d have had a better justification of explaining the purpose of a photo of Jim on a stage than I would have of one of the promo photos of him.

It’s all irrelevant now anyway but, yeah…talk about spoiled for choice had I gone with my initial idea of choosing a photo of His Kerrness to go on about. Lol

I’ll take a final look over the assignment tomorrow, make sure it’s all reading right, the word count is correct, references are correct and…in she goes! And then the next assignment is just under a whole two months away. Phew!

The Slog

Every assignment feels like a slog. I’m now at 800 words of a 1200 word essay and I feel like I am just stretching it out for word count sake. The topic we have been given – it’s art history. This could easily be put into a 1200 word essay if it was a painting we were conducting a visual analysis on – but it’s a print and so there isn’t really a lot of information that can be discussed in the visual analysis. It’s all contextual and I am sure it will need to be a 50/50 split between the content of visual analysis interpretation and contextual information.

I really feel as though I have my work cut out. I naively thought through this whole block of art history study that I’d find the going for this essay good. That I had plenty of material to go on and it would go quite well. Now I’m here and…damn! It really isn’t as straightforward as I allowed myself to believe it would be!

I’m not starting to stress, yet. I know it will come to me. I have over a week left to submit it and I’m already two thirds into a written piece. It’s all good. But, yeah. Not as easy as I was kidding myself it would be a week ago!

And GEEZ LOUISE Glasgow is fucking coooooold right now! Yikes!

Anyway, I must go before my fingers fall off from being exposed trying this post out.

Ta ta!