Australia · books · challenges · realities · writing

Excited trepidation

Sometimes, even birds get in a tizz.
Sometimes, even birds get in a tizz.

This morning, the university study schedule and information has been released for the two units I am enrolled in for session one, which begins next week, and as I printed out Study Guides and Unit Information Guides this morning I felt the familiar bubble of excited anticipation I usually feel at the beginning of a new learning journey.

Mingled with the excitement, however, I also experienced a fairly large chunk of trepidation.

I’m enrolled in the Associate Degree in Creative Writing and have so far completed three of the sixteen units. The first two units, which I completed well before the end of last year in session two of the study year, progressed wonderfully. Nothing untoward happened, I learned lessons which I will continue to carry with me throughout the associate degree and beyond, and I became friendly with some like-minded, ‘mature aged’ students who are experiencing a similar learning process to my own. I took the opportunity to complete my third unit over the Christmas/New Year period, during session three, again feeling eagerness and anticipation over the content of the coming twelve weeks study and assignment tasks.

It was during the latter weeks of this third unit that I began to feel the effects of information overload, brought about by political leanings, opinionated unit content and the evident desire of the authors of the learning materials to neatly package groups of people together in what they described as minority group and label each group with its (apparent) appropriate sticker.

At the point in the unit that I began questioning the learning process, we were discussing the book Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

An academic may, upon the mention of Jane Eyre, nod knowingly and mutter ‘ah yes, Jane Eyre‘, whilst realising the popular train of thought offered by university lecturers and those people who possess a biting, critical and analytical mind for all texts written since the beginning of time. For the uninitiated student such as myself, however, the Study Guide materials and ensuing discussions came as something of a shock.

What did I expect when I enrolled in this unit? Jane Eyre was listed as one of the Written Texts students would study during this unit, along with several other books. I’ve read Jane Eyre and although I found Brontë’s 19th-century style of speech difficult to read in the beginning, after the first few pages I began to enjoy the experience of reading a book written authentically in the time frame. Historical writing, such as Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, whilst written historically, were not written in 1743, the year in which the female protagonist, Clare Randall, found herself after falling through a time-warp amid the stones at Craigh na Dun during a visit to Scotland in 1946. Jane Eyre, on the other hand, was published in 1847 and written during a time when females were not regarded as having anything worthwhile to say and not accepted as authors worthy of publication. Charlotte Brontë, like other female authors of her time, stepped around this technicality by releasing her early writing under the nom de plume of Currer Bell, a fact which I found fascinating and a sign of those times. During reading Jane Eyre I marvelled at the changes in society during the past one-hundred-and-seventy years and silently thanked the suffragettes, and various other the women throughout time who have fought the battle, and won, for equal right for women. I had expected discussions throughout this unit to be comparisons of writing styles during various time frames; I expected admiration for female authors, such as Charlotte Brontë who led the way in fighting a male dominated society, hence breaking down the barriers, enabling the opportunity for me to write today.

I was wrong. We were expected to read the assigned texts from the only point of view we have available to us, which is now, placing all of the judgements we know to be ‘correct’ today, on a text which was written one-hundred-and-seventy years ago. Apparently, Charlotte Brontë wrote from a narrow and limited point of view and should have known better than to portray Rochester’s first wife as a Creole, which (apparently) emphasised the bigoted outlook of the English.

This line of discussion, (especially relating to the apparent prejudice of English folk whose soul purpose was to colonise and the entire world) was held right at the time when heated debate was rife over Donald Trump’s controversial election as the American President. And perhaps this unit’s discussion board conversations fell victim of the overflow of anguish spilling across from the other side of the world. It didn’t help the situation any when these events coincided with Australia celebrating yet another ‘Australia Day’, meant to bring the citizens of this country together as we sing the praises of the country we love, yet in recent years has been described as ‘invasion day’ by some people who are indigenous, part indigenous or indigenous sympathisers in this country. Before I realised what was happening, the discussion board debate turned political. In the university environment, where the study guides describe our once heralded ‘Australia Day’ as invasion day (a point which I usually overlook, and read on) my once-expected-to-be pleasurable debate and learning experience turned into an emotionally draining nightmare.

If you have read this far, and are a regular reader of my blog posts, no doubt you are asking why I chose to participate in the discussion board debacle, when it obviously upset my equilibrium. Ten percent of the grade awarded at the end of the unit is assessed on personal participation to the discussion board. I seriously considered whether it was worth the ten percent, but as the unit was nearing the end when I became positively rattled, I chose to stick it out.

As I begin to study two new units, again verging into the unknown, I have not developed any expectations of the unit content. I now know to expect the unexpected, however, the trepidation is there. I do not wish to feel like an emotionally drained, rung-out old dish cloth at the end of what should be a pleasant learning journey. I hope that this most recent experience is a one-time event. I question how the topic of discussion I endured will help me to become a better writer, (which is why I signed up for the Associate Degree in Creative Writing) and will remain open to a proverbial penny dropping moment in the future.

For assignment 4, discussion board participation, my grade was a high distinction, yet in hindsight, I feel I paid too a high a price for the ultimate accolade, which was such a small aspect of the unit.

And please, anyone who feels inclined to comment regarding anything political or controversial, I respectfully ask you to please refrain from any such observations. These mentions were only made to describe a situation, not to open further debate.

Thank you, dear reader, for lending your ear (eye?) as I again venture into the unknown, this time literally prepared – in a suit of armour.

challenges · In My World · pets · Uncategorized · writing

Making time for writing.

Making time to enjoy the important aspects of life. Meet my new little girl, Brontë, a seven month old Labrador.
Making time to enjoy the important aspects of life. Meet my new little girl, Brontë, a seven-month-old Labrador.

For those of you who haven’t heard what I’ve been up to this year, there is a logical explanation as to why I haven’t added any new posts to In My World for nearly three months.

Late last year I began an online course through the University of Tasmania, a Diploma of Family History, which whetted my appetite for writing to such an extent that I searched university websites for something – anything – where I could formally learn more about the art of writing.

As it turns out, a local university offers an online Associate Degree in Creative Writing, just what I wanted, but there was a catch – I had to have completed high school before they would allow me to enrol, which I hadn’t done. But an alternative to returning to high school was offered, a short course which, if I passed, would guarantee my enrollment in the associate degree.

I couldn’t sign up quick enough! And after having successfully completed the preliminary course by June, with three distinctions and one high distinction, I am now tackling my third unit in the associate degree.

An assignment is due tomorrow, which needs my immediate attention, but isn’t it ridiculous not to have a regular writing routine when studying writing? I don’t know how successful I will be in finding time to add more regular posts to my blog, and I can’t make promises to regularly visit my friends’ blogs either, but I can try.

Only time will tell if I can succeed in arranging my time management skills to this extent. Hopefully, I can.

 

books · freedom · inspiration · reading · writing · Writing 101

I Write Because….

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“A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.” – Roald Dahl

The month of November in the blogging world each year brings forth challenges, writing challenges to be specific, usually in the form of something along the lines of NaNoWriMo, which I joined once, way back in my early days of blogging. It gave me confidence, I met other novice bloggers (and some not so novice!) and learnt some about the World of Blogging.

A few days ago I signed up for a month of daily November learning sessions, offered by WordPress ~ Blogging 201, which I am hoping will help me to understand the technical side of WordPress blogging more fully, ie ~ how to make all of those little widgets and gadgets work in my dashboard area, and Writing 101, to encourage me to write each day, a practice of which I have been extremely tardy of late!

The task today in Blogging 201 is to discover a new feature that you never realised you had, connected to the theme chosen for your blog. That was an easy task, as I had been wondering if my theme, Twenty Ten, offered a drop down box option option below the header. It does, and I have combined my other websites  into a drop down option, when the computer mouse is hovered over where it says “about” ~ give it a go, it works, and takes away some of the clutter at the top of my page! I have something else in mind to add there, a new idea though, which will need a bit more thought before I take action.

Today’s task for Writing 101 is the purpose for today’s post, in which students are asked to tell why they write. It will be interesting to read how others have answered this question (or completed the sentence, whichever way you wish to look at it) as for me, it’s a moot point ~ I have always written something, poems, letters, cards, fiction and non-fiction. I need paper, pens, pencils and books to keep my world spinning, and the world of the computer, and the internet, simply enhance my literary world. Why? I don’t know. Writing, words, are a part of who I am. Whether the words I write, when strung together in sentence form, are regarded as good, bad or otherwise is of no consequence. And as long as my sentences continue to make some sense, I will continue to write.

This November challenge arrived at just the right time for me. I remembered something recently, a forgotten dream, from over twenty years ago. When we lived in Sydney, with two young children and another on the way, planning to build our dream home “up north”, I saw my future home as one in which I would relax my soul and find a snippet of quiet time in every day. I had, and still have, a beautiful desk at which to write, and I dreamed of sitting at my wonderful desk and writing down all of the words I had wished to write during recent years, when my children were young and taking up all of the time in my days, and my writing was limited to the occasional letter.

My desk is still waiting for me. Don’t get me wrong, I have spent countless hours sitting with head down and pen in hand at my desk, writing business letters, or adding numbers into columns for the tax man. I’ve written out cards for various occasions, notes to school teachers, checked homework, even written out cheques back in the old days, and in more recent years these tasks have been promoted to another larger desk, complete with computer, printer, scanner….when all I really wanted was my simple desk, a pen and some paper on which to write the words told to me by the voice inside my heart.

So, I write because….I can, and in the hope that my words may hold some meaning to another soul who finds my words and reads them.

I write because….it is often easier to write than to speak. Forming written words clears my busy brain and has even answered questions to problems which I have imagined were insurmountable.

I write because….there may be something that I say that will be significant to a future generation, which is why I write down the information I have discovered, and the stories I have remembered, from past generations.

I write because I love to write. I write from my heart, I know of no other way. And I will continue to write.

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