Saturday, September 20, 2008

Assignment Done - Again

In 24 assignments so far this year, I've had to resubmit seven of them. Three of those I've resubmitted for a higher grade on my own initiative. Of the remaining four, all of them have been resubmitted on request of Mr Stone.

Each resubmission has earned a higher grade, but it is extremely annoying to have to go through that process. "Well do it right the first time!" I hear you cry.

I do one assignment every week (or at least try to). The schedule requires students to do two modules each semester, resulting in me doing an assignment for Mr Stone every second week.

Some of these assignments, for both modules, need longer than a week to do. The educational facility suggests we read the whole module through so we know what's coming up and can prepare for it - as if we didn't have a life to do anything else. All well and good for full time students. All students of this course attend once a week, at night for a few hours contact with the lecturer and then have to go off on their own to fulfill the assignment requirements. I have no lecturer contact other than through typed comments pasted to the returned assignments or through rare emails. In short, the students (writers) in this course are expected to do a great deal of it on their own. Why is it, writers seem to be isolated at every turn? Are we not human beings who crave social contact with others of our ilk as much as others of our species?

I chose to do this course and I chose to do it as an off-campus student so I don't want or expect any sympathy for my plight of continual resubmissions, but it would be nice for lecturers to recognise the bigger difficulties off-campus students face. I think Mr Stone has only recently begun to offer more open suggestions because he is now realising I'm in this for the long haul--or I've been lucky enough to strike him in a good mood the last few weeks.

If I decided I was only going to do my assignments and nothing else to do with writing - no more short stories, no more novel chapters, no more articles, no more reading, no more reviews, then I may be able to each assignment once without ever considering resubmissions.

But then how would I improve as a writer? This course (or any other course for that matter), will never make me a better writer on its own. Writers need to live life for inspiration and we need to practise our craft to enable us to convey it to our readers with the passion and emotion our stories deserve.

I think that is an accepted thing in the field. Writers write, and to do so, we need to get out and experience life.

But to find the time to do this, I need to devote less time to structured learning of the craft through courses such as this diploma. But the diploma will help me become a better professional writer. Catch-22: a vicious circle - call it what you like but it's true.

Best advice I can anyone to overcome these issues - do really well at English while young and at school. Read heaps while your job is to be at school. It is really difficult to cram it all in when you're on the wrong side of 35. It's damn near impossible to do when you're on the wrong side of 40 and have a full life already.

Okay, vent and whinge over.

I'll package up this resubmission and send it out next week. Assignment 5 for the short fiction module doesn't look too difficult so I'll probably do that one and send that out at the same time.

I haven't written anything on Newland so far this week. Sunday nights are fast becoming my novel writing night. I've written five chapters (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) so I'll have a go at writing chapter six (11) tomorrow night. This is a transition chapter from one major place to another. Lots of historical scene setting, character building and local flavour to be instilled. This chapter may very well end up being split up between others, but it needs to be written next. This chapter will be the one third completed mark in the old part of this story, which is why all the characters, setting, and the non-absolutely-essential bits need to be concluded so I can really begin to ramp up the main plot points that have been simmering up until now.

Lastly, Felicity Dowker has mentioned me in her blog as being a favourite - thank you Fel. I also found it amusing she titled the post as the "Long and Winding Post" when it's probably shorter than my average posts ;c)

I need to look into what it means to be an "I love your blog" nominee but that would require me taking additional time out from other writing things and from other things in general that currently take up my time, and, to be 100% honest, I'm not sure I want to do that right now.

Still I am chuffed at Felicity's comments.

Okay, I think this "long and winding post" has gone on enough.

Have a great evening and I hope you have wonderful news on a submission acceptance very soon. Hopefully I'll have one very soon as well...



  1. I did Uni via correspondence a few years ago, and like you, found the isolation hard to motivate myself. You've obviously done better than me because I dropped out after less than a year.

  2. Dropping out is not an option I intend to entertain, though I am considering reverting to actually attending the lectures next year.

    Life would have to be simpler if you can get the correct answers from the horses mouth.

    I've spoken to a few people who've done/doing this course. Every single one of them have taken longer than the four years.

    Not happening in this little black duck's plans. I intend to finish this course in the allotted four years. I intend to finds a job in the industry soon there after or I'll be starting a journalism course a year or two after finishing this one.

    I will write for a living.

    Eventually my fiction will make money.

    These are not up for debate. A successful writer is a writer who didn't give up. Writing well is a skill and skills are learnable.

    i'm still learning and will until the day I stop drawing breath. hopefully I'll have success in my writing before that day arrives ;c)