Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Ready, Steady, Go!

And we're off! Well very nearly. The course starts properly on Saturday 1st October, but I've made a head start. I would have started sooner, but I've had problems with a recurring skin condition that has knocked me off my feet a bit. I'm now getting treatment for that and will see a dermatologist in mid-October (by which time it will probably be gone...).

I've decided to take a pragmatic approach to studying. What I intend to do is read my way through all the course materials and extra reading in as quick a time as possible, doing only the brief exercises. Then on the relevant forum-led weeks, I will go back and do the exercises to be posted on the forum. I hope this way to get quite a way ahead in case I need to take time out for my own health and my husband's.

I popped my head into the forum 'cafe' yesterday but have not yet posted, though I see that others have. I even recognised the name of a Facebook friend :-)  I haven't yet felt able to dip my toe in the water, because when I took a course some time ago, a fellow student told me 'Your enthusiasm used to get up my nose, but I don't mind you now.' (Gee, thanks!) I'm afraid I have found, even in adult education, that there is the tendency to label someone a 'swot' if they try to go that extra mile. Yet, aren't we all there to learn and improve?

Anyway, I'm going to have to tone myself down a bit before I attempt the forum, I think, and just be enthusiastic on my own time! Otherwise I'll be losing friends before I've managed to make them.

So far I have completed up to Block 1, Chapter 4, covering Beginnings, Character and Point of View. I'm enjoying reading extracts and tips from favourite authors (Stephen King and Sarah Waters) and discovering authors I haven't read before. I can see my to-be-read pile growing exponentially!

I must admit, I was afraid that the course materials would go over my head. The last time I studied at undergraduate level, for my BA, was around 2003, and they were all humanities and literature courses, as the OU didn't do writing courses back then. I have done some short courses since, but only one of those was writing related (Start Writing Fiction). What if I've been doing it wrong all these years? (And believe me there are enough 'experts' out there who will choose some bugbear of their own and turn it into a rule against doing it).  What if the course materials were all written in a high-handed fashion that excluded the plain speakers amongst us? I really should have trusted the Open University better. They've always been mature student-led and this course is no different.

It turns out that whilst I may not know every technical term in writing, I have sort of been doing it all without realising (I make no promises as to actual quality) and I'm finding the course materials very easy to follow at the moment. Phew!

They are also challenging me to look at the various techniques from a different perspective and I can only hope that will improve my future writing.

My biggest fear, and something I have heard from others who have taken an MA, is that doing the course would leave me unable to write at all. Well, so far, I'm still working on my current WIP (health allowing) and I find that the course materials I've read so far are informing that nicely. I'm also enthused with lots of ideas for the forum-led exercises and TMAs. I particularly like those that ask you to give a different slant on a known story. As I started my writing 'career' with fanfiction, it's almost like coming home.

So far. So good.


Meg said...

You sound so well organised, Tracey, I'm sure it will all go swimmingly! As for being enthusiastic, that's a lovely quality, so please don't tone it down too much. I'm sure other people will be enthused by your enthusiasm! I would be. :-) It's good that so many things are familiar to you and great that you're still working on your own WIP. All good stuff!

Sue Blackburn said...

That all sounds so positive. Hope you're feeling better and able to thoroughly enjoy yourself. And be as enthusiastic as you like - if people don't like it that's their problem not yours. Anyway as Meg said enthusiasm can so often beget enthusiasm so you go for it!! xx

suzy doodling said...

Good luck and we all love your enthusiasm xx 😊

Kath McGurl said...

Don't tone down your personality, Sally - if they don't like you it's their loss. Sounds like a great plan to get ahead. I wish you all the luck in the world with this.