Saturday, 6 August 2011

Creative Writing courses - is writing something you can grade?

I've just received the result of my second Open University creative writing course, and I'm celebrating as I managed somehow to achieve a distinction again this year in A363, as well as the one I got last year for A215. Wine has been drunk, congratulations received, smug satisfied smile attached to face, and everyone on the planet informed. I now have my Diploma in Creative Writing and Literature and I'm over halfway towards my Literature degree.

9% of us got the distinction. So, yes, I am proud of that. Yet I also know many of my fellow students were disappointed with the grade they were awarded. Many of these were the students whose work was quirky and original, who explored the boundaries of style and voice, who pushed against the structures and restrictions the course necessarily placed on us. Me? I'm a grade hunter and quite happy to 'play the game' to get what I want. But as creative writing is such a very subjective subject, is it possible to devise a marking system that is fair to all and minimises the personal reaction to the work of the marker? It seems that the solution the OU takes is by structuring the marking in such a way that then penalises those who move out of the expected arena.  It's a problem that effects all marked creative writing courses.

I want to say well done and congratulations to everyone who was on the course - no matter what your grade - it was tough, we worked hard, I learned a lot from you all and value the networks we've built up, and I wish I could do another one next year?

Friday, 5 August 2011

Yay! I got published!

I set myself a target in June to send at least three pieces of writing each month out there; to competitions or as submissions to publishers, agents or other interesting places. This, I hope, will keep me producing new work and not just endlessly recycling the few pieces I'm proudest of, and helps me to shrug off the inevitable rejections.

This month, I am able to say, finally, that I've had something published.

I am a runner-up in the Poetry competition published in the September edition of Writers-forum magazine.writer's forum September issue

I am thrilled by this - especially as I have no serious intentions towards poetry - but it also raises a few questions in my mind. Is this all a little bit 'pop will eat itself'? To be published as a new writer in a magazine that is for people who want to write? It's all rather self contained and circular in my gloomiest moments, but hey - it's a well-designed glossy magazine, you can buy it in WH Smith's, it has a decent circulation (or Smith's wouldn't touch it) and it has got a little sample of my writing out to all those readers. Does it matter that they are also wanna-be writers like me?

Publishing in the literary small press may have more kudos, but this is still going into my nice newly purchased 'published' file. Page one filled. Another 24 sparkling fresh pages to go.