When I was looking at the course description for A215 I always knew that I would struggle with the life writing section of the course. I am not interested in biographical writing, I do not read it, I even struggle when it comes to travel writing. Mind you, I quite like reading blogs. However, I also don’t think I’m ready to bare my soul and venture into autobiography; and ultimately while the pertinent points of my life were fairly important in making me who I am today I don’t want to directly* channel them into my prose writing**.
As a result I kept putting off working on my TMA; I drafted some terrible poems that I might have been able to rework into something to use if I could have gotten over how terrible they were. I couldn’t get over how bad they were, however, and moved onto prose.
With a little over a week to go I started writing a nested autobiographical piece from a point of view of my adult self watching key events that happened in 1999, 1991 and 1987; the 1987 piece would be the core while the 1991 and 1999 pieces would be split into two so it would go 1999, 1991, 1987, 1991, 1999. I even got some words drafted for both of the 1991 bits… I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it.
I took a stab at reworking it into a more narrative style starting, “I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had gone to Japan.” I realised that sucked after the first paragraph and moved on.
Prose draft number three, with the deadline drawing ever closer, worked on the idea of character traits inherited along the matrilineal line (from Grandmother, to mother, to daughter – so you don’t have to grab a dictionary). It was pertinent to me right now because I’ve just had a daughter, I like the idea of letting her know what the women that came before her were like; I even started it with the phrase, “I hope, Tessa…” and addressed the whole piece to her. It was clunky and, apart from one paragraph about the nature of Lancashire folk vs Southerners, mostly rubbish.
Finally on Tuesday, I came up with an idea and started working on it. I managed to get some really good prose in it, although I’m sure that if I read it again I’d think my head was stuck up somewhere really pretentious when I wrote it. Unfortunately, by the time Wednesday evening came along I was at the 700/2,000 word mark and severely sleep deprived due to baby sleep patterns; I found myself having to decide between getting an early night and regaining some notion of sanity, or finishing my assignment on time.
I went to bed at 8pm. While I did wake up during the night, or rather got woken up frequently during the night, I didn’t emerge until 8am and felt slightly more human.
I wrote the remaining 800 words of the life writing and the 500 words of commentary between 9am and 11:45am – yet another time my touch typing has come in handy. I imagine the words I wrote are terrible, I can’t say I’ve been able to look at them since. However, when I was about to submit the assignment little bear decided to have an enormous poo-splosion that required an outfit change, so I put the computer to one side and cleaned her up.
I finally submitted it after midday, there were a few technical issues, the website kept crashing when I tried to submit, but it got there. But all in all it was definitely not a good way to write an assignment.
*I have no problem with indirectly channeling them, for example in one of the pieces I’m working on at the minute the protagonist will be approached by creepy men, and I fully intend to draw on my own experiences in that respect, but it won’t be a blow by blow account of things that have happened to me.
**Although I have no problems using my life as the basis of my poetry. Also, I guess I should start including this blog as my idea of prose writing.