Thursday, 12 July 2012

Dissertation Madness

My lack of posting over the past couple of weeks is due to my brain being replaced by cotton wool. Well, not exactly - but it feels like it! I've been busy working on my dissertation for a Creative Writing MA. I've chosen to submit linked short stories (as opposed to a section of a novel or screenplay). The creative writing portion of my dissertation has to be around 15,000 words.

Last night, I finished the first draft of my final story: I have 7 stories which currently total 13,500 words. These first drafts are very rough and I would rather walk over broken glass than submit them as is. They need redrafting several times, but I'm relieved that I have an accurate idea of what I'm doing.

I now get to focus on writing a 5,000 word contextualising essay. If you're thinking 'I have no idea what I'd write for a contextualising essay,' join the club! While I read like crazy and attempt to draft the essay, hopefully I'll get some distance from my stories and will be able to approach rewriting with some level of freshness.

Needless to say, I'm incredibly stressed. I spent an hour crying at the computer on Monday because I realised the story I'd planned to open the collection wasn't working and I'd have to replace it with 2 others. The more I read of/about Gothic and Southern Gothic fiction, the more I confuse myself thinking about what I want to achieve with my stories.

Don't be surprised if you hear of a 28 year old woman found at her computer in a trance, mumbling 'But is it weird enough?'


  1. that is some serious stress! writing under pressure is like spinning gold out of hay! where's rumplestiltskin when you need him?

  2. You are doing well to have the first drafts finished. Well done. And although the essay is another major task, I think it will give you a clearer picture of your work so far and help you proceed. It will also give you that important break from the story-telling.

    I imagine the Southern Gothic element takes you into very daunting places with some incredible characters, from which your brain must need a rest! I love that kind of fiction and, once immersed in reading or writing it, it takes a while to resurface back into reality.

    Congratulations on achieving so much and very best of luck with the essay. Let us know how you're getting on with it.

  3. Thank you both for your comments :-)

    I'm writing contemporary Gothic tales set in a fictional Devon valley (loosely based on the area where I live) that blur the lines between logic and the supernatural. Subjectivity and psychology are foregrounded in the stories and the weird elements are contrasted with the banality of the setting.

    I'm trying to draw together lots of different elements, which is fascinating but difficult. Guess I'll just do my best and see how I go!

  4. Your ideas sound fantastic, Hayley. I've never even heard of 'Southern Gothic' and will have to go Google it now! Good luck with the essay. Maybe it will help to clarify some of your thoughts.

  5. Thanks Joanne :-) Just hope my stories do the ideas justice!