Tag Archives: tma03

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 17, and the table’s back!

Dropping a few words into this week’s blog is a diversionary tactic.  I should be writing an illuminating commentary to go with the seven poems drafted for TMA5, but don’t seem to be able to move past the first paragraph.  Which, incidentally, is utter nonsense.

But never mind, because the dining table and chairs are back.  Not that the patio set wasn’t doing a grand job, but it did feel a bit odd with a thick blanket of snow the other side of the French windows.  The wood (Afrormosia, or Afro Teak) has regained a fabulous rich tone, and the polishing has brought out the distinctive grain in a way we have never before seen it.  Difficult to believe that we bought the suite second hand in the early 80s for about what we now pay for half a tank of petrol, and here it is looking as good as, if not better than, new.  I can confidently recommend Richard Parsons in Knebworth if you need any furniture restoration carried out (http://www.rparsons.com/).

Next job is to re-upholster the seats.  We have the material and replacement foam, and the staples dropped through the letterbox this morning.  Or so I thought.  I didn’t order heavy duty ones (although it’s a heavy duty staple gun), because I wasn’t planning on them holding up the Bayeaux tapestry.  And they don’t fit the gun; a millimetre too wide.  A new order has been placed, double-checked by the CO.

Still no sign of TMA3 being returned, and it’s coming up to three weeks since the submission deadline.  A few students have queried this on the TGF, so it’s not just me.  I was beginning to wonder if my assignment was so poor it wasn’t even worth marking <grin>.

TMA4, the initial plan for the EMA, was uploaded yesterday, four days early.  I hope the tutor likes the idea I’ve come up with, but it’s early enough to change tack if necessary.

Which just leaves the poetry commentary.  Think I might dump that first paragraph and start again.  Again.

Anyone want 1000 Draper 6mm NOT heavy duty staples?

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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 – Creative Writing and a Spot of Polishing

Right, I’m on the case having bounced back from the depths of despair after the scriptwriting malarkey.  Having looked again, I can see that I went a bit too far with the ending, and turned what was essentially a sitcom into a melodrama.  Still a bit surprised though that a wrong turn like that had such a major effect on the overall mark.  Oh well, it’s in the past and hopefully, a lesson has been learned.

The critique assignment went off on Tuesday having held it back for a couple of days in case something popped up that I wasn’t happy with, but nothing did.  That was an interesting exercise, and will help somewhat in the future.  Looking for problem areas as well as things that work well in other people’s writing is very therapeutic!

The next assignment (TMA4) is drafted and almost ready to go, although it isn’t due for a couple of weeks.  I’m hoping the tutor is going to like the idea I’ve come up with for the EMA, but if not I’m happy to change direction.  Looking forward to reading  what he says when he’s been through the plan.

Been having some fun this week writing villanelles.  Quite an interesting form of poetry, and quite a challenge since there are 19 lines and only two rhyme patterns.  The first line gets to be re-used in lines six, twelve and eighteen, and the third line reappears as the ninth, fifteenth and final line.  It’s made up of five tercets and a quatrain.  The difficulty is in getting enough words to rhyme (remember there are only two rhymes), and making the whole thing make sense having re-used earlier lines.  Challenge for this week?  Try a couple of pantoums!

Just realised this morning that there’re only three and half months left before the end of this module, the EMA being due in mid-May.  Time is flashing past like an accelerating bullet train these days.  One of the disadvantages of advancing years!

Having got the polishing bug with the stair banister last week, we decided to have a go at the dining chairs.  They’ve faded badly though, and so has the table surface, so we called in an expert to have a look.  We’ve had the suite for many years, and it’s absolutely ideal for us. Modern ones just don’t seem to come close.  ‘Ah, a McIntosh,’ said the nice man.  ‘Just look at that grain.  Beautiful.’  as he rubbed the table surface lovingly.  Then said he could remove the old coating, steam the wood to get rid of the surface scratches, sand down and repair the chair stretchers where one of our puppies had used it for chewing practice, re-polish and add a protective coating.  Wonderful we thought.  Then had to sit down.  £800 if we had it all done at the same time.  Still sitting down…

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A363 – TMAs and Elbow Grease

Disappointing week to say the least.  The mark for TMA2 was worse than for the first assignment, and that was the lowest I’d had in over two years of OU study.  I only have myself to blame, but can’t help but wonder how subjective the marking is.  With maths, science, engineering type courses, you can be pretty sure that if you’ve answered the questions correctly you’ll score highly.  With creative writing, though, there has to be some element of whether or not the reader likes what you’ve written.  And clearly, my stage adaptation was not liked very much!  So, a mediocre mark for what was seen as a mediocre piece of work, I guess.  To get back into distinction territory, I’ll need to bust 90% on every assignment from now on, and I don’t think that is ever going to happen.  Instead of aiming hard for a distinction, I’m going to find myself struggling to stay in the Pass 2 band.

Therapy came today in the form of elbow grease.  Our mahogany stair banister had lost its shine, and I dug out the bottle of furniture cleaner that’s been lurking in the shed for years.  Much rubbing was needed to get rid of the old polish, and the wood looked quite sad by the time I’d finished.  Three coats of beeswax polish later, though, and it began to smile again.  Trouble is, it no longer works to stop you falling down the stairs.  Grab it, and you just slide along….

Back to A363.  I’ve finished the critique for TMA3, which is due this Thursday.  Not particularly confident that it’s what is required, but like I said last week, I have yet to find anything in the course materials about critiquing other than what’s in the assignment guidelines.  Checking out the marking criteria, to get a Pass 1 the critique needs to ‘contain complex analysis of method, form, genre, medium and approach.  The exposition of the work will be exemplary in its clarity; there will be original, engaged and insightful examination of the issues… ‘ etc etc.  Only 1000 words to play with, so I’m not sure how close I’ll get!

TMA4 then rears its head just three weeks later, mid-February.  No marks for that, though.  Isn’t that odd?  It’s the initial plan for our final EMA, in just 750 words.  I have an idea that mine will be life-writing, based on a piece of family history, so producing the plan shouldn’t be a problem.  AND I don’t have to worry about the marks!

Still reckoning on a suite of sonnets for TMA5.  The central thread is to capture the day through mealtimes, from waking up, breakfast, lunch, teatime, dinner and returning to bed.  Five are drafted, and I need one more (dinner) to reach the minimum number of lines (80-100).  This isn’t set in stone, though, and I could well go back to a short story plot dreamed up a few weeks ago.

Well, I might be very brave and pluck up the courage to submit (still hate that word) the next assignment later this evening.  On the other hand, I could procrastinate for the next three days…

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Creative Writing, Shito and Seven Sonnets

Been a strange writing week, with seemingly little progress. Yet when I just checked back, I did actually finish the next assignment, TMA03, and made a good start on some drafts for TMA05.

Bit disappointed with TMA03, actually.  It’s a 1000 word critique of another student’s writing.  We get to choose what to use, but have to go for something that’s been commented upon in the forums, and subsequently changed by the author to show how the comments affected the creative process.  That’s fine, and it’s done and dusted.  Only thing is, there is nothing in the course module that instructs on writing a critique.  Well, there are some guidelines in the assessment booklet, but we haven’t actually been taught how to do it.  That’s fine as well, except if we have to search t’interweb and the local library for ideas, why did we pay £700 for the course?

Oh, shut up me.  Actually I’m writing this in a foul mood.  We decided to repeat the success of last week’s Saturday night meal treat; you remember; the seafood stuff.  All well and good, and it was, once again, totally delicious.  Except we found a half finished jar of Shito (black pepper sauce) at the back of the fridge – pronounced ‘Sheeto’ in case you’re offended – and decided to stir some into the mussels.  Mussels aren’t inherently all that tasty, poor things, and we felt like cheering them up.  Now this isn’t ordinary strength Shito.  Oh, no.  It’s HOT Shito.  And I stirred in a bit too much.  I’m pretty sure it’s found its way up to my brain and left me utterly useless for the day.

I need to make a public apology after upsetting our best friends with my comment last week about Toblerones.  Well, I was given four huge bars as Christmas gifts, and they do add up to 8000 calories (four days’ worth of food), and I shall need to ration them out over the next few weeks.  But I didn’t mean you to drop me a note saying sorry for giving them to me!  I LOVE Toblerones.  They are, by far, my most favourite choccy treat.  So no need for an apology.  Just make sure I have another next year.  Please!

Back to what I’m supposed to be blogging about.  A363.  Oh, yes, those drafts for TMA05.  The assignment is a 2500 word short story, fiction or life writing, or 100 lines of poetry.  I had in mind a plot which I’ve been hatching over the last few weeks, and started to write up.  But then I suddenly had an inclination to write poetry instead.  Might be a mistake, as my offerings on A215 didn’t go down that well.  Two did, but the one about chocolate cake, which I made come out the shape of a cupcake, turned the tutor cold.  I digress.  Chocolate again, you see.  The bottom line is that I’m drafting out a themed series of seven sonnets, that’s seven times fourteen lines, giving me a total of near enough 100 lines all up.  My theme is food through the day.  The first sonnet (getting up), the last (end of the day) and breakfast (you try writing fourteen lines about eggs) have been drafted, so only four to go.  Not sure if they are going to work yet.  Might be a bit twee for a serious assignment.  We’ll see.

This time next week, the stage adaptation for TMA02 will have been marked and returned.  I shall either mention it or not, so that will give you some indication of how it went!

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Creative Writing, Proofing and Ginger Beer

I’m getting terribly confused with the A363 OU calendar, and not sure whether this is the end of week 12 or the start of week 13.  Not that it matters.  Just that I was going to give week 13 a miss in case it turned out to be unlucky.  Like last week!

You remember I uploaded my stage adaptation of the rather dreadful story about two couples on a caravan weekend away?  For some odd reason, I opened it up on the fabulous TF101 Tablet last night ( the one I discovered in my Christmas stocking) only for a massive typo to stare out from the screen.  I’d taken on board all those hints for proofreading.  You know, like printing it out to read properly, reading it out loud, asking a friend or two to look through, and finally enlarging the text on the screen of my PC and checking one line at a time in slow motion.  All of that worked just fine.  What didn’t work, was that I made a last minute alteration to ‘last week’s underpants’ (don’t ask), and made it ‘yesterday’s underpants’.  Except I didn’t.  I changed it to ‘last yesterday’s underpants.’  Now this wasn’t dialogue, or even exposition.  It was a made-up quote from an imaginary reader’s letter in a glossy magazine.  So it could have been a magazine typo, right?  Bet the tutor won’t see it that way though.  Lesson Learned:  Always do a final final proofread before hitting the submit button.

Hmmm.  That submit button.  Sure enough, that’s what the button on the electronic TMA  page has on it.  ‘Submit’.  In other words, ‘You might think you’ve done OK laddy, but you may as well give up now’.  It’s such a negative word.  Why not have ‘Upload’ on the button?  Or simply ‘Send’?  I just want to know the file arrived, not  get told that my submission has been accepted!

Tried a bottle of Crabbies Black Reserve ginger beer last night, and wow, it was nothing like how I remember ginger beer. In fact, Julian, Anne, George and Dick would have had a much more super time on their adventures had they drunk lashings of this to go with their cheese sandwiches!  How on earth can ginger beer be 6% proof.  Brilliant appetiser though for our Saturday night meal.  Seafood.  Scallops lightly fried in oil with spring onions and garlic, giant prawns, mussels, that twisty pasta in a delicious carbonara sauce, roasted pepper antipasti, leafy butterhead salad and garlic bread.  And did I mention the ginger beer?

The plan for this week is get TMA03 done and dusted.  It’s pretty well complete, but I need to relate my critique of a fellow student’s writing to my own jottings to finish it off.  Oh, and make sure the last thing I do is to proofread it!

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