TMA4 for A215 Creative Writing is back. So all that remains is TMA5 and the end of module assessment (EMA). Both of these are a free choice from the three taught types of writing, short fiction, poetry and life writing. Before I started the course I had mostly written fiction, in the novelette to novel range for length, none of which you’d reasonably describe as short in OU terms (somewhere in the 2,000 word range). My first assignment for A215 ended up as life writing, I found it easier to write short bits about memories than to condense fiction down to the correct word count (and I’m very good at editing things down).

The second assignment was short fiction, and I managed to write a half-decent story for it. Rounds is the beginning of a longer story that I still might write, lots of background got generated and ideas for continuation. When I’m done with the course and have edited my novel into something presentable then I may well come back to it. Rounds wasn’t the only story though, it was at least the fourth that I planned and started to draft. Of the others two were way too long and complicated to get something reasonable out in 2,000 words; at least at my current skill level for fiction. Another was too short and lacked some dramatic tension (possibly because of the situation rather than its length).

Poetry came next, and it scared me. The Big Red Book didn’t really help much with that, I found it was laid out wrong, either that or it was assuming a whole background in English Literature that I didn’t have. If you’d already deconstructed poetry at university level I dare say that you’d have been okay with the way the book introduced writing it. However I’ve been doing a Business & Leadership degree, so I haven’t been taking poems apart. However two things saved me, one of which was the fact that my tutor is a poet and she ran an excellent tutorial that demystified it. Stephen Fry‘s book ‘An Ode Less Travelled‘ was also a much better introductory work, it didn’t assume any prior knowledge, was written in a conversational style (I could hear Stephen being both patient and witty) and also explained the technical bits very clearly.

Life writing was the fourth assignment, and I started a couple of things. I intended to do some biographical bits based on some of the family history research that I’ve done over the last few years. I thought a piece related to the Family Mystery posts (Family Mystery pt.2) I’d done would be interesting to read and also provide me with a good opportunity to show that I’d used the techniques from the Big Red Book. That was fine, but I lost my planned study day because my daughter vomited on the child minder ten minutes after I dropped her off. After that my work got unexpectedly busy and someone outside my chain promised top management that we’d launch a beta version of the software we’re working on at the time when I expected a second alpha to be ready for checking and accreditation. So I fell back on something much easier to write and rapidy knocked it through a couple of drafts. This got me something comfortably acceptable for the deadline.

Now though I’m faced with a dilemma. Looking at my marks the thing that scored best was the poetry, it isn’t hugely better marks wise, but it scraped into the next category of pass from the other stuff (which was all at the upper end). The range of marks is 8 percentiles, with the two life writing TMAs being at the bottom of the range, the fiction a couple of percentiles above them, and four below the poetry. Once I’d done the poetry I realised that it was easier than I thought, but I still didn’t expect to be doing any more of it. Now I’m sitting here thinking that I may well write several more poems for TMA5 and perhaps the EMA (although I’m less certain of that, I have more words to play with there and could well edit down one of the spare stories from TMA2, incorporating the lessons from the BRB and the feedback from earlier assignments).

I’ll post some of the poetry I wrote for the earlier assignment and then perhaps see what people who’ve read both the poems and the short fiction (Rounds) think of it. Thoughts and comments welcome.


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