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I've written stories ever since I could write, but somewhere along the way I seem to have lost the joy and natural desire to write for me. Churning out stories every other week for my degree course, and forcing non-existent brilliance out of myself has drained my natural spirit. So, I have created myself a blog in an attempt to find a way back to what made me fall in love with writing in the first place. Only you and I will discover if I fail or succeed...

Monday, 23 May 2011

In Which the Dissertation Begins

Back in January I made my final choice of dissertation, a safe five months away. Last week I was assigned a supervisor and crashed into reality. I was busy completing assignments for 45 credits of my degree when an e-mail popped into my inbox welcoming me for a meeting with my supervisor and asking for a summary of my planned work.

If you don’t already know, Kingston University’s creative writing dissertation consists of a 15,000 piece of creative writing and a 3,000 word essay. I’m not saying I can’t write that much in 5 months (watch this space), but I hadn’t realised I’d need to plan the whole thing in advance. I’m one of those writers who find out the story as she goes along (with the exception of two cases, which are still under construction)[1]. Suddenly being faced with 15,000 words of planning gave me that cold-blooded shock of adrenaline I like to narrate as ‘dawning apprehension’.[2]

Out came the unloved ‘started’ folder in my writing collection and there ensued frantic searching for some story or idea that could turn itself into a 15,000 word gem. No luck there, so I turned to my university writing folders for half-fledged stories I could continue writing into a masterpiece. All the while trying to work on my current ‘Special Study’[3] and get it up to scratch so I can offer it as a potential continuation for my real dissertation.

Eventually, after much chocolate and stress[4] I rediscovered two more pieces of work to suggest to my supervisor. Cue a quick touch-up then the meeting. I brought with me my current work, last semester’s ‘it’s-not-so-good-but-I-might-as-well-bring-it-along’ pirate story and my five-year in the making baby.[5] Shock and horror, by best piece (the current story – for seven year-olds and about an imp) was least desired by my supervisor, author of a ‘lurid vision of environmental degradation’.[6]

My baby and the pirate story were the main contenders. We considered my baby, but I was immediately torn between shaping her into a mature adult and the fact I knew I’d have to rip her apart to do it.[7] So became the ‘not-so-good-but-might-as-well-bring-it-along’ pirate story the premise for my dissertation. Apparently even intelligent literary types enjoy a good romp.

So, you should bring that wild card, submit the one that doesn’t quite satisfy your inner critic, allow the imperfect or black horse through. You might just find your imperfection is someone else’s perfection.[8] All I’ve got to do now is give it a bit of intelligence...

Until next time. Adieu xx

[1] And may have been for, oh, about two to five years (one being two, the other five – I’m not that bad at math).
[2] Or ‘it dawned on her with apprehension’, depending on word count and style. Coincidentally, I believe the shot that filmmakers use to demonstrate this feeling is called a ‘vertigo shot’. Much loved in forest scenes.
[3] A non-dissertation dissertation that likes to pretend it’s a dissertation in third year (just by another name) and then rear itself as a double-weighted module in second semester at Master’s level, which is the exact same as the first semester’s regular double-weighted module but with a fancier name.
[4] And several stressful runs (trying to beat your personal best distance is effectively motivating, but also rather stressful when you fail).
[5] See footnote 1.
[6] According to the Financial Times.
[7] Even I was aware of the plot chasms, but like any mother – oblivious to fault or guilt.
[8] I’m not saying it’s perfect – far from, but it’s a metaphor so it’s allowed.

1 comment:

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