Tag Archives: transitional fees

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.
screenshot.380

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.’

screenshot.403

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!

1 Comment

Filed under Creative Writing, NaNoWriMo, Open University

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

A363 Week 27

Just had a look at the Advanced Creative Writing course calendar, and we’re frighteningly near the end.

Although TMA06 still hasn’t yet been returned with advice for the EMA, I guess I’m not the only one in our study group to carry on writing regardless.  Hopefully the TMA will pop up early next week, and won’t signpost a need to rewrite from scratch.  I still have 1000 words to go out of 4000, and it’s the most challenging part of the life-writing piece.  I’ve been trying to change the readers view of the protagonist’s state of mind as the tale progresses, and although I don’t intend there to be a ‘twist’ at the end, I want the reader to be slightly taken aback with how things turn out.  I know that doesn’t make much sense, since you have no idea what or who I’m writing about.

I decided during the week to try to unlink A363 from my degree.  Not exactly sure why, but it seems the right thing to do.  For a start, it gives me the opportunity to study two more modules to count towards the hons classification under the transitional funding arrangements, so the fun will last a little longer.  Transitional arrangements come to an end once the target qualification has been achieved, and I had a shock when I saw that E301 (The Art of English), one of my next study options, showed a non-transitional fee of £2500.  No way could most people pay that for leisure learning!  The other reason is that I’m having a crisis of confidence with the creative writing, and don’t feel that this module has gone all that well.  After the immense enjoyment of A173, A174 and A215 (all writing modules), A363 just hasn’t been as pleasurable.  Can’t put a finger on why, though.  It may not be possible to unlink the module at this late stage, and the boxes that would normally allow this to be done online have been greyed out, but I’ve dropped an email to the OU to see if they can help.  I hope they can, because then I can register E301 and E303, both of which look as though they have the potential to offer a couple of years of great entertainment!

Right, back to the writing.  It’s been going well the last couple of days, so while I’m on a roll…

3 Comments

Filed under Creative Writing

A363, After the Storm

Des:  Apparently the Gordon Craig Theatre didn’t sell out for the dick-a-Des-dum show last Sunday night, although there were only half a dozen or so seats left when I dropped our tickets off for resale eight days earlier.  I popped in the Wednesday after the show to ask if they’d managed to resell for us, but they hadn’t.  That was that, then. Fifty smackeroons down the proverbial.  Next time we’re unavoidably indisposed, I shall sell the tickets myself or simply give them away.  That would have been much more satisfying.

Oh, yes, A363:  Remember I sent off TMA5 early last week?  Well, it was actually due in Thursday, and I was casually checking out the A363 cafe Thursday evening when a post popped up asking how many words the ‘Commentary’ had to be, as they couldn’t get access to the course website.  (All the creative pieces have to be followed by a scholarly piece of writing to describe the technical ups and downs, reasons for decisions taken, etc).  ‘750’, came back the reply.

‘Nooooooooo,’ I shouted at the screen, ‘It’s 1000 words!’  And checked the assessment handbook.

‘Nooooooooo,’ I shouted at the handbook, ‘It is 750.’

Right.  I’d written too many words, which would have scuppered my marks completely for the commentary.  The assignment deadlines are mid-day, but there is an understanding that they will be accepted up until midnight in case of emergencies.  I have never edited a piece down so quickly in my life.  Knocking 250 words out of a 1000 piece doesn’t seem too difficult, does it?  But it is, if you want to retain the original flavour and feel of the original writing.  Surprisingly so.  Especially trying to do it in half an hour!  To be honest, although I read it through very carefully  a couple of times before re-submitting, I haven’t dared look at it since in case it’s pure gobbledegook.

Transitional Arrangements:  The OU emailed me back about the Transitional Fees and confirmed that if I ticked the BA box it would also cover any modules needed to make it a BA(Hons).  Thank you to Jaydin Starr for putting my mind at ease by leaving the comment to my previous post.

Finally, did you know you could get tennis elbow by using one of those ball launchers when chucking for the dogs?  Well, you can.  I know.  Although, luckily, I can hit the keyboard without a lot of pain, I can’t lift a teacup or squeeze the toothpaste tube.  And cleaning your teeth with the ‘wrong’ hand is harder than you’d think!

2 Comments

Filed under Creative Writing

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!

 

3 Comments

Filed under Creative Writing