So…Now What? (Thoughts from a soon-to-be-Graduate)

I’ve once again been highly lax at posting on this blog, but then I was a tad “busy*” and trying to finish my final Open University module during April & May. Then June…happened. I think. I honestly don’t remember anything of what I did during that month beyond inhale an obscene amount of fanfic (no really I’m talking millions of words). It was kind of like last July when I spent almost the entire month inside and read 53 books, hopefully I won’t I have set myself up for another vitamin D deficiency because I did at least go outside every other day or so *finger guns*

But I’m getting off-topic as usual. My module is finished. Hell my whole damn degree is finished! Yup you heard me, I am now one of those people who could chuck BA (Hons) in my email signature if I so wished. I won’t be getting the fancy expensive bit of paper that I can hang on my wall until the end of September but until then I have this.

So… that’s cool I guess. What I’m going to *do* with my degree now I’ve finished it, I have no fucking clue. Like I literally need suggestions because I’m drawing the blankest of blanks. I know I need to get a job of the preferably permanent variety but as I’m spending most of October in Japan it seems counter-productive to go hard on applying for things when I won’t feasibly be able to start working until November. These are the fun thought wheels that I like to run in when I’m trying to sleep like the nervous bean I am.

Until I get a grip on my life I’m mostly just trying to make sure I get out of bed before noon and leaving the house at least twice a week. Which is kind of happening. Although this past week something a little strange happened. I got an idea for a book. Then within 24hrs I had written 12 pages of a word doc planning out that whole book. And I *might* be considering starting to draft that book… erm tomorrow? I’m not sure if this is my worst self-set deadline to date but I reckon if I don’t give myself a concrete timescale to write this book I may piss about “planning” until the world ends.

I’m gonna give it a try and hope like hell that I don’t burn myself out within a week. I don’t know yet how fast I might be able to write this book but I’m hoping on a tentative 1.5-2k words per day so as I’m guesstimating the first draft should be somewhere around 70-80K, in theory I could have a draft complete before I go to Japan in October. We can hope.

I was thinking I’d try to blog about the process but let’s not make promises I might not keep. There will be a lot of me on twitter I imagine since you’d have to prise my phone from my cold, dead hands to keep me from procrastitweeting when I say I’ll be writing. So come yell at me to get off the internet and I’ll be eternally grateful.

See you soon?

Ray x

 

*That’s a filthy fucking lie. I am so unbusy it’s disgusting. What I am is lazy.

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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

Deadlines? Ugh.

I have a French TMA due tomorrow. It is not finished yet and I ran out of fucks to give about 3 weeks ago. This is a rather troubling position to be in as this is only the first of 5 TMAs and while this one is only formative and will not count to my overall grade I really should care more right?

The thought has occurred to me that I just don’t like studying French this way. I love being able to speak the language and have conversations with actual French people – I never did talk about my trip to Paris in detail but I spoke French to every person except my boyfriend which is something I am proud of – but I really dislike studying really arbitrary topics in a French context. I know it might introduce some vocabulary I may not have come across otherwise but really, with how many people am I likely to want to discuss the commercial impact of having shops open on Sundays? Basically zero.

This particular TMA is supposed to be looking at giving advice to fellow forum users about managing their time better and discussing how increased working flexibility affects people’s lifestyles. I find the idea of *me* giving advice on time management fucking laughable since as you might have guessed from my blog, I procrastinate to doctorate levels. I spent most of today sat in my bed watching Youtube videos, knowing full well that this deadline is tomorrow and I had only about 160 words of the 300-350 that I need already written. That is some serious apathy I’m rocking right there.

I mean look, I’m blogging instead of finishing off this assignment now! I’m at around 250 words but I’m procrastinating again! It’s an endless cycle of doing a little, distracted a lot. *dramatic sigh*

Anyone else feeling similar levels of “meh” towards some aspect of their studying? Or is it just me being an apathetic lazy bugger?

Ray

p.s. This post has been the length of my TMA that I should be finishing right now. So easy right?

Ray en Francais – J’ai peur

I’m not writing this whole post in French you can relax.

It takes me three times as long to write in French and since most of the people who currently read this blog are from my OU writing module it’s not very fair to just dump an entire post that’s unreadable to most people.

If you don’t know what the post title means; J’ai peur = I’m scared. Currently I’m finding my French module a lot more intimidating than my writing one. I kinda know what I’m doing with writing, at least in the sense that I can put words down in a row and they manage to make sense and be marginally interesting to at least me. The worries I have about writing at the moment are more related to not knowing what I’ll do with the words once I have them and whether other people will like them.

French however, is a whole different kettle of fish. I’m not saying I’m shit at french – on the contrary, to anyone who has only studied to GCSE level I may seem like I’m fluent. To my Yr 7 & 8 students when I was a TA in French lessons I was basically a native. But when it comes to the degree level modules that I’m doing suddenly my ability to speak with a pretty convincing accent is just not enough to get me through. When my marks are relying on my ability to teach myself grammar points and make an effort to learn vocabulary around a topic and then use both these skills together, everything is a lot scarier.

I’ve been avoiding picking up my French textbooks for the last two weeks or so and now the module has officially started I really need to shuck off this fear otherwise I’m going to be left scrambling to complete my TMA at the start of November having not done most of the activities for this topic. I am going to have ample time to do everything in my textbooks for both French and my Writing module so I gotta make the most of it.

To this end I wanted to just make a concrete list of what is scaring me right now about this French Module. I’m sure that if I show this to my boyfriend later he’s going to frown at me and tell me I’m being ridiculous (I probably am) but it doesn’t mean that I don’t think these things.

Fears for L211

1. I won’t understand the course materials

2. I won’t be able to think of the words I need/want to use

3. I don’t have the level of grammar knowledge I should have by now

4. I won’t be able to keep up with the activities each week.

5. My TMAs won’t be complex or accurate enough for this level

6. The other students will be will better than me.

7. I will fail.

So there you go. Those are the worries that are currently making my attempts to do French seem all silly and pointless. Now I need to tear up this list before it just infects my brain with its toxic negativity.

Do tell me I’m being an idiot.

Ray

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 🙂

Tricky times in translation

It’s damned inconvenient when you want to read the introductory paragraph to your French course book and can’t without comprehensively translating the whole thing because you don’t understand the odd word or phrase that is rather necessary to knowing the overall meaning of the text. *le sigh*

I will be the first person to admit that I am a terrible French student. I’m a lucky cow in that I can speak it fairly well and *sound* like I’m possibly French but my reading comprehension is probably not equivalent to my having studied the language for something like 14 years (although frankly Yrs 5-8 are pretty much the same thing every year). I really kinda suck at sitting down and reading French texts and actually picking out the words I don’t know and making a conscious effort to learn them so that I can read the whole text without having to translate it fully.

I’m also probably getting awfully lazy at conjugating verbs since I have my beautiful verb table book (I do also have a Bescherelle book but since all the grammatical explanations are in french it’s less helpful). Why bother to remember which groups of verbs have a third person vowel change from “e” to “ie” in the present tense if my handy dandy verb book can point me right to the page I need instead? There can be such a thing as too many language books since I don’t necessarily need to retain all the vocab and verb knowledge if they’re so easily accessible on my bookshelf.

In the end I managed to translate both the introductory paragraph and the first paragraph of the first section. It took me a good chunk of my afternoon since I’m not quite up to maximum productivity yet *coughtwitteraddictcough* but I think I was able to get close the true meaning of some of the words and phrases that I didn’t previously know. Of course it doesn’t help in the slightest when one of the words which is exactly the same in French as it is in English and you still don’t know what it fucking means. Exhibit A.

Promulgation2

 

I had to bust out both my bi-lingual *and* my English dictionary for this little bastard and I’m thoroughly sick of the word. I’d much rather say “…after the law, which reduced working hours, was brought into effect…” but I imagine that is going to make the French a bit more complicated hence the use of the word “promulgation” for succinctness.

Hopefully if I get myself ahead with reading the textbook and making copious notes of the words, phrases and grammar structures that I don’t know (even though I probably should know them by now) maybe by the time that Envol starts properly in October I won’t be feeling quite as much like a fraud who somehow fluked her way to a 90 on her TMAs and 70 on her EMA for L120.

I gotta lot of work to do though.

Ray x