Tag Archives: Assignment 2

Assignment 2: Reflective Commentary

Looking back on the creative writing part of the course as a whole and my essay I think it’s clear to see that I have incorporated a degree of what I learned into the content of the assignment. Even my choice of author, Kazuo Ishiguro, and novel, An Artist of the Floating World, shows some effort on my part to engage actively with the theme of time/place from a post-modernist perspective. His writing is not a style I am familiar with or massively fond of so I pushed myself out of my preferences to try and fulfil the course requirements.

I think I worked hard to make use of literary terms learnt earlier in the course in the progress of my essay. The most obvious example of this is the referral to poetic devices and the effect they have on the shaping of the theme’s of time/place. I think I swayed towards referring to the theme of time a little too heavily, as I struggled to expand on the theme of place from the extract. In my preparation for the essay it’s also clear that I put into practice methods like annotating extracts and picking out poetic devices learnt in earlier exercises.  Perhaps what was most influential to my reading of the extract was the forth exercise on The Road by Cormac McCarthy. In particular I think I used what I’d learnt from that exercise to shape my analysis of the style of prose and the form of narration. The preparation of the exercise helped me to understand how an author might manipulate or play with our sense of narration or the structure of the prose to dramatic effect.

However I do think I struggled to utilise what I’d learned about Aristotle’s theory of the four elements in my essay. I think I explored theme and expression but didn’t expand massively on character. Looking back now I wonder how I would ‘fit’ the character from the extract into a archetype, he doesn’t seem to be neatly fitted into any of the one’s I looked at earlier in the course. Perhaps to improve the essay I could spend time considering the kind of Character presented by the extract and explore how he seems to break with the tradition of character archetypes. I think towards the end of the essay I began to touch upon (admittedly briefly), the plot, asking questions about ‘why’ we were seeing the world the character described and making some commentary on the greater context of Japan. As with Character analysis I think I could’ve given greater time to my analysis of the plot but struggled to in such a short extract. I could’ve taken more time to make a more expansive commentary on the plot.

So overall I think my essay shows I’ve learnt from the exercises along the course, but that I could do with being a bit more thorough in putting everything I’ve learnt into practice.



Assignment 2: Close Reading of a Novel

I decided to try and chose a piece of post-modernist fiction to pick an extract for my assignment. I know Kazuo Ishiguro’s name was mentioned earlier in the workbook as an example of post-modernist fiction so it seemed like a good starting place.

I read his series of short stories, Nocturnes, and the novel An Artist of the Floating World. I felt that An Artist of the Floating World dealt more closely with themes of time and  than the stories of, Nocturnes (which focussed heavily on the theme of music and time), so chose to select an extract from that for my essay.

I found it difficult to chose a section from the novel that would have enough substance for my essay so selected two extracts and did a brief annotation/analysis roughly to help me decide. You can see these below:

Annotation of extract from p.7 of 'An Artist of the Floating World' by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Annotation of extract from p.7 of ‘An Artist of the Floating World’ by Kazuo Ishiguro.










Annotation of extract from p.27-28 of 'An Artist of the Floating World' by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Annotation of extract from p.27-28 of ‘An Artist of the Floating World’ by Kazuo Ishiguro.










I chose the second longer extract as the basis for my essay because I felt it had more examples of imagery, poetic devices, and was a good sample of the style of prose throughout the novel. I read the whole novel before picking the extract, so I found it hard to keep my comments to the extract itself given that I knew the trajectory of the story. The style of the novel was entirely new to me, I guess I’m more familiar with modern authors as opposed to post-modern. So it took awhile to get used to the way the book drifts in and out of the past and present day, but I thought this was highly effective in giving a sense of the character trying to gain sense of his past in the midst of a rapidly modernising world around him. I also found that reading Christopher Butler’s, Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction, helped with understanding the paradigm the author may well have written in.

I allowed myself some time to go back and look at the questions from exercise 3&4 and used those as platforms in my physical learning log to answer some questions about the extract. I found doing this before typing the essay helped me to decided what I wanted to say and made connecting all the points together far simpler. In terms of the essay itself I managed 1,292 words, which was less than the recommended 1,500. But I felt like to try and meet the 1,500 word limit I would either be repeating myself or start to make commentary on the rest of the novel. Neither of those seemed like good things to do, so I kept it slightly below the word count. Hopefully this was a wise choice!?


Project 1: The Craft of Writing- Exercise 1

What happens to a story when you take it from its source, make it permanent in print, and disseminate it to a wide audience?

I think there’s a few things that happen, which are worth considering. Firstly that a story becomes more accessible, it is available to a range of people of different backgrounds and experiences. On the one hand this is a positive thing, as a writer your work is reaching a wider audience, your characters are being shared and discovered.  However I wonder if sometimes this makes a writer afraid or worried, their story is no longer theirs, it’s now open to interpretation by anyone and everyone. Once something is published in print it’s impossible to guard its contents, anyone can use or misuse it.I also think print makes a story set, it is fixed, and those words cannot be revoked or edited. It’s not a blog post or webpage that can be edited at a later date, there’s a finality to it.

Write a list of implications arising from the printing press. For example, think about who has control/authority over the text, the meaning of the text and the relationship between the source of the text and its recipient.

  • Catholic Church – Bible – control of bible went from tightly within the grasp of the Catholic Church, to being available in English/German to many – the “ordinary” man now could understand or grasp the same thing as the priest, loss of control of that authority to dictate people’s lives.
  • Issues of author’s rights, or editor’s rights or publishers rights – who owns the rights to print the text? How do you decide how much the text is worth or how many to print?
  • Issue of distribution – now has to consider how will this text be distributed, who is it aimed at, idea of a specific audience becomes important?
  • Text is no longer read to or accessed by few – all have a chance to attain knowledge.
  • Education – printing press makes it possible to distribute learning for masses of children.
  • Danger of more radical views becoming known or popularised – people with radical political views can now put their ideas into printed format for distribution.

Introduction: Part 2 Creative Writing

The next section of my module considers Creative Writing, as a starting exercise we were asked to make two lists. One list of of reasons why people write another of reasons why people read. I drew these as little diagrams in my physical learning log:

'Why Read Diagram'

‘Why Read Diagram’

'Why Write Diagram'

‘Why Write Diagram’









I noticed that there’s quite a lot of cross overs or similarities between the lists. In fact it was hard to write one list without thinking of the other, I think this is because reading and writing are so connected. They feed into each other i.e. the more you read the more likely you are to be motivated to write.

‘Thinking of You’ – preparing & printing the cards

This stage was a little trickier than I anticipated, I knew I had software that would allow me to produce greeting cards for print but I didn’t really know how best to use it. I ended up opting for Indesign as I had a little understanding of how it worked and thought the format might be a bit more logical. I looked around online for some advice on greeting card design and found a few helpful sites.

I then set about designing the templates for the card and placing the illustrator files into the boxes created. After a little bit of adjusting I had a card ready for print here’s how it looked:

Card 3 ready for printing

Card 3 ready for printing

I then set about trying to print off the card. This was the bit that got confusing for me. I initially tried printing onto A4 thinking I’d cut the paper down later, but found it confusing to get the inside part of the card in the right place. After a few wrong attempts I decided to cut the paper down so that it was A5 size prior to printing, and to set my printer to print from that size. This was much easier! I tried it in black and white just to see how it worked, here’s how it turned out:

Outside of trial card

Outside of trial card

Inside of trial card

Inside of trial card

You’ll notice the images now have borders – this wasn’t an initial part of my design in Illustrator but my printer doesn’t do border-less printing so I created some small borders in Indesign to allow for this.

A couple of things need adjusting on the second card design, in the photo below you’ll see the banner on the inside of the card was slightly cropped in printing, so I moved the image so the banner wasn’t being cropped:



I printed the finished cards onto thin cream coloured card as this seemed to suit the colours of the designs and bring a unifying factor to all the cards. I think it looks a little warmer, maybe even a bit more professional on the cream coloured card instead of white. It would’ve been nice to try on different cards, but this was what we had/could afford.

The three completed cards

The three completed cards

The envelopes for the cards are simple white paper based, suitable for A5 cards. Again this is due to them being the envelopes we had, if I have time/money I’ll look for some cream envelopes to go with the cards, to help complete the look. I chose not to devote any real thought/time to designs on the envelope as I felt this would detract from me getting the main thing sorted (i.e. the 3 card designs). If I’d felt more confident/practiced using Illustrator and Indesign (and therefore able to produce the card designs faster) I would’ve given myself some time to consider more interesting envelope designs.

Overall I’m fairly pleased with how the cards turned out.