End of Term 1
This week marks the end of the first term of study for this DIYMA and as suggested by the author of the syllabus (Andrew Wille www.wille.org) I will be sticking to ten/eleven week terms.
I must admit to feeling relieved that I’ll be having a “sort of” break. It’s been a few years since I've been involved so much in formal study and this hasn't been easy so far. I'm lucky I have the time to apply myself to this, but my head is beginning to feel a bit crammed with new ideas and information.
My writing Buddy, George, and I both agree that, already, this studying has had an impact not only on our own writing but on the way we read or view other works of fiction.
During the next few weeks I am hoping to apply some of what we have learned to my own writing. I have been holding off from committing to a new book idea until I had made some progress. And I am glad I did. The story I have in mind was in danger of turning into yet another amateurish collection of scenes that seemed like good ideas, rather than a flowing piece of work that would grip a reader. I can’t promise it will ever be that, but at least I have a little insight into some of the elements that make the difference between a DNF and a palatable read.
A couple of things spring to mind as I review this first term. One is the Helsinki Bus Station metaphor (here’s a link if you haven’t come across this before https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/feb/23/change-life-helsinki-bus-station-theory ). The idea that other people have already walked the path I’m taking, produced work in a similar vein, struggled with the same concepts, used the methods I’m using, should not be bothersome. In the pursuit of any creative endeavour there will always be those who have gone before and produced excellent work. The real challenge is not to produce thousands of words, but to “stay on the bus” and persist in developing your skill, become competent at least.
The other concept I was reminded of was the ‘Novice to Expert’ model of skill acquisition. I first came across this during my work for the NHS where it was popularised in nursing by Patricia Benner (https://www.nursing-theory.org/theories-and-models/from-novice-to-expert.php ). Benner’s work was based upon the ‘Dreyfus Model’ (https://vorakl.com/articles/dreyfus/). The five stages of skill acquisition the models propose seem reasonable. Certainly, in writing, there are rules; grammar, spelling, layout, etc. to be learned and applied and, sometimes, broken. But the key takeaway from the model, for me, is that learning is primarily experiential. There is no substitute for doing the work, skill cannot be acquired through didactic teaching alone.
‘Into the Woods’ John Yorke Several more Chapters
‘Steering the Craft’ Ursula K Le Guin Ch 10 Crowding and Leaping again.
‘Brokeback Mountain’ Annie Prioux including the prologue
‘Once Upon a River’ Diane Setterfield, finished, a well told story
'Days Without End' Sebastian Barry (Just Begun)
And a whole load of web pages and videos about Plotting, Genre, Sub-Genre, Genre conventions etc.
I hope you have enjoyed these blogposts so far, (please let me know either way). During the next few weeks my posts will have a different flavour, there may even be some fiction, until we begin our studies in earnest again in early January.