Failures-of Course.

Aside

                For an inexplicable reason which I now fail to recall, I considered, a few months ago, that it would be an inspirational idea to undertake a creative writing course. Of course, anyone who reads Anecdotage regularly will by now be scoffing and sniggering, since they will have acknowledged the necessity for my doing it from the first, but still…

                Above all, the timing could hardly be worse. We seem to be in the throes of a period of mad activity; a deluge of family, home, health and socially related issues.

                This is an online course. Week one arrived to the inbox. ‘I’ll start tomorrow’ was my approach, as I polished shoes, buffed nails, attended the salon and hoovered the carpets.

                During a five minute lull, in between making up beds and cooking lasagne I read one or two pieces of information and watched a couple of videos. Hooray! ‘This will be simple’ I thought.

                I resumed pre house guest preparations with a light[ish] step, given that, as I elaborated in a previous post, I am crippled with annoying foot disease. I mowed the lawn; de-gunked the lavatory. I found time to log back in. I completed a couple of quizzes, even successfully! It would be a slab of creamy gateau to complete this course!

                ‘Whoa! What was this? I had to write something?’ I logged out in disgust and went to scrub the bath and shine the shower screen. I had to keep a notebook.

                I am not against the idea of keeping a notebook, of course. It has been my ambition to keep one ever since setting out on the bumpy journey that is writing. My writing idol, Donna Tartt keeps one. It’s just that proponents of the notebook idea make it seem easy. ‘Take it with you wherever you go!’ they suggest. ‘On the bus, in the café, on the train, in the laundrette, whilst out for a walk…’ OK. How do I write notes whilst driving, in a café with Husband or Offspring, whilst our laundry is whirling in the kitchen or while cycling? [walking has been a no-no for some time].

                Worse-I had to write a paragraph. It must contain three fictions and one fact. For an inveterate liar such as myself, the fictions presented little problem. The fact was I was unable to conjure one single idea. Time was spiralling away down the week’s plughole with an ever louder gurgle. The weekend came-and went. Monday arrived and with it…Week Two. Horrors! The first week had passed without my submission so much as forming an amorphous cloud inside my head.

                On Monday I risked a cursory glance at others’ submissions, where hundreds of paragraphs scrolled down in an interminable roll. In a fever of humiliation I added my short, hasty contribution; an excuse for a piece of writing. I was not the only miscreant. Others had also missed the deadline.

                The end of Week Two is now starting to appear upon the horizon with an inevitability as stark as my enthusiastic intentions. Would that the course was good old paper and post-then at least the dog could have eaten my homework…

                I will keep you posted.

Advertisements

The Power of the Group

                In a rush of New Year, new good intention and bushy tailed optimism I’ve entered a new phase of story competition submissions. It all may be influenced by the coincidental cropping up of a few imminent deadlines, or I may have got over my fit of pique for getting on to yet another shortlist and no further ; nevertheless the urge to compete, to step up to the literary mark has been invigorated. In addition to this surge of competitive zeal-or alongside of it-I’ve signed up for a short course of creative writing sessions.

                During the time I’ve been blogging I have never mentioned my delightful writing group, who inspire, motivate and invigorate each others’ writing each and every time we meet-fortnightly, to be exact. I joined the group as a rooky ignoramus about three years ago, only to find myself inheriting the task of running it about six weeks later. In all the time I’ve been writing I’ve only ever really learned one thing, which is that the learning mountain for writing is insurmountable, and that I will, in all probability never get anywhere near the summit. In the time that we’ve met together, various members have come and gone, and others have come and stayed, so that now we are a comfortable set of seven who know each other well enough to offer honest critique respect each others’ views. We all feel that the sessions offer an invaluable input to our writing and that the work has improved as a result. Yet if there is one issue we must address it is that we are too polite, too complementary to each other. I read recently that children make more progress in any endeavour if they are not too broadly praised for every undertaking and this may also be true of we adults.

                The result of all these ponderings has catapulted me into the new group. We began by acting on the writing prompts [a set of questions] provided by the teacher, who is an attractive, vivacious blond lady. We wrote continuously for fifty minutes-no stopping to check emails, have my online Scrabble turn or read from The Guardian website; no breaks for coffee or gazing out of the window at the garden bird feeder. I wrote a lot. Here was a lesson in itself. I have no idea whether any of it was any good, since I am too bound up with the preparation of another story to look, but I’m guessing it may provide the basis for something new at some time.