My OU work is really stacking up now with two assignments and the crucial end-of-course assessment to complete in less than ten weeks. I suppose the reason I’m feeling under pressure is because I want to do well. I’ve worked far harder at this than I ever did during my BA (the usual distractions) and I’ve been really chuffed with my results. Since I’d established some writing credentials before embarking on this course, a few people looked at me askance when I told them I was studying for a Diploma in Creative Writing, but I wanted to try new areas and push myself outside my comfort zone and that’s exactly what I’ve done. The poetry section was especially rewarding and even if my poetry never sees the light of day, I know it’s something I’ll continue with.
As for writing outside my comfort zone, well, the current module, life writing, certainly takes care of that. The furore over Julie Myerson’s, ‘The Lost Child’, which blew up just as I started the module, was a timely reminder of how easy it is to eat your own life. I think I’ve come perilously close to invading my daughters’ privacy in the past. They say not, and I’m grateful for that, but even so it’s made me think very carefully about the price of a good story.
The ingredients of my writing are inevitably taken from my own life and my own interactions, but, with fiction, they’ve been blended, filtered and left to develop into something that is not about me. The life writing module has felt very raw; Virginia Woolf writes about life being a bowl that ‘one fills and fills and fills’. With some of the exercises mine’s felt more like a leaky plastic bag full of water; every time I press it some horrid or painful memory gushes out! For the sake of my tutor, who has to read this stuff, I’ve been trying to find something a little more upbeat to write about for my next assignment, but so far it’s all very dark. The last time I looked I thought I’d had a very happy life, so why do I keep poking around in the depressing bits?
Whilst my blog is a form of life writing, I do try not to devour everyone around me but here are some real-life achievements worth marking.
• Tom is now exhibiting with Real Artists, an online gallery who work with a small group of carefully selected artists.
• A friend, G, came to stay with us last week. Well, nothing unusual about that, except that G, who was put up for adoption shortly after his birth, has learning difficulties and made the long journey here by himself, as far as he could, on public transport. G has no family of his own, but, through Mil and Dil, has become one of Tom’s extended family. G has fewer people than most to praise or console him, but has just celebrated twenty-five years working for the same large supermarket. The occasion was marked with a posh award and a ceremony. No mean achievement for someone who started off so alone – well done, G, we’re proud of you.
• I’m also bursting with pride for my lovely Rose, who, after a bit of administrative to-ing and fro-ing after her original assessment centre disappeared, has finally received her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. Working through the awards took Rose to all kinds of places with challenging and demanding tasks and I know how much effort and determination it took for her to reach her goal. Rose has very kindly invited me to attend the award ceremony with her, we don’t know when it is but I do know I shall be a very proud mummy that day!
Image is 'Half a Mile Off' by Tom Tomos