My Life, Student Life

My Third Year University Deadlines

Now having been is lectures and workshops for a few weeks I have finally found and compacted all of my deadlines into a single place.

Practical Journalism 3

ONE LIFE FEATURE

This is a fancy title for writing a profiling piece on someone who has achieved a lot in their lives or has had something happened in their lives meaning they have got a story to tell. The story can either be funny tragic memorable or iconic. Once I got briefed on this piece of journalism by my tutor I had a long and hard think about it multiple times and I came up with the same conclusion. I have based my one life piece on Maxine. I have been volunteering alongside her to raise money and benefit the participants of Birmingham PHAB Camps. She has been and is an inspiration to me for many years, she has overcome her own challenges and used the drive to help others. I wanted to showcase her achievements in my piece.

GROUP PRESENTATION

For my final project in Practical Journalism, I have to take part in the creation of a group magazine. I am not quite sure what the project entails but I know that I have to get with a group and then construct a presentation which outlines our publication that we are due to create later in the year. I ‘m looking to get with a group very soon but to be honest I am quite anxious about it. I have always been anxious when it comes to group submissions. I have made my anxieties known, but I’m not sure whether this will benefit me or not. I shall see you when the groups are set for the presentation and final publication.

COLLECTION OF PUBLISHED JOURNALISM

Out of all of the work which makes up this unit’s entitlements, I must say that this is my favourite. For three years I have slowly been creating and developing a strong journalism portfolio in which I can use for future employment. While at DMU I have slowly added to it and have tried to make it into a professional standard expected in the industry. I have seized a number of opportunities that DMU has offered to me as well as finding my own opportunities to publish and showcase my work and add them to my portfolio. I have been so lucky to have secured a number of opportunities which have involved me getting my published work recognised. These opportunities consisted of me securing an interview on BBC WM concerning my work and dedication to Birmingham PHAB Camps and the publication of articles on behalf of the charity. I have also written for the Leicestershire Press in my first year at DMU which was successful and eagerly read. Then there were the articles which I have had published in the official ‘Demon Magazine’ and the live radio shows that I presented on Demon FM. Alongside all of this, I have my own blog which I update regularly and has a decent following.

GROUP PUBLICATION

The group publication is what everyone studying in this unit will be working too throughout the year. I am both looking forward to this part and dreading it as well. On one hand I absolutely hate group work as the overall mark is affected by it and I have had experiences with bad group work which involved particular members of the group not pulling their own weight, this means the ones who do complete the work have to shoulder more of the responsibility to make sure the project is completed on schedule. On the other hand, if I am put with a group that will pull their own weight, it can work really well and what I am looking forward to about creating this publication is the fact that we can start from scratch with all the elements and have full creative control over the content and the design of it. As a group, we can produce it to a professional standard which each of us can then use a copy of it to show in the future.

Journalism Dissertation

This is possibly the hardest units out of the whole year. Throughout my three years of studying at DMU, I have always been able to push to the back of my mind and focus my attention elsewhere. Slowly, I had stray thoughts about my subject of my dissertation subject which I was sure to make a note of as soon as I thought of them. This formed a base for my research. The first submission I have for the unit is a draft literature review. I am not too cautious about this submission as I was sure to expand it more than requested in my dissertation proposal. I have been told by my tutor that I can use the in-depth literature review that I wrote for my dissertation proposal in my actual dissertation which is proving to be very useful to me. There’s nothing worse than starting with a blank page and now thanks to that allowance I do not have to start from scratch and just build on what I already have.

The literature review does not count towards my final grade it is there to show my tutor where I am at and to provide me with feedback which I can use in my dissertation. As it is only a draft literature review, it doesn’t count towards my final mark for this year. I feel intimidated by the fact that my entire result for this unit is dependent on the outcome of my 10,000 dissertations due at the end of the academic year.

I am constantly chipping away at my dissertation and though I haven’t written much, of much consequence yet I am making notes based on my dissertation subject and am constantly on the lookout for important literature and information which will contribute to my overall dissertation. It will be difficult, but it’s a subject that I have a great passion for and I am up to the challenge!

Professional Writing Skills

This unit has three different assignments, which all go towards my overall mark of the year.

ESSAY

The first of these three assignments is the essay of 2,000 words. On the assignment brief, I had a choice of five questions in which I have to choose one.

These questions are as follows:

Is copyright dead in the age of the Internet? If not why not? And if so, how will writers be able to earn money?

The thoughts that would come to mind when I hear this question is, does the writing industry exist on originality of work and could it be so easily copied with only slight changes made to the story? It would appear different, but traits from books, particularly those from the same genre can be seen to have been replicated in novels or short stories. For those who publish in print, it is vital for every writer to write under a legal foundation, so they have the right to protect their work. Writers and publishers can secure copyrights in their industry when working in print and it can be very complex for someone else to secure rights to use that work for their own needs. Why shouldn’t copyright exist in the digital age? I think it should. To protect the writers and publishers hard work and people whether it’s published online or not, should respect that work and respect boundaries. Just because the content is online opposed to in print, doesn’t mean the original owner shouldn’t have copyright and legal protection over their work. It’s still their property to have a say over. I agree that it is somewhat harder to source the original after so many people have published their interpretation as people don’t always state the source they have got it from, but in these cases, it just means taking more time sourcing the original and requesting rights to source this work for their own reasons.

The second question, can Creative Writing be taught, is a tricky one. I think it’s an interesting question to make and research into. I have been thinking about it for a long time and I can debate and make arguments on both sides. I do not agree with people regarding creative writing a waste of time. I think it’s definitely worth it if you are passionate enough about wanting to be a writer. Aspiring writers can be taught the basics and how to improve their writing they have already done but it is up to them to build their own styles and profile of being a writer. Writers can be marked on their work by tutors and here is where it comes difficult. They can mark and provide feedback on their work, regarding spelling and grammar and other logistics such as characterisation and genre but writers can’t be marked on the plot and their own writing style as it is their own style and no one can judge that. They are particular methods in which a writer can be taught to improve their work and increase their skills and knowledge of the industry, but it is all about how the writer processes that method and use it to their advantage. It can be about taking that knowledge on board, building up their skillset and making their own mark in the industry.

The next question is ‘what factors might a writer take into account when deciding whether to self-publish?‘ Being a writer is a way of expression and you will have a great deal of pride when you see your name in print. There are two options when it comes to publishing your work. Self-publishing or third-party publishing. If you go straight into self-publishing, it may be challenging to build an immediate image and reputation for yourself. One that may take years to build up of much consequence. You will feel the pressure to build one up, especially when you immediately need to look and appear professional in the industry.

The time and effort would be greater than if you were to use third-party publishing as you will have to shoulder the responsibility of everything it takes to publish successfully. You will lack the expertise that you would get with third-party publishing, such as an editor and marketing, things that will make your book better. You will find it harder to get copies out in bookshops and online as you are a new writer and don’t have a high profiling image yet and you may not know how best to market and promote your book if you do it on your own.

This lack of knowledge might affect and put you at a disadvantage in terms of the investment you put into your book, you have to pay for printing and everything related yourself and this might mean you lose out if you can’t promote or sell your book. Knowing these disadvantages, what would motivate you as a writer to self-publish? You as the writer can have creative control over every aspect of the publication, you will be able to get an insight into the publishing work to look how books are produced and sold, getting into the routine of what needs doing as you get more practised. If someone self-publishes they are able to keep a hold of all rights to your work, as opposed to the rights to somebody else. As the self-publisher, you will typically earn a far higher percentage of the cover price in royalties and as regards to the regular income, you will be paid for your book sales monthly, rather than once or twice a year which would happen in third-year publishing. You as the self-publisher may also have time on your side. By self-publishing, you are able to control how quick your book is finalised and published for the world. This is much better than resulting two third-party publishing when publishing there would take between 2-3 years. It will also mean a quicker process if you want to publish the second edition of your book or make editorial changes after one of your publications.

The second to last question relates to the division of literature into genres and whether it helps or harms readers, writers and publishers. There are a number of genres which are easily distinguished from the next and it is clear which books belong in each category. It is good to have novels Identified by genres as it allows writers to keep to the conventions expected by that genre and allows them to be expressive with their originality as they know what is expected by readers when they choose to read a book in the genre. The challenges are established when writers decide to write a novel or a series of short stories that fit under more than one genre. In these cases, writers have to be careful into where they want this book to fit amongst other published work of other writers, they need to think about whether it’s a good idea to write something which fits into genres or not, whether it be more trouble than it’s worth to be able to sell their book. Writers need to be mindful of the importance that genre serves and whether readers dictate the content they create because of this. Thinking about it, I do sometimes struggle to stimulate my creative flair within my biggest stories as I always have expectations of the genre and audience in the back of my mind as I write. Nine times out of ten I know what genre want to write in and I know what elements to include to make sure it fits amongst other stories in that genre, which I do and I stick to the rules. I’m sure to follow the genre conventions as I write to make sure it guides me correctly and I don’t miss out anything that is expected by the audience when reading the genre. There have been times when I want to stray a little from the regular genre that I am writing in. I have wanted to write a fantasy story with the twist of including conventions from a different genre but I have always been apprehensive about it as I don’t want to ruin either genre by not finding the right level of compromise between the two. I also want my story to be amongst other popular ones and to get recognised and I suppose that this is less likely to happen if I write elements from all different genres into my novel. All this has meant is that I have had to be very restricted on my creativity in my different novels because I don’t want to get it wrong. Though I understand why this needs to be done I am also fighting the battle with wanting my novel to stand out amongst others in a genre so I have to be very watchful of the originality I have included in my novel to make sure it does so. It has surely come with practice but I have managed to keep my chosen genre while adding a small twist of elements in a different genre to make my story unique and stand out amongst others. Also, as a writer, I know it is important to be aware of trends within the industry and what is popular with readers at present so I know which direction to take my story in to get it noticed.

The final question that was given on the brief is, should writers work for free? This is a difficult one to answer as I think it depends on the writer and his or her preferences. Writers often go to conferences or to public venues to promote and market their books to audiences and new and potential booksellers etc. They might choose to do this in the first instance, especially if they are new writers to get their foot in the door. Then writers will choose steps based on the result of these actions and responses. It is these next steps that count towards the question. If the first publicity and marketing approach works, continuing working and get yourself recognised and get a profile for yourself in the industry and go from there. Once you have got a high profile for yourself, work on getting some money behind yourself and making deals with bookshops etc to see your books. If your first publicity and market technique wasn’t successful, keep at it. I don’t think writers should work for free, but there are small allowances and events and venues for free. Take risks to build up an image yourself and publish and sell your books, but don’t let people take advantage. Build up an image and portfolio for yourself.

CREATIVE WRITING PUBLICATION

After hearing about what is involved with every unit and for every assignment. This is definitely the assignment I am most looking forward too. It will give me a chance to see what is involved when you create something ready for professional publishing. Both the creative process and the official steps which makes it worthy of publication. Tutors haven’t briefed us much on the publication and what’s involved other than the logistics as they have drawn all our focus and attention onto our assignments. We as creative writing students studying this unit have been told that it can either be a group effort which will contribute to the project or it can be an individual project. Further to this, I have the choice to publish someone else’s work in my own way which would involve me going through official channels and dealing with copyright to be able to do so or I can work on my own project and publish it myself. I know that it will be a bit more work on my part but I’ve decided that I want to work individually on this as I want to be responsible for all parts of it I also want to publish my own work and my own story professionally. I have been thinking about it and I’ve decided to work on a short story that I wrote for one of my assignments last year as make into a novel with stronger characters and stronger plot lines. I know it’s going to be hard work and it’s going to be a lot of pressure but I really can’t wait to get working on it and then see it produced to professional standards. I know it’s a longshot but I really do hope I can use this publication in my future.

WEB PROFILE

Again, we haven’t been given many details about this part of the assessment by the tutors, but we have been forewarned about it when we got an overview of what is involved in this unit. From what I can gather the web profile is a chance to be creative and build up an image for yourself in the industry which is what everything that we have done in the past three years has been building up too. I’m looking forward to completing the web profile as it will allow me to use what I have learnt and the skills I’ve gathered to build up my image and profile in the industry so I am more prepared after I’ve left university. I am not entirely sure what has to go onto my web profile but I think I will be able to build a strong one as I have built up portfolios of work and experience which I can put on to it before it’s made official.

Specialism and Negotiated Study

The theme of this year’s specialism study is children’s writing. Back in my first year, I had to decide which path to take and what units to study for the rest of my degree. As I went forward with my choice to complete a journalism dissertation this is the creative writing unit I have to complete instead of the portfolio unit which is equivalent to a dissertation. Though I did pick to do a journalism dissertation I was eager that this unit in creative writing had a theme of children writing.

I have always wanted to be a children’s writer, particularly in the fantasy fiction genre.

ASSIGNMENT 1

For this assignment, we have to creatively write a story for a leapfrog book aimed towards young children and then we have to write instructions for an illustrator who will then illustrate the story under my direction. As the second part of this first assignment, you also have to write the text of a picture book aimed at slightly older children with advice and guidance for an illustrator to make the illustrations that I want for my story. I am both excited for this as I have always wanted to create a book with writing and illustrations, but I am also anxious about not being able to write my instructions for the illustrator clearly enough.

ASSIGNMENT 2

I have not yet been briefed on the second assignment for this unit but from the little, we have been told I can guess that we are expected to write for children at a slightly older age than we did in the first assignment. In our first workshop of the year related to the unit, we got told that for the second assignment we have to create a story and write a 5,000-word extract from the story to submit. I am not sure if I will stick to this idea, but what I’m thinking at present is to continue writing my novel ‘Middle Earth’. A fantasy, fiction novel which I have been working on for years targeted. It is targeting an audience of I would say 10-year-olds. In recent years I have tried to make the story slightly older to reflect my age as I’ve grown up, but in this instance, writing for children will allow me to resort back to my original story, which I wrote when I first had the idea and started writing the novel!

 

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