June 18, 2013
I am quoting Salman Rushdie from the back of my memory, so maybe it’s a paraphrase, but here is the wisdom: ‘A lot of people start writing books but authors finish them.’ For me, that is a really big statement. It begs the question why? Not ‘why do people start writing books,’ but why don’t they finish writing them? I think this is a very important question for students because it places a spotlight on the real issue of developing an idea, an argument, and communicating it through writing. It really does not matter if it is creative writing or not. The problem of developing and articulating an argument in a lengthy document means a lot of ideas fizzle anywhere after page one.
Why does an idea fizzle? In our screenwriting classes at Pittsburgh Filmmakers we talk about this a lot. Like any other effective facilitation or decision-making process the first step is to identify the problem. The problem behind fizzling ideas is that the thesis is not sufficiently developed. There is not enough material to develop into an argument, err, a feature film or novel length text. There might not even be enough for a short story or digital short length script. Without fully exploring the thesis, or the story we want to tell, it is easy to end up with vignettes that stall in terms of story-telling, no matter how artfully they are articulated.
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June 7, 2013
Are you thinking about enrolling in a University of London International Programmes course of study? Maybe you are already enrolled and are considering increasing the number of courses you register for this term? If you are, then this summer could be a good time to see what it is like to study in an online format, or to find out what it is like to manage multiple units. The University of London International Programmes is participating in Coursera, and offering several courses you can try at no cost. The course structure outlines the amount of time you should expect to invest in the courses, and provides easy to follow dashboards. The courses incorporate video lectures, live interaction on social media platforms, weekly assignments, and extensive online resources. I am enrolled in a few Coursera modules this summer, including two offered by our university.
There is a lot of dialogue about online learning as a contemporary, progressive model for providing focused, affordable, high quality degree level study. Some conversations about online study revolve around developing specific career skills. Whatever your goals, online study with an institution like ours has a lot to recommend it. Read the rest of this entry »
May 31, 2013
There is some charm in a few weeks off, but for me the best way to accomplish the things I want to do is to have a plan, a schedule, and then stick to it. That might not sound much like a person studying a creative process like literature, but structure is a very important word in English Studies! After a few years in our program I find it uncomfortable to work out a productive schedule then set it aside for a few months. Considering that our upcoming term will also require me to complete four courses, will be the year I complete my degree, and my professional calendar looks extremely busy, I want to take full advantage of the summer idyll to begin an effective plan for the 2013 – 2014 term. Read the rest of this entry »
May 28, 2013
It is the ‘in between time,’ as C.S. Lewis so aptly described spring, if not the time between exams, getting results, and starting the new term. For me it is like cleansing the palate between courses in a great meal, or when tasting fabulous wines. This is precious time for catching up with other projects that languished during the intensity of exams, relaxing, resting mind and body, and even enjoying the occasional bursts of enlightenment about the study process that pop into my head. Although it has only been a week since my last exam it already feels like ages and ages ago. It seems so distant that when I reviewed the notes made immediately after my first exam I needed almost an hour to reconstruct the essay outlines. The exact wording of the exam questions is far beyond my ability to recall.
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