Week 11-Day 4-Western Movie

In this penultimate week to my BerkleeMusic course called, ‘Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice’, we are continuing our work with metaphor. We are given an object (Western Movie); we are charged with picking a linking quality (Adventurous) and a comparison object (Team of Arctic Explorers). We are asked to write for 10 minutes about our topic (Western Movie) but using words from our other object (Team of Arctic Explorers) to describe it. Finally, we are asked to flip it around and describe the comparison object (Team of  Arctic Explorers) with words that you might use to describe the given object (Western Movie).

My challenge has been that I slip confusingly back and forth from one to the other. Or I find the given object (Western Movie) uninspiring.  I read some about Western and Western Movie history, pondered on the qualities associated with Western Movies, and chose one.  It bothers me that they seem to sound similar. I was hoping for something more interesting. Oh, well.  Here’s another link in the chain to building better writing skills!

Western Movie -> Adventurous -> Team of Arctic Explorers
The group decided on their basecamp: Ashtonville, Texas. Two mountain ranges of deserted storefronts formed a central, barren corridor. The harsh landscape warned them from further entry. Winds whistled around solitary cacti in cloud bursts, burn-freezing the inside of the cowboys’ ears with icy fury. The men shouted to each other, signaling with their gloved hands where to drive the the stakes of their spurs. The men took out their pickaxes and started to chip away at the desert sands. They sweated inside their Texas uniforms, bandana’s wrapped around their faces to keep out the dust flying into their skin.  With their backs straining under a dark, ominous sky, the cowboys raised their tents. Standing in a single line, the men passed their tent supplies from one to the next.  When their covered wagon was unpacked, the men retreated to their canvas cave in the middle of their Nowheresville. Mark struggled to zip up the door. The others nailed down the edge of the canvas sides that met the dirt where it was not already held down by their supplies. The men sat around in a circle on their sleeping bags, each one silently unwrapping his protective uniform off his wiry, Texan frame. A small leather waterbag was passed around; each man took the smallest sip possible. A coyote howled. Dust balls hit the side of the tent. The men listened.

Team of Arctic Explorers is a Western movie
The men hustled their animals, their tent, and their supplies down the narrow trail between the two Arctic mountain ranges. The band of five brothers roped themselves together in a straight line. The wilderness called around them. Howls. Cries. A scream cut off. The brothers stopped, swore loyalty to one another, and continued on. The eldest, John, led the way. Nothing would stop them. The sheriff promised the research team a reward: bring home the thief. Get paid. Watch as they hang ’em high! Riches. Feeding their families. Telegrams by covered wagons led by Huskies back East. Warm thoughts of money spurred them on. Gold coin. A hot bath. A hot meal, better than these survival granola-flax-peanut butter snack bars. Roar! A bear stood in their way. On the other side, a frozen lake with an opening. The men huddled under their hats and broke away with shots in the air. Pumped! Full of internal fire, hunger, and need, the men circled around the bear. ROAR! The white bear got down on all fours, ready to pounce. From all directions, the men fired down on the white bear. Red covered white in drips and streaks. Hearts raced. John stepped slowly toward the bear, poking it with the end of his rifle. Dead. They removed their hats, held them over their hearts, and thanked God for their good fortune. The men heaved the bear onto the portable cot, and dragged it back to their basecamp. Yes!

Advertisements

Week 11-Reversing Direction through Linking Qualities

Hello! Last week? Well, last week I got thrown off by needing to take two of my three cats to the vet two times each. I only got to one daily writing and then the weekly assignment.

Week 11 is more of the same. We are given an object and asked to think of a linking quality and another object that links the two. We are to write about Object A using terms from Object B and then reverse the order and write again; 10 minutes timed writing each direction.  This is hard work. The class has one more week and I can see this work continuing afterwards.

Day 2 – Hatred

Hatred -> Filter -> Camera Lens
The camera lens of your anger filters the way you see the world. Innocent behaviors cast with a red overtone menace at you with intensity. The hot breath of conversation fogs up your ability to focus; you cannot see clearly through the haze of your hatred. People glare at you across the crowded room, eyes bearing down at you through the lens. You try to make adjustments. You pull back from the viewfinder, shake your head, close your eyes, furrow your brow, and bring the eye back to the viewer. You try to switch your mind into manual instead of the automatic setting of your amygdala, which rises in your chest the way the rising heat of sun causes an intense ray to focus onto a dry leaf, setting it on fire. Your emotions have dried up, burnt into the crisp of hatred focused on what little was left of your heart. You take lessons, you meditate. You ask random strangers to pose for you in desperate attempts to shake off the screaming-red colored filter of anger. The wind carries away what’s left of you. You replace the lens. Trying to clean it, you scratch the surface. You wince in pain at the thought of the cost of getting a new lens. You visit the store, try on various  models, and pick one that seems clear. Yet when you leave and try to take a new picture of the world around you, the red remains. Ants look pissed off carrying their crumbs to the hill. People walk by, gesticulating heatedly into their handsets. You catch them from the side; a permanent mark of anger stains their faces. Blue jays scream at each other. Grilled cheese becomes burnt cheese. You throw it out. You pang with hunger. Someone breezes by and fans your anger flames into a roaring fire, into a blaze strong enough to burn down ten thousand acres of ancient forest in a few hours’ time. You capture it, frame by frame, a vast swarth of destruction across the vista of your life. It e

Camera lens is hatred
The camera lens seethes and projects its red-hot anger onto the subjects as they mingle over white wine spritzers at the bar. Watching the people intensely, waiting for an argument to break out, so that it can catch its subjects in the act of duking it out, fists battering each others’ faces, like a scene out of a movie about white trash bar fights. The camera lens pauses, lingers in anger, over its lack of control. Under someone else’s command, the camera lens focuses on plants, bugs, animals with the smell of burnt tires on pavement. It refuses to cooperate, staying out of focus. The photographer growls in frustration at the lens, blaming old age and rusty interchanging parts as the cause of fuzzy photos, streaking colors across keyboards and cats running across the room. The camera lens celebrates its victory over the dictator photographer who insists on shooting the happy moments in people’s lives. How rude. The one wish in the camera lens’ eye is to see others crush in submission to its mean ways. Children will cry and run away in fear. Women will weep. Men will comfort their women, wrap a protective arm around the women’s shoulders, and attempt to lead them away from the funeral crematorium. The lens aches to capture the moments of people at their miserable worst: the owner sobbing over having to euthanize her pet; the dizzying loss of the athlete to another by mere milliseconds; the public pain of a fifteen year-hold high school student by her bullies. The lens imagines frights and rises in proud anger at its imagined magnificence. The photographer gingerly handles the lens, as if it were on fire, and puts it away into the cold, dark bag, where it sits and waits, biding its time, for the next moment when light and air will shine on the lens and fan the flames of its hatred for humanity, for life. Crisp memories of burning fingertips fill the dreams of the camera lens. The exhilaration of a consuming hating desire.

Week 10-Reversing Metaphor Direction

Hello! This is Week 10 of my Berkleemusic.com class, ‘Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice.’

Like last week, we are working with developing our ability to create interesting metaphors.  Unlike last week, we are writing twice for 10 minutes each from two pieces of information, an object and an essential quality about that object.  We pick the comparison object.  Then we swap the order and write about it for another 10 minutes. I’ll stop explaining – Read below. You’ll get it.

Day 2

Teacher–>Linking Quality: instructs –> Target Idea: –>_Pain_______.

Pain: pain, ache, throb, dull roar, stab, hurt, cry, stomach, heart, head, foot, hand, torture, surgery, accident, fall, crash, smash, broken, limbs, hang, tears, beg, mercy, heartless, cruel, cruelty, Chinese water torture, repetition, infliction, shame, humiliation, rejection, desire, sob, hysterics, desperate, desperation, taboo, victim, perpetrator, villain, criminal, crimes, uncompassionate, bound, gagged, masked, scream, howl, whimper, submission, dominance, S&M

A teacher is pain to her student victims, bound helplessly to their seats. We dread yet another repetitive math lesson, the Chinese water torture of numbers. Algebraic equations twist their ugly point into our stomachs. Geometry proofs its whip against our brains. Trigonometry gags us, our minds reeling, gasping, dreaming of escape. Calculus heartlessly inflicts its symbols into our hands that are cramped, exhausted, and sobbing for mercy. Our teacher oversees the exercises in cruelty over four years’ time, twisting the lessons to suit her own purposes: that we learn enough to pass the PSATs. Our tears go unwiped and our prayers unheard. We cower in unconditional submission to the educational pecking order. When free of our parents, we are indentured in servitude to our teacher’s villainous ways. We scurry from class to class, avoiding our teacher’s punishing eyes. Our teacher hang us in humiliation on High School Hill. We are the example, the strange fruit. We whimper in humiliation under the ruler. Our crimes posted in hallways, declaring our guilt. We have been sentenced to twelve years hard labor. The teacher thrusts the unwanted lessons on us, pinning us down in effigy until we learn the point of it all. The dull roar of submission dies away

Pain –>Linking Quality: instructs –> Target Idea: –>_Teacher_______.

Teacher: Instruct, learn, lesson, lesson plan, students, school, schoolroom, classroom, tutor, repetition, test, quiz, pop quiz, grades, grading, progress chart, EIP, guides, children, discipline, enlighten, inspire, critical thinking, skills, life, relationship

Pain is a teacher, laying out its careful lesson plan. Pain points out our flaws, over and over again, until we learn the lesson. Our growth indicates whether we have passed a test. Pain quizzes us on how well we have learned our lessons, providing us with pop quizzes on a frequent basis. We have no time to study. Pain does not follow a lesson plan, or come to the same place at the same time every day. Pain tests our critical thinking skills. Failure is torture. We are sick with anticipation that we have failed. Turn the wrong way and pain stops us, bringing us back to the beginning. We are students in the classroom of life. Pain disciplines us frequently and we are humbled by its power. Failed relationships guide us towards interpersonal growth. Pain enlightens us on the point of punishment, by bringing our eyes into focus on what hurts us the most. Birthdays are our only progress chart. Blind to the future, we grope around in the dark, searching for the light switch but sticking our fingers in the sockets and getting shocked. Our hands stick to the plate from an ungrounded outlet. We pull away, only to be drawn back into the electrical center. Zap! Zot! Muscles tense hard. With all our might, we pull away and try again. Nothing deters us. Into the sockets our fingers go. The intensity holds us hostage and we scream in agony. Our senses are in sharpest focus now, when the pain courses through our blood, electrifying us into action. We leave relationships or jobs. The pain of grade we receive galvanizes us to try again, to improve. Sometimes, our hearts or legs are broken. We close our eyes, drowning out the buzz of teaching pain that circles us like a flock of vultures. We disintegrate from discipline. We pull out hair in frustration at our lack of learning. We cry at life. No fair.

Daily Object Writing- Catch Up

I needed a break from work and school for a couple of days so I fell behind on my class-required object writing.  I’m including the last 1.75 days worth of class-required object writing below.  This week’s prompts:

  • focus on WHERE, using location as the starting point for writing.
  • The POV is Direct Address, which uses both ‘I’ and ‘You’.
  • The verb tenses to use are any two forms, past, present, or future;
  • include questions & conditionals
  • Time limitations vary (5m, 10m, 90 sec)

Back Seat (10 minute)

You sat in the back seat of your family’s station wagon,  with your arms crossed and a scowl across your ten-year-old, suntanned face. Your mother reprimanded you for kicking the back of her seat in front of you. Now you sat sullen, tight-lipped, and anger punching the front of your stomach in protest. The sticky leather seat stuck to the back of your thighs because you insisted on wearing shorts. The air conditioning in the car has never worked, and you knew that the leather would stick. You pulled up your left thigh, feeling the skin get peeled back tightly from hot, sticky leather as you moved your leg up and down alternately. The open windows brought in the soiled stench of cheap gasoline and diesel. Hot winds nastily slapped your innocent cheeks. Your eyes slit closed against the air drying your eyes out. The grit of chastisement and pent fury stained and grated your tongue and created a sandpaper mouth. The swaying of the car turned your angry stomach sour with nausea. How much worse could the day get? You woke up bright and eager. Two fights with your mother, one about what to wear and the second about when to leave, hastened an inner tantrum that raged about being stuck in the car for two hours. Now here you were, bored with nothing to read, and a mother continuously complaining about your kicking the back of her seat from your own back seat. You turn your head to look out the window and relax. You let the wind fill your eardrums and your mind with white noise. After you get to the cabin, you will unpack your bathing suit, throw it on, and jump into the pool before your mother has time to punish you. Maybe you’ll stay down there; maybe you want to see how long you can hold your breath. How long can you hold it? Half a minute? One minute? Longer? What will your mother do without you, if you never come up?

Candy Shop (90 sec)

Candy shop sticky sweet. Carmel walls striping makes you think that you can lick the walls and you would taste Werther’s candies. Rows of black, white, dark, milk chocolates. The intense smell of sugar forcing a watering of Snickers and Almond Joy in Your mouth. The crinkling of the paper-plastic as you search for an opening. One bite, the sugar chocolate spreads warmth through your mouth, your taste buds relishing in the joy of sugar. Twirl! Yum! What next?

Frozen Pond (5m)

The frozen pond in the Boston Common, the Frog Pond, awaits us! Let us run down the frosty hill, slippin and sliding while we hold hands towards laughing children in colorful winter hats. Can you feel the the cold leather through your mittens as you struggle to pull on the well-worn rental ice skates? Let the excitement build in your chest as you finish tying your laces tight. Let’s jump up together, hold hands, chop our feet on the ice a couple of times, and go speeding across the pond. The wind will rip our cheeks and freeze our teeth. We will have to dodge parents picking up their toddlers off the frozen floor. The tears of children will not move us. Let us be joyful! Do you remember the time we came down to the pond in the middle of the night? Last year, we woke up at 2am, got dressed, snuck onto the Frog Pond, and ice skated for about 10 minutes before the cops told us to bugger off. You giggled madly as you tried to run away in your skates. Your face hitting the pavement and a bloody gash on your brow changed your tune. We spent the night in the ER instead of the clink. Now we are here together, legally. The world is our playground. Where will we go next?

Airport (10m)

You took the Blue Line from Government Center to Boston’s Logan Airport every time that you traveled. It was your contribution to saving the environment, you said. The grimy floors of the train’s cable car felt sticky under your Chucks, and it made you feel queasier than riding the rickety train. Your heavy carryon luggage dragged you, as if even your underwear did  not want to leave the haven of your hometown. Strange places made your stomach wiggle and your feet itch. Your lace-up boots became prison walls that prevented you from scratching that itch. But leave Boston you must, you told yourself, if you were  ever going to grow up. You flew the  US Airways shuttle to JFK airport, a 45 minute nonstop flight. You were vomited from the passenger plane into the underbelly of the fourth largest city on the planet. Massive waves of people seemed to follow you whichever step  you took. Dirt and oil seemed to permeate your skin, invade your nostrils, and sink deep into your lungs. Your unsteady walk, knees knocking, took you all the way to Gordon Hall at NYU. If anyone asked you, you were not have been able to tell them how you got here. You are bedraggled and beautiful. You lick your lips and I taste grapefruit. Your perfume faintly reaches my nose and I breathe in life. How will you know I am yours? You look into my eyes and my soul resonates with the knowledge that you know it, too. You smile and nod. If you say hello, I am yours. The greeter says your name, Heather. I hear a ballet of satin steps rising in time and tempo to the sweet rhythm of violins. The strings tremble with my heart and I sing to myself. You know it, too.  You straighten yourself up. Hello, you say. Hello, I say. Another smile and you are mine. Where will we go? Let us walk down West 4th Street together with

Dress Shop (90 sec)

You, bent over the sewing machine, eyes trained on lines, shiny needle in your left hand, fabric held down against its will in your right. It has no power over you. You weave your magic and essence in, the flow of your life becomes permanent. Your life in the shop gave you life. Now you create life. Where will the dress be worn? You do not know. Let us imagine parties, balls of which you are the bell, ringing in the joy, drinking champagne,