Friday, June 28, 2013

Literary Reading Experience

I'm pleased to say that I had an awesome time participating in the literary reading "The Spoken Word" at the Great Britain Hotel in Richmond on Wednesday night. 

Yes, it was terrifying and I was incredibly nervous, especially in the lead-up. But once I was up there and had started reading, I knew I had to see it through and I did. I even ended up reading a second piece later in the night because some people had dropped out of the program and the organiser asked around for volunteers. Here's the part where I say, YAY FOR MOBILE PHONES! I wasn't the only one who ended up getting my gadget out and reading off it. 

Aside from participating, I really loved listening to everyone else who read. I'm pretty sure I was the only first year who participated; everybody else seemed to know the lecturer who organised it from their poetry class, which I know is a level 2 and 3 unit. I'm planning on taking that unit next year. But it was incredible to hear some of the things people read. Though mostly poetry, I read a piece of flash fiction the first time around and prose the second time, and another girl read the beginning of her short story, The Tiger is a Metaphor, which was absolutely brilliant. The lecturer who organised it wrapped things up with a piece that went for about eight minutes, accompanied by a Ney, which is a Turkish flute made out of reed. It was pretty cool! 

Overall, it was an interesting, quirky and awesomely fun night. I spoke to the lady who organised it afterwards and she mentioned that it was neither the first nor last time she was hosting such an event, so hopefully I'll get to participate in another reading again soon.  

Have you ever attended or participated in a reading? What did you think? 

- Bonnee. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Reading Aloud

Photo: 'Microphone' by ~Elenchos on DeviantART.
Tomorrow night, I will be participating in the reading a lecturer from Deakin Uni is running at a pub in Melbourne. I get two minutes in front of the mic to read something of my own creation. I had to specify time length (no more than four minutes allowed) and tone when I applied, so I said I'd write and read something of two minutes in length with a light/cheerful tone. Tonight, I'll be giving that piece a final bout of editing and then print it off, so I can keep looking at it all day tomorrow.

I've never been particularly good at reading things out loud. My eyes go ahead of where my mouth is and I end up stuttering and stumbling and accidentally combining words in my head and then pausing to try and separate them because I know that if I say it, I'll sound all kinds of stupid. But then I end up pausing for far too long and looking like an idiot anyway. Generally, I've always tried to avoid having to read out loud, especially if I'm not already a little bit familiar with the passage. I also find that my tongue suddenly seems a lot heavier and fatter than I remember, which makes speaking very difficult.

Up until this year, I'd never really read any of my own work out loud, especially not in front of anybody. I'd read out loud to check that everything sounded right and to make sure I have appropriate punctuation. When I started my Writing Craft tutorials at uni last semester, I was the first one to volunteer to read in our group, because the teacher asked for a volunteer and no one else put their hand up for a very long time. I thought to myself, What the hell? and just went for it. It broke the ice a little, which was good, but it was terrifying, reading something of my own creation to people - at the time, all complete strangers - for the first time. Even more terrifying was when later in the semester, it was my turn to workshop my assessment piece, which meant reading out something much longer and letting others critique it. But having been among reading volunteers several times and having workshopped twice in that tutorial, I think I've gotten a lot better at reading out loud, at least when I'm familiar with what is on the page.

Hopefully, the practice from last semester will keep me from shaking too much tomorrow night. It's only two minutes, it's less than 400 words and I know what is written on that page.

How do you feel about reading out loud? 

- Bonnee.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Taking Advantage of Holidays and Opportunities

So I finished all of my assignments before they were due, handed them in and went camping with some friends from my hometown to celebrate the end of my first uni semester over the weekend. It was great!

Over the next five weeks, I hope to do a lot of writing and a lot of reading. My main goals are to redraft 'KATHERINE' and write some more on 'WALLS'. My WIPs are feeling rather neglected, I fear... And my brain is itching wish ideas for short stories and flash fiction too. I need to let loose on my keyboard and a few Word documents! 

But before I get too creative for my own pleasures, I have one more 'assignment' to complete. One of the Professional and Creative Writing lecturers at my university has organised a reading at a pub in the city and posted a message inviting students in the course to sign up. Positions were granted on a first-in basis and we also had to indicate the tone of our piece. I have been granted a spot in the reading and have two minutes to read something of a 'light/cheerful' tone. Safe to say, I am very excited. 

Now I need to write something that goes for two minutes when read out loud and has a 'light/cheerful' tone. In hindsight, I should have opted for the 'dark/serious' tone instead, as that's all I've been able to come up with. But that's okay. I'll think of something cheerful soon enough, now that season 3 of Game of Thrones has finished airing and can't infect my brain anymore. I have two weeks to come up with something and I'm going to do the best I can. Wish me luck! 

Anyone else been presented with some great opportunities as of late? 

- Bonnee. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Writing Craft: Choosing to Write

It is a sad, sad day, for this day concludes my Writing Craft classes. It is the end of semester and as of just over three hours ago, I completed the unit (minus handing in the final assignment). I've really enjoyed this semester and I'm so sad to see classes over. Twelve weeks with like-minded and creative people and a fun and inspirational lecturer and tutor has been fun and I feel like I've learned so much, but that I'm not ready to stop. Of course, there will be more creative writing related classes next semester and I'm sure I'll find myself with some of the same people in classes and meet more and more new people too. 

Why? Choosing to Write

Readings for this week were Solutions by Janet Frame (pages 78-87) and The Glass Essay by Anne Carson (pages 1-38). 

This lecture didn't focus on a certain aspect of how to write or writing techniques like the previous classes did, but rather focused on asking students why they write and why they write the way they do. 

I write because...
The lecturer gave us a few minutes and asked us to individually write down how we would end that sentence.
I write because... I love to and I need to. Because if I don't, I'll go crazy. Because if I don't, how will I share everything wonderful and terrifying that happens inside my head? 
There were heaps of different answers and some people read theirs out to everybody. What our lecturer wanted to stress was that there is no wrong answer to this question. Everybody write's for their own reasons, and some people write for many different reasons. Answers may change over time or in different situations, but there is no such thing as a wrong answer here.

There are different ways to look at writing. The first way we discussed was writing as a form of art. I think this is the form I am most inclined to associate with my own writing. You can do the same thing with words that you can do with paint or film or another medium, if you do it right, and if you really put your heart into it. You can collaborate with people from other fields of art: thespians and film-makers need someone to write their scripts, photographers and painters need someone to write up a bio for them or write a poem to accompany a one of their pictures. This isn't to say that writer's can't be multi-disciplinary or that people in other professions aren't capable of writing for themselves, but it's still an option; writing alongside other forms of art. Like any form of art, writing is easily used as a form of expression for ideas and thoughts.

With the ability to express through writing, as with any form of art, might also come the fear of writing. Our lecturer showed us this video of Jacques Derrida talking about how he feels fear when writing... please excuse his French:

Aside from as an artistic medium, writing can me seen as a skill and as a profession, though the class agreed that this should be seen as more of a parallel to seeing it artistically rather than opposing it. Writing is a craft or a skill and this means it's something that you can DO. It involves practicing and progressively getting better at it. And practice here means that we continue doing it, even if our ideas aren't very good, so that when a really good idea does spring up, we can catch it and write it down the best we can straight away instead of waiting for a good idea to practice on.

As a practice, writing becomes a stable framework within which wild and unpredictable explorations and discoveries can be welcomed, or as my lecturer put it "A stable framework for craziness." As a practice, it could either be defined as something you actively do, or as a part of your identity because you do it.

Writing - and I'm sure that a lot of people start out this way, I definitely venture into this area at times - find writing to be a therapeutic and that writing well is even more so, or as a way of helping you think.

There are probably countless reasons for writing and of course there is no wrong answer. But our lecturer left us with something to think about: what is the difference between being a writer and just writing? If there is one. Personally, I think that if you consider you writing as a part of your identity, you can then identify as being a writer, but if you just write and don't really consider it a huge part of yourself, perhaps you're only writing. Of course, that's just my own opinion and I'm sure people will disagree, so please don't hate.

Nonetheless, I will pose the question to you: is there a difference between being a writer and just writing? 

And why do YOU write? 

And that concludes Writing Craft! I hope these posts have been informative and helpful to at least one person. Have a nice day.

- Bonnee.

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