Interesting day today; we actually started and finished the morning workshop on time. We had a bit of a mixed session, giving feedback on submitted work, content about writing short stories was delivered and then we had a discussion about the business side of writing – agents, editor, that sort of thing.
It was really interesting and helpful. Next week we’re going to cover more of the business side and have one to one tutorials. I’m scared but looking forward to it. I’m hoping for feedback on the assessment piece I’ve provisionally decided to submit in the new year.
Talking of assignments, this afternoon I got my poetry assignment back. I’m a bit disappointed with 59% but I can live with it. I really, really want to get a Masters with distinction, which means I need to get over 70% in my dissertation. I have got a better idea of what I need to write in my essays after I’ve done the creative work though. I had a minor disagreement with my tutor about the level of literacy in 13th century England. I maintain that by Chaucer’s time literacy was on the increase, and it wasn’t limited to the clergy. The urban middle classes – merchants and guild members, for instance – were literate, and over the next century the gentry and aristocracy joined the literate classes. One only has to think of the Patten letters of the ‘Wars of the Roses’, or the mystical writings of Margery Kemp, to know his assertion that literacy was confined to the monks is wrong.
As to my assignments, they want to see my influences and a bibliography. I’m not sure ‘everything I’ve ever read’ is a good enough discussion of my influences though; how am I to pin that down when I take influences from everywhere, from all my interests, and distill that in to stories? How do I explain that the influence of early twentieth century scientific conferences and late twentieth century comic fantasy authors mixed up with my obsession with dragons can create a short story about a dragon who gets sick of tourists coming to ask about something that happened two hundred years previously? These things do not logically follow on from each other. Also, my tutor don’t do fantasy (she’s a romance/thriller type writer). I got to read the first two chapters of her new book last week, and it’s really good. Look out for ‘Exquisite’ by Sarah Stovell, out in May or June 2017. It’s very good, from what I’ve seen of it so far. And she’s a lovely person, can’t fault her teaching either.
This afternoon we had the Canadian poet Robert Powell in to give a reading and to talk about a project some of our students will be involved in for our second symposium, a mix of drama and poetry. I was bored to sleep. At least two of us took naps (to be fair, I had a really bad night and was in pain all of last night and all of today) and more were close to it 😀 Needless to say, I won’t be on the list of those taking part.
We have out first symposium in two weeks; I will be inflicting the first two chapters of my novel Hidden Fire on the group. I really need some feedback on it. Firstly, because I’m starting the editing process in the new year and, secondly, because next March I’m going to the East Midland’s Writer’s Conference in Nottingham and I’m hoping to get a one-to-one with an agent/editor, but I want to do some work on it before I submit it in January for possible selection. A few of us from the course are going so it’ll be fun as well as educational, before I finish until January 2018 and they go off to do their dissertations.
We’ve just started drama/script writing and I’m having panics. I have never done any script writing in my entire life and now I have to produce a 3000 word one act radio play, about the Tichboune Claiment case from the 1860’s/1870’s.
…And there’s a bloody big spider walking up the bathroom wall. Which tells you more than you need to know…
I really would have preferred to spend two hours this afternoon on learning more about script writing, formats and conventions than listening to another poetry reading. I might have been marginally more engaged in the class if we had. But, next week, hopefully we’ll get some content on the subject. I’m using a programme called Celtx to write my radio drama. It automatically formats for me.
I’ve asked people who’ve do more of this stuff and they think it looks alright but I want my tutor to take a look before I go on. I’m not writing 3000 words to get a bad mark because I didn’t format it properly. I’m really determined to get the best mark I can with this degree, I let myself down at Durham, by only getting a third, although I probably chose the wrong subjects at ‘A’ Level and Bachelor Degree level.
…And now I’m being climbed on by replete hounds. They object to sharing my attention with my laptop…
Next term I’m only doing one module – fiction and life writing – which will be interesting. Before that however we have Christmas, and we are planning a. MA Creative Writing Christmas party and doing secret santa. We picked out names today, in the pub after the seminar was over. We always end up in the pub for an hour before heading to the train station, discussing writing and random nonsense. It’s sociable. Sometimes there is cake.
In other university related news, my DSA equipment arrives tomorrow, with my new software. Hopefully that’ll help me get my research together for various projects, including my drama assignment and my dissertation. I’m already thinking about it. There’s a story I’ve been trying to tell for fifteen years, and now I think I know how to do it. But there will be a lot of research involved.
Some time next term we are getting reading from a writer called Quentin Btes, who writes crime thrillers set in Iceland. I’ve just bought one of his short stories, Winterlude, to see what his writing is like.
Before I go I thought I’d leave you with the short story I wrote in my morning workshop. I suspect it is more properly flash fiction, but I was struggling today.
The door banged open downstairs. Alice jumped as she stuffed more of the clothes from the wardrobe into a duffel bag. He was back, too early. She stilled, listening for his steps on the stairs. The television started singing. Alice sighed; she had time to finish the job.
She took a quick rifle through the jewellery box on the chest of draws before scooping the box up and dropping it in to the duffel bag. A laptop followed, then some books from the shelves. They weren’t worth much but she might get something for them.
The light flicked on. Alice turned toward the door. He glared at her.
“What are you doing?” he shouted.
“I’m leaving you Simon, right now.”
She slung the heavy bag on her back, advancing on Simon. Determined to pass.
“No!” He grabbed her arm, “You aren’t going anywhere. You’re never leaving me.”
Alice felt Simon shove her back, staggering against the bed and falling. Her head hit the wardrobe. The bag fell from her hand.
Simon shut the door on her body.