TMA 2 – A sneeze of relief

I think we all remember my excitement at the prospect of doing this assignment; Dombey and Son was great fun to read and the essay question had so much potential… but therein lay my problems:

1. Dombey and Son was great fun to read…

So I wanted to cram in as much as humanly possible. It was horrible having to cut out some of my favourite parts of the novel that were just not relevant to the question. Also, because I tried to squeeze so much analysis in I didn’t really include enough quotes from the book (this undoubtedly affected my mark).


2. The essay question had so much potential…

Essentially I was drowning in material. I collected about seven pages of notes from the text book, the critical reader, the novel and the depths of my brain and I don’t doubt that reducing to fit the 1500 word limit led to a less than coherent essay.

As soon as I clicked on the ‘submit your assignment’ button, the panic started to set in. But, because my tutor is epic, I didn’t have to wait long to get my mark. Less than 48 hours after the deadline and it has already been marked. Now I’m just filled with relief: relief that it’s over, relief that I didn’t fail and relief that I can consume this lemsip at a leisurely pace… before I embark on TMA 3 of course!

The next question does seem like the kind of thing to strike fear in the hearts of the villagers, but I’m hoping the Saturday tutorial will shed some light.

D x


AA316 – Assignment 1

So that time seems to have crept up on me out of nowhere… assignment time! One thing that I do like about Open University TMA’s (or Tutor Marked Assignments) is that you always get a choice between questions… sometimes both questions are a bit on the awful side, but there’s always one you’d prefer to do.

This assignment is a ‘close reading’ task, and I have the choice between focussing on a passage from Northanger Abbey or from Jane Eyre. These are the questions:

[Northanger Abbey]

How does the passage employ language and narrative techniques to produce its meanings and effects? Briefly consider how the passage relates to the novel’s wider themes, especially love.


[Jane Eyre]

How does the passage employ language and narrative techniques to produce its meanings and effects? Briefly consider how the passage relates to the novel’s wider themes, especially the Gothic.

Which question would you have gone for?

I picked Jane Eyre, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s one of my favourite books ever. Secondly, I think I’d have more to say about the Gothic in Jane Eyre, than the love in Northanger Abbey. Thirdly, it’s a more interesting extract.

Anyway, I should probably get back to it now… I’ll let you know how it goes!

D x

The Woes (and Wows) of Poetry

When I was younger I loved poetry. I loved to make this rhyme, I loved to use excessive alliteration and I loved reading rude limericks. Who didn’t?! But before I started studying poetry as part of A215 (Creative Writing) I thought the fun and frivolity would disappear. Maybe my sense of dread stemmed from the fact that I don’t really read poetry anymore, and whenever I try I feel like I don’t ‘get’ it.

But here’s the bizarre thing… when we started to have a go at writing poems I actually really enjoyed it. I hadn’t really prepared myself from that! I started to feel more comfortable sharing things on the forum too; my fellow Creative Writers have been great at giving feedback.

And then TMA time arrived. I tried, I really did. And I actually thought I’d done reasonably well, which seems to be what I think every time I get my worst score ever. But I don’t think the score’s the part that bothered me this time. My tutor said that you could tell I hadn’t enjoyed poetry that much- I didn’t really know how to respond to that as it had actually turned out to be my favourite thing to write so far… (I want to stress that this is not a criticism of my tutor, she is fab. )

My dilemma is, do I continue to ‘waste my time’ and carry on doing something that I enjoy but that may never lead to anything good, or do I give up on the world of poetry and move onto something that will yield a better end result?

I would also like to add that this is not a rhetorical question, all comments are welcome!

Wuthering Heights

What can I say about Wuthering Heights? Really, the only thing that comes to mind is that it made me want to cry. Not because it was a tragedy, but because it was so… disappointing! Before starting I didn’t really know more about the story than you can glean from the Kate Bush song. I was expecting a tempestuous and heartbreaking love story, but instead I got a fairly mundane tale of tepid characters. Most of them were just generally unappealing, but then there was Linton who I think I may actively despise…

I’m not completely condemning Emily Bronte, I think she had a great style, and there are so many sections of the book that are beautifully written. I just feel like it could have been so much more. The hype didn’t help, almost everyone I know told me how much I was going to love it because bla blaa blaaa. I know it’s probably not fair, but I kept finding myself comparing it to Jane Eyre (something I could read over and over). Needless to say, I probably won’t be reading this one again.

My feelings for this text made writing about “the representation of home in Wuthering Heights” an arduous ordeal. And I’ve started noticing a theme in A230, most of the books they’ve got us to read so far have been absolute fun-suckers.  But it’s ok, I’ve got through it (although it was touch and go for a while) and am looking forward to a future of Sherlock Holmes  and Robert Louis Stevenson. Just keep your fingers crossed for me and my awful assignment!

Happy New Year!

So Happy New Year to one and all. Let me start out by saying my New Year’s Resolution is to write a blog post every week. Let’s just see how long it takes me to break that one…

I definitely underestimated how draining it was going to be doing two 60 point modules while working full-time, but I feel like I finally have some sort of rhythm going on. At the moment I’m on track. Fingers crossed things will stay that way for a while.

A few days ago I submitted one of my most challenging TMAs so far…. writing a short story. The main difficulty was that we were given no limits; we could write about any topic we liked. Narrowing down a subject took me weeks; writing the actual story took me a day and a half. There’s something so completely nerve-wracking about doing a creative course, it doesn’t just feel like your work is being marked, it feels like you’re being judged! I’m at that point where every 20 minutes I log onto the OU website to see if my results have been posted yet…

My next challenge, that oh-so-dreaded-world-I-don’t-understand, is poetry. And that’s in both modules. In A230 I’m studying Romantic poetry and in A215 I’m working on creating my own poetry. I really, really don’t love poetry. Half the time I want to stand up and scream JUST SAY IT ALREADY. Anyway, I’m on a bit of a mission to change my own mind- my theory is that if I find some poetry that I like to read, writing it will be a more pleasurable experience. So any recommendations are welcome.

Good luck with all your January TMAs! x


This year seems to have gone so fast! I can hardly believe that this is my last assignment, I’m going to miss AA100! So this is our longest assignment so far, we have 2,000 words for this one, and the choice of three questions:

1. Why and how has human endeavour been directed to maintaining sacred places? Illustrate your answer with two or three examples drawn from the study materials.

2. How might a seaside resort in 1870 be expected to differ from the same resort in 1930? What accounts for the changes?

3. In what ways have works of art, music, film or photography relating to the seaside presented it as a place of harmony and in what ways have they presented it as a place of conflict? Discuss with reference to no more than four examples. Your examples should include at least two different media.

I’ve decided to do the third option, it was the one that jumped out at me straight away. I think it will be the most interesting, and it will definitely give me the chance to be creative. I think I’m going to use two photographs and two paintings as my examples, I’m just in the process of picking which ones! That’s one problem I’ve encountered so far, there are so many great paintings and photos included in the course materials, its hard to choose which ones to use!

Overall, I’m not too panicked (yet). I have about two weeks to make it really great, and I’m feeling surprisingly optimistic this morning… No doubt that will change when I get stuck into it, but I’m remaining hopeful… I’ll keep you updated!

Assignment numero 6 (and 7)

So I thought I wasn’t going to manage this one. What with the new job and everything, stuff was getting crazy-I ended up having to ask for an extension. I was just lucky that I had my little holiday in Wales, I could spend the rainy afternoons typing away. Bizarrely enough, I ended up getting my highest mark so far! Of course, the moment I submitted my Burial at Thebes assignment, I started panicking about the next one, lets just say thank god for 4 day weekends! I went on a bit of a manic-hermit-lady bender and wrote it all in one go. So I submitted it yesterday, and I’m just so glad to have it out of the way!! All I have left to do until the end of my first year with the Open University is one more assignment, and then one exam. I think that’s quite a manageable amount really, and to be honest, I’ll probably be quite sad to see it all end! Anyhow, I should probably get to work about now, so more later!