Tag Archives: advanced creative writing

Three Courses – Short Stories from Creative Writing Modules

Thank you to my Facebook and WordPress friends who encouraged me to press ahead with publishing my anthology of creative writing!

three cOUrses front

I found this book much harder to put out there than Whomerley Wood Moat and Probate, probably because with my engineering background I am more comfortable with factual writing. Fiction is different. The reader gets to know how you think. They judge your ability to please them. Will they be bored? Will they smile or laugh out loud? Will they believe in wherever you take them? Will they keep turning the pages?
Now is the time to find out the answers!
Details about the book and how to buy a copy can be found under the Cade Books tab on my WordPress blog, or go direct by clicking here.

It’s available direct from me (signed copies, free UK p&p), from eBay (signed copies, free UK p&p), and from Lulu Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu. .

Amazon have it on Kindle download here, and should have the print book in stock within a week or two.

If you decide to buy a copy, thank you. I hope you enjoy the stories as much as I loved writing them.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Anthology of Creative Writing

I have been sitting on the fence the past few weeks wondering whether or not to publish an anthology of short stories to add to my Whomerley Wood Moat and Probate book titles.

image 2015 jun 19

There is quite a large collection of mixed genres, and many were written as assessed work during the Open University Creative Writing modules. And that has been the holding factor. The OU has, quite rightly, very strong rules about plagiarism and say they take a tough line if anyone is discovered copying the work of others. Although they seem to be happy to allow students to publish their work, my concern is that anyone doing so may be actively encouraging plagiarism.
While I’ve been contemplating whether or not to go ahead, I’ve been selecting what I think are my best bits of writing, reviewing each story in some depth, cutting, sometimes savagely, and rewriting extensively. Murdering my darlings I believe is the idiomatic term. However, I still felt some discomfort and that publication was not a wise move. Until last night, that is.
So, what has changed my mind?
Firstly, I have discovered it has been done before. And at least once with the unashamed blessing of the OU. In fact, Amazon have a number of student anthologies available for download as do sites such as Ink Pantry.
Then I realised that I wasn’t planning to publish ‘assessed work’ as such. The clue is included above. I have murdered my darlings. The work is not the same as I submitted on the modules. Hopefully it is more professional, more readable and more digestible!
And anyway, no-one will have access to tutor comments or advice, or indeed the marks awarded for each piece (although between you and me I did rather well). So anyone trying to pass my writing off as theirs is taking quite a chance.
Finally, the OU make extensive use of plagiarism detection software. If I go ahead and publish, there is a good chance that this software would quickly pick up any attempts to re-use what I have written. Plagiarism detectors are actually pretty good. I know because I used them a fair bit to make sure I hadn’t inadvertently copied something and failed to provide a citation.
So, my plan is to run through the editing process again, then again, and probably once again and then publish. Certainly it will be available as a Kindle download on Amazon, and as I’m a bit old-fashioned about this sort of thing I shall probably publish a printed version as well.
Right – now I need a catchy title and a cover design…

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

NaNoWriMo 2014, Week 3

Week 3 already, and getting on much better than expected.

screenshot.380

 

Last night I hit 46000 words, which is well ahead of the writing target, and had hoped to finish off by this weekend. It’s not going to happen though, barring a minor miracle.

I had a wisdom tooth extracted on Monday. Cracked it on some Bombay Mix a few weeks ago, and my dentist took a look at the x-ray and reckoned it would be best to whip it out. Although I booked an appointment, I kept wondering whether to wait until after the mince pie season, in case something went wrong and I couldn’t enjoy my Christmas treats. But I left it too late to cancel, and turned up at the dentist feeling quite nervous. The last time I had an extraction was some forty five years ago, and although memory does play tricks over the years, I didn’t remember it being a particularly pleasant experience. It was an emergency visit to a strange dentist (I don’t mean he was odd, just that he wasn’t my regular one), and as it happens, he pulled the wrong tooth – top instead of bottom. I had to return the following day for the correct one to be taken out, and since then have had the first molar top and bottom right missing. This time it was fine though, no pain, and just having to be careful I don’t jam anything solid into the sizeable crater left behind.

Rufus rarely had drink in the house. Not because he didn’t enjoy the odd tipple, but because he simply couldn’t afford it. He knew that the local constabulary were well aware that he didn’t have much in the way of spare cash, and he supposed that was why they were keen to talk to him about the robbery. It made sense to Rufus, having been a copper, so it must have seemed highly likely to them too.

This, though, was a time when Rufus really could do with a lift. Probably for the hundredth time since the police had called on him, Rufus stared at the sliding glass panes in the top of the old walnut sideboard which had stood along the wall opposite his chair since he had moved in. It was a lovely piece of furniture, with walnut veneered doors and drawers, and one of the few items he had managed to rescue from his wife’s clutches when they split up their home.

Rufus walked over to the sideboard and slid open the right hand glass pane. He moved aside a miniature cup and saucer they had bought while on holiday one year, and a china cat another, and reached behind them to the back of the cabinet. The miniature bottle of VSOP brandy was undated, but he knew it had been in the sideboard for many years. Which is why he had been able to resist opening it before now.

Sitting back down, Rufus turned the bottle around in his hand, admiring the golden brown colour and the way the brandy seemed to stick to the side of the glass as he moved it. It seemed such a shame. Until now, when all of a sudden he could no longer see much point in hanging on to it.

‘What the heck,’ said Rufus to himself, and twisted off the cap.

He took a deep sniff of the contents. It smelled of a posh Edwardian drawing room. Oak wood panelling, cigar smoke, freshly laundered linen. It still seemed a shame to drink it after all the years it had sat patiently, hiding behind one trinket or another, waiting to be opened.

Another NaNo snapshot of progress to date:

screenshot.400
So, nearly there! The various plots and characters are all playing their parts well and coming together at the right pace, so I think the ending is going to work out. But of course, it’s perfectly possible that something unexpected will happen at the list minute.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it does!

Leave a comment

Filed under Creative Writing, NaNoWriMo

A363: Advanced Creative Writing….. Result!

I’ve been awaiting the result of the level 3 module I completed back in May with some trepidation.

As any of you who were reading my progress throughout the module might remember, I received a very mediocre mark for my stage play adaptation in TMA02.  That completely scuppered my chances of achieving a top rate pass for the module.

The overall result was expected to be published on 3rd August, but it turned up yesterday.  Much to my relief, as I’d been clicking on the student home page like a mad thing since this time last week just to see if it was there.

The final assignment (I submitted a piece of life writing) mark was pretty much along the lines of the average for the whole module, and overall I managed a Pass 2.

Must admit to feeling a bit deflated, even though it was the best I could hope for after the stage play.  Probably more so, because I unlinked the module from my degree.  I have sufficient points under my belt to claim the BA I’ve been working towards for the past three years if I tick the box to link the module back in.  However, I am now in the position where I can take two more level 3 modules under the OU’s transitional fee arrangements, because that’s what I would need to complete the BA(Hons) if I leave A363 unlinked.  It would give me an extra year of less expensive learning (about £750 instead of £2500 per module).

I think I’ll see how the new module goes.  Signed up for E301, The Art of English, a couple of weeks ago.  If I find I’m no better at writing essays about creativity in linguistics than creative writing, I’ll link A363 back in and settle for a 2.1 !

2 Comments

Filed under Creative Writing

Death by Sound

That’s the last time I finish a blog with ‘What to do?’  Had forgotten my wife always reads them.  So spent most of last week treating the back garden fences with preservative.  Best make sure I have lots of OU work to do in the future…

Talking of which, the forums have pretty well died completely on A363.  Even the cafe, where anyone in the world taking the course can join in, has been remarkably quiet.  There have, of course, been the usual ‘When do the results come through?’ question and answer sessions.  I have to admit to being totally daft here, because already I’m checking the home page to see if they’ve arrived, even though I know they won’t be out until early August.

One thing I must work out before the next course starts, is how to set up an index on this blog.  Previous attempts haven’t met with any success, and even though I successfully posted a picture a few weeks back, whatever I did then, no longer seems to work!  Clearly I must try harder (where did I hear that before?).

Thought I might occasionally post some of my A215 and A363 work here.  Why?  Well, it’s probably the only way it will be read by more than a dozen people.  And it might just spark some ideas for creative writing students who have reached that dreaded state of blank brain syndrome.  Sometimes, just thinking ‘I can do better than that load of rubbish.’ can be very helpful.

Death by Sound

Ear worm, what pleasures do you find

inside my head?  Your constant hiss

of steam, when all around is quiet.

To wake in silence, just a dream.

 

Your autumn rustle all year through,

with tuning strings perpetual

cacophony.  A prison term,

a life of  jangling symphony.

 

Like ocean waves on shingled shore

ensnared within an empty conch

to dance, with dream-world music spinning

rapidly in abstract trance.

 

Must flee this never ending shriek

that fuddles minds from deep inside

one’s ear with constant clamour.  Might

you be the final sound I hear.

 

I originally included an epigraph with this, to help the reader understand what I was writing about, but thought it might be fun to let you guess.

1 Comment

Filed under Creative Writing

One huge clearout later…

The study is unrecognisable.

For the past three years there have been piles of books, discarded story drafts, stellar maps, music scores including the complete orchestral score for the March from The Little Suite by Trevor Duncan (the theme from Dr Finlay, should anyone be old enough to remember that), various calculators including one that I still have to check out the instructions for in order to use it, heaps of graph paper sporting unlikely curves of equally doubtful looking equations, results from an experiment to calculate the water content of a potato by nuking it in the microwave, company account trading summaries spread over pages and pages of Excel spreadsheets, family history references, photographs…  You get the picture?

Three years of OU modules, from book-keeping to maths, science to astronomy, music technology to creative writing in various guises.  Loose papers neatly filed away, text books carefully shelved, notebooks ditto.

One BA in prospect come A363’s result.

And an empty desk.

What to do?

2 Comments

Filed under Creative Writing

A363 Advanced Creative Writing – EMA Gone! Final thoughts…

After three evenings of read-throughs to just check grammar, spelling and punctuation, and those same three evenings actually spent changing a whole heap of words instead, I decided to upload the EMA.  I swear I was at the point where one day I changed something, and the next I changed it back.  Ridiculous.  So, it’s gone.

The EMA commentary happened all of a sudden.  It always goes like that for me.  When there’s stacks of time, I can’t seem to find the words.  Those writers that put a Mozart CD in, sit back and just let the words flow out?  Doesn’t work for me.  But give me a deadline, and the fingers start hitting the keys.  The drivel, hogwash and twaddle I mentioned in the last post turned into a coherent, scholarly appraisal of the creative process used to write the EMA.  Now, I may just be over-egging it a bit.  Probably quite a bit, actually.  But I’m happy with it, and that’s what matters.

The OU eventually unlinked A363 from the modules I’m counting towards my BA, so I can decide whether to link it back in or not when the result pops up in August.  So long as I haven’t totally screwed up with the EMA, I should get a Pass 2.  Anything less, and I’ll probably leave it until I finish the next module to see how they combine into the class of Honours.

A363 has, without a doubt, been a wonderful experience.  Mind you, I enjoyed A215 (Creative Writing) rather more, probably because the student forums were much more active.  Once TMA02 had gone in, the forums pretty much died.  OK, there were a few spurts to help with TMA03 (the critique), but that was about it.

As far as the course book is concerned, I read it right through and carried out most of the activities, but to be honest I’m not sure how much it influenced either the work done for TMAs, or the marks.

My biggest disappointment was the result for TMA02, where we had to turn our TMA01 short story into a screenplay/radio play or stage play.  I plumped for the stage.  My reading of the assignment instructions gave me the impression that it was firmly aimed at the ‘conversion’ process, turning prose into a script using the vast set of rules laid down by actors and directors.  However, don’t be fooled in the same way!  Even though I know that from a technical point of view I did a pretty good job of the dramatisation, the new ending I added in to make the play run for the full fifteen minutes was not at all well-liked and I ended up with the worst mark ever in three years of studying at the OU.  The whole degree in fact.  Actually, I thought it was fun, had lots of pace, and did what I wanted it to, as described in my commentary.  But I was wrong.  Although I achieved some good marks from that point on, I don’t think my heart ever really recovered.  It was also a nail in the coffin as far as a Grade 1 pass goes, and instead I found myself struggling to maintain a Grade 2.  So, anyone doing A363 starting October 2012, don’t fall into the same trap!

So, that’s it.  Assuming I get a pass for A363 that’s the ordinary BA completed.  An eclectic mix of science, maths, music technology, accounting and much creative writing over three years.

Shall I do another level 3 module for the Honours year?  We’ll see.  For now, I need to clear out the study!

10 Comments

Filed under Creative Writing