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Back at it

I can shamefully admit that I have not written anything on here in about a month. I was going to use the excuse that I was catching up on reading but I'm not going to lie to you. In reality, what happened is I managed to finish the first semester and then I just flopped. This overwhelming amount of anxiety that had been building up just spilled out - and I swam in it. I did not write, I did not read. I watched a lot of Netflix, I messed about on social media for hours on end, and only left my bed to go to the local kebab house. However, it was not all doom and gloom. During that time I got to trial a new job, spend lots of time with family and friends, and spent an entire week with my partner doing sweet fudge all - which is our favourite thing to do!

You might wonder why I feel the need to tell you this, but it's all part of a plan, you see. This semester, we are working on the modules Nonfiction, The Novel and Writing For Stage And Screen. And, to make up for losing the whole document of writing activities we did in Nonfiction, I thought I'd add my own little bit of truth. I hope my admitting to a month long procrastination sesh will suffice for losing what I was originally planning to post.

Moving on...

Here is a couple of excerpts from The Novel module. The first activity was to try and bring a memory to life with the key words LEAVING ARRIVAL and CHRISTMAS. The idea was to try and forge a memory from when we were around 10 years old but unfortunately, I have a brain worm that has eaten the majority of my childhood memories. So, I went with a recent Christmas-themed memory.

I'm on the way to my family's house to spend Christmas with them. The last couple of days, there has been no end of rain and my tyres make a squelching noise as they drive along all the tarmac that has been pulled up off of the road. Turning a corner, I find I have to brake sharply as there is a foot of water puddled in the road. I am tempted to drive through it - and perhaps I would have done if there hadn't been another car in the puddle, stationary, empty of passengers and clearly quite stuck.

I imagine the driver of the car, perhaps someone a little less cautious than myself, rushing along, already late for dinner, desperately trying to accelerate through the puddle and not realising quite how deep it was. I imagine his car cutting out and him swearing, hitting the steering wheel, trying to turn the key in the ignition to no avail. Finally, I imagine him giving up. Maybe he took off his socks and shoes before getting out of the car. No, I don't think this person was that practical. Maybe he just got out of the car, swore again at the icy water that reached his knees, opened the boot and waded his way out of the puddle with Christmas presents in his arms.

As you can probably tell, I went off on a slight tangent here and instead of recreating my own memory, I recalled what I thought had happened to someone else instead. Although I completely missed the point of what the tutor intended, I found it interesting that instead of focusing on what was going on around me at the time, I chose to retell a story that may or may not have happened to someone else.

Okay, for the next activity, this is for The Novel module too - the task was to imagine you were homeless and had been waiting in the toilets in IKEA, waiting for the janitor to leave. This wasn't my favourite task as I just couldn't fathom why a homeless person would choose to stay in a shop overnight as opposed to something like a Tesco, or somewhere like Superdrug, where there is either food or drugs. Oh well, here we go...

I hear the door slam and the jingling of the janitor's keys in the lock. Something beeps above me and a red light flashes before the bathroom lights turn off.

I hope there are no sensors in here.

I don't know what I am looking for but begin snooping around, reminiscent of the days when I would argue with parents about what desk I needed for my room, or which lamp would go with the decor.

The staff room has been left untouched and I find my way to the fridge. There are several bottle of sauces, a tub of butter and half a pint of milk.

I drink the milk but can't work up the appetite to eat either the butter or sauces alone. Inspecting the cupboards, I find an old pack of softened digestives and make a crude sandwich with them instead.

Once satisfied, I begin to explore the store. There's no point in sleeping - that would guarantee getting caught by the opening employee. But maybe I could sneak out a couple of tools, sell them. Who checks security cameras these days anyway?

As you can tell, my heart was not in this at all. When I am given a concept, I like to be given time to go through it, to play with it a little. However, I just couldn't do this here. But it did give me ideas for other similar stories.

For the Writing For Stage And Screen module, we were asked to do several small tasks to get our creative juices flowing. At first, I was a little apprehensive as some of the ideas were simplistic, and I couldn't really find any particular topic or idea I wanted to explore, but once I got into them, it was actually quite fun.

One of the activities was to make a sentence out of three given words. This was an interesting activity as we got to see how differently our minds worked. For example, we were given the words Daffodil, Cat and Kitten. One person in the class decided to name the cat Daffodil, a few others spoke about how the kitten became the cat and others would describe the cat and kitten being a family. Some people actually went so far to start building on this sentence and began to create a story from it, which was great. My favourite three words given were TREE PEN and RIVER, though, as I had the inspiration to write from an eco perspective. My sentence ended up being 'I don’t understand why we choose to cut down a tree, keep pigs in a pen, and take the fish from a river,' which made me want to write from a child's point of view, perhaps as a diary entry. I felt like I could build from this, as it was a fresher perspective than anything I have explored in eco-writing before.

Another one of the activities was to think of two memories, ones in which you could describe exactly how you were feeling, what was going on around you and why this may have had an effect on you. I chose two fond memories. One personal and one shared with a few other people. I will only share the personal memory though, as the second is a little confidential to be speaking about online.

So, for the personal memory, I wrote, 'holding my baby brother until he fell asleep' which is in fact a memory that often replays in my mind. I decided to explore why this was and found that there were many specific aspects that surrounded this. For one, I think it was the first time where I was fully aware of my responsibility of others. I remember feeling back then for the first time that this tiny human was going to be a part of my life forever and the feeling was overwhelming. Another aspect to explore was why I held his gender as significant at the time. I had had younger sisters at the time, yet I don't remember holding them as babies. Could I have yearned for a brother at the time? What had that meant for me?

The final thing for me to think about was why I had found it so important that I had got him to sleep. Was I proving something to myself? To him? To someone else?

It may have been something to do with having the patience to make someone else happy, something not many ten year olds are willing to experience, I guess.

This got me thinking about the possibilities of exploring this in writing. There is a good chance that I might explore this further.

Another activity was one of those streams of consciousness thingys. An activity I detest as I freeze up when I am on the spot. Anyway, here it is...

I am writing about writing and writing and I’m not sure what to say and this is very difficult because I do not know what Tom wants out of this. I am writing. I am writing. Maybe I will just write this sentence over and over again until he says stop. I am writing because I enjoy writing and want to keep writing and stay motivated to do so. There are so many ideas but sometimes they just disappear, or my head is too cloudy to think. I am writing.

Voila. How inspiring!

Later on in that lesson, we were asked to write a two person dialogue with each line of speech beginning with consecutive letters of the alphabet. This was fun, and again, it was interesting to see how different people's minds work and what direction they took.

“And who is this?”

“Beatrice Hill, is it?”

“Course it is. Why would you ring me if you didn’t know who I was?”

“Don’t you recognise my voice?”

“Explain yourself”

“Freddie. You remember?”

“Go away. My Freddie is gone.”

“Hang on. Don’t hang up. This is your son, ‘Freddie’, not someone playing a prank on you”

“I don’t have a son.”

“Just wait. Please, Mum. If I call the retirement home again and you hang up on me, they’ll block my number.”

“Killed himself, my Freddie did. Left me here all alone. Stop tormenting me”

“Left you? He was depressed, Mum”

“My husband wasn’t depressed. Depression is just an excuse to cry for attention.”

“Not necessarily, Mum. It can happen to anybody. Dad just never owned up to it. Let his pride get in the way of seeking treatment.”

“Only I knew the real Freddie. He got lazy. He got bored. He got tired of me. That’s what happened. He just couldn’t stand me anymore.”

“Please don’t think that why, Mum”

“Quit calling me.”

“Remember the week before Dad passed away? We were having a family dinner. But you overcooked the beef and we ended up calling a takeout. Dad was happy then. He was joking about your cooking, making us all laugh.’

“Stop. Please. I don’t want to remember”

“Try to. Please. The Home won’t allow me in to see you unless you tell them to. I need to see you, Mum. You don’t understand how much this is hurting me”

“Understand? I have been alone the last three months, stuck in this hellhole, and not one person has come to see me. If you are my son, then why have you left it until now to see me?”

“Visitors haven’t been allowed. You know that. I’ve been trying to call.”

“Why not? And why would you try to call? You don’t care!”

“X-rays, Mum. As your next of kin, they tell me all your medical results. I know what’s going on. I know about the tumour.”

“You – you know? But – I – . I didn’t want anyone to know. They’re not allowed to do that!”

“Zoe Fletcher, your carer, told me everything. They have to alert family members of this sort of thing. Now, Mum, will you let me see you?”

I think what would have been better was if I had planned the exchange first - got the most difficult letters out of the way and worked with what words I could use beginning with X and Z. When put on the spot, I think the majority of us would have to resort to x-rays when completing this task as it the most common x-word that you can sensibly fit into dialogue. However, this was a fun task and was eager enough to finish it ha.

So, to wrap this up. The first week back at uni has been met with mixed feelings. I plan to make the most of it and will try not to neglect this poor, abused blog. I do apologise to anyone that actually reads this for my rambling, but it is a resourceful way of getting things out of my head. Happy reading, writing and whatever else you do! <3

Also, here is a picture of a cutie so there is a cover picture for this blog :)

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