I’ve been exploring the techniques of writing as suggested in the Big Red Book and inspired by Suzie’s Post in the A215 Facebook forum about her recent typewriter purchase I sought out my old fountain pen. I’m not sure who it originally belonged to my Dad maybe or my Auntie Pat but I have just spent a pleasantly frustrating hour trying to get it to work.
As you can see from the inky fingers it wasn’t the most straightforward thing I’ve ever done!. It turns out the inside of the pen has a squeezy cartridge tube rather than a replaceable one which you have to dip into the ink and allow it to swell. I curled it up like a snail squeezing out all the air and took great delight in watching it inhale the inky blackness. Eagerly I started to write but the pen didn’t work. I soaked the nib in hot water for 10 minutes or so and watched the trail of blackness swirl around the glass like an aeroplane writing in an underwater sky. I refilled it but that didn’t work either. I tried just writing without stopping to see if would eventually just kick in, varying the pressure and angle but no, absolutely nothing.
Time for the instructions then which I pulled out from underneath the lining of the case. I noted Shaeffer guarantees ‘its excellent writing instruments which are made by fine craftsman’ for a period of one year from the date of purchase. I am a number of decades too late to take advantage of this however so I move swiftly on. In the tiniest writing at the bottom of the page it mentions ‘on filling your new pen for the first time, the tip of the pen should be moistened in ink.’ Aha! I do exactly this and give it a light daubing on a cotton pad – is it still possible to get blotting paper nowadays?
Joy is mine as I put pen to paper and write with a proper ink pen for the first time since school days. I am nervous about stopping in case the flow dries up again so I continue in the general gibberish my freewrite training has unleashed in me this week. Half a page is covered before the pen hiccups to a halt. I pause for breath, then dip again and wend my to the bottom of the page delighted to discover a consistency has appeared in the colour and flow of the ink. I finish the page with a cheeky little note from its partner in crime ‘the mechanical pencil’ which works like a dream and with a smug smile of satisfaction return once more to the digital difficulties of discovering how to add an image to my blog.
One of my fears about this course is that I don’t read very much. I don’t have a lot of time but then who does?. Getting through a 60 point course alongside real life is extremely challenging to say the least and if I am totally honest I am still swirling in the blog fog! Reading blogs as well as writing them? – where is the time shop please I need to make a purchase!
It wasn’t always like this I remember as a child love love loving to read. The simple activity on page 39 bought it all back. Suddenly I could see myself walking the mile and a half home, head already in the pile of books I would read each week. Every penny was spent on the next famous five book or the Adventure series ( as well as sweets obviously I was a child not a saint!). I can smell the library now. The back room with its shelves of books and the small red boxes of oversized picture books. Little plastic stools where my sister used to sit and browse through pretending to read, and my brother, standing by the hobbies section learning about circuit boards and how to build ships.
So when did it all stop? I remember the adult section of the library seeming huge and unfamiliar. I browsed among the books but didn’t know what to choose. They were bigger and thicker, the writing smaller and less inviting. No little line drawings scattered through to urge the reader on. Then the library at secondary school saved me for that bit longer. Hilda Lewis and her historical novels and ‘ The ship that flew’. I sought sanctuary in the library at lunchtimes to do my homework and then reading in any spare moment before the bell went.
Then it suddenly hits me. The reading ship that sailed for me was boldly titled ‘English Literature’. Shakespeare was its captain, Dickens was its first mate and Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters were its cabin staff and crew. I didn’t ‘get’ my English lit teacher and I genuinely couldn’t see what was so hysterically funny about Pride and Prejudice. I hated having to read a chapter and write a review on it and as for ‘Hard times’ well they were indeed. I to this day, maintain that if an author bores you so much that you can’t turn the page and you have to keep going back over the last paragraph because your brain refuses to let the words in then he is not a good writer – no matter how revered they are.
I have since changed my mind about Jane Austen – thanks to the excellent BBC series and have even sat through a few Shakespeare plays. I get the heroic line and the Stanzas, the rhythm and the history – but its still not something I would choose to watch on a night off. And that’s the crux really. There became fewer and fewer nights off and easier and more entertaining ways to spend them. I can no longer read til 3 in the morning if I am gripped by a book as I have a real life to attend to in the morning. I have discovered I am not a ‘chapter a night’ type like my husband who slowly chips away at Steinbeck and Greene, and so I have helped the reading ship sail away into the sunset.
This exercise has been very enlightening for me. I can now see that it is possible to build a bridge to that little girl one book at a time. I have ordered ‘The ship that flew’ from amazon and am curious to see if it evokes more memories that will unfurl over the next few weeks. Maybe if I start to write short reviews on books that I have wanted to read it will banish that English literature demon that has taunted me all these years.
Today my OU study buddy came round to burn his OU books and all the notes and handouts he has collected throughout the last 2 years. Why not? He has finished his degree after all and his graduation ceremony is in a few weeks. He has done really well to have got this far and it really does seem like only yesterday when we were sat in the red tub chairs in his dining room dreaming of the sheer possibility of getting a degree.
So why do I have a problem with the book burning? I agree he is right to move on. I know the last two courses were particularly hard for him especially in terms of tutors not really being supportive. There will be a real pleasure for him in screwing up the tutors crappy lecture notes and being free of all the angst that went with them. The books have been copiously highlighted and penned over and can’t be resold. They would be an insult to a charity shop and yet still I have a niggle with the burning of them.
My books, lightly pencilled in, will sit on my book shelves gathering dust, reminding me that I have probably already forgotten what is in them. It is true that I may dip into them in the future for a bit of research but I could probably find the information on the internet. So why am I keeping mine? What do I need from them that he doesn’t? Do I need them to remind me how far I’ve come? Or is it just for security, lest I forget?
Well the deed has been done and one of the books have been burnt along with some of the lecture notes. The one we both found hardest, aptly titled ‘Language and thought’. It rained today so we had to burn them in the fireplace rather than outside, then we took a road trip to the tip instead with the rest. He went home feeling elated and cleansed whereas I am still here pondering whether my head is still too full of clutter.
No its not a typo – this is my first ever post I promise- and it does indeed feel ridiculous.
My lovely new course book arrived the other day and I was delighted to finally greet it in the flesh. I bought the kindle edition last month as part of my ‘Review the course and make sure you definitely want to do it’ program which has gone on for far too long. I have never researched any other course as much as this one which goes to show just how nervous I am about it.
This years course related facebook page is a hive of activity and the perfect place to buzz with enthusiasm before the site actually opens in september. As ever it promises lots of interesting lovelies to share the next years trials and tribulations with. My study buddy graduates this september and I am unbelievably proud of him. I have so enjoyed our learning journey together and I am a little bereft at continuing on the OU path without him.
I will end on an awkward note such as befits such a short and sweet deflowering and can’t help thinking that this is as far away from an academic essay as it is possible to be.