2007 Writing Journal – Part 1

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I’m taking a blog break to do another Project October. In place of my normal blog posts during July, I will be posting in nine parts a writing journal I completed as the major assessment piece of my final master’s subject called The Writerly Self.

This is Part 1.

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26 February 2007
First day of my last subject. I started this course nearly three years ago and it’s both concerning and a relief to finally be nearing the end. One subject at a time was the plan and I’ve stuck to it. But I worry that without constant deadlines I won’t be nearly as motivated to write as often I have been during this time. It’s so much easier to lie on the couch and think about writing instead of actually doing it, especially if there is no reason to do it today instead of tomorrow.

Have I changed as a writer? Absolutely. Without question. I started this course thinking I already knew everything (not sure why I thought this course was necessary in spite of that). But I didn’t. Previous writing studies had given me a practical basis from which to work and I’d built upon that through writing, writing and more writing. But I’d never really considered the theoretical aspects of writing that make up the vast majority of this course. I’ve been able to add depth and layers to my efforts at writing, probably as a result of this study. I can’t say definitively but I’m sure there’s a link. There have been quantitative changes as well as the qualitative. By the time I finish in May, I will have written nearly 100,000 words in weekly discussion thread initial postings and hundreds of thousands more words in the back and forth banter, as well as about 100,000 words for eight major assessment pieces. Never in my life have I been so prolific. Hmmm. Sometimes that’s a problem, not a virtue. I have to learn to be more concise.

I’ve already researched, written and posted my first discussion thread but I wasn’t the first. Melissa had already posted hers. It’s great to see someone else so eager. In some of the subjects, some people seem to treat it like high school, like they’re doing it because they have to rather than because they want to. I fail to see how anyone who approaches writing like that could ever be successful. Or maybe I just hope they won’t be successful.

Anyway, the initial topic was dramaturgy and already I’m wondering if this unit is going to be a succession of subjects that go over my head. I’ve enjoyed being exposed to all the theoretical concepts throughout this course – postmodernism, deconstruction, genre theory, etc – but that’s not to say I truly understand them all. Maybe it’s an awareness of them, rather than an understanding, that is more important.

2 March 2007
I’ve just had a peek at the assessment requirements for The Writerly Self and it’s a bit different from normal. Usually, the discussion threads are worth 20% and the major assessment piece is worth 80% but for this subject the discussion threads are worth 40% and the major assessment piece is worth 60%. This may work in my favour. I usually do pretty well when I am graded on my discussion threads. Plus the major assessment piece for this subject is a writing journal consisting of ‘a record in about 3,000 to 5,000 words of your development as a writer with particular emphasis on the period of this unit’. Already I’m flashing back to the Writing History subject. Although I have a degree in history, I have no desire to write history and that subject was a real struggle for me. The story of my grandparents’ early life is actually an interesting one but I managed to butcher it pretty well. From recollection, I think my tutor said I was too distanced from the subject. I lived with them for eleven years so I’m not sure how I managed that.

Hmmm. This is interesting. I just went to the Swinburne website to look at the Writing History subject outline and I noticed that it and all the other subjects are now graded on a 40/60 basis. I wonder whether a 40/60 basis would have changed how well I’ve done so far.

Anyway, since I know the major assessment piece for The Writerly Self will not be as smooth as if I were writing a novel or a screenplay, I’ve decided to postpone any work on my novel. I’m at 81,000 words and the climax is rapidly approaching. I have it all outlined, but I just wrote a chapter that I am particularly unhappy with. Usually when that happens, I know I need to take a break from it so perhaps the timing for all of this is good. The intention will be to pick it up again in June after The Writerly Self is finished. I hope that’s as easy as simply doing it. Sometimes when I take a break from writing a particular piece, it can be hard to get back into it. Not this time, though. I think I’ve developed a pretty good writing work ethic, treating it like a job rather than a luxury to be enjoyed whenever I feel like it. But like a job, there has to be a certain amount of prioritising. The Writerly Self-assessment piece takes on writing priority number one for now.

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