Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Ah, the good old days of Analog

Technology is making us lazy. Think about it. I have a blog, so sometimes I don't feel like I need to write in my journal. I type most of my stories on Ralph here (yes I named my laptop after a Simpsons character) so I sometimes don't finish them. I guess, if you take the hard work out of the equation, the end product loses its value.

I was looking through a bunch of photographs that came from my year eight birthday party, and I was reminiscing on the old friendships that used to be so comforting, and how much blonder I used to be, and how carefree and happy we all seemed. But then I stopped thinking about the content of the pictures, and started thinking about the photos themselves. I miss having to take all my photos on disposable cameras. Now that I have my digital camera, I can just hit delete when a photo opportunity goes awry. But I also miss the moments of complete spazziness. I don't get to keep the cringe worthy moments. I don't get to catalogue the bad hair days, and I don't get to catch pictures of certain people hiding from having their photo taken, and I just miss that.

Some people might argue that having all your photos digital is a good thing, because you can just scan all your photos onto the computer, and then you can upload them to Myspace or facebook or whatever you want... and your entire memory based life is stored on your hard-drive.

I want to start taking non-digital photographs again. I want to be able to stick those moments into my journal (which I vow to write in religiously from now on) for inspiration. I want the bad hair styles and the wardrobe faux pas and I want to be able to sit down with someone and spread the albums out and just read the memories, and laugh until I am sick.

Yeah, I'm sentimental as far as writers go. I think that's pretty important.

So please, disposable cameras my way thanks.

Monday, 15 September 2008

"And then I woke up..."

The first person to end a story like this was a genius. We all know about dreams and how they are linked with the self and the inner journey, so the idea that a whole adventure could just be a dream is entirely relevant... but the fortieth time I read an ending like this, I will stop enjoying the novelty. Indeed is is wearing off already.

What's worse is variations on this ending such as the author appearing as a character in his own book and telling the characters what his intended message was... ok so the example I'm thinking of was a great book, but the ending was rushed and seemed, quite frankly, to be a solution to the problem of not knowing how to end it. It ruined a good thing for me.

I'm going to cut all the writer's out there a little slack. Sometimes endings are hard. A lot of my own stories in the past have had rushed endings where loose ends are tied predictably for the sake of tying them. But something I have realised as a reader and a writer is that endings like this, endings that don't shock or satisfy the reader insult the intelligence of the reader. You have to imagine that the reader is someone smarter than you are. It's not about explaining something to them, the relationship between writer and reader should be at least a conversation of equals.

But because I haven't written for a while, I'm going to write a story with a "And then I woke up..." ending.

Cam stepped out of the shower and wrapped herself in one of the monogrammed hotel towels. Barefoot, she padded across the tiles and stood in front of the mirror. The room was full of steam, her skin was pink and sore, and yet she felt clean. The condensation on the mirror began to fade, and she took in the sight of her own face. Long eyelashes covered azure pupils in almond coloured eyes. Her tan skin reflected her Greek ancestry. Her hair, althought wet, was still long and wavy. Cam had never had a problem with admitting she was beautiful.
"Honey?" called the man from the other room. She wrapped another towel around her head and stepped out of the bathroom. Her bare feet registered the change of surface, and the sudden drop in temperature from room to room made her shiver.
"We have to leave soon."
"Okay." Cam reached for the red dress lying on the bed and took it back with her into the bathroom to get dressed. She applied her make up and did her hair as if she really intended to go out. But then, she took a final look in the mirror.

From a toiletries bag hidden amongst her things, she removed the gun. She looked at the sleek black shaft, and she thought about the heat of the bullet leaving the cannon. She had been practicing for weeks and weeks at the shooting range, she was ready.

"Cam, get out here or I am leaving with out you!" called the man from the other room.
She placed the gun on the counter, and rolled up the hem of her dress to look one last time at the bruise on her thigh.

The door handle turned. She hadn't locked it. He was getting angry.

She reached for the gun and pointed it at the door. Her hands shook as the door swung open. In her mind she fought for control. He was her husband. He was a brute. They were married. He hurt her. She squeezed the trigger and felt everything melt away.

Cam opened her eyes. Tubes. Beeping instruments. The smell of pine-o-clean. She tried to sit up, but her arm buckled.
"He got you real bad this time, Baby," said the nurse, "Why don't you just tell someone?"
I hope that wasn't too bad. It felt good to be writing.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Initiate Countdown

That's right, I am officially less than a week away from my mock TEE exams. Needless to say, any writing I have been doing has been on the back of napkins and receipts, because really, who has time to sit down and actually write???

I thought today I would talk about the random places I go for inspiration, so I thought, seeing as I'm strapped for time and material, I would make a list of some of my favourite things.

Here goes:

1) The Tudor Court novels by Phillipa Gregory

2) Folk music, such as Clare Bowditch or Bob Evans

3) Old movies like Casablanca, Little Shop of Horrors

4) Gilmore Girls

5) Walking along the river

6) The "Zits" comic strip, and also "Calvin and Hobbes"

7) Old photos (for example, today I found the album from our trip to the Gold Coast)

8) Greek islands, like the one in Mama Mia and the one in Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants

9) Disney movies (guilty pleasure)

10) The Rat Pack- Sinatra, Martin, Davis

Now I think I should study.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

A Little Recognition with my Ambition

Exciting news!

On Sunday, Mother and I decided to take a gander at the Murdoch University Open Day. Seeing as this is where I am intending to go, I don't think it was the worst idea either of us have ever had. Thanks to the information provided by my friend W, I knew that there was to be a creative writing competition on campus, and this definitely peaked my interest. I was expecting to find lots and lots of likewise inclined future students also trying for the prize, but no, there were four of us. Two adults, a lovely girl from Iona, whose name I forgot to ask (but I suspect I annoyed her a little anyway) and myself. The briefing was simple. We were asked to write a short short story in which there is a beginning, middle and end, and the characters and their situation develops quickly. The winning story would be turned into a play.

To my absolute joy, mine was chosen, and later that afternoon I had the pleasure of watching my work on stage. I didn't even mind that most of the "adoring public" had better things to do, because I managed to impress several of my future professors and the head of the English department. My name is now familiar to them.

Plus, winning does feel a little great, even if the iPod they gave me is evil.

So here, for your enjoyment, I will include my short short story, entitled Boys Who Smoke.

"Kiss me?" he asked, laughing, and popped a cigarette into his mouth but didn't light it. Abbey remembered his lighter, lying in her pocket from before but made no move to return it.
"It was only a hypothetical!" Abbey complained, her cheeks flushing until they burned. Scott gave up on the cigarette and turned so that he was lying upside down on the couch. Abbey wondered how her living room looked from that angle. Could he see all the mess that had been so carefully hidden from the prying eyes of guests?
"Ok, so hypothetically, if I were to kiss you, then what?" Scott mused, rolling the cigarette through his fingers.
"Well we most certainly wouldn't have to get married!" Abbey snapped. She wondered what had come over her, asking Scott to kiss her. Who was she to him? No one, except perhaps the girl he cheated off on his maths homework... which was what they had been doing until Abbey had ruined everything. She folded her arms crossly and sat on the chair farthest from his.
"Abbey, look..." he said, awkwardly, paying more attention to the cigarette than to her.
"No, I don't want to hear it."
He sat up properly, almost falling off the chair in the process.
"Why me, Abbey?"
She thought about this for a moment.
"I don't know. You smoke, and we fight all the time. You couldn't do your own maths homework if your life depended on it, you track mud through the house and I get the blame for it."
"So why then?"
"I just wanted to know what it would feel like." Giving such an honest answer made Abbey feel exposed, cheap. He came to stand beside her now, and offered her the box of cigarettes.
"You know I don't smoke, Scott, that's disgusting," she said quietly, trying not to cry in shame. He continued to point the box at her until she took it.
"I know you hate them. So take the box away from me."
She looked at him, puzzled and he grabbed her by both shoulders. Abbey was a little frightened; she did nothing but stand there dumbstruck as he kissed her on the lips.
"So what was it like?" he asked, his face milimetres from hers.
Abbey thought for a moment, her eyes scanning the shleves of the living room, searching for a polite way to say what she had to say.
"Like kissing an ashtray," she said quietly, and they both laughed. He grabbed his backpack from where it had been dumped on the floor.
"I better go, Teach," he said, and she waved flippantly. Then, as always, he let himself out.

Abbey slumped into the chair and locked her arms around her knees as though she were on a plane about to crash.
"Oh. My. God!" she whispered, and smiled.

So that's my piece. I hope that you didn't find as many questions as I did just then when I was typing.
Some things I have learned about writing from this experience:
1) Know your purpose and target audience
2) Memories are a great place to find inspiration, even if you distort them horribly
3) Doing writing courses will sometimes get you free stuff.
thank you, and good night.