A Practical Introduction to Creative Writing. That should be good. Hopefully it will help me cope with the drudgery of my other unit this SP. I find out I’m in Group 11, and that we will be workshopping. I will no doubt discover what that actually means sometime in the future, but for now there are readings, readings, readings and a lecture to listen to that is barely audible.
The first reading by Glenda Adams (called Calling Up) romps along with verve and vigour and talks a lot about an author’s voice. What works and what doesn’t. Why having a voice is what makes you unique and honest as a writer and how the audience will respond to that. Glenda uses a variety of authors to explain that many writers don’t find their voice successfully early on.
(I wonder if I have a voice. If my writing style is engaging and strong. Am I distinctly me or do I seem like other writers? Perhaps it depends upon what I am writing and who my audience is?)
Glenda goes on to discuss the process of writing and how it is different for all authors.
Finally, she explores writers who follow traditional form and structure that results in unexpected and fresh writing styles.
Kinross-Smith is next with From Poetry towards Prose. The first interesting thing he says to me is about a new definition for poetry. “Poetry is writing in which the length of line does not depend on the position of the right-hand margin”. How eloquent. How mechanical, pragmatic and insightful. And it’s not even his line… it’s one he stole from somebody else. So to the somebody else, congratulations – excellent definition! However, he feels this isn’t the most important aspect of poetry! It has more to do with imagery and language, he says. Then he lists a variety of exercises designed to get people writing poetry.
The final reading is Seeking Poetry, also by Kinross-Smith. I didn’t like this reading very much. It just seemed to waffle on a lot about very little.
Free writing and association
1. Do some free writing. This means writing, without stopping, whatever comes onto the page, or into your head, for about 3-5 minutes. Just allow yourself to free associate, and don’t worry about punctuation, in fact try not using it! It’s a good idea to get comfortable and relaxed, close your eyes for a minute and just let yourself become responsive to thoughts and sensations – sounds, sights, smells. You can, of course, do this for a lot longer – some people recommend doing it every evening for ten minutes over a set period of time, as it opens up the non-linear creative channels and is good for your writing.
2. Now read your piece of writing, and try to see whether there are any themes, or structuring principles, or contrasts in it. Could you use any of these contrasts or themes, or any words or phrases, to generate a piece of writing? (Don’t worry if you have any incomprehensible jumble, the exercise is valuable as a process for freeing up your non-rational, intuitive functions). You might use some of your words as a word pool (see Week 3), or try to combine any contrasting terms as oxymorons that create interesting, often quite powerful, images. Examples could be something like “warm dark”, “dry clay”, “poor money”. Another possibility is to select a word (eg a single word, like “green”), or a phrase, and proceed to free-associate a further list of words through connotation. That is, you allow the connotation of other words triggered by the meaning of your chosen word(s).
Connotation: Unlike the term “denotation”, which implies denoted meaning, fixed meaning, such as Dictionary meaning, “connotation” is culturally determined and changeable. Connotations are whatever meanings you associate – an obvious example of changing connotation is a word like “gay”. Similarly, a word such as “gross”. Connotation is whatever comes to you when you read a word – what do the words “sea” or “clay” or “dream” or “blue” connote to you? Or consider a word like “stubby” for its connotations.
You may also be moved to write a short text or a poem, based on your free writing exercise.
Now, also try some of the exercises in the Kinross-Smith readings, especially the first chapter. See which approaches you prefer.
If you are workshopping in Week 2, one piece of writing emerging from these exercises will be your workshop piece. So develop it to take it beyond just the writing exercise!
(And yes, I’m workshopping in Week 2)
Free Writing Association
torchwood doctorwho alien outerspace inner space
spaces places faces companions, Rose Tyler
thorny subjects love lost forlorn
featureless expanse empty unknown yet excited excitement travels across time
New worlds fresh worlds golden suns on windswept planets two moons two stars sailing
we sail on the Titanic ship in space same fate legend on Earth
Earth Dirt Mud the soil on my shoes the soil in my hands as I plant another seed seed question
Wondering I wonder who is Doctor Who
Short Text or Poem
A Wandering Wondering
Torchwood, Doctor Who,
alien, outerspace, inner space
inner space, spaces, places, faces, companions, Rose Tyler.
Rose Tyler, thorny subject, love lost, forlorn.
Forlorn featureless expanse, empty, unknown yet tensely excited,
tensely excited watching excitement travel across time.
Travel across time! New worlds, fresh worlds, golden suns on windswept planets,
two moons, two stars, we sail them all.
We sail them all on the Titanic, on the ship in space, with the same fate,
same fate, same outcome as legend would have on Earth.
Earth. Dirt. Mud.
The soil on my shoes, the soil in my hands as I plant another seed.
A seed. An idea. A question. A Wondering.
A Wondering. I wonder who is Doctor Who.