A year ago today – 29th August 2009 – while eagerly waiting for my Open University Creative Writing course to begin, I posted my first blog post.
It was a short story called Shoes. I thought at the time that it was a freewrite; I gave myself a very limited time to come up with something based on a prompt. Looking back I realise that it was actually an unedited first draft of a short story. I’ve just read it again and realise that it’s not bad for a first draft.
And now – coincidentally – as if marking that first year, I was given the privilege of being the NormBlog profile this week. Over on Norman Geras’s blog: NormBlog Profile No. 362
What I have learnt over the past year is that a course in itself is not enough. My writing style, the me that comes through hasn’t changed. From studying I have learned essential rules and valuable skills and also how to accept criticism, how to meet deadlines, and how to focus on one’s reader. I loved the course and thought it was worth every penny and it has encouraged me to study at a higher level to obtain a diploma and hopefully a degree. But the courses in themselves don’t give me much of an audience. I had a brilliant, lovely tutor and a handful of students (that I now class as friends) who shared and critiqued work but that was a tiny restrictive audience and we always knew we were writing to please a marking system.
Blogging has formed the missing link in all this. I know when I post a story or a comment to my blog that it will be read by people from all walks of life and sometimes all over the world. These are the people I want to reach. These people don’t give me marks out of one hundred. People can tell me if I’ve reached them, connected with them, struck a chord, how they can relate to what I’ve written… personal stuff that tutors and exam markers can’t tell me.
In the 3 month break between courses I have written more than ever, boldly gone into the realms of entering competitions, thrown myself into online flash fiction and mingled with writers online who are actually daring to write stuff without having it academically assessed by an official marker! It has given me enormous thrills and companionship and the confidence to think beyond a percentage mark, a diploma, a degree and just write for the pure love of it. I have a heavy year of study ahead of me but I can remind myself what I’m doing it for now. Thanks to everyone who reads this. I appreciate it.