When it’s time to admit defeat

I’m in my final year of studying with the Open University.

I chose to finish my degree with AA316 – 19th Century Liteature.

I knew going in that there were books on the list which were not to my taste but I figured that was fine, you don’t have to like every book on a reading list. I should have listened to my doubts because I’ve struggled. Really struggled. I have an essay due on Thursday which asks me to compare & contrast the portrayal of women in Germinal by Emile Zola and Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. I got through Germinal, didn’t like it it (it makes me think of stories children tell “this happened, then this happened, then I did this, and he said this but I said this and then this happened and there was an alien and…”) and I’m only eight chapters into Far From the Madding Crowd but already my heart is sinking because it’s another romantic-made-for-TV-movie. In addition to the books we have a book of critical responses to the books and many of them I don’t understand. I just don’t, and I’m not that stupid. The next assignment asks for Portrait of a Lady, Woman in White and Madame Bovary. Only one of those I’ve read before.

The idea of doing an exam on books I’ve barely got through and critics I’ve barely understood is filling me with much more than dread. It’s also filling all my free time. I’ve not read a non-OU required book in so long and whenever I’m not at home reading OU stuff I feel guitly, and I want to enjoy myself more. Today I had some plans to get up early and go swimming but I ended up hiding in bed until I really had to get up and start my day…by reading critical essays of a book I’ve not yet finished in order to write an assignment I don’t understand.

So I’ve listened to myself and decided to that the best thing to do is to withdraw and end my degree with a module I’m going to enjoy….or at least one I’m not going to go stir crazy finishing. Hopefully Advanced Creative Writing as I enjoyed and did quite well in my Creative Writing module. I think this may mean I have to change my degree pathway from just English Literature to English Literature & Creative Writing, which if I’m honest I should have done from the start.

Creative Writing Assignment 2: “The Fairweather Hotel”

The assignment was to write a short story. I decided to go for a spooky story.

“The Fairweather Hotel” by S. Dawson

Tom Christie pulled open the door to the Boar Arms, walked into the welcoming warmth and scanned the packed bar. He saw his friend, Chris Jones, seated at a corner booth and made his way towards him. Tom was in his early thirties, stocky with thick lightly curling black hair. He wore black combat trousers, a thick green fleece under his blue waterproof and heavy pair of walking boots. Chris was dressed in a similar fashion, a large rucksack resting at his feet.

Tom reached the booth and greeted his friend. They had been friends since university, sharing a common passion for hiking and the English countryside. This trip was the first they had been able to organise since Chris had married earlier that year and each had been eagerly looked forward to it.

They discussed their plans and examined the map before retiring to bed, ready for an early start the next morning.

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Creative Writing Assignment 1: “A Late Arrival”

This is the start of a detective noir piece that I was thinking about extending for a later assignment (then I read the rules and realised we can’t do that so this is just the start of a detective noir piece :P).

“A Late Arrival” by S. Dawson

Leaning back in my chair, I tipped back my whisky, savouring the burn as it slid down my throat and settled the fire in my stomach. Closing my eyes, I inhaled deeply on my cigarette and listened to the soft click-clack of Missy’s typewriter. There was a pause in her clicking, and I heard voices. My nine o’clock must be here, about damned time.

I looked up as my office door swung open, the early morning fog drifting in from the open window, diffusing the harsh overhead light, giving her an angelic look.

She was dressed modestly, knee length brown skirt with a slit half-way up giving a teasing glimpse of her thighs. Her stockings were silk, high end, shoes, too, must have cost a dime. Her blouse clung to her in all the right places, buttons straining over her voluptuous bosom. She had a vulnerability to her that screamed to stay the hell away.

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