Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nearing the cut-off date!

I've been so busy with my course work, and other studies, this last few weeks, there haven't been enough hours in the day to come on to my blog, let alone write anything in it! :)

I've been unable to sleep tonight, so I thought I'd come along here, and catch you up with what's happening with my studies - obviously quite a lot, of course! Lol

I've been nose-to-the-grindstone with this next TMA work, busily writing the script of my TMA 01 story, and editing, editing, editing!
I've been amazed at how much my story has had to change, so that I can transcribe it into a radio script, and having to change a very visual prose into an oral peice has been very difficult at times. I managed to do it, though, after a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Lol

The blood, by the way, was where I cut my finger on some paper - don't laugh, that really hurts, you know! {g}
The sweat was caused by wrestling with my story, and trying to keep the core of it as true as I could, while changing so much at the same time. :(
The tears were when I couldn't see a way forward - luckily I managed in the end!

So I'm now at the point where I've got a - rough - draft of my TMA 02, and I've even managed some commentary and references as well! Lol

Now all I have to do, is get a willing ear (my daughter is visiting, so guess who I've selected. Lol), and I'll read it all, timing as I go, to make sure I've written the fifteen minutes of radio script I've been asked to do. 
I just hope, and pray, that I've witten enough because, if I have to find any more, I feel my creativity will be sadly lacking at this stage :/

Anyhoo, I've got until the 8th January to fine-tune this minor miracle, and then all I can do is keep everything crossed that I've done enough, and well enough, to pass this next TMA! :)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Oh dear! I didn't realise just how much I was neglecting my blog recently!

In my defence, I've been up to my eyes in learning about scriptwriting, plus still haven't got over the utter exhaustion left over from the swine flu thing!

But, first of all, I must tell you - I got a whopping 80% for my TMA!
I was utterly gobsmacked by it, and would have jumped about madly, if I'd physically been able to {g}
Considering that I wrote it while delirious with swine flu, I was expecting a bare pass, if possible, so to get this sort of result is utterly brilliant!! Maybe I should get ill for every TMA? Lol

Secondly. I'm really, really enjoying the scriptwriting!
I was quite daunted by the whole thing when I first looked at the course book, but I seem to have taken to it like a duck to water, and am loving the activities we're asked to do in practice of it all.
I've actually been writing scripts that have nothing officially to do with the activities - just for the sheer joy of writing them - am I sad, or what? Lol

I've always loved writing, but I've found an extra germ of creativity with the scriptwriting - maybe it's just that this is such a new form for me, but I'm truly excited at what I'm learning - and hope this keeps on for the rest of the course!

Hope you all have as much enjoyment in whatever you choose to do, creatively!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Hello from the stranger!

I blush with embarrassment as to how long it's been since I last posted!

My only excuse, is that I have, firstly, been too busy getting into the start of my course and, secondly, am just getting over a strain of the swine flu currently swathing itself through the rank and file of my family and friends :(

Apart from the health aspects, which have affected already ongoing health problems, I also had to deal with writing my first TMA of the course, which came at least two weeks earlier from the start of the course than any first TMA I've ever done. So there was a very short period of learning between the beginning of the course, and having to write it. But I managed it - which is a minor miracle in itself, believe me! :)

I'll know exactly how well I did within a few weeks, so I'm going to be very anxious about my results until then! I just hope my illness didn't affect my creative ability too much. I know the first TMA isn't as important as later ones, but it's still worth 15% of the overall course marks, so I'll just have to hope I did okay.:/

As for the course so far - well I've enjoyed the first two weeks enormously, as I was dealing with things familiar to me from my level 2 Creative Writing course. Unfortunately the third week is a blur, as that's when I was going through the worst of the flu symptoms - I'll have to go over that part of the course again once I've got a bit of time spare - and the week we are given to prepare and write our TMA was a mad rush of trying to get better, and writing what I hope will be at least a creditable attempt at a story!

What I am looking forward to - with a heavy dose of trepidation - is the next section, as this is where I learn, and attempt to write for myself, about script writing. I'm going to be learning how to change the story I've written for my first TMA into a script on this second part, and I beleive it's now we have to decide which type of script we're going to be pursuing throughout the course. With the story I've written, it's very probable that I'll be changing it into either a script for film or TV - I won't know really, until I learn more about the subject. But I'm looking forward to learning about it anyway!

I'll let you know how I got on when I get my TMA results - and I'll also be letting you know how the learning about script-writing comes along! :)


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Due to start on the 10th . . .

Well, everyone who wants to has introduced themselves in my tutorial group. There are a few familiar names from my previous course, which is great, and everyone else seems to be freindly, and willing to share who they are. :)

Our tutor seems very nice, and has already set us a few Ice-breakers, so that we can get to know each other and, presumably, she will have a sense of what we are capable of before the course starts.

I've just sent off my dummy TMA, so now it really feels as if I am actually starting! Lol

I've actually done the first week's activities - more to break myself back into study-mode really - but I don't want to get any more ahead of myself, and have stopped there until the course catches up with me, so-to-speak. Lol.

Just from the short Ice-breaker exercises, I can see that most of the group are going to be excellent writers, so I'm feeling a bit nervous that I'll be able to keep up with them, or even be in the same league as them, come to that! I guess I'll have to look on it as a spur to excell myself . . .

It's actually my 26th wedding anniversary today, although we're not celebrating it as such until saturday - which happens to be the start of the course! Yet another reason I'm glad I've got slightly ahead of myself. {g}
Mind you, I think that is one of the best advantages of this distance learning - if I need to, I can catch up with what's being posted at any time convenient to myself, so at least we can celebrate on saturday without me feeling guilty of neglecting the course! :)


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Promises, promises . . .

I had promised myself that I would start on the Big Blue Book (BBB), the course book for A363, which arrived last week but, as in all plans of mice and men, there seems to have been one thing after another stopping me this week!

Between illness and unexpected trips and visitors, I feel as if I've barely had a moment to think, let alone look in any depth at the book, but I'm determined to do better next week, as I feel I need to make a head start, just in case ill health puts me behind with the course which, if this last few weeks is an example, will probably happen.

I've managed a brief look-through and, from the small amount read, I really feel I'm going to enjoy this course, even if it is a giant step up from my usual studies so far. To prepare ahead of myself a little, I've already started an embryonic support group of friends and fellow-students who will be doing the same course, albeit in different tutor groups, and I think this will be of great help to all of us, especially as we're all feeling a little apprehensive over learning about script-writing for the first time.

But, whatever faces us once the course starts, I'm sure we'll be able to cope with anything thrown at us, with the support of each other!


Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Big Disappointment . . .

I guess you could call the following a warning - to any publishing virgins out there, be very careful how you go about having your work published . . .

When the postman knocked on my door this morning, and handed me a large envelope, I was fairly sure it contained the copies of the poetry anthology that my poem had been published in, so it was with great excitement that I opened it - to discover that's exactly what it held!

In a matter of moments, I'd looked through the index to find which page it was on, and then hurried to look at my pride and joy.

It was with horror, that I saw what was supposed to be my poem, and I sat there open-mouthed with shock at what I was reading. I could have cried, and couldn't believe that this had been done. I was on the phone within minutes to the publisher, to see what had happened.

Now, to explain all of this, I need to go back to when my final proof copy was sent to me. I had read, then, with horror, the hash that had been made of my poem, and had immediately tried to correct things before sending it back but, with very little space to do so, I found it impossible, as there were just too many things wrong for me to do it in the small space provided.
And so I decided that the only thing I could do, was to re-write the whole thing - the proof copy, and my poem, which I then did so.

I sent it all off assuming, in my printing innocence, that the proof reader would check this final proof against the one they had sent me.

And now, to my despair I saw that they, in fact, hadn't!

After speaking to a nice young lad at the main office, I was given the choice to send the copies back but, as I told him, it didn't stop the hundreds of copies already out there - and with my name attached!

I had resigned myself to returning the copies, powerless to change it all, and to the embarrassment of having this . . . thing with my name attached to it - and then, an hour or so later, I had a phone call from the managing director of the firm, who informed me that it was all my fault, as I hadn't sent a letter with the corrected copy telling of my changes - something that hadn't even occured to me was needed.

I acknowledged that I hadn't done this, as I had assumed that both the original copy they had sent me, and the final proof, would be checked against each other and, on saying this, was swiftly disabused of the idea, and told in no uncertain terms that they didn't do this, and it was all my fault, especially as I had sent a copy of the final proof, and not the original proof they had sent me which, as I told him, would have been impossisble after trying to fit every change in, and making an unreadable mess of it in the trying.

And so the conversation ended with an abrupt, 'Do you want to send the books back or not?', to which I replied a resounding 'Yes!' and then had the phone slammed down on me!

I sit here, totally baffled as to how a publishing firm doesn't even check it's final proofs against the originals. I acknowledge that my ignorance in how things are done contributed to this farce, but I'm also bl**dy angry at the way in which they dealt with both the issue, and with myself in my upset.

I will definitely not be using this firm again, and will be very wary as to how things are dealt with, if I ever have the chance of anything of mine being published again - not that I see it happening, especially with that abomination out there with my name on it!

I figured that I might as well show everyone the two different versions of my poem (which is a Villanelle, by the way). The one I had been proud to call my own, and the version it turned into - I leave it to you, the reader, to decide which one is best . . .

My Final Proof:

On The Trapeze

I fly up here, above the roaring crowd,
my thoughts so hard upon my high-strung deeds -
soaring; my heart lifts with my utter glee.

I never thought that I would be allowed
to do the one thing I would always need,
I fly up here, above the roaring crowd.

I paused aloft and then, with grace, I bowed
to crowds who came, and let me take the lead -
soaring; my heart lifts with my utter glee.

At first it was so high that I felt cowed,
as though I were a lost and floating reed -
I fly up here, above the roaring crowd.

I loved it so much, that I nearly howled,
and those who tried to stop me had to cede.
Soaring; my heart lifts with my utter glee.

So now I spend my life as I had vowed -
above the people, who I have to heed,
I fly up here, above the roaring crowd -
soaring; my heart lifts with my utter glee.

And their version:

On The Trapeze
I fly up here, above the roaring crowd,
my thoughts so high on my high-strung deeds -
My heart never lifts with my utter glee.
I never thought that I could be allowed,
to do something that I would always need -
I fly up here, above the roaring crowd.
I soar above, and then with grace I bow
To crowds who watch, as I take the lead -
My heart lifts with utter glee.
At first it was so high, that I felt cowed,
as though I were a lost, floating reed -
I fly up here above the roaring crowd.
I love it so much, and I am so proud
Of soaring on my high-flying steeds,
My heart lifts with utter glee.
And now I spend my life as I had vowed -
above the people who I must heed,
I fly up here above the roaring crowd -
my heart lifts with my utter glee.


Sunday, September 06, 2009

It's getting nearer . . .

Just a few days after the spiral-bound version of my course book arrived, another parcel was delivered with the usual copy of the book, so I now have 2 - one I can underline, write notes in, and generally make a mess of, if needs be, and the other I can keep as clean as I would wish. I find this really helpful, as I really hate to deface a book in any way, so I can make use of the spiral-bound copy as a true work-horse while appeasing my conscience that the 'true' copy stays pristine.

I don't know where this need to keep a book as perfect as possible began. It may have been when I was very young as, with a large household, and not much money, my mother treated our possessions as treasures hard to replace. Whatever did it, I find it desperately hard to mar a book, unless it's made expressly for that, of course! :)

It's becoming a lot more real to me now, that the course will be starting in less than a month, and I am desperately trying to get myself well enough to be able to concentrate on the work involved. It will help that I've already got a small support group together - fellow students that have been with me on other courses, and who are doing this one with me as well. We may live in separate parts of the country but, thanks to the Internet, we are barely a second apart, figuratively. I've been involved with groups like this on my other courses, and it helps tremendously to be able to show others my work, and for them to show me theirs, so we can comment, and suggest anything that may need changing. The fact that we're in different tutorials helps as well, as different tutors give a different view on the work we do, so there's always some new way of looking at things! :)

I've not done as much writing as I would like this break - I've been concentrating more on the refining of work already done - practicing all I learnt on my last course and, although there's a different slant going on with the new course, I'm hoping the revising will help with the new things I'll be learning. I am so looking forward to learning how to write scripts! This is something that interested me when at school but, unfortunately, life got in the way of me pursuing it, so this is a chance for me I never thought I'd have again.

I've also sent another poem off. I'm getting used to waiting for a response to them, and any critique is always useful! Lol


Saturday, August 29, 2009

And it's getting nearer . . .

There was a knock at the door just before lunch today and, when I answered it, I found a deliveryman at the door. He handed me a parcel from the O.U., and I immediately brought it into my office to open.

Inside, there was a spiral-bound copy of my new A363 course book!

I've given it a brief look through so far, and I am impressed with the quality of the work. I will be very happy to be starting this course soon, and am determined to give the book a quick read-through before the course start date. I could see already that there were words and phrases being used that I'm not very familiar with, so this is the ideal opportunity to go through it, taking note of things I need to look up, and then I'm sure the course work will go a lot more smoothly for me!

It looks like I need to resupply myself with various coloured stick-it notes, and some more notepads to use as a writer's journal, especially as I'm almost out of it all now!

I am really looking forward to October!

In the meantime, I've just sent off another poem for a United Press competition - this one being the Local Poem Competition 2010. I've written a poem called Mouth of the Aeron, about the town just a mile or so away from my village, so I just hope the judges like it!


Saturday, August 22, 2009

I've heard back from the sci-fi mag . . .

I received an email from Neo-opsis, the magazine I had sent my first grown-up sci-fi story to and, as I had mostly expected, they didn't want it.

The reasons, to my relief, weren't that it was absolutely awful but, as the very kind editor explained, she:

'got the feeling that the story wasn't over, that And There is a Right Way was only a small part of a much larger story, and [she] felt somewhat cheated with the way the story ended. Other publishers may not feel the same way. They will love the story just as it is written.'

So, along with the disappointment, there was also much encouragement to persevere with this!

What I'm going to have to do, is decide whether to contact the list of publishers she, very kindly, gave me, or whether to work more at the story, and maybe develop it more fully than it is, especially after she indicated that it felt only part of a larger whole . . .

I guess this is something I should sleep on, and decide after I see if I'm capable of developing it further.

I see that tommorrow will find me looking at the various publishers I was given, to see if my work is suitable 'as is' and, if not, a thorough examination of my work so far seems the next step.

Ah well, I never expected the life of a writer to be easy so, 'on, on,' as they say! Lol

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Well, it's definitely a start, anyway . . . Lol

I got an envelope from the O.U. in the post yesterday, and I was quite excited opening it up, as I hoped it would tell me something about my new course.
It actually contained all the transcripts I'm going to need for the CD's and the DVD that will be part of my new A363 course.

I receive these, as my hearing isn't brilliant, so I can't hear the CD's as clearly as I need to, and I'm more grateful to the O.U. than I can say for this facility. It actually means that I can really go over what is said, and pinpoint words or phrases that have a significance for me during my course work, and it makes life so very much more easy for me.

It's this sort of thing that makes studying with the O.U. so very good for me, and for many more students with problems both physically or otherwise. The Disabled Students Association does a lot of work behind the scenes, organising things for every disabled student that asks for their help and, although there can be a few problems with communication, and the occasional hickup where applying for this help is concerned, on the whole it does a sterling job for us, the students.

I know for a fact that there would be no way I could have continued on doing my courses towards a degree, if they hadn't provided things for me that help me with my study, like the laptop I'm currently writing on, or the software called 'Dragon' that enables me to write my essays when my hands are too painful to type, and it's this sort of thing that the O.U. are renowned for, and that make such a difference between success and failure for me. They truly do try to make the playing field as level as they can for us students with problems, giving the restrictions of finance, and they should be proud of the advances they have made towards helping to make as many disabled students as possible to have access to higher learning.

I have just completed the third of six courses necessary for my degree, and I wouldn't have got this far without the practical help they offered, and it means I can continue on towards the next goal - my very first Level 3 course - with the confidence of knowing that I am supported whenever I need it!


Friday, August 07, 2009

The results are in!

I went online this morning, and got an email from a fellow student and friend, telling me that she had her results.
As soon as I read this, I immediately signed on to the O.U. site and looked for my results.

I was over the moon when I found I had a Grade 2 pass! I got an overall score of 82 - just 3 points short of a distinction! Lol

This has really made me even more determined to continue on with the Advanced Creative Writing course now. I know it won't be the same as this previously taken course, but I am looking forward to learning about the mysteries of scriptwriting, 'though I have to confess to being a bit more nervous, since I heard that one of the students who did the course with me has decided that she'd rather not continue with the advanced course.
I'm just hoping that I find some like-minded friends among the many students who have signed on to do A363!


Sunday, August 02, 2009

40th Anniversary of the Open University

I was looking on the BBCi Player for something to watch, and I came across a programme celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Open University.

Lenny Henry was fronting it as he had been a student at the O.U., and I found it fascinating how the whole conception of a University education for all had been envisioned and made possible all those years ago, when I was just a child of 7 - there, that tells you my age, doesn't it? {grin}

I remember all those late night-early morning programmes, normally on some obscure, to me, scientific topic, that I ended up watching when my daughter was a baby, and teething, or ill and, although I didn't understand a lot of it, it still fascinated me. Then, later on, as TV became a lot more sophisticated, how I enjoyed the many programmes made in conjunction with the BBC, especially all the earth sciences ones. They brought a taste of the world into my back-of-the-beyond home, which started up that thirst for learning once more, although I chose Literature and Humanities, rather than Science.

This programme has also made me think of how easily it might have been stopped at a few points in it's early years - and I wondered just how many people's lives would have been so different if it hadn't been continued. I will be forever thankful for all those early pioneers, both in government, and the course writers and tutors, for all their work that ensured that the O.U. became a leader in home learning.

It makes me shudder a little, to think of how easily I might not have been able to continue my education. An education that had been halted due to financial necessity, as I was needed to bring home a wage packet at the time I wanted to go on with my learning. It amazes me that I hadn't really heard of the O.U. at that time, at least, I wasn't aware that it might be an option for me, otherwise I would definitely have become a student then. I guess the people responsible for advising me of my options, as conservative as they were, didn't think it necessary to mention this wonderful choice - I guess I'll never know why. But I am eternally grateful, to my daughter initially, and then my husband, for encouraging me to "go for it," as my daughter said!

Because of all those dedicated people, 40 years ago, I am now half-way through my degree and, even now, I'm desperately trying to think of ways that I can finance going for an MA once my BA is under my belt!

That's the problem with this O.U. lark - it's so impossibly addictive! {grin}

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I've got a date for publishing!

At last!

I received an email this morning, from the publisher of the anthology, 'Poetry By Moonlight', telling me that it will be released in September. I can't wait to receive my copy, and read my poem On The Trapeze.

Obviously, I can read the poem any time I choose, but to see it in a professionally bound anthology is going to be brilliant! Lol

Not only that, but the other poem of mine to be published, St David Was Born Here, is to be published in November, in the anthology, 'A Guiding Light'.

All it needs now, is for me to hear from the magazine publishers I sent my very first sci-fi story out to, to see if they have accepted it!

A girl can dream, can't she? {g}

In the email, United Press were telling me that they've got another poetry competition going:

There's a £100 first prize in the open competition, Fact and Fantasy. You can enter by post or email and make sure you put “Fact and Fantasy” at the top of your entry. Your poem can be on any subject you like but must be no more than 160 words or 20 lines, and you can't use “Fact and Fantasy” as the title. Send your entries now because this competition closes in September.

Also, there's a £1000 prize to the winner of their annual Local Poem competition. You must put “Local Poem” at the top of your entry and the theme must be someone or something local. For example, last year's winner was a poem about two cooling towers. The previous year's winner was a poem about a river, and three years ago, the winner was about village life.

You could write a poem about a famous person or even a member of your family, living or dead. You could write a poem about your local bus driver or your greengrocer. The same length limitations apply to this competition.

Here's the link to their website with all the rules and regs, etc:

Best of luck to everyone that puts something into it! Lol.

P.S. Only 10 more days before I find out my ECA results!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

And another poem is being published!

I opened my post yesterday, and one of the letters I had informed me that, although I hadn't won 1st prize in the poetry contest I'd entered, they did wish to publish my poem, St David Was Born Here, in a new anthology called 'A Guiding Light'.
I am well pleased about this, as the more work I have out there, the better chance I have of being seen one day, maybe!
We can all dream I suppose . . .
There's no money in it, but I don't care much at the moment - it's just lovely that I was considered good enough to publish, especially as this was a national competition, so there must have been tons of entries! I also get to keep the copyright of my poem, which I'm pleased about as, one day, I'd love to be able to gather all my poems together in an anthology solely for my own work - now that is a goal to aim for!

On the sci-fi story front - still no news. But I keep the axiom that no news is good news firmly in mind, and I'm hoping that the longer it takes, the more chance there is that my story will be accepted . . .

Only another 20 days to go before we get our ECA results! I'm really starting to get nervous with all the waiting. Mind you, all the other students I've spoken to are in exactly the same boat, and we all think it a kind of torture, to have to wait so long after submission for the results - and, yes, we all understand the sheer volume of stuff that needed to be marked, and marked fairly to boot - but it doesn't stop the knee-jerk reaction we all seem to have that we'll fail miserably for one reason or another. I don't suppose there's even one student out there who isn't looking at the work they've done, and haven't found something that they think is a glaringly bad mistake! Lol
But, whatever happens, I'm fairly sure the majority of us will pass, some with distinction, no doubt, although I'll never be able to place myself in that category - my poor old memory makes sure of that! Lol

In the meantime, we all wait, and hope, and desperately try to distract ourselves with whatever we can until D-Day arrives.

Whatever your marks out there, well done for completing your course!


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Soon D-Day will be looming!

I checked my studenthome today, and there was a notice that the results of my ECA will be available on Friday 7th August . . . I don't know whether to be excited or nervous with the wait right now, but I think the next 33 days are going to drag more than the last ones did!

It's a strange old time I'm living through at the moment - I've finished A215, but am nowhere near to starting A363 as yet. It's like being in Limbo, really, with the same feeling of time slowing down to a dragging pace. It doesn't help that I'm feeling so poorly at the moment, with all the rain and damp. I really want to be doing things at the moment but, as usual, my poor old body is letting me down.

One thing I am doing, is reading the book list for EA300: Children's literature. I know I won't be doing it until October 2010 but, as I had some of the books already, I decided to gradually gather them all, as I could afford them, and read them through now.
I'm in the middle of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott at the moment, something I read in my junior years and, I must say, I'm thoroughly enjoying the trip back to my younger years, with the emotions I remembered feeling when I first read the book overlaying the more analytical me of today. In fact, I'm enjoying Little Women so much, that I've just ordered the follow-ons from eBay. I never did read any further than Good Wives, so it'll be nice to know what happened next. Lol

It's amazing how my study with the O.U. has changed the way I look at, and read, books now. Even the ones I choose for recreation can't be read without the analysis I was taught to bring to my studies.
But I think it brings a deeper pleasure for me, to understand more the motivations of character and plot, and I love to speculate what brought the author of whatever my current reading may be, to the ideas behind each story - I always did love a mystery, and I have one with every book I pick up nowadays, especially all the so-called 'children's' books I'm now reading!

Anyway, my reading will, hopefully, fill in some of the time I have spare at the moment, until October comes. And I'm determined to read through some of the study ideas that are appropriate for A363, that the O.U. put up for anyone to sample - to wet my appetite for the new course ahead, if nothing else!

Friday, June 26, 2009

I heard from Iota . . .

but nothing earthshattering, I'm afraid. But they have accepted four of my poems for admittance to their poetry competition. I won't hear whether I've got anywhere until 2010, unfortunately, so I guess I'll have to learn a little patience :/

Still no word about my sci-fi story as yet, but I guess no news is good news - right?

I've been reading quite a few children's books recently. I know it's getting ahead of myself, but I'm planning on doing EA300: Children's Literature, in October, 2010, so I decided that, as I had some of the books already, I might as well gradually get the rest and read them ahead of time.
I received a lovely parcel from Amazon on monday, and it contained two of the books from the list:
Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry by M. Taylor - ISBN: 9780140366259
The Other Side of Truth by B. Naidoo - ISBN: 978014130476

With both books, I couldn't put them down from the first sentence to the last, and they both left me wanting more, so I shall be looking out for further books by two very talented writers!

With all the books, I plan on giving them a good read through, and then I'll read them again, marking out passages that I find significant, or moving etc., using post-its, as I'm anally retentive where writing in books is concerned - unless the book is created to be written in, of course! Lol
That way, I'm hoping that they will be reminers for me when I get to do all that studying for real next year and, with my memory nowadays, I'll need it!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Proofreading . . .

I got the proofs of my poem the other day and, after checking them and correcting some, rather glaring, mistakes, I have sent it back to the publishers.
So now I wait, with baited breath, for my copies of the poetry anthology to be delivered to me, which should be relatively shortly, according to the news on the website.

The anthology is called 'Poetry By Moonlight', and I'm looking forward to reading all the other poems that will be sharing the anthology with me.
My poem is a villanelle, which is quite difficult to write correctly, so I'm pleased as punch that it not only got me good marks for my TMA, but also was accepted for publishing.

I still haven't heard anything about the sci-fi story I wrote for a magazine, but I guess it's early days yet - I really hate waiting, but I guess it's something I'll have to be resigned to, if I want to keep on with the writing . . .

Hey, Ho, and on we go . . .

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Keeping Busy

I've been keeping myself busy this week, and I've sent off some poems to a couple of poetry competitions. It's the only thing I can think of, to encourage myself to keep writing as much as possible while I wait for the next course to start.
I am so sad! A215 isn't even officially over as such, and I'm already missing it, and looking forwards to the start of A363!

At least my letter of confirmation has arrived, so I know my place on the course is guaranteed - well, as much as anything can be nowadays!

It's been a strange week. I've not got out of my study habits as yet, but I also haven't worked out a new timetable for myself either, so I seem to be dragging my heels to do anything much, except when inspiration strikes, of course. :)

I wrote the following poem a few days ago, although I haven't submitted it to anything, so I thought I'd put it on here, to see if anyone has any comments on it:

I Am Born

With a squalling wail,
I came into this world -
a scrap of nothing -
and I lay there,
child of innocence,
in a world of happiness.
But I never saw the look
upon my dying mother’s face.

While all those round me sped
with haste, I had no intimation
that something tragic came
of bringing me to my first breath.
Then quiet filled the room
as I did what came so naturally,
and smiled at her who gave me life,
oblivious to distress.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

With nothing to do . . .

It is feeling really strange, not having a deadline to get something written down.

Towards the end of my course, ill health had dogged me, and it took me everything I had to keep going, and to get that final TMA, and then the ECA, written and sent off. But, now it's all done, I feel quite empty, and am already looking forward to the beginning of A363 in October!
I received my registration papers today for this, have signed them, and will post them forthwith on monday, so at least I know my place is guaranteed now.

To keep myself involved, and as busy as I can be at the moment, I decided to do the rewriting on my 'And There Is A Right Way' story, adding the dialogue that my tutor felt it needed to be complete and, now I've done so, I see exactly what she meant - it brought a good story alive, and I'm so pleased she pointed it out to me.
I finished editing it for any mistakes and tweaks it might need, at silly-O'Clock in the morning, this morning and, rather than pick, pick, pick at it, until it is changed beyond recognition, I bit the bullet, and sent it off as a submission to a magazine that was asking for short stories of a sci-fi/fantasy genre.
Now I do what all prospective writers do, and wait to see if it's acceptable! Lol.

I also received a letter in the post this morning (saturday), asking me to submit my 'On The Trapeze' poem for an anthology. I won't be paid for it, but then, neither do I have to pay, so I decided to go ahead, especially as I keep the copywrite for it and, you never know, someone might read it, and be interested in all the other stuff I've written over the years! (We can all dream, can't we?) Lol
This will be my sixth poem to be published in an anthology, and I guess my ultimate dream, would be to have an anthology all to myself - just me!

And, in the meantime, I shall do as was recommended in the BRB, and just keep on writing every day so that, hopefully, by the time I start my new course, there will be plenty of ideas written in my notebook!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My 05 results are in!

My results for my TMA 05 came in today, and it was with some trepadation that I went to extract them.

I had written my very first sci-fi story, a bit of a risk, but it was a story that needed telling, as it had been buzzing insistently in my head, ever since I had written the outline for it in activities 11.3 & 11.4.

I extracted my results, and opened them, silently breathing a prayer that it wouldn't have too low a mark then, much to my amazement, I saw that I had received 86% as my mark!

I confess that I double-checked that it was actually my story written there - but there was no mistaking it, and I sat for a second, mouth agape in shock, before letting out a relieved whoop!
My husband came rushing into the room, and once glance at my madly grinning face showed him that it was good news, and he was delighted for me that I'd got such a mark, although I don't think it touched how I felt! Lol

There were a couple of glitches with my story: I had let slip the indents needed for each new paragraph, something I'm amazed I didn't notice in my final check-up. And I hadn't used any dialogue in the story, which my tutor felt made it a little dense in places.

I'll have to work on that for the competition I'm planning on sending the story to, now that I know it was liked by my tutor.

I did have other favourable responses to it from friends and family before I had sent it off, but I had trusted my tutor to give me an unbiased view on it and, as she wished me luck with the competition in her notes to me, I'm taking it that, with that little addition of dialogue, she feels it's professional enough to submit - so hold this space, folks, and I'll let you know in August if I get anywhere with it! Lol

Now that my final TMA is back with me, all I have to wait on is the results of my ECA, which will also let me know on what level I have passed the course entirely.

So now the waiting commences . . .

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Well, that's 05 off!

I was never so glad as when I pressed the button that sent my TMA 05 over the aether, and into the postbox of my tutor (hopefully!), for it to be dissected, and marked - hopefully, with a light pen! {g}
I had started getting quite obssesional with it, so felt it was time I sent it off, before I changed it out of all recognition!
So I breathed a sigh of relief when it was gone, and now all I have to do is the last few tweakings for my ECA.
This won't be easy, as the work on my TMA hadn't been, because the Fibro-fog that plagues me regularly has been a constant companion this last few weeks, and it's been a real pain to try and concentrate on anything, let alone the two most important essays of the whole course!
But I've managed it and, if my work isn't up to the standards I'd like, at least they will get me a pass - I hope! Lol

I've thoroughly enjoyed these last two essays, despite the health problems and, for the first time since I started the course, had a good insight into what was needed in editing terms in order to enhance my work, although I've no doubt that my tutor will find plenty to comment on, as she is very good at gently guiding us all along the path of self-knowledge - one of the main things I've found is needed if you are at all serious about writing. :)
I'm just waiting for some forms to arrive, and then I will be finalising my ECA, finishing off the commentary, and tidying up my references, and then I will be printing three copies of it, and sending them by post - for the first time since starting with the O.U. - and then comes the wait to see whether I've passed and, if I have, what sort of overall mark I'll get.

I'm really hoping to get a Grade 2 pass, as I did for my last course. I've given up hoping for anything higher, as my memory just won't let me absorb, and retain, enough information to get anything higher. But a grade 2 will make me a very happy bunny!

So now my thoughts will start to go on to my next course - A363: Level 3 Creative Writing, where I will be introduced to the joys (I hope) of scriptwriting, something I'm really looking forward to.

I've promised myself that I will try and get something that I've created this year into print if I can, and I've already earmarked a few competitions and magazines that I'll be sending stuff to, so wish me luck, and keep your fingers crossed for me, would you?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Preparing for TMA 05.

I've been reflecting on all that I've learned so far with this course, and am actually amazed at the depth and breadth of the things I have learned - about myself, my thought processes, and what I'm capable of writing with the right prompts.

I had many expectations on starting A215, and they have been met and, in some cases, exceeded, so I am starting on the processes of my last TMA with some sadness at the nearness of the end of this journey.

There is this TMA - which I have got in hand at last, after a frantic search online to find a suitable magazine with which to prepare a story for submission - and then there will be the final submission - our ECA, or end-of-course assessment, which is worth 50% of the complete course grades (a rather nerve-racking thought if I ponder on it too much!).

So, I am relishing the writing of my penultimate story - my very first sci-fi/fantasy story -and am savouring every day that I have to write it, then will get on with the commentary, where I need to explain the processes of my search for, and preparation of, the work for this suitable magazine. Once this is completed, I can then leave it to simmer for a while, so that I can go back to it with fresh eyes, and edit it as needed, until it is as professional as I can make it. I will then submit it, so I can turn my mind to the final ECA, which will take every bit of skill and learning for me to submit something worthy enough to get a decent grade.

I have enjoyed this process so much that, come October, I will be starting the Level 3 Creative Writing course - A363 -which, I am pleased to see, also has Radio, Film and Play writing among the things that I will be learning - something I'm looking forward to enormously, although with an inward tremour, as this will be my first Level 3 course, so I'm nervous of the level of writing expected of me!
But, whatever happens in my journey of exploring my own creativity, I can honestly say that I wouldn't have missed all of this for the world.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

And it's back!!!!

I couldn't believe it when I went to extract my marked TMA today - I've been given 88% again!
I was sooooo pleased with my mark - it'll make a difference to my overall marks, hopefully making up for my first TMA, so I should get a fairly decent pass mark overall, with any luck. :)

With TMA 04, we had to write a section of autobiographical narrative (1,500 words) or two autobiographical poems (40 lines in total).
I chose the narrative and, on doing so, saw that I had a further choice, where I could choose my own subject, or choose a subject from a list. The first item on the list, was 'an item of clothing', and this appealed straight away, as I had decided already that I was going to write about the hours I had spent preparing myself on my wedding day. So the item of clothing had to be my wedding dress.
Anyway, here's the story I wrote:

The Dress

As I woke up, I became aware of a strangeness around me, and it took me a few seconds to realise that I was in the wrong bed. I lay there, aware that the room smelled different to mine, and that I was also in a single bed, something I hadn’t slept in since leaving home. Then I realised, I was home – and that today, the 8th October, 1983, was my wedding day.
I opened my eyes to a room lit only by the weak sunlight of a clear late-autumn morning, filtering through the thin curtains across the window, and I peered through the dimness at the alarm clock placed besides the bed – 7.45 a.m. – plenty of time before I needed to get ready.
I lay back down, and glanced casually around the room that had once been mine, once chock-full of precariously stacked books and folders. But it wasn’t my room anymore, and it had that empty, transient feeling of all spare rooms, where guests were tolerated for a while and, once gone, it would settle back in waiting mode for the next person.
I looked down to the foot of the bed, and saw my wedding dress, shrouded in it’s protective coverings, hanging from the front of the wardrobe, and a deep stirring of warmth came to my stomach. I was getting married to my Bob at last.
Today, it would be three months to the day since we met. ‘Not much time,’ people kept telling us, but from the moment our eyes met,
we had both known, with a deep-down certainty, that we were meant to be together, and nothing that had happened in the last fourteen weeks had changed our minds. So I lay there in my childhood bed, and waited patiently until it was time for me to get up; to get on with the rest of my life.
For the next hour or so, the household awoke around me, stirring to life with that urgent buzzing that sounds like a hive that has been disturbed. I managed some breakfast before anyone came downstairs, then had a bath and went back to my room. With a feeling of great calm I began to prepare myself, drying and powdering, unwrapping and putting on the new undies bought especially for the occasion, then the long petticoat that went under my dress. I carefully lifted my dress down from the outside of the wardrobe, and began to remove the coverings around it.
Just as I started, there was a knock at the door. “Come in,” I called. The door opened, and my mother walked in.
“You okay, love?”, she asked me. “Do you need any help with anything?”
I smiled at her, then went over and kissed her on the cheek. “I’d love some help with my hair once I’ve finished dressing, if you don’t mind, mum?”
“Of course, love. I’ll bring in the hairdryer, and tongs and stuff, in, what? Twenty minutes do you?” she smiled, then turned and went quietly back out of the room.
I breathed a sigh of relief that I hadn’t upset her by not needing her in the processes of dressing, something I had always been so private about, but I realised that mum probably knew me better than I knew myself, and the offer had just been a way for her to acknowledge my changing status from daughter to wife.
I went to open the coverings once again, but there was another quick knock at the door, which opened immediately, to reveal one of my older sisters, Lynnette.
“Katy, I just got here. Do you want some help with dressing or anything?”, she asked, then bustled into the room and closed the door. “Ooh, let’s see your dress! You never did let any of us see it, you monkey!”
With that, she went to take the dress from my hands. With a smile, I deftly moved it from her grasp, then placed it on the bed. I reached over, and slowly undid the zip that held the cover in place, then gently folded it back to reveal all.
It was cream in colour. That clotted cream that went so well on warm scones. It had a sweetheart neckline, and a little mandarin collar that stood up proudly to guard my neck. The sleeves were almost medieval in their width, with a series of pleats that gave a pleasing drape, and which matched the full skirt that led off in an empire-line from the bust, which was covered in intricate cream-on-cream embroidery. I was immensely happy with that dress, and was delighted when I’d seen it, tucked away, almost abandoned, at the back of the wedding shop a month previously.

“Oh, Katy, it’s lovely,” Lynn cried, “but why didn’t you get it in white?”
She went to grab the dress for a closer look, but I quickly pulled the cover back across it, then gently steered her to sit at the dressing table, where a padded stool waited.

“For a start, with my colouring, I look dead in anything white and, secondly, I didn’t want to be hypocritical about this. White dresses became the fashion to represent purity in a bride and, as Bob and I have been living together for the last two months, I couldn’t exactly pretend, could I?” I smiled at her, and she grinned back.
“I know,” she said, “but there’s something about a bride wearing white . . .”, she trailed off, and I knew she was thinking back to her own wedding day.

I knew this would turn into a long session of, ‘do you remembers,’ if I wasn’t careful, so I decided to head her off before it did.
“Lynn, now you’re here, could you do me a huge favour?”
Lynnette came out of her remembrances with a start. “Of course I can – do you want some help with your hair or make-up?”, she asked, eagerly.
“Actually, that’s all under control. Mum’s coming to help me in about fifteen minutes. What I’d like for you to do, if you don’t mind, is phone Janice’s house, to check that Bob’s up and about. With everyone rushing back and forth, he’s probably feeling a little bit abandoned at the moment, and I want him to know I’m thinking of him.”
“Oh, that’s so sweet,” Lynn exclaimed, her eyes filling with tears. She was such a romantic soul, was my sister, and it took very little to set her off. Without a word of farewell, she almost flew from the room, banging the door shut behind her.

With a sigh of relief, I sat on the corner of the bed, and listened to the silence enfolding me once again. I knew that, outside this door, mayhem was starting to happen but, for a few minutes more, I could enjoy this privacy. I stood up after a moment, and went back to my dress. I slowly lifted it from the cover, and felt the weight of it in my arms. Not for me, something flimsy. I had wanted something that would stand up to the rough and tumble of a family occasion. I also wanted something to represent the strength of my love for Bob, and his for me, and the quality of the material, the neatness of the stitching, and the painstaking designs sewn into it represented that for me, and had the minute I had seen it.
With a smile on my face, I stood in front of the dresser mirror, and started to put it on, calmly stepping into the wide, pleated skirt, then gently pulling it up until I could put my arms through the matching sleeves. Once I had it settled, I reached back, and pulled the zipper up as far as I could, then reached over my shoulder to pull it up the rest of the way. With a tug here, and a tweak there, I settled it into place on my body, feeling armoured for anything, then I pulled off the towel I’d wrapped around my head, roughly combing my hair into place with my fingers, and stared at my reflection in the mirror.
As I did, there was a knock at the door, and mum walked back into the room, weighed down with a plethora of tools designed to aid a girl in getting beautiful. She let them drop onto the bed, then stood behind me, hands lightly on my shoulders, and stared into my eyes in the mirror, and she smiled at me, that special smile only a mother can give to her daughter at a time like this. “Are you sure this is what you want, love? You know it’s never too late to change your mind?”
I put a hand over hers as it rested on my shoulder. “Mum, it’s about the one thing in my life, apart from you and dad loving me, that I am sure of,” I said. “Bob and I are meant to be, and I’ve got no hesitations, or worries, about it. Thank you for caring, though, mum.”
She smiled into my eyes, and gently kissed my head. “Well, we do care. That’s why your dad and I thought I should ask anyway.” She stepped back. “I guess if you want to be ready anytime soon, we’d better get on.”
With that, she gestured for me to sit on the stool, and started arranging my hair.

(1,574 words)

Copyright: KGB

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's off!

Well, the TMA 04 is finally off, and now it's a case of waiting, rather nervously, to see what sort of result I'll get for it!
I was honestly glad to get it out of the way, as it became harder and harder for me to leave it alone: 'Just one more tweak, I'm sure that's all it needs,' became my constant thought every time I turned on my laptop, so it's a relief that I can't do anything more to it. Lol.

On the 05 front, I've finally written my very first sci-fi story - and it was a lot harder than I had expected, considering I've always been an avid fan - but I discovered it's a whole new ball-game to invent a completely different reality to our own. At the same time, I had more fun writing it than I have with anything for a long time, so it was definitely worth the extra effort!

As far as the ECA is concerned, I've finalised the poems I'm going to use, although I know they'll have one or two edits nearer the time, especially after the next section of the BRB, which deals with the editing processes, but I'm fine with that - it's the commentary I'm more nervous about, as I'll have to join together the poetry and prose into one whole for that, and it won't be easy for me!

I've been enjoying the activities we've been doing recently, and I did Activity 24.8 the other day, where we were asked to think of someone we either know, knew, or who was someone famous, and write either a 16-line poem about the person, or a 250-word reminiscence. I chose the poetry, and I chose my much-loved, but sadly now departed mother-in-law to write about.
Mum was a very strong character, something I loved her for, but which could also be exasperating at times, but it was all part of her character, and I wouldn't have changed one hair on her head - I still miss her terribly, even after 10 years, and always look back on our friendship with great fondness.


She sang her songs of bygone years,
while moving through her daily chores,
sweeping away the odd lost tear,
and thinking of those times of yore.

Her white hair, all neat like a dome,
an apron tied ‘round her each day,
so proud of her tidy, neat home,
she cared for what others might say.

She lived by the seaside in Wales,
looking back so often in time,
and sitting out sea storms and gales,
wishing for a change in her rhyme.

Her mantra became, ‘If only’,
she wanted a change to her past,
a cry from the heart when lonely,
hoped chance would come for her at last.

c: Katy Board

Friday, April 10, 2009

Slowly, slowly, catchee monkey!

It is a slow and painful process, I have to admit, but I'm gradually fulfilling the purpose that I started this course for - namely, to improve my writing skills.

I've finally completed TMA 04, and am just waiting for a few more days before I post it online and, as my tutor is away until wednesday, I decided that this will be the day I do post it.

I've finally decided on a story for TMA 05 as well.

I did a couple of activities earlier on, 11.3 & 11.4, where I had to think up a story line, and I decided to use this outline, expanding it to fill the requirements of the TMA, and then go from there as to which magazine I would choose to prepare it for submission.
I'm quite enjoying the writing of this story, as I've decided on a sci-fi theme for the first time. I just hope it works out as well on paper (or should I say, on the screen?) as it does in my head!

I've also been busy, and completed the poetry section of my ECA, although it still needs a lot of editing, and I have also written the first paragraph of my commentry.
I think this is the thing that I'm really going to have difficulties with, as I've never found writing commentaries very easy. I've got 05's commentary to do as well!

With all of this, I'm also trying to keep up with my activities as well - not easy, considering, but I'm doing my best, which is all I can ask of myself.

Add to all this one of the worst bouts of depression I've had in an age, and you'll see that it's been a tad difficult for me this last week.

It's always amazed me that I get my best ideas when in a fit of depression - my mind certainly works in mysterious ways!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Busy, busy, busy!

I hardly seem to have time to draw breath at the moment!

Apart from getting on with the activities in the BRB, I've managed to complete my TMA 04 piece, after twiddling with it until I wanted to scream.
I've now got some sort of idea as to what I want to do for the poetry side of my ECA although, having the idea, and actually doing it competently, are two different things at the moment! Lol
I've also got a ghost of an idea for TMA05, but it's too vague at the moment for me to air it, unless it gets blown away by a breeze.

To add to this, my stepdaughter has contacted me at last, after years of waiting for her to find us, so there's lots to catch up on, and visits to organise! Lol

It's never dull in this household! Lol

Friday, March 27, 2009

On, on to the next stage.

I really enjoy doing the activities for this course, and the tutorial activities have been great for boosting my imagination, and teaching me how to construct a decent story or poem, but my gears are having to be notched up a little, as I now start the preparation needed to produce something decent for the next two TMA's, plus start on my ECA!

Fortunately, my tutor has informed me that, with some major re-working, and adding on to the story, my Seasickness essay can be part of the ECA, along with some poetry. This means that I will be showing both my tutor, and whoever else has been chosen to mark my ECA, that I have a good range, and will show that I am absorbing all that the BRB is teaching me! I will also, hopefully, be able to impress them enough with my work, that I will get a good pass mark, bearing in mind that the ECA is worth 50% of the overall course marks. (I can but dream!).

I've already started the work needed for my 04 TMA and, apart from some final tweaking, I feel I've produced something decent, but I'm still blank with 05, as I need to produce something - either a fiction story, some autobiography, biography, or poetry, find a magazine that it would suit, and then go through the motions of preparing my piece for submission to the chosen magazine, without actually submitting it.

To further complicate things, I've still got to produce something within the O.U. parameters for the TMA, as well as fullfilling the magazine's rules.

I'm going to have fun, I can see!

In the meantime, here's some of my contribution to Activity 22.3, where we had to:

Think of a place from your past (not necessarily your childhood, it could be from your more recent past) – it might be a room, a street, or a garden, but not necessarily any of these. You choose. Spend ten minutes listing things about the place or creating a cluster for it in your notebook.
Then either write 250 words or write a 16 line poem about the place.

I decided to write about what was laughingly called the 'Dining Room' in an old farmhouse we used to live in. This was a room that had abandoned all hope of habitation well before we moved into the house and had, at one point, been used as the 'laying-out' room for any deceased member of the family prior to burial - something definitely not condusive to fine dining!
I chose to write a free-verse poem:

You silently watched the passing of the years,
with your dust-filled carpet, and grate full of ash.
Through the ages you reflected the lives within,
and became the resting place of the dearly departed.

With the sad, brown tones of the seriously neglected,
You had no choice of the use you were made.
Like a ghostly echo, you saw the fleeting lives of many,
all those empty lives, and useless ties, of nothingness within.

Mould patches fleck the rising damp that begrime your walls,
a testament to neglect, and barely-used empty rooms.
Fly-spotted window panes, dimmed by dirt and dust,
let in spots of sunshine, that show up grimy tiles.

The darkened corner of the farthest blank stone wall,
echoes all the yesterdays of nothing used, no life here.
Named the dining room, though no food has appeared
in all the living memory of those who lived within.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Seasickness in Tutorial 4!

We had our Tutorial 4 assignment posted up on FC the day before yesterday, and we had to write a piece about a strong physical reaction, using all the things we have been taught so far. We were instructed to write a list of around six things in our lives that caused this, and then choose one of them to write about.
We weren't given a word-count, so I just sat and wrote - and wrote! I ended up with a 1,200 word ancedote, so I put it up on our tutorial group forum, and my tutor posted her comments yesterday morning - she enjoyed it very much, thank heavens and, apart from some niggles about my speech punctuation (which I know I need to work on), she was complimentary of my story, which was a huge relief for me!
Anyway, I figured that I might as well post the story on here for people to enjoy!


As the fishing boat made it’s way out of the sun-lit harbour I sat, relaxed and ready for anything, on the bench seat that followed the curve of it’s sides. With me were the skipper of the boat, Winston Evans, my husband, Bob, and ten holidaymakers, all intent on having a great time, and determined to catch the mackerel we were promised were in abundance at the moment. The skipper, standing in his tiny wheelhouse, steered the boat expertly out towards the open sea, and there was a gentle murmur of excited chatter as we all looked out ahead.

Above the chugging sound of the engine, and the mingled smells of diesel and old fish, there was a tang to the air, that unique smell that could only be found out on the sea itself, of ozone, and kelp, and the heavy saltiness that goes onto your tongue as you take each breath. As we sped along, the waves slapped at the bow of the boat, and left ripples behind in it’s wake. There were a couple of seagulls flying above the boat in anticipation of any spoils thrown from the overeager holidaymakers, and they cried out occasionally, as if encouraging the boat to make more speed.
As if in answer to this, the skipper let out the throttle, and the boat surged forwards, slapping at the waves as if using them as springboards to get further along. I immediately felt a touch of nausea, and I swallowed hard, and took a deep breath of the cold, clean air to counteract it. The nausea subsided, and I sighed quietly in relief, not wanting to spoil the trip for anyone.
I was actually a very reluctant passenger, and had only agreed to the trip to please my in-laws, who were safely ensconced on the beach, looking after our two-year-old daughter, and who had gaily paid for the fishing trip as a ‘treat’ for Bob and I – this was a treat I could have done without, but hadn’t had the heart to dampen their enthusiasm so, here I was, beginning all the signs I knew meant I was in for a rough time, and too cowardly to say anything before we were too far out to do anything about it.
It was with some relief that we eventually found ourselves at the “perfect spot to catch a bite,” as the skipper phrased it, and I was relieved to feel the boat slow, then stop at last. The skipper came out of the tiny wheelhouse, then went to the bow of the boat, and released the cable that let the anchor drop down into the depths. It made a satisfying ‘splash’ as it hit the water, and some of the holidaymakers started snapping pictures of everything around them. Bob stood up and stretched, then casually made his way to the aft of the boat, his body adjusting to the rise and fall that the waves caused, then he moved along to chat to the skipper, I presumed about the fishing, as he was interested in getting as many fish as he could for our freezer.
As I sat there, I stared ahead at the horizon, and gradually became aware of the rise and fall of the bow in my sight. I immediately felt a hot flush to my cheeks, and my stomach gurgled in rebellion at the sight. I drew another quick breath of air, hoping to stave it off, but immediately felt a strong surge of nausea again. In panic, I quickly stood, then leaned over the side of the boat, frantically taking deep breaths, but all I could see below was the boat going up and down in the water. With a wail of embarrassment, I immediately threw up every scrap of lunch I’d just eaten, then crouched there in misery, empty stomach heaving away.
I felt a hand go to my forehead, pushing my hair away from my sweating face, and supporting my head, and I smelt the woodsy aftershave Bob always wore. “Why didn’t you say you felt ill, love? You didn’t have to come, you know.” His tone was concerned, but my feelings of guilt at not having the nerve to say anything, gave it an accusatory sound. “I didn’t want to spoil mum and dad’s treat,” I wailed, as yet another spasm wracked my body. Behind me, I could hear exclamations from others on the boat and, just a few feet away, I heard the unmistakable sound of someone else losing their lunch, and further on again, someone else. It started a chain reaction that ended with only the skipper and Bob in full control of themselves, and eleven miserable, shivering wrecks leaning over the sides.
Bob came up and handed me some tissues he’d found in his jacket pocket, and I wretchedly tried to mop up, dabbing at the tears that streamed down my pallid face, hands shaking in reaction. I looked down and, to my shock, the head of a dolphin sat in the water, mouth grinning away at me, and sitting just below me. “ You’ve just missed lunch,” Bob called gaily down at it. This broke the ice, and set people laughing who, seconds ago, had been utterly miserable, and I felt able to turn around and face the boat-load of people who, instead of fishing, were all now huddled around the sides, trying to recover.
“I’m so sorry, everyone,” I said, almost afraid to look at those around me, “I was fine until I saw the bow going up and down . . .” I trailed off as my stomach lurched, just at the thought of the movement.
“That was your mistake missus,” the skipper chimed in, “one of the worst things you could do, is that. No wonder you decided to feed the fish, instead of letting them feed us!” The people around me laughed half-heartedly at his joke, and a sense of normality gradually came about, with strangers chatting to each other as if the best of friends.
I sat, shivering with the cold of reaction, and I felt drawn, almost old. I didn’t want to suggest curtailing the trip, as everyone had paid a fee to come out there, so I sat in silence, Bob’s jacket wrapped around my shivering shoulders, while everyone recovered, then started to get out the fishing rods provided by the skipper. Bob came and sat besides me. “It’s okay, love,” he murmured quietly to me, “you won’t need to stay here long. As soon as the dolphins appeared, I realised there’s no chance of catching many fish. I expect Winston will just let them try for a while before taking them back, and they all seem to be having more fun taking pictures of the dolphins than fishing anyway, so I don’t think they’ll be that disappointed.” He hugged me gently, then moved off to show a novice how to bait the rods, and I sat there, feeling like I wanted to die, praying for the time to go by speedily, and determined, if I made it back safely to shore that, never again, would I step foot on to a fishing boat – and I’ve kept that promise!

(1,204 words)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My TMA results are back!

Well, I got my results at last - a healthy 72% - and, while they were good, I was disappointed that I hadn't done nearly as well as my previous TMA.
I guess it's picky of me, but I had worked so hard on these poems, and it makes me feel that I'm not as good as I'd hoped to be.

Anyway, I'll post my poems on here, and you can decide for yourselves - I guess that will be the only way I'll know for sure!

Free Flight

I gaze across the landscape of a purple-headed mountain,
my eyes are drawn above it to a speck of moving air.

I strain to make out what the shape could be, and then I realize -
a female Golden Eagle is the form that hovers there.

Go softly, gallant creature, to your lofty mountain aerie,
keep right away from places that all men have seized upon.

Go guard against his greed and lust for fragile, speckled treasure,
make all tomorrow’s children safe, until the men have gone.

You fly so high up in the sky, that you can touch the glory
of God’s kind face, and now the race to live is carried on.

A Clock

Faint smell of plastic,
and a tic-tock noise,
numerals around the face are luminous.

First hand, second hand,
marking us in time -
reaching gently forward
in a metronomic rhythm.

This becomes a race against time’s normal pace.
Sending seconds swiftly back into the past

Ticking time goes forward now,
slicing sharp as knives.

I wrote the third poem (not shown here) On The Trapeze for my daughter, who has just started learning trapeze work, and will start her training in earnest this summer. She had been trying to describe how she feels whilst up there, and this poem started to develop from that. I chose the Villanelle as the form to put it in, as it held the right shape for me to express my daughter's words to me.

I hope you enjoy the poems! :)