Tag Archives: open university

MA Creative Writing – Open University

After many years of planning, and being turned off and on again a number of times, the OU are offering an MA in Creative Writing (F71). The first module commences in October 2016 and lasts until June 2017. Registration opened yesterday, and closes 15th September (subject to places still being available). Over the years there have been quite a few shows of encouragement to the OU to present this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it fills up quite quickly.

Regrettably it isn’t possible to see the syllabus for the entire course, because it comprises two modules spread over 2 or more years and only details of the first part (A802) are currently released. However, the description of what will be studied in Part 1 looks very interesting indeed, and I believe the bulk of the second part will be to produce a ‘substantial piece of work to a professional standard’, probably the writing equivalent of a thesis.

This MA is going to be difficult for me to resist. As regular readers of this irregular blog will know, I was awarded a first class BA (Hons) at the end of 2014, with a Dip in Literature and Creative Writing on the way. Since then I’ve self-published four books in a range of genres (see them here), and have almost completed a fifth which is a collection of 144 freshly written limericks! An MA in Creative Writing would be a natural step forward.

However, there are a couple of negatives in this for me. First the cost. Although the first module is ‘only’ £1920, it is also only 60 of the 180 credits needed for the MA. A simple calculation indicates that the second module (120 credits) is going to more expensive, probably in the region of double. That’s a huge investment for someone who is studying for enjoyment. The second negative is really one of self-belief. Am I up to postgraduate study? For instance, my short term memory isn’t great and I’m not sure I’ll be able to retain the amount of information likely to be thrown in my direction!

More information about the MA can be found here on the OU website, and I have created a Facebook support group for the MA which only has me in it so far, and that can be found here.

screenshot.1374If you’re interested in getting involved, do please join the group!

The bottom line is that I reserved a place on the Part 1 module just before Christmas and have until 24th March to register for real. That’s about six weeks from now. I probably shall go ahead, but it will be one day when I’m feeling more confident than I am today!

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Three Courses – Short Story Fiction and Google Book Search

The new book of short stories is now up on Amazon in both Kindle download and print editions. Initial feedback from readers has been good, and although not all of the stories are to everyone’s taste, there seems to be something for everyone to enjoy. If you have bought a copy, thank you very much. Please let me know what you think either by leaving a review on Amazon or getting in touch with me direct.

three cOUrses back and front

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.

Well, that’s one Local History, one ‘How To’ and one short story fiction book finished. Now it’s on to poetry. Some will have noticed from my lack of Facebook and Twitter presence that I have had my head down for the last few weeks. The reason is that I’ve been writing new poems to add to the small collection created over the years. I want the book to be fresh and current, so although I will include some of the old ones, most will be newly written. Watch this space for progress!

I have been wondering about Google Book Search recently. If you submit a book you have published, they include the text in their searchable database and highlight the match if anyone Googles for a particular term that’s mentioned in your work. On the face of it, this sounds like a neat idea, but I’m a bit put off that Google can display 20% (more if you specify it) of your book. On the other hand, if someone is checking out your book in a library they get to see it all for free! For me, I’m happy to share my writing because I do it for fun. However, I can see that an author who is trying to carve out a living might not want to share such a big chunk of work. Sixty pages from a three hundred page novel is quite a read for free! The bottom line is that I have released my Probate book to Google Book Search. It will be interesting to see how it affects sales!

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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.

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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…

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NaNoWriMo 2014, Week 4

It feels a tad fraudulent to hang this post on the NaNoWriMo title, because last Friday I had only 4000 words to go and over a week to finish. As it turned out, the miserable weather on Sunday meant I had some extra writing time and managed to complete the competition last weekend.
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Reverend Stocks hoisted himself up and vaulted over the top, landing with a thud the other side. The vicar had expected the back yard to be in darkness, but it was quite brightly lit from the small kitchen window at the back of the shop. He pulled back the bolts top and bottom, and Rufus squeezed past the dustbin and through the gate, looking into the kitchen. Although there were net curtains at the window, it was quite easy to see inside and he could make out the sink directly below him, the door to the shop and the other one leading up the stairs to the flat.
‘There’s nobody here,’ said Rufus as the vicar joined him.
‘What’s that?’
‘What?’ said Rufus.
‘Down there, on the floor, by the door.’
Rufus had to stand on tiptoe to see the floor.
‘It looks like a slipper, or a shoe or something,’ he said.
The vicar tried the handle on the back door, but it wouldn’t budge.
‘I’m getting a bad feeling here,’ he said. ‘Do you think we should break down the door?’
‘Or just call the police?’ replied Rufus. He didn’t want to get into any sort of trouble, not with them already half accusing him of theft.
The vicar had already decided though, and took a run at the door. The wood splintered easily around the lock, and the door flew open with the vicar stumbling over the threshold as it suddenly gave way.
‘Oh my God,’ he said. ‘There’s someone here!’
Rufus ran inside behind him. Myra was laying on the floor behind the shop counter, one foot showing through the door to the kitchen.
‘Myra! Myra! ‘cried Rufus, kneeling beside her and slapping her cheeks with the palms of his hands. ‘Paul, vicar, call an ambulance.’
The vicar picked the receiver up from the telephone on the counter and dialled 999.
‘Myra!’ Rufus kept saying, but she didn’t open her eyes. He felt her neck for a pulse, but there was nothing there so he put his ear to her half-open mouth. Nothing.
The vicar was watching what Rufus was doing as he told the emergency services where to come, and as soon as he finished he crouched down the other side of Myra.
‘She’s gone,’ said Rufus.
The vicar put his ear to Myra’s chest. He got up, slowly.
‘Poor Myra,’ he said. ‘Poor, poor Myra.’
‘What do you think it was?’ asked Rufus.
‘Maybe she died of a broken heart after losing Tom last week?’ said the vicar.
Rufus thought about the insurance policies he had seen in the flat. Myra didn’t seem particularly grief stricken when he was talking to her up there.
‘Perhaps she tripped over something and hit her head?’ said Rufus.
‘Could be,’ replied the vicar. ‘I guess the ambulance people will get the police involved.’
Rufus looked around the shop, but there was nothing unusual as far as he could see. Just the galvanised buckets with flowers in them, most of which had seen better days. Shelves with plant accessories, vases, ribbons and name tags, things that people buy when they buy flowers. A mug on the counter.
‘Looks as though she was having a mug of tea,’ said the vicar.
Rufus picked up the mug. He stared at its contents for a while, then took a small sip, instantly spitting it back into the mug.
‘She was having a drink,’ said Rufus wiping his lips with the back of his hand. ‘But it wasn’t tea.’

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Completing NaNo was exciting and brought much satisfaction, but not as much as receiving the result of my final OU module, U316 The Environmental Web, a week early. This was my third Level 3 module – you only need two for the BA(Hons), but I swung another one under the old funding structure – and it turned up trumps with a Distinction, giving me sufficient points to claim a First Class degree classification. So, that is the end of the Open University journey for me, unless (and this is highly unlikely) I go for a post graduate qualification. Watch this space!

There’s a new project on the table already. Stevenage has more than its fair share of ancient woodland, and in one of the woods where we walk the dogs there is a moat which apparently dates from around the 13th century. It is reported that inside this moat stood a homestead which, of course, is now long gone and the area looks much the same as the rest of the wood. I have been fascinated by the thought of this for many years. What would the homestead have looked like? What was life like for the family? How did they make a living? There appears to be very little information available, but I plan to track down what little there is and paint a mental image of life there 800 years or so ago. Wish me luck!

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NaNoWriMo 2014

The final OU module is complete (results expected early December), and there’s a big hole in my schedule.  Well, there are plenty of things to be done but I am missing the intellectual challenge (people who know me will chuckle at that!).

Hang on, I just remembered I wrote a list of things earlier in the year:

  • Pye Black Box – Disaster struck, because I forgot the basics of noise pickup in an amplifier circuit and moving the volume and tone controls from the amp to the edge of the box has resulted in nothing but humming coming out of the speakers.  Back seat for that then.
  • Last year’s NaNoWriMo – I’ve carved it to bits and put it back together, leaving out all the obvious dross.  But it needs a lot of work.  Back seat for that, too.
  • Guitar playing clips on YouTube – I have been playing more lately, but got completely absorbed messing about with Christine McVie’s Songbird that I forgot the overall plan.  Back seat.
  • Book-selling –  just about everything I have on the shelves is for sale at Amazon for 1p.  Forget that then.
  • The old manor house at our local woods, and resident ghost?  Nope.
  • Photography project.  Complete lack of focus.
  • Editing my poetry for self publishing?  I wish I didn’t write lists.

OK, so I can avoid all of these things by doing NaNoWriMo again this year.  I have a few characters jotted down, and a loose plot idea, but there’s a way to go.  Luckily there are also ten days left before I need to start.

Having a clear plot is important to me this year, because last time my writing horse kept galloping off in the wrong direction.  It was having so much fun, it completely forgot that a book needs a  beginning, middle and end that kind of fit together, at least a little bit.

I’ve just read my NaNoWriMo stuff from last year a bit further down this blog, and wondering if I’m going to find anything different to say this year.

We’ll see!

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Three months on…

I knew this would happen once I started the final OU module, U316 The Environmental Web back in February.  It’s taken over my life.

It was February that I made my last post here, and at the time was making great headway with the Pye Black Box project.  Progress?  None.

The novel I started to write back last November, 50,000 words during November when I took part in NaNoWriMo and which I was enthusiastically adding to.  Progress?  None.

The guitar playing video clips I was making to upload to YouTube showing my musical prowess.  Progress?  None.  (Probably just as well!).

Getting back into online trading after the Big Boys killed off my little book-selling business.  Progress?  None.

Researching the old manor and ghostly monastic goings-on in our local woods.  Progress?  None.

That photography project, where I take a snap of each letter of the alphabet represented by an everyday object.  Progress?  None.

Editing the short book of poetry and prose I have written on and off over the past few years, with a view to self-publishing it.  Progress?  None.

If this all sounds a bit depressing, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  The OU module is almost halfway through and is turning out to be one of the most interesting I’ve taken.  There’s still been time for drinking coffee with old friends, walking the labradors, trips around the local towns and villages, smartening up the garden and plenty of time to ‘stand and stare’.  Oh, you haven’t read William Davies’ poem, ‘Leisure’?  Here it is, just in case…

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare

 

Of course, my list of ‘things to do’ is also sitting there ready for when I’ve finished counting dragonflies, watching local wildlife, calculating statistics and generally saving the world from environmental disaster!

Expect some progress soon!

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