Monday, 15 October 2012

English Studies with Creative Writing: Second Year

Transformative Writing - Week 1
Source: Oppa Gangnam Style - Virginia University Flash-Mob 

Challenge: Imagine you are one of the dancers participating in the flash-mob. Write about the experience.

Thirty-five seconds. I’ve been listening to Gangnam style repeatedly for days, ensuring I have perfected his bizarre horse-riding dance move. Thirty seconds. Why on Earth did I agree to go first? Twenty-five seconds. Oh shit, I think that’s Lucy; please let it be Sophie or Abigail or anyone in the world but Lucy. Twenty seconds. There’s no way I’m doing it. If Mr. Gangnam Style himself was here, I wouldn’t. Ten seconds. When the music starts, I’m just going to casually walk away. Five seconds. I could say that I’ve forgotten how to ride an imaginary horse. Three seconds. She’s looking; oh shit she’s looking. Two seconds. That’s it, I’m going; I’m definitely going. One second. Oh Lucy will have to get over herself - it’s Gangnam Style!

Transformative Writing – Week 2: Vanitas Art

-      Objects: A compass or pocket watch; a crown; a globe; a skull with a missing jaw and missing teeth; red ribbon; magnifying glass; a page of writing (possibly a map); flowers; a table; a scarf; bubbles; a candle holder; holly leaves.

Skull – crowned death
Crown – bejewelled
Globe – glowing
Table – burdened 
Ribbon – twisted
Bubbles – light/free
Map/page – worn
Book - colossal

Challenge: Transform the source.  

There was so much darkness in the room, an eeriness that seeped in beneath my skin. The air inside was bound to the thick dust and completely starved of oxygen. I received the letter a week before, that fateful page that determined my coming here. 

The table was cluttered with the remnants of a life that had long since escaped this world. A jaw-less skull wearing a crown of hay sat in the centre, its front teeth biting into the book below it that resembled an encyclopaedia. Was this symbolic of his appetite for knowledge, an appetite so profound it existed even in death? Or did it represent how when one seeks absolute knowledge, he must fall? As my gaze brushed across the items I thought of an ordinary man that should have been a king; a pioneering force that thrived on nature, never satisfied until he had explored all that was explorable. I imagined him meandering in unmarked territory with only a compass as a companion; his veins brimming with wanderlust, his ink spilling from his pen. 

Maybe he was a man who saw through the falsehood of precious items like jewels and gold, how the men who wore them never deserved the power they entitled. Perhaps his treasure was bubbles. Maybe he admired their perfection, present in their fragility and their temporary existence. Or was he the treasure-hunter? The only item that inclined me to believe such a thing was the holly leaves; it was something about the sharpness of their edges. Who stole his jaw, and what did it mean to them? Was he so villainous that someone removed it while he was breathing, living, talking? Despite the scent of morbidity emanating from the skull, the left side seemed full, spirited; meaningful. The right side – cold, metallic and fragrant-less. Which was his life or was it all his? 

I didn't know. All I knew was whoever's life it was withered to a handful of items before me. I obeyed the words from the letter and painted my snapshot of this mystery-man, falling in and out of love with the several possible lives I coloured. 

My Vanitas

This ill-thought out assembly of a horde of my personals pretty much sums up my life. The funny thing is that when I came to create this, I realised that I didn’t have all that I wanted at hand. For instance, I couldn’t find my Paul Simon CD, my Jimi Hendrix T-Shirt is in the wash, there wasn’t enough room for friends and family on the blanket and Flint Lockwood was far too busy to bring his animated self to sit in for the picture. What was more surprising was what I did find and I didn’t think about. What you see before you is a snapshot of nostalgia for the most part, that begins with a poem from an ex-boyfriend, which is partially veiled by a scrap-book. The scrap-book, I discovered this afternoon in a forgotten drawer. The picture on the left is of my Year 4 class at Primary School, attached to a card from my teacher who was leaving. At the side of the photo, he has drawn a cartoon picture of himself holding a sign saying “I’ll Miss You”, which I can only assume is what triggered my response below:

Even as a bairn, my affection was won very easily. As you can see, there is some serious underlining going on. I’m not at all sure of its purpose; I only hope I can forgive my eight year-old self in spelling whole as hole. And as you can see by the beginning of this sentence, old habits never die. It’s not clear in the Vanitas image, but I’ve even written an annotation at the side of the photo stating, “This is Thomas and I fansy him”, which amused me. I wonder who I was pointing him out to. Perhaps I was writing it down just in case I forgot for a second. Either way, the whole thing cracked me up, particularly given that it was one of just three entries into a very exciting scrap-book. The following page contained a “Worker of the Week”, award from my next teacher because I had worked so terribly hard. The next page, I regret to say, is rather cringe-worthy and I shall refrain from uttering a single word about it. But, I couldn’t resist uploading the picture.                                                                                                       


I did have a comrade in this memorable moment of womanhood, but I didn't want to publicly humiliate her in an expose. It's not my most glamorous of moments. But hey, if you can make a thong work as a hair-band too, you’re just saving money really.

The next item that was a surprise was a piece of writing I did in year 11, where my teacher (who loathed me entirely mostly due to my voice and it's relentlessness, only on topics that weren't anything to do with English), told me that I had written such a serious piece for such a lively girl. "Write a book- you could do it!" How I wish I'd believed him at the time. It was really nice stumbling across this today, despite the fact that the piece I had written was kinda tosh. I was so glad to find it, because it's something I have always remembered and really meant something. So that earned a place on the bunny-rabbit blanket (a childhood treasure). 

Now I will take you over to the tennis racket laid on the left. That belongs to my Federer-loving, ace-serving pappi who has adored tennis forever and always. The comedy value is coming home to find him standing in the back room practising his serve over and over. Unfortunately, he has a bad knee due to being Mr. Sport himself and can't really play any more - apart from when he sporadically decides to wear-out my nephews on the court. But when he played, he had this spark about him just over the eyes. He lives for sport and every moment of watching him you could see it. I love that my dad loves tennis, and that means I love tennis and I will never understand why Andy Murray looks permanently miserable or Venus Williams grunts like a psychopath. 

Towards the back there is a photo of my brother Daniel and I on holiday in Italy. It was an enjoyably chaotic holiday, for we got to spend a handful of days in Milan, Bologna, Florence AND Verona; an absolutely dreamy two weeks that I wish I remembered better, or wrote about at the time, or something. I remember lots of "Ciao Bella" shouts, which would probably be much less frequent if I were to go there now. I remember swimming in the 'pool' at the front of the hotel, wondering why it was at the front of the hotel and not out the back, not contemplating that it might in fact be a water-feature that was pretty much a pool pretending to be a water-feature. The ice-cold water and blue-skin proved otherwise. It's a brilliant memory of having all the family together bonding over gilatto's and jelly-fish stings, that certain brother's offered to piss on (when in fact, you can just get some cream from the lifeguard on the beach. Needless to say, I got the cream).

The boots that are sitting at the back have been invaluable to me and kind of extraordinary. You see, I bought these boots about four years ago and they are still standing! Still standing despite the mountain climbs, trekking in the pouring rain and hail, despite walking over fire and liquid-lava. The last might not be true, but they be some good boots! And I love to walk everywhere, so the boots are not just a pair of boots but a record of all the places I have been in the last four years.

The guitar is a rather new purchase, but an instant love and addiction! But I regret to say I've done that thing us novices do, which is learned about ten chords and started making up my own songs. So long as I stick with them, I'll be dandy with a production of about five songs all containing various combinations of the same sounds. I'm not going to do that, I'm going to learn, learn and conquer the music scene (probably not), but at least add to it, maybe..? At least not take anything away from it. 

The tickets are from concerts. The train tickets are from visiting my friend Charlottie in Leeds when she went to University there. The gel seat is representative of cycling (I love cycling). The Princess Bride is my favourite film because who could be cooler than Inigo Montoya? Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is the most wonderful book I have ever read and was a major inspiration to my writing. There's also a beer-mat signed by Dylan Moran who I completely idolise, because for all the nonsense he speaks, he makes more sense than most. Oh, and because he is fudging hilarious. The Easter Funnies poster is actually for a sketch-show I didn't participate in (I know, how terrible, taking credit for something I wasn't even involved in!) but I didn't have a copy of the poster from the show I did participate in. There is a broken violin bow from when I used to play, and might still had it not been broken (I swear it was my nephew). My lovely ma took me to violin lessons and stayed with me every time because the man had a high creep-factor, heck of a good teacher though! Aside from that, there is a leavers book, a small wooden chest with photos in and the first notebook I wrote in as an adult. This is my life - not completely, though by the length of this piece, you would think it was more! I wonder how you interpreted it.