The Beginning and The End

This is the version of this story that I submitted for my OU A363 Creative Writing module last month – it was originally 6.7k words but I had to cut 4k from it in about 16 hours in order to make my word count and deadline. So this super-compact version is not my favourite of the four edits but it’s the one I’m sharing for now. Eventually this story will get to grow *way* beyond the confines of a short story, which I’m quite excited about. In the meantime I hope you enjoy 🙂 Ray x

It’s not the first time I’ve been woken in the dead of night by the proximity alarm screaming through the ship.

‘Ada…’ I groan. ‘That better not be because a certain someone has hacked the airlock again.’

Before the A.I. can respond, there’s a low chuckle that is way, way too close. My hair stands on end, I know that laugh.

‘Lights!’ I bark, scowling as the cabin illuminates my favourite nightmare in the doorway, pointing a goddamn plasma pistol at me.

‘What the fuck are you doing here Katya?’

She gives me a smug grin that makes me want to punch her. ‘It’s always such a delight to see you Eliss.’

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How do you Write?

[I’m not going to do a long spiel about how sorry I am for not posting for an age. Let’s get to it.]

So my Advanced Creative Writing module has now started. It’s my last module so by next July I should hopefully be a 26yr old Graduate. *Fingers crossed*

My tutor asked our group to write a bit about how we write using the examples of Mozart & Beethoven – I’ll be honest I had no clue how either of these composers worked but from context I’m guessing that Mozart was the kinda dude who composed the whole damn piece in his head before committing it to paper so his scores always looked pristine whereas Beethoven’s were a dog-eared shit-storm of scribbles, crossings-out & rewriting. SO I PRESUME.

I’ve had a lot of time to analyse how I write, especially over the last 3 years or so. For me I know that ideas are like the shiny newly minted coin that falls into your possession out of nowhere and suddenly you’re not sure what to do with it. Spend it fast while it’s all pretty and new? Or keep it in your pocket to mull over, worry it between your fingers, pondering when you will feel ready to use it? By the time you do it’s weathered and dinged but you’re confident that it’s going to be used for something great.

If I try to run with shiny ideas all it does is leave me with pockets full of sweets and toothache. It’s the tarnished, bruised ideas that have rattled around my head and various notebooks for years that I get the most from, that initial quids-worth of an idea has matured into a solid investment that gives you a lot more than just a sugar rush of excitement. It’s the contented satiation of a bloody good roast dinner.

Or at least that’s how things *should* work. They might get to that point eventually but I’m currently stuck in a purgatory called Revisions. I never actually posted here about it but I finished a Draft of the novel I’ve been working on since 2014 back at the end of May. I called it Draft 2 but technically it was an amalgam of a reworked opening third, newly drafted chapters in the middle & the untouched final third all smashed together into a 120K manuscript of dubious quality.

Reading that draft through once left me with a full-blown case of Creative Food Poisoning and for the last three months even thinking about it has made me green around the gills for a little while. But eventually my stomach will be tough enough to take a crack at revising the damn thing and *hopefully* one day reading my book through will leave me with the satisfied feeling of knowing I created a bloody good thing.

Who knows how far off that day may be, but I have to hope that it will come.

At that point I will have the whole new fun experience of figuring out how *I* revise. I’ve read a fuckton of posts online from various authors about how they write and revise so I have a range of approaches that I can try with my own book but there’s no guarantees that any of them will work for me. Then it’ll be a matter of cobbling together the elements which do suit me and welding them into what I can then call “My Revision Approach”. I may write a blog post or two on it and seem all legit and shit.

Anyway this post has gotten rather off the original topic which is of no surprise to anyone, some of this is taken from my Writer’s Journal for this module (I’m actually trying to really keep up with using it this time unlike for A215) but the rest of what I wrote will be included in what I post over in my tutor forum. I’m very likely to go over my word limit unless I edit the crap out of myself (wish I could do that when I speak).

I’m sure I’m not the only person of a writing inclination whose process is still wobbly & not fully set in place so I feel you guys. I’ll let you know when mine is cracked. If I crack it.

Until next time chaps, I’ll try not to leave it a year or something.

Ray xx

A215 – Next up… Poetry!

I don’t know about you guys but this is the part of the A215 module that I am most apprehensive of. I am *not* by any definition of the word “good” with poetry. I’m not good with understanding meaning in poetry, I’m utterly lost with recognising metre and other technical stuff like and this all adds up to being shit at writing it.

I literally have only 2 attempts at poems in my possession. Just two and I’m pretty sure that if I cared to try and dig them out of whatever notebook they’re hiding in I’d be appalled by them. So the thought of having to have either a single poem or several poems adding up to 40 lines written and “perfected” by the end of February is utterly terrifying.

The last two assignments have been fairly manageable for me and I’m hoping to get a decent mark for my short story which I submitted yesterday (maybe?) despite the fact that I barely looked at the textbook for the whole of November and December and had to pull things to reference in the commentary out of thin air. *fingers crossed*. However the next three TMAs are going to be exponentially more difficult as I will need to chain myself to my desk and study my derriere off for Poetry then deal with having the Life Writing *and* Going Public TMAs due within 2 weeks of each other ON TOP OF THE FINAL TMA FOR MY FRENCH MODULE!!! O_O

Yes I have both of my TMA05s due within a day of each other. That is going to suck *so* bad. Ugh I am going to need to take the first week of May to just wind down after April’s madness (definitely won’t be doing CampNano).

But yea I am going to be throwing myself at the BRB, Stephen Fry’s “The Ode less Travelled” and the three volumes of poetry I borrowed from the library earlier in the vain desperate hope that it eventually makes sense. I shall post up some of my attempts at the exercises for y’all to laugh at if you like.

Tally ho!

Ray 🙂

Deadline Day! – A215 TMA 01

So anyone doing A215 is currently probably going to be slumped on a table about now, breathing a sigh of relief that their first Creative Writing TMA is done and submitted. I have to own up to having sent mine on Monday although I am a little nervous about mine now that I’ve since seen my tutor mention that it should be one document for all three parts but I’ve submitted mine as a zipped folder with 3 separate files. It made more sense to do it that way since each part needed its own heading but here’s hoping that there’s no issue with that because I’ve followed all the other formatting requirements that my tutor mentioned.

Out of all of the parts we had to do I found the commentary the hardest by far. I did my Freewrite on the 22nd of September and the second draft of the fiction piece was done on the 14th of October. I’ve been sitting on both of them for a couple of weeks hoping to get my tutor to give me some feedback on them before I submitted them as final versions but with the confusion over what can and can’t be seen or commented on before TMA submission I’ve sent them in with only the opinion of my best friend Alpha reader (who is pretty much the only person who gets to read stuff I’ve written before I bother to edit it) to sooth my fears over its merit.

But god the commentary was tough to write, not only because the word count was so piddly that you had space to say only the major points you could remember about your writing process. That’s what it felt like to me anyway. I had to really think hard to recall what things did actually inspire my fiction piece and even then I think I failed to mention a lot of things. I know I didn’t reference my writer’s notebook (which I’m awful at using, I don’t think I’ve written anything in there for ages) and I only mentioned the BRB for one thing. I did reference a novel that inspired the style of the fiction piece somewhat although I managed to sidetrack my work for several hours when I re-read the whole damn thing.

I was happy with the Freewrite and the Fiction although I think that there won’t be enough random associations in the freewrite. At a later date I might look to develop the fiction piece into a full story since it was a very intriguing idea and I want to know where things would go.

For now until I get my marks back I’m gonna try and avoid thinking about it and instead focus on trying to keep my French work ticking over (that is getting hella neglected right now) and making a good start with Nanowrimo although since I’m going to be working both Saturday and Sunday afternoons now it’s going to be interesting to see if I can get ahead or if I’ll be chasing word counts all month.

How did everyone else feel things went?


Freewrite – Red

So I did a wee scribble of a freewrite earlier with my ipod turned up playing songs on shuffle this is what came out of my head.

I don’t often feel in colours but when I do it’s Red. The purest, brightest shade of red that scorches me from my crown to my toes. Every pore is blazing and I am a beacon of emotion. The space between my fingers shimmers with the heat I am radiating. I will burn everything to the ground with my fury and you cannot stand in my way. I am Rage.
But when that fire dies I am nothing, a black hole of being. If I am not angry then am I anything at all? I shine so bright when I am red but if that colour fades then I am only hues of darkness indiscernible from the night. I feel empty.
One day I hope that my rage will do good to someone, but anger, like fire is only destruction so I fear my hope is futile. Fire can forge so perhaps I can hone others into betterment with my colour, make theirs shine brighter.
I don’t understand how I was made this way, all fury or a void. I wish I was neither.

It’s only short but I wanted to share it anyway.

Until next time chaps


Creative Writing – Freewriting & Cluster Week Day 1

Afternoon all! So one of the tasks in the first chapter of the BRB is to spend 20 minutes every day for a week doing a freewrite and a clustering exercise using either the prompts from the book or your own. Yes I am doing this a few weeks ahead of when I should but I feel like it’s better to be slightly ahead than lagging behind when deadlines come looming out the dark.

So every day this week I’m going to use one of the prompts to do my freewrites and then I shall post them up on here like a terribly brave person *gulps*. The clusters I won’t trouble you with since they are going to be shite.

Monday’s Prompt – “Tea, Toast and 3 Paracetamol”

Blinding agony, skull rippling, brain too damn big for its box. Too much to drink last night, shouldn’t have listened to those idiots. Who thinks four shots of Jaegarmeister in a row is a good idea? Fucking binge-drinking lunatics that’s who. And students. But I’m pretty sure they’re all one and the same.

Too old to be a student these days. Takes more pills to quell a hangover, more food to soak up the excess alcohol and buckets more caffeine to blow the awful gritty feeling from my eyes.

Shower is scalding. Perfect. Nothing quite like the feeling of having the skin flayed off your back by wires to shock you awake. Fuck. Water is going cold again. Damn boiler always does this. Costs too much to replace right now so just have to deal with sporadic arctic showers.

Growing up is the worst thing about life. You have to responsible for making your own breakfast, cleaning up your crap and fixing your fuck-ups – no adult supervision required. I may be an adult but I’ll be damned if I sign up for this grown-up shit.

Anyone who can’t get twenty minutes pure joy from riding a swing at 3am while piss-drunk is definitely a grown-up.

*ta da!* That was what came out of 10 minutes of freewriting. It’s a bit less story-like than most of my previous efforts and I think it turned out ok, although it doesn’t look like much when typed up. Having nearly a page of hand-written work is always more encouraging 😛

Pop back tomorrow for Tuesday’s attempt if you like 🙂


Too soon to say?

So it was only on Wednesday this week that the student website went live for my OU Module A215 Creative Writing. We finally were able to see the assignment questions for the TMAs and the final EMA which is worth half of the marks for the module *gulp*.

The EMA is where we get a chance to show how we have really developed as writers over the course and demonstrate the skills we’ve learnt in one or more of the forms taught (Fiction writing, Poetry and Life Writing). We’re encouraged to gather material and think about ideas for the EMA from early on in the course and build up a cache of characters, plot ideas and intriguing words & phrases that we can use for assignments.

One of the EMA options is to write a piece of fiction (either complete short story or the first couple of chapters from a potentially longer story) that’s 2500 words long. The choice of subject, themes, style and voice are yours with the caveat that it’s not what would be termed “Writing for Children” (which is a phrasing that crops up a few times and is irking me slightly) or journalism. Unless I discover previously hidden skills/love for poetry and life writing I am likely to want to choose the solely Fiction writing option for my EMA.

But is it too soon to have an idea in mind? I mean, a proper fledgling plot idea with a main character who is drawing my attention and a world that I want to plunge many hours into researching and developing. Hell I’m even referring to the story as #DragonBook (cos I’m a twittering weirdo) which of course kind of gives away what sort of book it is :P.

I had said to my dear friend and eager Alpha reader Jess that after I finished writing my current novel – which I haven’t completed yet because of PROCRASTINATION – I wanted to write a dragon book. Regardless of whatever else went on in this book I wanted there to be dragons because fucking dragons dammit! So now that I am doing this Creative Writing module I have the opportunity to write 2500 words of something that I want to write so why not the beginning of my Dragon Book? I mean I don’t exactly have to write the whole thing but if I get the first few chapters written and polish them to a submittable standard and outline where the rest will lead, along with researching and world-building I can always go back and write it properly when I’m done with the drafts of my other Fantasy novel (this will perhaps become a noticeable trend in my writing).

Am I jumping the gun though? Is it too soon to get fixed on an idea for what will be worth 50% of the marks for this module? Should I be keeping an open mind and just gather potential material like the Almighty Big Red Book suggests? I will be intrigued as to what my tutor or the other people doing A215 thinks about this issue and what my fellow students are planning to do, even if the EMA is waaay down at the far end of the tunnel.

Any other OU A215ers got any ideas a-brewing for the EMA already? I know some folk are cracking on with the first TMA and I have had a go freewriting (as I currently think I should do it) from one of the prompts but will have to try out all of them and see which produces the most intriguing nuggets. Do share any thoughts you may have on this subject, I’d really appreciate some additional views to offset my daily mental ping-pong war between “don’t write that it’ll be a fail, wait for the course to start” and “fuck it, WRITE THE DRAGON BOOK!”

Now I might go lie down before I fall asleep onto my keyboard

Ray 🙂