Onwards and Upwards

After our reading at the Art Workers’ Guild, Alison was very forthright in her collective praise of the class and she seems to be expecting some big things from us as a year group, although she might perhaps have been surprised at the progress of at least one of our number over the six weeks or so after the event.

I looked at Facebook page a couple of weeks ago to see a picture of Michael Braga, one of my coursemates from the City Novel Writing course holding a sheaf of papers with a very satisfied expression on his face. In an incredible burst of productivity, he’s finished his novel already – achieving an incredibly impressive 93,000 words – and all this while doing a demanding, full-time job. Amazing.

I always found his readings to be tremendously entertaining, humorous and colourful and the excerpt he read at the Art Workers’ Guild showcased these qualities very well. I look forward to following the progress of the novel and wish him the best of luck with it. He’s set up a blog recently, which is another testament to his productivity – it can be accessed from the sidebar.

Alison sent out a news update to all course alumni a couple of weeks ago mentioning that Simon Holmes from the course had been taken on my Simon Trewin, an agent at United Artists, whom Alison previously described as ‘a big cheese’.  (His photo is now on the agency’s web page.) Simon’s writing is very intelligent; in passages it can be quite beautiful, creating a highly imaginative surreal world with a most intriguing central character. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his novel in the running for a literary prize in the near future.

A few students from the course have taken interesting initiatives. A couple of people have been on an Arvon foundation retreat up in the Black Isle near Inverness – something I’d like to do but for various reasons probably won’t get the opportunity for a few years. I’ll be looking forward to hearing how that went.

Another route is one-on-one mentoring, something that Bren Gosling, has taken up. He’s talked positively in his blog (linked to from the sidebar) about his sessions with Emma Sweeney – who stepped in as a very capable substitute for Emily at the end of the course and helped us with our readings.

Emma marked our last assignments for the course – our reflective commentary and blurb – and made some nice comments on mine. She also gave some very helpful feedback on material for my tutorial in the last term – which was the bulk of chapter five.

I’m mulling over another course of action that I might undertake this autumn in relation to keeping the writing momentum going – if I make a decision to then watch this space and all may be revealed.

The Power of Dreams?

I’m currently trying to write the part of the novel that follows on from what I submitted at the end of the City course. I’ve approached it in an odd way as I’ve written mainly dialogue for about six different scenes — all on in the afternoon and evening continuing on from the same day as the first five chapters. I’m already up to about 4,500 words so, once I’ve added in more description and context I guess I’m going to get at least two chapters of 3,500-4,000 words out of the material — but at the moment it’s slow going and without a deadline for workshopping I’m able to flit from one scene to the next adding a bit in here and there.

I would like to get this finished asap though as I’d like to send it out to get a couple of well-respected opinions on it — but I’m also up against a deadline in just over a week to do a literature review for my MSc project.

Perhaps all this is churning round in my subconscious as I had a rather strange dream. I dreamt for some reason I had gone back to our old house in Twickenham and the postman arrived with some ridiculously huge parcels — I think one may have been a bed all wrapped up. Among these pieces of post was an envelope with my marked assignments from the last term at City University (which I’m yet to receive) — chapters 3 to 5 in my case and a commentary and blurb.

As well as the marked assignments the package from City also contained a pepperoni pizza (rectangular shape like the envelope) and two garlic baguettes.

I had great difficulty reading the marked assignments for some reason — perhaps my contact lenses wouldn’t focus?. They were covered in remarks written in large green felt tip pen. Somehow I ended up trying to read the feedback in a car near my old dentists in the terraced houses on the edge of Rochdale town centre. Eventually I made out the words ‘poor’ and I turned over a page of my writing to see that the marker had written ‘KILL’ in huge great letters right across the whole page — the letters were filled in with fluorescent stripes from different coloured highlighter pens and were rounded — rather like psychedelic worms. Obviously that passage of description hadn’t gone down well.

I saw on a cover sheet that I’d been given 60% — and that’s when I started to wake up a realise it a dream as we’re not given any quantitative marking like that on the course.

If anyone is good at dream interpretation I’d be intrigued to know what this might mean — especially the pizza and the odd locations.