I think my brain has been melting out of my ears. Since returning to uni for the second term, I feel that no particularly gripping ideas have really come to light. Which is an awful shame because the workload for this term is RELENTLESS. There is so much to do!
Well at least it feels that way. Maybe I have just become lazier. Anyway, this past week, I managed to read two books which was a pleasant mission as the two of them were actually pretty good. The first was Running In The Family by Michael Ondaatje who writes a nonfictional account of his family history. The second being Perfume by Patrick Süskind - a book that was by far the most uncomfortable yet engrossing read I have read in a while. I got to say I am really tempted to start reviewing this book right here, but I'm going to save my reviews for Goodreads.
Other than reading, my classmates and I have been given several writing tasks for inspiration this week and I'm going to include a few of them here in this post.
One of my favourite activities was working on character developments in The Novel module. Unfortunately though, the idea was to base the subject matter on someone we know and I don't feel that the person I based the idea on would appreciate their character being exposed online. However, here is a different task that was completed in the same session. The idea was to create a character from the following sentence
That day my mother broke every plate in the house.
And so I worked with the idea that the mother had some sort of spiritual powers where she could see future events in her dreams:
That day my mother broke every plate in the house. The fear had set in her. We could see it in the way she frantically searched the cupboards, spilling crockery and cutlery onto the floor. What had been the dream this time? What had this premonition been?
‘What happened?’ I asked her. ‘Who was it?’
I wanted to ask her to stop but knew there wasn’t much point. Instead, my brother and I helped her find the plates and would watch as she smashed each one into confetti porcelain. I couldn’t help but wonder how a broken plate was any less dangerous than an untouched plate. What had she dreamed that night?
Another sentence that we were tasked with working from is 'On the third of December 2010 at precisely 3.50am' which I, again, worked with the concepts of dreams. This piece reads more like autofiction as I was interlinking some of my own experience and dramatizing it a little.
On the third of December 2010, I woke up to a hot sensation on my chest. I had dreamt of wolves and had woke up believing that I had been attacked.
As I opened my eyes, I saw great black silhouettes surrounding my body. My chest was heavy and sticky, hot and burning. The shadows snarled and I was paralysed. I could not move. They began to bite into me, yet I did not feel their teeth – only the sensation that something was reaching deep into my ribcage. I felt my breath catching, shallow and grating.
The evening before, I had gone to bed, completely unaware of what was manifesting in me. I had perhaps read a book or watched TV. I would have been 15, so maybe I had been reading or watching Twilight. One time, when I was a lot younger, I remember visiting Badby woods and hearing a howl in the distance. I was convinced it had been wolves but had never been particularly afraid of them. Maybe I had watched a horror movie. One of my mother’s favourite horrors had been frozen, after all.
I do not know how long I had been paralysed in fear, but I must have eventually fell asleep again. In the morning, I woke with a pressure in my torso and felt a great urge to be sick. But when I sat up, I found that I didn’t need to be sick, but cough. The coughs exploded from my chest without restraint. They were loud, raw barks. Like dogs. And with each cough came a pain that felt like someone was beating my chest and my back like a bass drum.
There were other writing activities this week but I feel that perhaps some of the ethical issues we discussed will not necessarily be very family friendly, so will skip the next couple and move on to the Nonfiction module writing activities.
This first one is perhaps a little morally challenging, but I feel that I have explored the role in the narration without going too far overboard. The task was too write a fictional account of an event that took place in the past - but from two point of views. In one, we had to write it honestly without trying to hold back in terms of other people's privacy. In the other we had to tell the same story but without revealing anything that could breach that same privacy.
An honest memoir
At the time, we all fancied Mr Jenkins and it seemed pretty cool that Anna had a really close relationship with him. At the age of fourteen, it was every girl’s fantasy to hook up with a grown man. Teenage boys reeked of hormones, were childish and dumb as far as we were concerned. A grown man, however, was mature, intelligent and had a far better body than our half-grown peers.
We never realised that what they were doing was wrong. In fact, I remember being jealous of Anna. Why did she get all the attention? She wasn’t even that pretty! I had far better grades and was clearly a lot more sophisticated than her. Whereas Anna was just some ditzy tart with a large pair of breasts. The only reason I was friends with her is because she was my mum’s friend’s daughter.
But now, looking back, I realise that it was because Anna was not that bright that Mr Jenkins had chosen to prey on her. The whole situation was comparable to Humbert Humbert and Lolita. Anna was easily influenced, a hopeless romantic and incredibly naïve. It makes me cringe now that I had wished for what she had. I feel so much embarrassment. So much shame. I can’t imagine how she must feel now that she was older and wiser. Does she ever regret it? I certainly regret not reporting the man. It sickens me that, as young girls, we had envied Anna. I couldn’t imagine what I’d do if I found out that my daughters were seeing men twice their age. I only hope that they are wise enough to report a man like him, unlike me.
A subtle account
As a teenager, we all kept secrets. We all knew each other’s business, and some things we know are best unspoken of. On the contrary, there is a particular subject matter I cannot quite skip past. And it was about the explicitly close relationship between two people I used to know. Without naming names, I am only able to say that these two people were far from what society would deem ‘compatible’. One person was, in legal terms, unable to give consent to someone else who definitely knew that what he was doing was wrong. And not only had I simply accepted what was going on, but envied it. This secret is perhaps one of the most shameful that a whole peer group can share. How often, as we have grown older and more worldly wise, have we thought to that particular time and wished we had done something?
I, personally, wish I had seen the relationship for what it was. But by the time I had realised that what was happening was actually quite problematic, it was too late. I was already involved. I was guilty of withholding information. I was under the impression that my jealousy, my foolishness, my ignorance, made me just as evil as the act itself. The hypocrisy burnt with shame inside of me, and perhaps everyone else too. Perhaps it was this shame in knowing that we had unconsciously encouraged something so unethical, is why my classmates and I never kept in touch. We were too embarrassed to have been part of it.
Another activity that I particularly enjoyed (Thank you, Poppy) was writing in the style of Douglas Adams, which as my friends on Goodreads are probably sick of hearing, I am a great fan.
He walked towards her like an ape on roller skates. Hunched over with swaying arms, yet so quick that he may as well have jogged. His brow was knitted in a barrier that revealed nothing of what was going on behind his forehead but said everything about his methods of self-grooming. He wore an overly large trench coat, that he allowed to flap open and would wave in unison with his ape arms. His high-top trainers tried to hide beneath his baggy trouser legs, but must have been scared for their lives as the laces were trying their best to wrench themselves off his feet. When he finally meet her, he harumphed to dislodge phlegm, and placed an overly affectionate arm around her.
It's obviously no where near the beautiful absurdity you'd read in THGTTG, but I certainly enjoyed trying to write in this style. It is something that I've never done before and will probably never take up again, but it was fun for the time being.
I'd also like to include one more piece of writing that we did this week for our Writing For Stage And Screen module because it is part of a work of fiction that I started a couple of years ago and never really got round to developing. Although we were only asked to write a character bio, I think I may have to start/continue writing the novel that I had begun for this character.
Stephen Kent is a 27-year-old recovering alcoholic who was institutionalised when he tried to take his own life. Originally born in Ireland, he now lives in Rugby, England, with his mother and her boyfriend. He is a quiet man but had suffered from BPD during his stay in an institution. His mental illness caused episodes in which he’d believe that he’d been brought back to life by the devil as some sort of punishment. Stephen is a thin, gaunt man, who has the physical stature of a teenage boy. He has a long scar that circles from his temple to his upper neck from a suicide attempt. At the beginning of this story, Stephen returns to his mother’s apartment with nowhere to live and no job. He has been ordered by a solicitor to find a job in order to get his life back on track, but employers disapprove of his record. Instead of finding a mainstream job, he begins to paint landscapes and offers his services to art galleries with very little success. Stephen sometimes finds daily life very difficult because he has an ingrained fear of being watched, particularly by birds – which he believes are disciples of Satan. Secretly, he still has the notion that he is being stalked by an evil force. While under the pretences that he is trying to lead a normal life, Stephens ambition is to find proof that the devil does indeed exist.
Overall, despite my lack of motivation to write this week, I feel that these activities have definitely got my creative juices flowing. In the coming weeks, I hope I can give this blog a little more to go on in regards to planning my assignments and overcome whatever writing hurdles I cannot yet leap over.