A swift dark dream from the outer lands from the folk whose talk none understands. taken from the opening to the poem An Escape interludes and poems by Lascelles Abercrombie 9 January 1881 – 27 October 1938. British poet and literary critic. Published by Lane in 1908
Day 15: A Busy Week in the Life of a Would-be Writer: My time as a mature student.
This week started with the arrival of a copy of Francesca McMahon’s novel ‘How to marry the Dead.’ It had won a writing competition, and I wanted to read it after meeting and chatted to Francesca at the Essex Book Festival.
I’ve been busy this week with my housework, as I’ve fallen behind on it. However, in the end, my writing won through as I set to work on my third assignment for my home study course with the Writing Magazine. Yes, you have read that right, I’ve invested in a writing course, with the Writers’ News, called Polish Your Writing Style.
Just to bring you up to date, my second assignment came back about a week ago. The second part of the question I messed up completely but overall I’m very pleased with how well I’ve done.
My evening classes had left me doubting my ability to write, let alone my ability to understand Basic English. Mr C left me feeling totally confused. When I asked him to explain to me what he had just told the class I’m left feeling none the wiser. Sometimes I got the feeling he’s just too busy showing us how clever he was by using all the grammatical terms, without really explaining to us, in simple terms, so we could understand what it was he was talking about.
When I was at school many years ago, I was stuck in the bottom grade with all the children who either didn’t want to learn, or played up so much that the teachers couldn’t be bothered to teach us. I was so unhappy as I always felt I could do better, I went to the head teacher and begged her to put me in a higher grade, but I was denied.
Looking back over my school years, I can truly say not one of my teachers left a deep and lasting impression on my life. Forty-eight years later, Mr C was making a huge impression on me, but not for all the right reasons. When I left the class last week, I did think twice about whether it was worth going back.
But I did. There were three of us waiting for Mr C to arrive. Motorbike Dave, myself, and the new woman I shall call K.
“He (Mr C) talks too much about things we don’t need to know, ” K whispered to me. “Why is he telling us about his family background?”
I laughed. “I wished you had joined our class sooner. I thought was the only one who had noticed that fact.”
Mr C’s first comment to me at the beginning of the lesson was one of shock.
“What you haven’t brought a short story in for me to read! Well Paula, what have you been doing all week?”
I explained that I was busy doing a home study course. What I really wanted to say was I didn’t see much point in handing anything in. He didn’t bother to read, or mark any of the tasks he had set us as homework during any of the classes. Not that he even particularly interested in whether anyone completed them at all.
A little later, Ms 40’s arrived, along with the classroom assistant.
This week’s class was about Past Perfect. Once again we got an online print out and Mr C read it to us, though he has started to write things out on the board. Also, he had started to divide the lesson up into three parts i.e. we read the printout and talk about it. Then we talked about different writing styles. He gave us two examples by two authors. One was from The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.
When Ms 40’s asked Mr C what was the title of book the second opening passage came from and who wrote it?
“I can’t remember the name of the book, but I have read it,” Mr C said quickly changing the subject.
While we were talking about writing styles, Mr C said the strangest of things. In his opinion books weren’t realistic enough as none of the characters ever went to the toilet, had meals, bathed, or went to sleep.
I said, unless these things were relevant to the plot there was no need to add them, as within reality most readers would know the characters would have done these things.
I then joked with Mr C, saying no wonder he had taken 24 years writing his novel, if he was adding in all this extra information that wasn’t needed.