Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Time for a break

Once again, the summer school I ran for Oxford University was intensely rewarding and intensely draining! I'm sitting in the study with files and handouts strewn about - they probably won't be sorted properly until September. I met some lovely people and they produced some wonderful writing exercises, creating fascination and a great deal of laughter!

It really is time now for time out, though. The past few months have been productive but challenging, both on  personal and professional levels. I feel I need to take two or three weeks now just for me, to try to gather my thoughts, not about my clients or my students, but about me. Interestingly, both at Winchester and at last week's summer school, I was asked 'What are you working on now?' Well, it'll be a year next month since I set up fictionfire and that has been an all-encompassing project. I've learned an extraordinary amount and have seen the business grow - and hope to see it grow further - but during all this, and with the normal demands of my other teaching, it's been all too easy to lose sight of myself as a writer. I have not been producing very much and what there is is short: poems, a short story for the Bridport competition. Everything else is on the back burner. For some years now I've been wrestling with this: what do I write next? How much do I care? Is my over-awareness of the 'business' of it all cancelling out the once-instinctive joy of it? These are serious questions. Yet, in spite of it all, that sense of an itch, that virus in the blood, that hunger to create is still there - below the surface. I hope to get some mulling and pondering done while I take my break from the professional side of me. Oh, and I also hope to get some reading done. For pleasure, nothing else - how would that be?

Enjoy your summer, all of you!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Summer school and autumn courses

Those who follow me on facebook will know I've been having a pig of a time this week updating my website. I needed to put the full course details up for my two courses, Making Memorable Scenes on the 2nd October and Shape Up and Make Your Pitch on the 16th October. Easy-peasy, you might say. Not. I decided to make a new page on the site for the venue for the courses - had terrible trouble with photo-layout: I'm not good at this. Then lost the lot when the internet went down, just as I was about to upload (isn't it always when you're just about to upload?). Tried again the next day - got the page up, but the photos sit in positions which do not equate to how they looked when creating the page, so I'm still not entirely happy with it and will have to have another go. Yesterday I found that by creating the new page, none of the internal links worked properly - had to laboriously go through every page undoing and re-doing the links.

I should have spent today lying down in a darkened room. However, I start teaching on the University's summer school programme on Saturday so am preparing for that. A very intensive week lies ahead but I enjoy it a lot because I've met such a wide variety of interesting people, from all over the world - people with loads of enthusiasm and commitment. This will be my ninth year of teaching this - it's a course that squeezes all the elements of novel-writing into a week. Students also particularly value the two individual tutorials they have during the week: they send an assignment in beforehand and do another during the course. The tutorials are mini-editorial meetings and it's very fulfilling to see people take away advice and suggestions and put them into practice. Some students make enormous progress in a few days and are able to analyse their own work more effectively and make use of new techniques and awareness. Quite a few have kept in touch with me long after the course is done, and this is so rewarding.

So, the website photos will have to wait a while ...