Assignment One

The Brief; You already have a body of work – congratulations!

Get out all the work you’ve done in Part One and read through it carefully. This will include:

  • The work you’ve done for the exercises in projects 1 to 4
  • All your extra freewrites
  • Your notebook work

Choose two or three pieces of work from this. They don’t all have to be the same length but they should be the pieces that resonate with you the most.

You don’t have to write a story, a poem, or any specific form for this assignment. You just have to show your tutor your writing – what you’ve already been doing.. If your writing by hand, you now need to transfer your work to a Word Document or similar. Submit approximately 1,000 words for this assignment. Use the word count facility to check how long your pieces are. Use the spellcheck too (but with care, as it can substitute a completely different word from the one you intended!). If your chosen pieces don’t make 1,000 words, you now have the choice of extending them. Only do this if you have some good ideas though. Otherwise, include a fourth piece to make up the word count.

Submit your work as soon as you have a fair copy. You may be surprised at the words of encouragement you receive, even if you thought your piece was not all that good.

Sophie Lives, from exercise 1.3

Sophie was horrified with the reality that she was in A and E and having to wait for a psychiatric assessment, she felt ashamed of herself and guilty for wasting so much of the doctors and nurses time. She had thoughts that other people were seriously ill and that they needed the medical attention that she had taken away from them. Waiting for the psychiatrist was daunting, seconds seemed to drag by. All she could do was think. She had never tried to end her life before, despite thoughts of this being a constant companion for many years. How could she explain what she had done, or the harm that she had suffered at the hands of Mark. Initially she hadn’t considered it to be domestic abuse, like thousands of other women she had always believed Mark’s words about how useless and pathetic she was, and how he had to put up with her failings. Deep in her core she knew he was right, and these beliefs were so intense tonight. Only a failure of a human being would try to end their own life. She knew the psychiatrist would judge her and believe it was all her fault.

Winter is a Bastard, from exercise 1.6

Spring is most definitely in the air despite the periods of relentless rain. Crocus and daffodils are pushing their necks out of the ground, and they are adding glorious pockets of colour to my days. Such joy. My mood is improving slowly but surely, I’m isolating less, and I’m having more clarity of thought. Gratitude is what I’m feeling as I write this short piece of freewriting (I adore freewriting, it’s shown me that I do have lots to write).

But winter is a bastard, an effing c of a nightmare that I often struggle to get through!

This year my mood dropped at the end of December, and my thoughts darkened. I began to obsess about suicide, and I researched methods on the Internet, and purchased some pills which I believed would end my life.

Motivation and pleasure from activities deserted me and I felt hopeless. Situations which involved close contact with others was a struggle and I avoided people. Ultimately I was overwhelmed and tried yet again to take my life. Disappointed that I didn’t succeed, but the disappointment that I tried to end my life pushed me into accepting help. I’m now attending a therapeutic day unit. It’s a short term program for a few weeks, enough to get me through until I am able to keep myself occupied and productive.

My energy always improves in the spring. If only I could hold back the self destruction long enough to get me through to the lighter, brighter and warmer days.

My thoughts are much clearer now, and I am enjoying my studies. I had my coursework for over a month before I could even open the folder. Eventually I realised I had to just begin the first exercise, I couldn’t wait until my motivation returned, I had to simply take action without expectation. I’m so grateful that I did because I find it has brought joy and satisfaction into my daily life.

I’m looking out for signs of spring now. I’m not waiting for motivation I’m acting as if I’m motivated, and I’m finding signs of spring right now. Recovery is action. Hope is important but I can’t hope my way into feeling better, I have to put the effort into hunting for joy and gratitude.

Rabbit Hide and Seek, from exercise 1.6

I was running through a dark forest when

A rabbit did appear

A ball of white cute fluffyness

I’m sure his look was queer

He bounded right up too my feet

And then he looked at me

And beckoned me to follow him

And hid behind a tree

“I can’t play hide and seek with you”

I really don’t have time”

His face became so sorrowfull

I said “oh dear, yes, fine”

So we played a little game or two

The rabbit he did win

I thanked him for the game we played

And his smile became a grin

Book Review – The Shepherds Crown

Terry Pratchet wrote The Shepherd’s Crown whilst he was dying, and fittingly one of his most loved characters, Granny Weatherwax died at the beggining of the story.

Her death left a gap in the barrier between Discworld and the land which the elves live. She past her cottage and roles as lead witch to Tiffany Aching.

The elf Queen, Nightshade, has her wings torn off and is thrown out of the elf kingdom by Peaseblossom. He did this because he felt that Nightshade had become to soft on goblins, and that she should be organising an attempt to take over Discworld now that the barriers were weaker.

Tiffany struggles with meeting her duties in Lance and on the Chalk. The Nac Nac Feegles live on the Chalk, and they also have a duty to look out for Tiffany. Nac Nac Feegles are blue, 7 inches tall, and they speak with a Scottish accent. They love to drink and fight.

The Nac Nac Feegles reluctantly agree to Tiffany’s request for them to guard Nightshade, who Tiffany refuses to kill because she is injured. She hopes to convert the elf Queen to understanding humanity and developing a cooperative attitude rather than a hostile one.

Meanwhile, Geoffrey, who left home due to bullying  from his father, wishes to become a witch under Tiffany”s guidance.

As the elves begin to prepare for war Tiffany calls all of the witches together to prepare to defend Discworld and banish the elves forever. Geoffrey unites the local men and they develop weapons to prepare for the war. Elves are harmed my metal, so they build a catapult and gather scraps of iron to fling at the elves.

As Geoffrey and the men defend Lancre, Tiffany, the witches and the Nac Mac Feegles defend the chalk. At the start of the war Peaseblossom kills Nightshade, but the are ultimately beaten when the King of the elves turns up, and overthrows Peaseblossom.

All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. The characters were believable and my imagination was gripped throughout. I could picture the different people and events in my mind. There were moments of laughter, excitement, compassion, sadness and dislike. I love the humour in Pratchet’s writing.

Pratchet, T; 2016; The Shepherd’s Crown; London; Corgi books.

Richard Keys

Richard516716

Assignment 1

 

 

What Would I Like To Read – Exercise 1.12

Are there any books you haven’t read but which you would like to read? They don’t have to be classics, just anything you’ve been thinking about reading and haven’t got round to yet, whether it’s the latest bestseller or something that’s been on your shelf for years. Make a note of some titles in your writing diary and then read one over the next couple of weeks.

If you struggle with this exercise, go to your local library or bookshop and browse the shelves for inspiration. Join the library if you’re not already a member – librarians are very helpful and will be happy to assist you with both joining and selecting material to take home. Pick a book and read it over the next couple of weeks.

I like the idea of joining the library, I have some free time today, so I’ll go ahead and do this whilst it’s fresh in my mind.

You know, there isn’t any particular book that I would like to read, and without this piece of coursework I would just go onto to the fiction trilogy that I have. But this had got me thinking. I like Yuval Noah Harari, I enjoy history and quantum physics floats my boat, so I’ll see what I can find.

I also want to say that I don’t like reading poetry. I don’t know why, somehow it doesn’t do that much for me. There’s the occasional poem which I enjoy, but the thought of reading an anthology fills me with the dread of the boredom and frustration. I know that’s bad to say, especially as I like to write poems, but it’s true I’m afraid.

The Kind Of Writer I Would Like To Be – Exercise 1.11

In your writing diary make a few notes about what you’ve read in the last six months. Your reading matter might include fiction (thrillers, horror, romance, literary fiction, etc.) poetry, drama and non-fiction (history, travel writing psychology, etc.) as well as newspapers and magazines.

Think about what kind of writer you would like to be. Perhaps you’re not sure yet, or perhaps there are several avenues you’d like to explore? Record this in your writing diary where it can be kept private. Writers can be very secretive about their hopes and dreams.

Firstly, I’m tired of this snowflake attitude to secrecy. We are students at the moment, and we should not be singled out as being special and different to other students. We should all be expected to complete our studies on a blog. Photographers, painters, film makers, textiles are expected to do so, along with their understanding of their processes, and these are just as personal to them as our writing is to us. That’s not to say that everything should be published, excerpts from novels we are writing, pieces of unfished journalism, poems we need to review and rework and personal projects are private until ready to publish. But not putting our coursework on a blog is patronising and being treated like anxious kids. Yuch. Rant over.

There are many genres of writing that I would like to develop, especially poetry, auto-biography, and academic style photo essays (I particularly enjoy), and I’d also like to write a short story or a novel.

My reading over the last six months has been limited to fiction and journalism to be honest. I read the Guardian online everyday,  and I have read The Maze Runner trilogy and Lord of the Rings, and I’m currently reading Thirteen by Sebastian Beaumont (a hard book to read, and I’ll write a book review once I have finished). I’m aware I have read one other book and written a review of it on my blog, but have forgotten what it was. Ah ha, my memory returns, it was the Shephards Crown by Terry Pratchet. I have another trilogy to read once I’ve finished Thirteen. After that I’m going to try and broaden my scope of reading. I’m also currently reading through a book about anorexia and bulimia, which would fit into the genre of psychology.

hdrpl

The Blackbird – A Poem

The blackbird is the first to sing during the dawn chorus.

It’s four am and I hear her chirping

No other bird is making a sound

The blackbird is another sign of spring

 

I don’t mind being up early, while it’s still dark

Especially as the blackbird is awake with me

It warms my heart

And tells me that today will be a good day

IMG_20200310_153316

I need a good day

And I desperately need the signs of spring

The winter has been long, hard and wet, with never ending rain

I need that blackbird to sing

 

I’ve heard a rumour that April will be warm

Much warmer than usual

In the 20’s I’m told

April will also bring the full dawn chorus

 

Such hope and such joy this news does bring

A hope for life

And another winter won

I can rest in hope now that spring has begun.

Gear Sick – A Poem

Wake up early I don’t know why,
Darkness looms, no sun in the sky.
Sleeplessness makes me want to cry,
So I’ll jack up early, I’m gonna get high.

The gear is shit I need some more,
Dollar in my hand, I go out of the door,
Living like this is such a chore.
So ill have another hit, I’m rotting to the core.

oznorCO

I get my money by robbing Jack and jil
Another few quid to buy another pill
I never have enough, want one more thrill.
Life’s grinding me down like a stone on a mill.

You look at my life as such a disgrace,
Come right over here and say it to my face.
Leave me the fuck alone; leave this space,
Or ill stab you up and put you in your place.

Freewriting Is A Blessing

I’m surprised by freewriting and how it has been such a positive experience. My initial response to reading about the freewriting exercise was dread and anxiety, with thoughts that I would be writing random words without a clue about what to write.

However, this has not been the case. I generally start with a word or two in my mind as a prompt for my writing, and I have found this to be helpful. From this the words have flowed from my pen, and as I produce sentences more thoughts begin to coalesce.

The coursework asked us not to consider structure, but this had also been a natural part of the exercises for me. I’ve managed to write prose, snippets of auto-biography and a nonsense poem. I particularly like the nonsense and the poem that I produced.

This morning I wrote for over 20 minutes, which is quite a long time, especially as I originally thought that 5 minutes would be too long.

I can see how freewriting can help people overcome blocks that can surface with writing. I don’t expect this form of writing to be so natural all of the time, but it has been a positive experience so far.

Rabbit Hide And Seek – Exercise 1.6

2) You might find it easier to begin writing if you have a ‘prompt’ to give you an initial focus, although you must then allow your thoughts to wander as they choose. For example ‘I was running through a dark forest when…’ and just keeping writing. 

I wrote the following by hand and am now typing it up.

 

I was running through a dark forest when

A rabbit did appear

A ball of white cute fluffyness

I’m sure his look was queer

He bounded right up too my feet

And then he looked at me

And beckoned me to follow him

And hid behind a tree

“I can’t play hide and seek with you”

I really don’t have time”

His face became so sorrowfull

I said “oh dear, yes, fine”

So we played a little game or two

The rabbit he did win

I thanked him for the game we played

And his smile became a grin


My mind is wandering today

I know not what to write

I haven’t got my glasses on

Which means I have no sight

I’m trying to find my glasses now

By feeling on the floor

My knees are getting carpet burns

The poor things now feel sore

Featured On No Stigmas

No Stigmas is a mental health organisation who has the aim of helping people to develop peer to peer communities, to provide mutual support to others with mental health difficulties. They also provide training so that you can support your self as a self-advocate, and be part of strong peer networks.

Anyone with mental health problems can join and registration is straightforward.

As well as a little intro that I put together they linked to a poem that I wrote last year about talking myself back from a suicide attempt to reaching out for support. It can be seen here.

We are not alone if we have the courage to reach out for support.

A couple sitting on the steps of a church in Durham UK
Friendship
Two pairs of friends. walking along #the street in Durham, near to the Castle and Cathedral.
Friendship

No Stigmas