Tag Archives: ema

OU Art of English E301 EMA and Spooky Stuff

Final assignment sent. That’s it.  Finished.

I was expecting to be celebrating at this point, but actually feel quite sad now it’s all over.  After an eclectic mix of modules, from science to book-keeping, from music technology to linguistics, from astronomy to mathematics, from creative writing to, well, more creative writing and then even more creative writing, it feels weird to have no assignment deadlines to meet !

Sometimes the modules have been hair-tearingly frustrating, intermittently mind-numbing, occasionally a trifle tedious, now and again downright difficult, but always personally challenging with barrel-loads of fun thrown in for good measure.   Such a shame it has to end.

Except.  It doesn’t.  Necessarily.  All end.  Well, it could.  I can lay claim to my degree, but unlinked my first Level 3 module last year because the result was a Pass 2.  To get a 1st, I need a second Level 3 module to come in with a Distinction and believe me, E301 – The Art of English is simply not going to oblige. So I might, just a teeny bit might, take another module.  But who would care except me if I got a 2.1 or a 1st?  What can an early-retired 64-year-old do with a BA(Hons), anyway ?

Watch this space!

In the meantime, we experienced a strange event last week.  We were walking the dogs at Fairlands Valley Park in Stevenage, as we do each day, when an evil-looking dog emerged from the woods.  Head low to the ground, deep rib-cage, hollowed belly, muscular hindquarters raised up high, straight out of a horror film.  Then a few feet behind, followed a middle-aged woman with long grey hair and wearing a red coat.  They walked slowly to the centre of the park, the dog laid down and the woman stood, quite still, watching us playing fetch with the Labradors.  After a while, we decided she might be waiting for us to move on before exercising her dog, so we did just that.  After a few yards, I turned around to see she was still watching us, and turned back the way we were headed.  Barely two seconds later, my wife did the same, but commented that the woman with the dog had gone. We looked carefully around the perimeter of the park, which is probably at least 75 yards in every direction from where the woman was standing, but neither she nor the dog was to be seen.  75 yards in two seconds?



Filed under Open University

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!


Filed under Creative Writing

A363 EMA, A Good Yarn is what’s needed

I really, really should not be writing this.  What I should be doing, is polishing the final A363 assignment until it shines like a button on a Grenadier’s uniform.  Trouble is, I need a button to polish, and all I have at the moment is a plastic popper.

TMA06 came back early in the week with a plethora of comments and advice from the tutor pinned to the 1000 word extract, which was very encouraging.  In fact, the whole piece has gone pretty much to plan.  Except that I am left with the crunch flashback.  The one that the whole point of the story turns on.  Been working on it all day, but it’s drivel.  Not just drivel, either.  Tripe comes to mind, as does hogwash, gibberish and twaddle.  The words simply won’t do what I want them to do.  I suppose that’s what being a writer is all about.  Moulding words into sentences so they reflect the image you want to paint.

Maybe it’s because the piece is life-writing.  Not just life-writing, either.  It’s a piece of family history where a course of events resulted in tragic consequences.  Because there are no surviving family members who I can talk to, much of the writing is fictionalised around facts I know to be true.  I confess to finding reading history as dull (not the history itself, just the books) as our weather has been for the past week.  That’s probably it.  I need to forget about the ‘life-writing’ aspect and just think about what would make a good yarn for the flashback.

Nothing back from the OU yet on my request to unlink A363 from my degree.  Maybe I’m not the only student who has woken up to the fact that they won’t get endless chances at achieving a good Honours class now that transitional funding expires once sufficient credits have been earned for a degree to be awarded.  OK, I know, I know…  I’m only doing this for fun.  But even so, I’d like to end up with a good class of degree at the end!

So, I’m off to try out that ‘good yarn’ idea…


Filed under Creative Writing

A363, Week 23, Distractions Galore

No word yet on the result of TMA5.  I’m hoping my poems (five sonnets, a villanelle and a pantoum) were considered worthy submissions, as this assignment accounts for a humungous 40% of the ongoing course marks.  So, it can bring a run of good marks to its knees, or indeed cheer up a set of mediocre grades.  I really need a good result here, if you get my drift.

The EMA (final assignment, and accounting for 50% of the overall module result) is going OK, but maybe life-writing wasn’t such a fabulous idea.  I chose a tragic event from my wife’s paternal line, which shocked us when we discovered what had occurred.   Although it can be fictionalised to a great extent, I’m feeling as though it’s cheating a bit to overly fantasise about what could have led up to the events some one hundred years ago.  Mind you, there’s no other way of doing it since there are no surviving family members who can help, and this is a Creative Writing module, after all.

Maybe TMA6 will help me get the measure of how much to rely on evidence, and what can be made up.  The idea is that the assignment presents 1000 words of the EMA, together with a commentary showing how the initial proposal has changed as a result of the tutor’s comments and advice after TMA4.  Feedback on this section will be very valuable, so long as it comes in a timely manner.  TMA6 is due in 5th April *gulp*, and the EMA on 17th May.  So if it takes two weeks to come back, there’ll only be a month left to make what might turn out to be some major revisions.

I have, ashamedly, managed to arrange a few distractions preventing me from getting my head down and writing much this week.  The front garden has been tidied much earlier in the year than is usual.  Gallons of creosote (imitation, not the nasty stuff) has been bought to treat the fences.  A nice man has been to estimate decorating the hall, stairs and landing, and I’ve fitted four guitar hangers on the study wall to hold my two electrics (one a bass), acoustic guitar and five-string banjo.  The violin, mandolin and 12-string guitar will have to stay in the corner on the floor for now.  What else?  Oh, tonight we discovered that ‘something’ is leaking behind the tiles under the bathroom sink so tomorrow I’ll be taking off bits of false wall which were supposed to stay fixed for ever to see what the trouble is.  Of course, we have no spare tiles to cover the evidence should I crack any.  Which I’m sure to do.

And the final distraction?  Why, writing this blog of course…

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Filed under Creative Writing