Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Inferno 2012 – final commentary

It is June 25 and the Blaze Inferno Writing course is officially over. You might have gathered that I was not happy with it. To be completely honest with you, I don’t know what I was expecting and why it disappointed me so badly. I don’t think it is a bad workshop, but I don’t think it is a good course. It can be very supportive and motivating if you are the right kind of person, desperately clinging for an excuse to write. Since fortunately or unfortunately I don’t fall in that group, I had quite a few problems with it.

Material

The course indeed offers some writing material. Some of it is written by the original founder / teacher of the Blaze courses, which is not the current one. The exercises / prompts are repeated at times. One of the documents is said original teacher’s favourite novel excerpts, put together without much acknowledgement if at all.

There are a few internet-based resources i.e. links to other people’s writing pages or the infamous Rules of Writing that the Guardian publishes regularly [link] – the fun part of that is that most writers have their own sets and you can stay with the one you feel more comfortable with. There are also exercises that instruct you to ‘Google’ the info…

Book: the course has corresponding book, How novels work by John Mullan. The book itself is very interesting, a collection of reviews and analysis of a great deal of popular and classic novels, and why they work. Mr. Mullan is a professor of English at University College London and hosts the Guardian’s Book Club. The Club examines a book a month, via a weekly column in the Guardian Review (the first three weeks discuss the book in question and the fourth presents comments from the Book Club blog). How novels work is an edited collection of those columns, organised by themes (beginnings, characters, dialogue, endings…).

Feedback

Feedback method is designed to protect the author against evil commenters, which might be good in some instances, but completely blocks any kind of concrit or critical feedback. Restricting opinions blows your arguments when answering questions posted by the classmates. Maybe it would have worked better with other kind of questions rather than the ones used – there was a rule on no closed questions that got ignored quite a bit. It however seemed that some of us could get away with closed questions while some of us could not. Funny.

My confession: I lied. I told people that I liked their piece when I did not. Sue me, or call me a newborn diplomat. What good is my feedback going to do to anyone when it is not even real?

Teaching method

The teacher and I did not hit off. Overly cheery and pleasant ticks me off and makes all my alarms ring. I realise that there are people genuinely very cheery and pleasant, and I am way happy to rethink my opinions – excuse me, omgopinions. When I received the feedback on my Main Assignment 1, and after next to nothing of what was there became useful to me, I asked for pointers to improve my writing. She told me that I should have taken the previous courses to learn about style.

She offered a change on feedback style that I took and then the cheerful and the pleasant were gone. She became uncooperative and any effort on my part to ‘re-establish communications’ was ignored. To be honest, I started getting ignored when I tried to start a discussion in the public forum, too, except for one of my classmates. She also took great pleasure on highlighting every adverb she found. In theory Inferno was open to 25 people, we were nine and teacher was already overwhelmed…

Writing improvement

Not sure, to be honest. I got complimented on what I found a weak piece where the main character was acting too weakly, then got down marks for being weak in the areas I had already said I was weak in – but no actual improvement tips. I guess I should Google them…

Technology

… is it really standard to carry out ‘live chats’ in forums? For real? Doesn’t the Moodle platform offer actual chats?

Overall impression

“Would not buy again.” But some of my classmates enjoyed, were motivated and may try to do the course again. Good for them. I won’t.

Conclusion

I am an opinionated bitch and here’s the opinion I was not allowed to give during the course, in much less ‘diplomatic’ words than I used in the ‘feedback form’.

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2 responses to “Inferno 2012 – final commentary

  1. Denise June 26, 2012 at 10:28

    I shall welcome the new-found beta appreciation XD