I’m a bit late posting this, but I’ve been busy working (shock, horror) and then I’ve been too knackered in the evening to do anything but eat my dinner, watch Eastenders (which I have now given up, so if it has got any good in the last few days, can someone tell me please?) and then read for a bit but anyway, here’s my write up of what went on when I attended the OU A215 Creative Writing day school in a chilly room somewhere in TN1.
The day started off with me moaning about getting up early and how I didn’t want to drag a Big Red Book around with me and how I didn’t want to get on a train and how I didn’t want to go and sit in a room for 5 hours and how I wanted to stay in and play on Facebook do some really important stuff instead but I was unceremoniously shoved out the door and dragged kicking and screaming like a 5 year old (because as you can tell, usually I act in a manner befitting someone 39 years, 9 months and 4 weeks old) on her first day at school down to the train station, stopping briefly at Sainsburys to pick up some sweets to keep me quiet a flapjack for breakfast, a bottle of water and a cheese and onion pasty for lunch.
The journey wasn’t that bad after all and I passed the time reading Torture the Artist by Joey Goebel and when I got to Tonbridge, all I had to do was walk a few feet to the other side of the platform where the Tunbridge Wells train was waiting for me. Yes, it was only waiting for me. No one else. Just me.
OU A215 Creative Writing Day School
On arriving at Tunbridge Wells, I followed someone I thought looked like they might be going to an OU A215 Creative Writing day school (she was carrying a rucksack so I thought it might have books in it) and I doubley cursed having to bring the BRB (the nickname for the workbook used on the OU A215 Creative Writing course) with me as I struggled with it up a steep hill. I lost the woman I was following on a crossroads when she crossed without any due care and attention by ignoring the traffic lights, leaving me stranded on the other side of the road waiting for the cars to stop. After I crossed the road in the way the Green Cross Code Man used to tell us to, I consulted my map and found out I had been following the random stranger with the rucksack in the right direction and carried on and found the road where the Adult Education Centre is.
I entered the building and a man said hello to me and I said hello, I’m here for the Open University A215 Creative Writing day school and he pointed at a large poster right in front of me containing a detailed and informative list of the course number, tutor, room and floor. I was about to tell him I’d forgotten my glasses but remembered I had put them on so he wasn’t going to fall for that old chestnut.
I made my way to the room we were in and was greeted by our tutor and four others (A, H, P & J). Another (J) joined us and the six of us made up our group for the day. Being British, we didn’t let the stereotype down and we all sat very politely with an empty chair in between each other.
After being asked our names, we were straight in at the deep end with a writing exercise, where we were asked to think about a memorable book. We then had to read out what we’d written. I mumbled something about Schrodinger’s Baby by H. R. McGregor and how one of the characters had really depressed me by reminding me of me. And not in a good way. She was totally self-centered, obnoxious and a complete pain in the neck. The other students’ books were Heidi, To Kill a Mockingbird, Sense & Sensibility, The Lord of the Rings, and one that I’ve forgotten (sorry A!). They read out their choices and gave coherent and touching stories about why these books were memorable, unlike my incoherent, irrelevant rubbish.
Next we were told about some pages in the BRB that are important and that should be pointed out to us now, as we wouldn’t get to them until a lot later in the course. These pages were 373-374 regarding dialogue, and pages 615 onwards which deals with punctuation. This is the only time we went near the BRB, so I dragged it up that hill for no reason. Bah.
We had a break (I never know what to do in breaks now I don’t smoke anymore so I just checked my phone for Facebook updates) and then it was back to work.
We had to choose a postcard from a variety spread out on a desk and then we were given prompts to write from, such as what time of day is it, what is happening in the card, what’s happening just out of frame, etc. I found this really inspiring and useful in generating ideas and got quite a lot written down. I wouldn’t have thought so much inspiration could come from one image and the prompts will definitely help me in the future. I think we all got a lot out of that exercise.
The next exercise we all hated. Or at least none of us got on very well with it. Which to me was surprising as it was a clustering and freewriting exercise which I’ve enjoyed doing as I’ve been going through the BRB but somehow I just couldn’t get going with this in the class. I was very scared that we’d have to read out what we’d come up with and I’d only come up with complete crap that I’d crossed out and so had nothing to share. Luckily we didn’t have to read anything out and I’m not sure if anyone came up with anything of substance.
Then it was lunchtime, hurrah. I ate my pasty (Sainsbury’s, cheese & onion, 60p) and it was very nice. (Update: a few years later, I set myself a challenge of leaving the house every Friday. I not-very-imaginatively called this challenge Leave the House Friday and, after an abortive trip to Sainsbury’s one Friday when I found out my debit card had expired, I had lunch in Waitrose’s cafe. It probably wasn’t as much as a bargain as a 60p pasty from Sainsbury’s though).
After lunch we did some more writing. This time about the place we usually write and about our ideal place to write. Writing about the place I usually write was easy; writing about my ideal place to write in started off sensibly and somehow ended up a rambling, disjointed stream of consciousness mentioning the smell of the washing that had just come out of the machine.
Then our time was nearly up.
Our tutor told us about some writing/poetry events that were happening. She then read out some of her own work, which was great and that was that really. The time flew past, I had a great day with some friendly, warm and approachable people and I went home inspired and motivated.
If you’re doing the course and you can get to your OU A215 Creative Writing tutorial, please do, you’ll have a great time.