Tuesday, 21 September 2010

MA Preperation

It's my first week since I left my job. I haven't been lazing around in bed (too much). Set my alarm for my usual 7.30am workday schedule, but ended getting up at 8.30am. Not too bad. Doesn't bode well for my bright idea of getting up at the crack of dawn and writing 1000 words before breakfast. My intentions to adhere to that schedule are always strongest at night. Then I can't get myself up in the morning. Will try harder once the course starts...

I've been to the library today. Only for a couple of hours. I have been researching Victorian Britain... in the Children's Reference section. Because, well, let's face it, Horrible Histories and books with lots of pictures are much more fun. If I find anything I want more detail on, I'll delve into the 'grown ups' section (which I doubt is very extensive) or have a look online. In a couple of hours, I had several pages of notes on dates and things I found interesting.

I have a strong idea of what I want to do for the beginning of my novel - the fist couple of chapters perhaps - but then my MC gets literally thrown out of an airship. All I could see was her standing in the middle of empty countryside. But after this little bit of research, my imagination has been populated with a variety of rich settings I could place her in...

So I've made a bit of progress, though research doesn't really feel like progress. And it bores me a little. I was only in the library for two hours, at least half an hour of which was spent browsing.

I also finally finished reading How Fiction Works by James Wood. I'll try to get round to writing a full review later, but it was a cracking read. Very interesting and insightful.

This week, via the power of email, I found out which group I'll be in for my Creative Writing MA. There are two groups of 10, and I'm in Group B. The course website says there are only three members of staff, but on the title table there is actually six. My tutors will be:

Susanna Jones, author of The Earthquake Bird, Waterlily and The Missing Person's Guide to Love, all published by Picador between 2001-2007.

Kate Williams - Though I'm unsure who exactly this is. There isn't any information about her on the university's website. I have found a Random House author of this name, and also a recent graduate of the Royal Holloway MA who has secured a huge book deal, so I'm wondering if it is her. That would be quite interesting, to be taught by such a successful veteran of the course. Furthermore, her novel is set in the Victorian era, too, which would be quite handy to talk about.

Giles Foden - Author of (most famously) The Last King of Scotland. I had no idea Giles Foden would be teaching on this course. He was my dissertation tutor at UEA in 2009. I'm not sure if he would remember me.

I received an email today (I've had numerous emails from Royal Holloway, but zilch paperwork through the post!). The email was from Susanna Jones, who will by my workshop leader. She asked for volunteers for the first workshop on Monday, for which 10-15 pages of double spaced writing needs to be presented. No way could I do that for Monday!

It gave me a jolt of fear. I knew I'd have to write a lot for this course. And that's my biggest weakness as a writer: my fear prevents me from even beginning. Big word counts scare me. So far in my writing life, I've been a short story/flash fiction writer. But that's the reason I took on this course. I need those deadlines and that expectation to jolt me into action. I want to write a novel. No excuses.

I've heard that you shouldn't be the first (or even second) to submit work to a writing group. The group needs time to settle and understand each other before people are comfortable giving feedback. If I can, I'd like to submit in week 3, but if that's not possible, I'll try to get something written for the second week. We'll see how eager my fellow classmates are to volunteer. They probably all feel the same as me!

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