Thursday, 12 August 2010

'Assonance means getting the rhyme wrong...'

Today I received my course handbook for the part time diploma in Creative Writing I'm starting in September.
Slap on the doormat it went, a slender A4 spiral-bound tome containing a recommended reading list of 168 books.

Yes 168!

I counted.

In a panic I emailed a friend who is also signed up for the course. She replied saying that yes, she has read most of the books at some time or other (damn, no sympathy there then).

I counted again. Just in case I had missed something. Out of the entire list of 168 books I have read 4.

FOUR books in my entire lifetime.

And 2 of those were 'how to write' type books, so I'm not even sure that they count.

What have I been doing with my life?(Obviously not reading the same books as everybody else.)
Even accounting for periods of drunkenness and periods of hangover recovery, surely I must have read more books on this list.

I read down the list:


And I'm there. I AM Julie Walters in 'Educating Rita':

["Suggest how you would resolve the staging difficulties "inherent in a production of Ibsen's Peer Gynt"
you have written, quote. "Do it on the radio. "Unquote.]

As if this wasn't bad enough (yeah it's bad enough), from week 6 we are 'doing' poetry.




Nope, writing it in different font doesn't make it any more attractive.

168 books in 8 weeks before the course starts...that makes it about 20 a week, or 3 a day (4 a day if you want weekends off). Yeah, no probs. I'll go get started now...


Liz said...

Can you post the list so we can all feel smug if we've read more than you and can pretend not to have read it if we've read less?

MadameSmokinGun said...

Is Janet and John on the list? I've read that.

I signed up for a writing course about 12 years ago. Big box of stuff it was. Looked through it. Wrote a page of notes for the first assignment I did.

Hoovered round it for a few years.

Gave it to charity about 5 years ago.

I wish you better luck than me. Maybe it's not luck. Maybe it's simply opening it more than once. I wish you happy composing then!

Carolyn said...

YES LIZ!!! What a good plan!!! lol
I'm sure that I would be somewhere near the bottom like BMF on this one though!!!

Carolyn said...

That's if you're not too busy reading Bmf!!!!

Big mamma frog said...

Well if my scanner was working then yep I'd scan them all in and we could have a competition. But if I'm going to type them then that would have to be some serious displacement activity.

By the way, I counted again and actually I've only read 3 of the books, not 4. And one of them (a indigestible Doris Lessing requiring-a-dictionary-for-every-sentence analysis of literature) I abandoned after 30 pages. Mostly because I hadn't heard of any of the famous authors she was talking about.

Maybe I should put one of those blog gadgets up that does a countdown to a deadline, and I can mark off the books I've read. Anyone know where I can get one?

Hannah said...

you don't need to read them just read the odd chapter here and there and look at the summary of the story on wikipedia ;~) You're doing a creative writing course not an eng lit degree (and even having done one of those I bet I've not read half of the list) so presumably the list is there to give you an overview of different writing styles.

alternatively just rant on about why the canon is dead and how you're not going to be constrained ;~)

Anonymous said...

They should have put the word RECOMMENDED in block capitals like that so as not to freak you out!

Pick one you think might be in reading and read it. And by reading I mean skim/scan/skip NOT reading from the first work to the last not missing anything out.

Think of it as a learning experience ;-)

MadameSmokinGun said...

That's reminding me of having to read Jude the Obscure for O'Level. I attempted the reading every word bit - until I thought I was going to have to hunt down every copy ever published and burn them. Decided to skip any page that didn't have dialogue (which took my along nicely as every chapter started with a 5-page list of tedious books he'd read). And then I found a precis of the story at the back - cool!

Skim reading is the way to go. Still do it now in fact. I had to filter out every unnecessary adjective in Captain Corelli's Mandolin (every other word I recall) and then I could enjoy it. Sort of.

Just thinking - it's funny how I hate reading adjective-soaked stuff and yet can't help writing that way. Probably best I gave away that writing course after all. The world sighs a relief.....

Big mamma frog said...

Oh I always scan read anyway. That's why when people ask me about a book I've just read I can't remember anything about it beyond whether it was agreeable or just pants. Mind you, the last book I read was supposed to be a 'classic' ('The Man who Was Thursday'). Got to about page 4 and thought 'what a tosser' and didn't bother with the rest.

Yes Parasombra, there is something in the course book that says you wont be expected to have read ALL the books (but in a tone that implies you'll probably have most of them on your shelves anyway). It's that University mentality. Personally can't stand literary snobbishness so I'll carry on reading the same stuff as usual.

Hannah, I did look up some of the titles on Wikipedia to see which ones were worth reading. A right old depressing bunch it seems. Still, at least it gives the endings, saves me reading them {g}. We are expected to do some literary criticism though, so I may have to read a few lines here and there.

MSG you don't need a writing course anyway - love your style just as it is.

MadameSmokinGun said...

Blush! Right back atcha babe!