Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And There Is A Right Way by Katy Board

I am so enjoying writing the activities for this last chapter, which is dealing with prose. I was asked, in activity 11.4, to write a story in 500 words, and so I did, using a sci-fi genre to do so - my very first attempt at sci-fi!
We were given a multiple choice of subject, and I chose ' a funeral', but we were to use a different title for the story, which I have.
Anyway, here it is, and I hope you enjoy it:

And There Is A Right Way

In the instant that the sun sank beyond the horizon, Zed placed the torch into the stacked wood in front of him. For a second, nothing happened; the only sound was Zella intoning the death dirge quietly in the background, as was her role in this passing of a mate. But, in a second, the flame flared brightly and the wood, stacked neatly in the cremation pyre, caught and quickly spread to envelop the wrapped form of Zarn.
Zed stood back, placing the torch in the holder waiting beside the pyre. He turned to face west, and saw a flare, an after-image of coruscating green, where a shard of light from the set sun reflected back from the clouds. He knew this was a sign that his mate’s soul had reached the gods, and he felt happiness that Zarn would be there waiting when it was their turn for the funeral pyre.
Zella finished intoning the prayers of the dead, and then silently came to stand beside Zed. They shared a moment of reflection, remembering the times before Zarn breathed his last in this world. They quietly spoke to each other about this, using it as a way of remembering their mate, and of reassuring themselves that they had done everything tradition demanded for this precious time of death-dealing.
Zed was reassured by Zella’s respectful demeanour, knowing that he had dealt the death-blow in the correct manner and at the right moment, so that Zarn would know nothing of it. He knew that Zarn would now be finding his way to the gods, still full of enough vigour to serve them in whichever capacity they chose, and this comforted the two remaining mates. They knew that it wouldn’t be long before it was their time to join with him, and they looked forward to that time with peacefulness.
As the pyre burnt down, all that was left was ashes. Zed and Zella waited patiently and, as soon as the ashes were cool enough to handle, they were gathered into the box waiting nearby. Then, with solemn steps, they made their way down from the headlands, until they reached a promontory that led out to sea. With all the solemnity it deserved, they continued the funereal tradition, by taking it in turns to scatter the ashes of their mate into the sea.
Just as the last handful was spread, they looked eastwards, and saw that the sun was about to rise once more. They had timed it perfectly. They looked at each other in the growing light of the hot, white sun, and the nictating membranes that served to protect their eyes in this bright world automatically slid over their eyes. With a last look out over the sea, they turned, and stepped slowly back up the promontory, using their powerful legs to push upwards to the headlands again. Zella carried the emptied box in her central arms, using the front set to pull herself over the rim of the cliff, and then walked back to the site of the pyre, where she placed the box for the next cremation.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Developing a story - wow, it's hard!

With the creative writing course, we have been guided slowly, but surely, into developing the skills needed to create a believable scenario. It's something I've taken for granted all my life, and didn't realise just what skill is required to make anything you write,

1) hold the interest of the reader and,
2) draw the reader in so that it is as real to them as their own life.

Of course, this also depends on exactly which genre you decide upon, as fantasy and sci-fi, while extremely popular, especially by me, is also reasonably obviously not real. I guess the trick of drawing in your reader depends on your skill as a writer and, while I'm sort-of getting there, this course has made me realise my many shortcomings as well as my few strengths.

I've been busy catching up with the activities we are supposed to be doing, and the one I completed this morning, Activity 10.8, was a peice that is supposed to help us practice towards the second TMA, or tutor-marked assignment, that is due in on the 5th January. This activity was a 1,000 word story which, as well as using repetition, should also show some, or all, of these technical elements:

A dramatic present
A dramatic action
Habitual time
Starting in medias res (in the middle of the story)

I went slightly over the word limit, even after copious editing, which is one of my weaknesses, alas, but I didn't want to cut any more for fear of losing the flavour of the peace. I'm still not sure if I've covered the brief given, but I thoroughly enjoyed writing the story, and so decided that I'd put it here for you to read - and you can decide yourself if it's any good!


Jenny dabbed at the sweat trickling slowly down her neck, trying to keep her movements unnoticed. Her heartbeat was uneven with the fear she felt, and tiredness had settled heavily in her bones. She puffed up at her fringe, but there was no relief from the heat and closeness of the room. She moved her head carefully, trying to check up on the children sprawled in uneasy sleep all about her on the hard-packed, earthen floor, and she tried to spot the third man, who she knew was somewhere behind her. She could feel his eyes boring into her back.
Be strong!
It amazed her that she was in this position. After all, it was only last week that she had landed in Malaysia, and this morning that she had started her job as infant teacher to the charity-run school. Then all hell broke loose, and she ended up with three lunatics holding them all hostage. She only wished that her aide and translator, Sahrizan, had been in the room with her when they came – at least then she’d have some idea as to why it was happening. She took a slow, deep breathe, trying to get some air into her lungs.
The heat and humidity had been a big shock to her on her arrival, especially as this was January, and she still hadn’t quite adjusted to air that felt as if she were swallowing it down like water, rather than breathing it in as she had the clean, crisp air of her welsh mountain home. She missed home terribly at this moment, remembering the Christmas just gone, and she struggled to contain the tears that sprang to her eyes. She couldn’t afford to show a moment’s weakness to these men. She knew that if she did, any advantages she might find would be gone and, if she were to keep the children safe, then she needed to be strong.
The clock on the wall ticked away the dreary hours, and she waited, sweat sticking her shirt to her back. The children all gradually woke up from their heat-induced sleep, and they slowly crept around her on the floor, getting as close to her as they could, and as far away as possible from the men carrying guns. It had turned four o’clock before there was any change in the stillness of the room, and it was disturbed when someone knocked on the door, and spoke loudly in the local Malaysian dialect that Jenny was having such difficulties in understanding. Jenny’s heart beat faster in fear of what was to come but, as one of the men opened the door, she was relieved to see her aide, carrying two gallon containers of what she hoped was water into the room.
The children still sat unnaturally still, the presence of the gunmen keeping them silent. Jenny looked at Sahrizan, trying to catch his eye, but he looked behind her, at the unseen man, ‘Selamat tengah hari,’ he said to the gunman, and Jenny knew this was just a ‘good afternoon’ greeting. There was a second’s silence, then the man behind her spoke.

‘You may speak in English, Sahrizan, so that the new teacher will know what it is we do here’.
Jenny’s head span around as far as it could with her awkward position on the floor, and she stared in amazement at the man sat casually behind her on the seat provided for her in the classroom.
She saw immediately that he wasn’t armed as she had assumed, and realised that he must be British by his accent, which held the slightly rough cadence of the south Londoner.

‘What in God’s name is going on,’ she burst out, a flush of anger burning through her body. She quickly struggled up to her feet, and stood, legs braced, and hands balled into fists on her hips.
‘Who the hell are you, and why have we been held here like this for most of the day?’
Her breath came in gasps, as anger drove her to breathe more deeply of the humid air. The man just sat there staring intently at her then, to her shock, he suddenly burst into laughter, peal upon peal bursting from him as if he had been told the funniest joke ever.
Jenny’s face flushed with anger, and her temper snapped. With a cry, she lunged forward, swinging her arm towards her tormentor’s face but, quick as she was, he caught it before her hand could connect with his face. In an instant, he was up, and had Jenny in a hold that, no matter how she struggled, she couldn’t loosen, and it was this helplessness that sobered her, changing anger to fear. She stopped struggling, and the man’s voice came calmly from behind her.

‘That’s good, Miss Evans. Losing your temper doesn’t help, and could only bring trouble to yourself and the children. Now, I’m going to release you, so could you please be still, and you’ll get the explanation you deserve to have?’
Jenny stood stock still for an instant, then her body relaxed a little, and she nodded her agreement. His hand left her face and she felt able to breathe again. She was slowly released, and was turned to face him once more. He stared at her, then nodded, and indicated for her to sit in the chair he had left.

‘I’m sorry you were involved with this, Miss Evans, but it couldn’t be avoided, as the exercise had been organised long before we knew you were coming and, yes, it was just an exercise. I work for a security firm that works out safety measures. Measures that people can put into action, in order to stay safe from terrorists and the like. I’m afraid you got involved because, although you were new here, our plans couldn’t be changed’
Jenny looked around her at the children scrambling happily around Sahrizan, grabbing for the little cups full of water he was handing out, and realised just how idiotic she felt. Taking another deep breath of the humid air, she gave the man in front of her a wry smile, and then held out her hand.

‘Well, you know who I am – don’t you think I deserve to know who has been holding me captive all day?’

(1,053 words)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thinking on new year resolutions

As I don't celebrate christmas, it's given me a lot of time to get on with my course work - although I'm a little bit behind due to health problems, alas!
But what it's also made me do, is think of the new year, and what I want to happen then.

I learned long ago not to make resolutions - I always fail at them, and it just makes me feel bad, so I just stopped beating myself up about it - probably at the same time I stopped 'doing' christmas itself!

So, what do I want to happen?

Well, I've got my second TMA due on 5th January, so I'm hoping that the effort I'm putting into it will pay dividends, as it's worth 30% of the total course markings!

I'm already working on it, along with trying to catch up with the course work, and I'm fairly pleased with the idea I've come up with, so I'm hoping that, with some tweaking and editing beforehand, it'll do for my tutor!
I realised today that I haven't put much of all the stuff I'm working on up on the blog - but it's all quite bitty so far, and I don't like putting partially done stuff up for perusal, so I've decided to wait until our next block, which is poetry, to put up any work I might have done.

It helps that poetry is the one thing consistent in my life. I've always jotted down impressions, and feelings onto paper or, nowadays, directly onto the computer.

I've found that this is a great way to focus on any problems that have occured in my life, and the sheer concentration needed to create something out of the chaos of emotion, is a great way to sort out a solution to whatever problems have occured in my life.

I am really looking forward to this next block! Lol

Hope you all have a relaxing time over the holidays!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Are We Having Fun Yet?

The biggest surprise to me so far, with this course I'm doing, is how much sheer fun it can be!

What could have been sheer hard work - or even thought of as torture - has become an event that I look forward to on a daily basis, and is, in fact, a reason for me to get up early to concentrate on. It's also a great distraction from my various woes both physically, and mentally!

At this moment, we are concentrating on 'showing' and 'telling', learning the technique that should give our narrative voice it's power to draw the reader into our world - and keeping them there - and all by the sheer delights of our ability to show our characters in all their glory, or to tell of their situations without becoming a bore about it. A tricky one, this!

Despite the fact that I've been writing all my life, I was almost unaware of the technicalities of writing. Most of the things we are learning, I have been doing almost instinctively - albeit, not very well - but there is a big chunk of technicalities that I was practically unaware of, so this course is definitely teaching me a thing or two, or three . . . Lol

Right at this moment, I'm trying to absorb a section called Dialogue and Stories - we are supposed to write something with dialogue, and 'show' what's happening, leaving out the 'telling' altogether - not an easy task, and I have to confess to struggling with it a little (hence, the distraction of catching up with my blogging! Lol). But I will do my best, as we have an eTMA looming, due in for 5th January, 2009 - at the latest!

That's ages away, I hear you cry! Well, it may seem so now, but I've got to produce a 2,200-word story, using all the techniques we've learned so far, and it's not as easy as I'd thought it would be. To be fair, I've got the nugget of the story already written down, but am having great difficulty deciding on a narrative point-of-view. I've written it in first-person limited omniscience, but I'm not sure whether it's working as well as I'd hoped - which means I'm going to have to experiment with various other viewpoints, to see which one will work best!

A writer's work is never done! Lol

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I am sooo tardy it's ridiculous!

I can't believe how long it's been since I posted on here!

So much has happened since the last time, that I'm almost lost for words - well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration?

Since my last post, I've done six weeks of my course, and passed my first eTMA with a comfortable 67% - not as good a pass as I'd hoped for but, unfortunately, with a creative writing course it's all a bit subjective as to whether your tutor will really love the way you write or not.

My study-buddy group have discussed this, and we've decided that it's purely the luck of the draw as to whether each of our tutor's will love our style of writing or not - a little unfair maybe? Well, I guess there's all the technical stuff that we're learning to take into consideraion as well - let's be fair, you can write the best story or poem in the world but, if it's full of spelling mistakes, and the syntax and grammer are appalling, then you are bound to lose points!

As well as coping with all the various activities we've been set, and trying to remember to write in my notebook whenever I think of something, I have also made an epic journey (for me, anyway!) across country from the coast of west Wales, to Norfolk in East Anglia, in order to visit my family for the first time since I left there 24 years ago!

The visit was both emotionally and physically exhausting for me, but I'm so very glad I went - taking my daughter with me, who hadn't met most of her relatives since she was five! I spent an awful lot of time crying, but they were catharctic tears, and I'm all the better for them - and I was so happy to see Mum & Dad again.

I was so saddened that I hadn't managed to get there in time to say my goodbyes to my sister Caron, who died of cancer just a couple of weeks before I made it, but I visited her grave, and said a prayer for her, and was glad that she was out of her pain at last.

The unfortunate side-effect of my visit, was that it has taken me a couple of weeks to recover from it all physically. I didn't realise what a strain it had all been on me, until I colapsed when I got home. That's the trouble with having so many things wrong with me - there are times they all gang up on me and tell me 'enough!'

But I'm almost back to what I call normal for me - still mostly bed-bound, but at least I'm able to think again, and I have just managed to catch up on my course work again - I absolutely hated being behind! Lol

At the moment we are learning how to develop characters and settings, and I'm having a lot of fun developing my own 'voice' in my writing - it's become a real adventure for me, and great fun to discover just what my mind will dream up when I give it a scenario, or ask it a question.

This was my last activity from yesterday:

I was instructed to invent a character, and place him, or her, into a place of historic interest, or with an atmosphere, then I had to write 250 words in which my character feels ill and worries about the symptoms - this is what I came up with:

Feeling Unwell

Sarah stood silently while the guide expounded on the history of Grimes Graves. She wasn’t really listening, as she’d started to feel strange the moment she had reached the cramped floor of the pit thirty feet beneath the surface. The dimness of the place was oppressive to her, and she felt that, almost within range of hearing, there was the faint, echoing, tap-tap of antlers on stone coming out of the grated openings of the shafts.

It amazed her that anyone could have fitted into those small openings, and that brought it home to her how much humanity had physically grown in the thousands of years since these men had come in search of flint for tools.
Sarah felt a little giddy, and she leaned against the rough wall, hoping that the faint sickness she felt wasn’t anything serious. She started feeling hemmed in by the closeness of the people around her, and had a picture flash in her head of falling so ill she would need help back out of the pit.

She started to take slow, but deep, breaths, slowly in through the nose, and out of the mouth. The giddiness started to recede, and the roiling that had started up in her stomach settled quickly. Of course! It was a touch of agoraphobia - that hadn’t happened to her in years!

With the panic receding, Sarah tuned in once more to the story the guide was telling his rapt audience – thank heavens nobody had noticed her temporary affliction!

Friday, September 26, 2008

My first Activity

Well, it's the eve of the official start date for my A215 Creative Writing course, and I started the day off by reading the beginning of the course book, and starting the first few activities.
The first activity was to read an excerpt from a story, and the second was to do some Free-writing, using three or four phrases from a list, and writing whatever came into our minds for a few minutes each.
I've never done free-writing in my life before, but I set to as asked, and was surprised that things seemed to just flow into my head.
The idea behind free-writing, is that it sets the mind working, and so you capture all you can of your thoughts and, among all the probable dross, there may be a nugget or two of gold - or, more likely, a hint of copper! Lol
After we write what we can, we are then supposed to read through it all, and underline any words, or phrases tha take our fancy - in this way we then start to build up a stock of ideas that may be able to be used at some time in the future.

Here's what I came up with:

Activity 1.2:

The truth is . . .
I don’t know what I’m doing with this freewriting malarkey and hope it goes the way it’s supposed to – I never let myself go the way I should, I guess, that comes of liking to be fully in control, and this freewriting thing lets go of it! I’ll just have to try and practice it more – maybe do a bit each day – yes! Even if it’s only for a few minutes each day it won’t hurt! I hate it when my mind goes blank as it seems to a lot lately, especially after I’ve taken my medication – I hate having to take it! But I know the consequences of leaving it too long – it’s a bummer!!

I wish I had said . . .
Sorry the last time I saw her – it would only have taken a tiny effort, but I let stubborn pride stand in my way, and now it’s too late! Guilt is such an awful thing to keep feeling, and I guess it’s something I’m going to have to resolve sooner or later . . .

A long time ago . . .
I did things that made sense to me, only to see later on that if I’d done them just slightly different, the changes in my life would have been even better – but I guess that’s the thing with looking back – it always has 20:20 vision, whereas, when you’re looking forward, it’s as if you are suddenly blind, and have to grope your way into an unseen future – dangerous, but exciting in a way!

One summer’s day . . .
That’s a laugh really! When do we get summer days any more?! When I think back to the summers of my childhood, they all seem to be filled with weeks of sunshine! But then I guess we look back at our youth through rose-coloured glasses – it’s nice to remember the good days – but the rainy days, unless something particularly memorable happens, are a blur that eventually fades away from the mind.

Now, I haven't a clue as to whether I did well or not for my first attempt, but I guess the idea is to free up the imagination - I see I've still got a few shackles to loosen before I can truly say that my imagination has taken flight!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Glad News - Sad news

My daughter has finally moved to Bristol and, despite a setback where her living accomodation is concerned, is easily settling into her new life, and can't wait to start the new course!

As a counterpoint to this, I heard from my mum yesterday that one of my sisters is dying of cancer, with only a few weeks to live!
To say it was a shock is an understatement, and I'm still reeling from the blow, despite the fact that I haven't seen or spoken to her for 24 years (and that's another story!).

I had been looking at the A215 open forum just before the phone call giving me this news, and the students were having fun writing a poem summing up their day and, once I'd dried my tears and put the phone down, this brief poem came into my head. It's not a great poem, but it perfectly describes how I felt at the moment of being told the news:

Had bad news about my sister,
haven't seen her for years -
to be honest, not missed her.
But told by my mother
she has 4 weeks to live -
the guilt of it all
makes it harder to grieve.

I posted it, and felt an immediate guilt at doing so, which I guess is part and parcel of all the baggage we carry around involving our relationships with family and friends, but I decided that, as this was part of myself, an emotional reaction, then it was better to get it out, and ponder over my reactions, than to let it fester.

We are all such a bundle of contradictions and angst, aren't we? (wry grin).

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I'm Looking Forward To . . .


It's really just dawning on me what I'll be doing when my new course starts.
I was fortunate to have a friend email me the details of my TMA and ECA questions for it.

Not that this is really much help without the course books to guide me - but it at least has given me a glimpse - and I'm excited at the scope of the work we will be tackling!

My daughter, who will be doing the same course, has already started to fill her note books with ideas and poetry, and anything else that comes to mind.
She has had a lot of inspiration lately, as she's about to move from sleepy west Wales, to that vibrant city of Bristol!

I am so going to miss her, so the fact that we'll be study-buddies during the course is great, as it gives us even more excuse to keep in touch than we already have - it's going to be a blast, I can see!

We have another study-buddy joining us as well - a good friend I met through the O.U. forums, so we'll be able to bat ideas off of each other and, hopefully, be even more inspired!

Roll on September, that's all I can say! Lol.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Almost A Month On . . .

This photo was taken on the 3rd, and shows that Kushka has already become comfortable with her new home. There was no hesitation at all when she first started to explore her surroundings - and this hasn't changed a jot since!

This photo was taken on the 15th, and really shows how bright-eyed and full of energy Kushka can be.

This photo was taken on the 23rd, just a few weeks after Kushka came to our home - and what a difference she has made to it!
Kushka is a bundle of fur and energy, and doesn't stop moving all the time she's awake (and, luckily, she does have frequent snoozy breaks! Lol)
It has been fascinating watching her develop and become such an adventurous puss, and she doesn't seem to have even one nervous bone in her body, which we were so pleased about. I've been taking weekly photos of her, to try and map her development, both physically, and otherwise, and it has been the hardest thing I've done, to restrain myself to those photo sessions, otherwise my computer would already be full of nothing but photos of Kushka!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I know - I digress, again!

I was introduced to a new member of the family yesterday.

Her name is Kushka Mistyeyes (Squeak for short!), and she is exactly 9 weeks old today!

I had a phone call from a very good friend, Marion, who rescues dogs, but also ends up with any other animal that is abandoned or about to be put to sleep for no obvious reason, and she told me that she had an abandoned female kitten to find a home for.

Well, as I had lost my darling Tomkins, I couldn't resist so, yesterday, Marion turned up with said kitty - and, once again, I fell in love!

Kushka is a silver tabby, and has already managed to wrap my hubbie's heart around her tiny, but very sharp, claws!
I'm not sure how she will affect my studying but, as my next course doesn't start until september, and it is a creative writing course anyway, I guess she will be a good influence, and a great inspiration for any writing that needs to be done!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I was talking to a friend last night and, as we spoke about the things we hoped for, I came to the realisation of how profoundly grateful I was for being given the opportunity to learn.
Education is something we tend to take for granted in this country so, to be given the opportunity to have even more of it, and at the ripe old age of 46, is amazing really!
When you consider the chances we have to educate ourselves beyond the 'norm', it is truly gratifying to know that we have so many choices.
Through unfortunate circumstances, I have become disabled but, rather than this being the end of my life as a fully functioning part of society, I've actually been given a chance to continue with an education that I dropped out of when I left college, something I left before completing what I started.
And now I sit here in front of my computer screen, and I look forward immensly to the start of my new course in September - a course that will, hopefully, make me a better writer, so that I can go on to complete the many projects that I started, but got nowhere with, as I didn't know how to go on with them to a conclusion that would, maybe, leave some of my work in print.
I have had some of my poems published in poetry anthologies, but it is my story writing that I really hope to develop with the Creative Writing course I'm booked up for. I have a couple of projects that I've been playing with for years, so I'm hoping that the course will either lead me on to develop the projects in full, or help me recognise that they are non-starters - and to be analytical enough about my work to be able to go on from that point.

One of my favourite poems, was one I wrote about a much-loved cat who owned me body & soul:


Wreathing 'round in sinuous beauty,
Face raised up into the sky,
Cry of hunger, eyes beseeching,
Hunger bringing her nearby.

Ginger fur, with white paws gleaming,
Stretching up in begging cry,
Sharp claws suddenly extending,
Digging in her master's thigh.

Hunger finally abated,
Sje sits and starts to clean her fur,
Purring like a throbbing engine,
Satifaction in every surve.

Silently, she moves like mist
Out into the deepening night,
Eyes like glittering emeralds gleaming,
Night-time prey in her sight.

© Katy Board

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

An Aside

Isn't it strange how much we invest emotionally in our pets? Even those we don't have for long seem to find a way into our hearts.
I've just been told that my darling puss, Tomkin, is dead - killed, like so many in this area, on the road.
I'd only had Tomkin for 6 months but in that time he had managed to finagle himself into my heart, and we had spent many an hour in perfect accord, with Tomkin sitting in my arms, purring away, and soothing me while in the depths of pain.
He always knew when I was really bad and, like any good friend, would come to me and offer his not-so-silent support, his purrs an indicator to the amount of pain I was in.
I got Tomkin through a good friend of my daughter, and he was already 6 months old when he came to my home. Unfortunately, he had a feral mother, and took after her in hunting for much of his food so that, by the time he came to me, he was fairly set in his ways.
I think it was only the fact that the weather was so bad over the winter, that he had stayed in as long as he did but, at the first hint of Spring in the air, he was raring to go outside and discover what was about, and ready to be hunted.
It was this urge, unfortunately, that was the end of him.
Rest in Peace my dear catrade!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A bit Late In The Day!

I've been very lax this month with my blogging - in fact, I've managed to do zilch!

Considering I'm fully booked up to start the Creative Writing course in late September, I should be ashamed of myself - the sooner I get into the habit of writing something creative each day, the better! lol

I had a feeling of satisfaction last week when I sent off my course registration papers - I'm now fully registered for the course, so I'm going to have to start going on to the Open Learn site, where a few chapters of the BRB (Big Red Book - or the course book to non-A215ers),are situated, and where I can make a head start in my writing - I'm hoping it'll give me a boost to start the old creative juices flowing again!

On a totally different tack, I'm actually going to my monthly jaunt to the cinema again tommorrow. Myself, my daughter, and our friend are going to see Nim's Island, something we've all been looking forward to seeing - I really hope that it's as good as the trailers have made us believe it to be - I'll let you know once we've seen it!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

In The Post!

Well, the forms for my A215: Creative Writing course, that starts in September, came and I managed to fill them in ,and get them on their way, all on the same day - I'm not really eager for the start of the course - much!
I've now got to the stage where I'm still not quite well enough to take on a course, but am starting to go stir-crazy! It doesn't help that I missed out on doing a Script-Frenzy, by the Nanowrimo people - I only became aware that it was going on when I lurked in the A215 and A363 course forums recently at the O.U., and read that half the students there were doing it.
I had known it was coming up but, with being ill, I hadn't realised that it was so soon, and so missed out! Ah well, there's always next year!
Talking of next year, I've already decided that I'm either going to do the A363: Advanced Creative Writing course, or I might go mad and risk doing the very first U300: Children's Literature course, which starts October 2009 - I guess it'll depend how I get on with A215 as, if I do well, it'll probably be better for me to continue on with the same thing, rather than take a break from my writing. There's also the fact that the very first year of any course normally is the one to iron out any problems that may arise - it'll probably be better to wait for the second intake, so there will, hopefully, be a smoother ride for the U300 course!
I'm also looking forward to doing A215 as my daughter will be joining me, along with a fellow student who's already my study-buddy, so we'll already have a mini-support group started - it should be fun, and we'll all hopefully be able to bounce ideas off each other. It will also be a balm, as my daughter is due to be moving from here in Wales over to Bristol, where most of her friends now live, at around about august time, so our contact via the O.U., and the course, will be all the more precious to me.
I guess that's the problem when you only have one chick - it makes it harder to see her move so far away, especially as I've been spoilt with being able to meet up a couple of times a week with her living nearby - but she's going to be having a lot more fun in Bristol, with many more opportunities for work and play than hereabouts, so I'm all for her making the move for her own sake!
Note to self: Listen to your own words of advice to said daughter, and realise that the phone, internet, and rail travel means distance is no object nowadays!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A slight feeling of renewal!

It's not much but, despite my depression at how things have turned out, when I got an email from the O.U. telling me that the forms will be coming soon for me to confirm my place in the A215 course, a feeling of hope sprang forth in me.
A conversation with my daughter the other day, where she was talking about joining me on the course, made me feel that, at last, there was light at the end of the tunnel - and then I had a couple of lovely comments from a fellow writer, and it made me feel that - yes - I will be able to do the course in October!
So this set-back I've had is just that - a minor set-back, that can be pushed aside, and left to a part of the experience of being disabled, but with a determination to reach that goal of a BA!
I've just got to get myself a bit better health-wise before I start - and do what I've been advised to do - get writing!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Giving Up!

Well, for the first time since starting the OU, I've had to phone up and cancel a course once I've started it!

It took me a lot of heart-searching before I came to the conclusion that I wasn't giving the course the attention it needed, and deserved, and so I had to do the only thing that was right - both for my own health and peace of mind, and for the sake of the other OU students who were not getting the cooperation necessary from me, as part of a tutor group.

I have to confess that it's made me very depressed that I couldn't cope with this one, as I had been so looking forward to working on a couple of Shakespeare plays but, by the time the course had started, my health had taken a turn for the bad, and I couldn't make head 'nor tails of the work I needed to do - which is one of the problems with having Fibromyalgia, as it causes memory problems, let alone the constant pain, and lack of mobility. Grrrrrrrr

I'm really hoping that the weather improves soon, as it will then give me some relief from the pain - and I'm praying that I'll be improved enough by October to start the Creative Writing course I've been hoping to do - ah well, it looks like I've got to learn a lot more patience!

Monday, February 11, 2008

7 Days On!

It's been a week since I started my new course, and it has been nothing but a disaster, quite frankly!
I was so looking forward to doing this course, but haven't had a pain-free day since it started - which, of course, means taking my full spectrum of pain relief, which then makes me so muzzy-headed, I can't absorb anything I read! Grrrrrrr
I've been soldiering on all week, desperately trying to absorb anything, but I sat here in tears this morning, having wasted a couple of hours reading what may as well have been pure gibberish!
I finally gave in this afternoon, and sent an email to my new tutor, explaining the situation to him - I'm just hoping he has some suggestions for helping me to continue on in the course. :~((
I know this course was an indulgence, rather than something necessary for my degree, but I feel so stupid that I can't absorb anything, when Shakespeare has always been one of my favourite authors - I guess it's a case of wait and see, as to how I proceed from here?

Monday, January 28, 2008

7 days to go, and counting . . .

This time next week my course officially starts!
I decided that I would have a look at it all today, to get a head start in case of bad health days - and I'm glad I did, as I think I'm going to need that extra time (gulp!)
For all that I've always loved Shakespeare, I find that I've always 'got the gist' of what was going on, rather than fully understanding it all and, on watching The Taming of the Shrew today, I've realised just how much work I'm going to have to put in just to keep up.
I don't mind the hard work, but I'm hoping that I haven't bitten off more than I can chew as, on the evidence of my work on plays with A210, this isn't my strong point (there's another bit of British understatement!) lol
But I'm going to gird my loins (see, I'm getting into the spirit of the language already!), and do my best, as that is all I can do!
On the pet front, we haven't had a good week this week - not through any fault of Tomkins, or our own, but through the vets neglect!
On the day we picked Tomkins up from his previous slaves, I took him straight to the vets for a general check-up, de-fleaing,de-worming, and castrating. The castrating was obvious, and we had no sign of fleas but, this week, all the signs of worms came to the fore, and I am not amused!
When you ask your vet to de-worm your pet, and they charge you for it, then you expect the job to have been done thoroughly but, unfortunately, it looks like they only did a partial wormer, as poor Tomkins had them coming out both ends this last week - it took me going to a more local vets, and picking up a Drontal tablet, to clear our poor little lad of worms!
As Tomkins hasn't been outside the door since the day he got here, we can only assume that the wormer the vets used wasn't for all worms, and this has annoyed me royally, as I wouldn't have asked for a partial wormer, and had assumed that they would have been more thorough - especially as we live in a heavily livestocked area, where worms would definitely not be a welcome visitor!
To make things even worse, when I phoned the vets to check that they had actually given Tomkins a wormer, when I asked how he could have got them, if they had given him the wormer,the woman I spoke to said 'well, it's a mystery, isn't it' - very professional - not!
Fortunately, the tablet I gave him seems to be working OK, and he is much more lively today, with no signs of the infestation but, from now on, if he needs anything like this, I'm going to do it myself, so at least I know it's done properly!
BTW, I had my stiches removed last week, and my hand is slowly, but surely, healing nicely. It's still a bit swollen, and the area where the stitches gaped is still not quite healed up, but I'm very pleased with the progress it's making. I need to build up the strength in my right hand again now, as it's as weak as anything, but I've got good hopes of it getting almost as good as new fairly soon.
Talk again soon . . .

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Nearly there!

Well, another couple of days, and I can have my stitches removed - and you don't know how glad I'll be when they are!
A couple of days after the op, I had to have my dressing changed for the first time, and it was discovered that my wound had gaped slightly, so I had the underlying muscle pushing through the area.
A butterfly stitch was applied, in the hopes that it would heal OK but, on the next change, it was slightly more bulged, so the nurse applied some silver nitrate to the open area, and it has started to heal up nicely at last!
In the meantime, my hand is itching like mad, which is good, in that it shows that the healing process is going strong, but which is also driving me nuts, as the area is too tender to scratch - I do hope the removal of the stitches eases the itch a little! lol
As far as my studies are concerned, the online access for my Shakespeare course becomes live on the 22nd, so I am very much looking forward to discovering my fellow students, and what is expected of us in this course.
Strangely enough, although I've had my course books for the last week (amazingly, the comb-bound stuff came at the same time as the ordinary course books!), I haven't once been tempted to open them yet - definitely not like me - but I guess pain brought on by my various complaints, that are reacting to this atrocious weather, and an itching hand from the op., have been distracting me somewhat!
I'll, hopefully, get swiftly back into study mode once the course site opens in a couple of days, and it'll be all systems go for studying the Bard!
Talk to you again soon!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Pressing That key again!

Here's the latest picture of my bundle of trouble, Tomkins - I titled it: 'What Happens if I Pull This?'

I have to confess to being guilty of pressing that key again!

I couldn't resist it any longer, and pressed the key that would reserve a place for me in October's A215 course! lol

I know I've got my Shakespeare short course starting in Feb., but I know how popular the Creative Writing course is, and was afraid it'd get booked up early, so I did the deed, and now i'm just waiting for the forms etc., so I can pay for it.

On the medical front, I had the operation for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome on my right hand on monday - and, once again, I did it under a local anasthetic. The surgical staff were brilliant and, as with my left hand, it took a total of ten minutes for the actual op!

I was fortunate to be seen when I was but, as a lot of wards were closed because of this awful bug going around, it left the theater free for minor ops, and so I was phoned on friday, and asked to come in on monday.

I was also fortunate that my dutch friend, and fellow sister in the truth, Mirjam, happened to be here when the call came, and she offered to take me up there, so I was able to say 'yes' straight away.

So, I am sitting here, typing this blog left-handed (thank heavens it's not handwriting, otherwise you'd never be able to read it!). It's taking me a lot longer to do, but I'm determined to keep on! (grin)
Talk to you again soon!