Tag Archives: sonnet

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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Busy week on A363, Advanced Creative Writing

Should have been at the theatre in half an hour (remember, dick-a-dum-dum?), but since they haven’t phoned to say they’ve resold our tickets I guess there’ll be two empty seats.  Hope he doesn’t take it personally.

This has been a busy week on OU stuff.

TMA4 was returned on Monday, and not only was the EMA plan acceptable to the tutor, but it also shows up on the score record as 100%!  Such a shame it doesn’t count when aggregating the bottom line.  Mind you, the tutor did point out that I had bitten off quite a big challenge with the life-writing I want to do, but I think I’m up to it.

TMA5 whizzed off to the OU via that awful submit button yesterday.  Not due until next Thursday, but last night I cracked the thing that had been bugging me for weeks.  It was in the villanelle.  Although using the strict form the refrain gets repeated throughout the poem, I really really wanted to give it a subtle variation the final time it appears on the penultimate line.  Changing punctuation would have worked, and I changed it, changed it back, changed it again (get the picture?), but I wanted more than that.  At last, I found that simply swapping two words around did the trick and I suddenly felt this huge sense of relief.  So I wrapped it up and sent off my 105 lines.  Even if doing poetry turns out to be a huge mistook, I’ve absolutely enjoyed writing it, especially those foody sonnets!

Last night, I noticed a message on my student home page about transitional fees.  Apparently we have to indicate now, which qualification we are going for under the transitional arrangements.  Easy for me, because I’m now just one (but a big one) module away from my BA(Hons).  So I clicked confidently on the button to register, but the only choices open were BA or ‘Something Else’, no BA(Hons).  Now, the rule for the TFs is that they allow you to complete your undergraduate qualification under the existing fee structure (for me, £700 instead of £2500).  So now I’m wondering if the TFs only last until the ordinary degree is complete, and the Hons year isn’t covered.  Email sent, awaiting reply, biting fingernails.

A clear path to the A363 EMA, then!  TMA6 is the Mk2 plan, due in on 5th April, and the final EMA submission has to sent by 17th May.  I’m about halfway through and currently have brain block, but there’s loads of time and this is a piece of fictionalised family history I want to write for me, never mind the EMA, so all will be well.

Like I said, a busy week!



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A363 – Week 18 and TMA5

Last weekend was a bit fraught with un-wellness in the family, and the one coming up doesn’t promise to be much better, hence this midweek post instead.

A363 has come to an abrupt halt.  My books, usually spread open around the desk, are on the shelf and not a single word has hit the page in my notebook all week.  TMA5 is looming fast, only three weeks to the deadline, and that commentary I started, then again and again, is still looking distinctly not in progress.  BUT I now have a New Plan.  Since I’ve written three types of poetry for the TMA, I can just launch in on any one of them and start commentarying on whichever takes my fancy first.  Then a wrapper comprising an introduction and a conclusion will complete the job.  That sounds like so much more fun.

As it happens, I’m now having doubts about using the poetry option rather than fiction.  Somehow, 100 lines of poetry doesn’t seem as ‘hard’ as 2500 words of prose, and I’m wondering if the poems will have to be tons ‘better’ than the story option in order to achieve the same level of marks.  Mind you, they did take a long time to write (especially the suite of sonnets) and I put a great deal of effort into them, probably as much if not more than I would have  a short story.  I think I’ll take the chance, though.  Having been inspired by the villanelle and pantoum forms, it seems a shame not to find out whether the tutor considers them to have merit.

Took the SLK for a spin this morning.  It’s three weeks since it’s been out of the garage, and much longer would have seen the battery getting very low.  Last winter, it went completely flat twice and those heavy duty batteries they use on Mercedes  are heavy to lug to the charger!  And while I’m on cars, the Octavia passed its MOT yesterday with nothing needing to be done.  We’ve had it four years since new, and keep thinking it’d be a good idea to change it, but we’d only buy the same model again (it’s an Elegance TSi 1.8 turbo estate), so it’d just be newer.  Apart from tyres and two services, the car hasn’t needed anything spending on it.  Thought I was in for a big bill next month for the four-yearly cambelt change, but when I called the garage they told me the 1.8TSi engine has a chain.  The Octavia estate with that particular engine is the world’s best kept secret.

Back to A363… TMA3 was returned last week, and it seems I did a good job of the critique.  It was a challenging but enjoyable assignment, but I’m not sure I like the idea that I’m obviously better at preparing a critique on someone else’s work than I am creating my own writing!  No sign of TMA4 yet, though.

Right, where are those poems.  Think I’ll dive into the villanelle section of the commentary before I do anything else…

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A363 – Pantoums and all that

Definitely a better week for the creative writing, although once again I was unable to make the tutorial in St Albans.  Just hope no-one thinks it’s because I don’t care!

Finished a couple of villanelles, one of which might just be suitable for TMA5.  So, with the themed set of five sonnets, I have 5×14 + 19 = 89 lines of poetry ready for a severe redrafting.  The TMA needs 80-100 lines, and 89 is about whack in the middle.  So why did I think it’d be a good idea to add in a pantoum?  The form doesn’t really work with less than four stanzas (and they need to be quatrains) because of the line repetitions, so that will take me up to 105 lines.  But that’s OK, with the 5% leeway which is allowed in length.

I found writing pantoums to be great fun.  Maybe it’s the engineer in me coming out, but they seem a bit more technical and not completely ‘arty’ like most poetry.  It’s a simple set of rules: The second and fourth lines of the first stanza become the first and third of the second; then the second and fourth of the second stanza become the first and third of the third, and so on (as many as you like) until the last stanza.  This follows the same rules, except in addition, the third and first lines of the opening stanza become the second and fourth lines of the closing one.  So the first line is repeated as the last.  The scheme sounds complicated but isn’t.  The difficulty is getting the lines to make sense in different contexts while also making the rhymes turn out correctly.  See what I mean about engineering?

TMA5 is, of course, getting well ahead, although I have to confess to jumping on to the poetry section in the course book.  I think I wanted to do something different for a couple of weeks, and feel sort of refreshed by deviating a bit.

No result yet for TMA3, the 1000 word critique.  Good marks or bad, it was an interesting exercise and I think it helped me pick out a few points about my own writing which should lead to an improvement.

Still reckoning on life writing for the final EMA, although haven’t made any further progress on the plan (TMA4).  It needs to be in by 16th February, so just over a week to getting it finished if I want to upload it with a few days to spare.  Best start doing some more work on it.

The nice man has taken away our dining table and chairs for repolishing, and we’re using the patio set.  Inside, that is, what with all this snow about!  It should be back next week sometime, and fingers crossed it will look a million dollars.  Well, eight hundred quid’s worth at least…

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A363 Materials Despatch – Soon!

Just checked my OU student home page, and see that the materials for Advanced Creative Writing are due to be sent out on 9th September.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see them appear on the door step before then, though, as that has happened frequently on the other courses.  So, it’s time to start getting excited!

Except I bought the course book a few months back, and have been steadily reading ahead to get an idea of what the course will entail.  Part 1 looks like a ‘get up to speed’ exercise, building on the work carried out on A215 – Creative Writing.  Interesting and challenging, but not really new stuff to get my teeth into.

But hey, Part 2. Writing Drama.  Stage Plays – Wow.  Radio Drama – Double Wow.  Writing Films – OMG!  That is going to be diff  er  ent.!  Actually, I think since the course materials are imminent, it’s time to stop looking ahead and just wait for the real stuff to arrive.

In the meantime, I’ve posted a short poem under the Poetry and Prose tab.  It’s a sonnet about schooldays.  Hope you like it!

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