Tag Archives: creative writing

Flying Through The Eye…Friday Fictioneers.

As a five year old, Molly’s perspective of their European vacation was very different to her Mum and Dad’s.

While they were engrossed in the minutae of the architectural details, Molly’s gaze wandered upwards, drawn towards the huge eye peering down through the roof. The eye of a friendly giant.

“Molly! Molly!” he beckoned.

Sensing a miraculous adventure, Molly let go of her mother’s hand and started rising higher and higher. “OMG! Mummy! Daddy! I’m flying”

Then, she looked down.There was only blue sky, clouds and teeny weeny rooftops as small as Monopoly houses and the moon lay up ahead.

……

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Creative Inspiration…Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies

As I mentioned in my last post, I am currently reading Tim Harford’s: Messy: How to be Creative & Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World.

In Chapter 1 on Creativity, Harford introduced me to “Oblique Strategies”. They are intended as a creative tool for musicians and were developed by legendary producer Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt – the pair originally both came up with the same idea independently in 1975, and joined forces to make it a reality.

Oblique Strategies is a deck of cards, about 7×9 cm in size, supplied in a small black box labelled “OBLIQUE STRATEGIES”. The cards themselves are black on one side, white on the other, and have obscure, cryptic aphorisms printed on the front in small letters.

Eno’s own description explains the idea very well:

“The Oblique Strategies evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation – particularly in studios – tended to make me quickly forget that there were others ways of working and that there were tangential ways of attacking problems that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach. If you’re in a panic, you tend to take the head-on approach because it seems to be the one that’s going to yield the best results Of course, that often isn’t the case – it’s just the most obvious and – apparently – reliable method. The function of the Oblique Strategies was, initially, to serve as a series of prompts which said, “Don’t forget that you could adopt *this* attitude,” or “Don’t forget you could adopt *that* attitude.”

Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies – the Ultimate Music Production Tool

By the way, Brian Eno had found fame as Roxy Music’s crazy Keyboard player and had also created a new sonic aesthetic called ambient music.bowie-heroesEno used the cards in song writing sessions in Berlin with David Bowie and Tony Visconti and Messy tells how “the strange chaotic working process produced two of the decades most critically acclaimed albums, Low and Heroes, along with Iggy Pop’s most respected work, The Idiot and Lust for Life, which Bowie co-wrote and benefited from the same messy approach.”

Here’s a few examples of what’s written on the cards:

  • Use an old idea.
  • State the problem in words as clearly as possible.
  • Only one element of each kind.
  • What would your closest friend do?
  • What to increase? What to reduce?
  • Are there sections? Consider transitions.
  • Try faking it!
  • Honour thy error as a hidden intention.
  • Ask your body.
  • Work at a different speed.

Have you ever tried using the Oblique Strategy cards?

I am thinking about buying a pack but will make a few of my own cards first and see how it goes.

I’d be interested in your feedback.

xx Rowena

Mr’s Poem: Through My Window

Looking out my window,
I hear a sound.
Scutter scutter.
Scutter scutter.
Out in the garden,
there’s a little white rabbit.
Mum!
Dad!
But when we get back,
it’s gone…
just like a puff of smoke.

No one believes me.
They just say
that I’m dreaming.
Imagination overload
all over again.
But I know what I saw.

Now,
that I’m back here alone,
the rabbit returns.
It’s glowing gold,
red eyes flashing
in the darkness.
What is it?
Why has it come?

rabbit

Then, I blink again.
The rabbit burns up into flames
with an even brighter glow
and is gone.

In the morning,
I found no rabbit prints

in the grass.

No sign of the rabbit at all.
Yet,

I know what I saw…

a mysterious rabbit

hopping outside

my bedroom window.

By Mister J

23rd February 2016.

P.S. Sorry about the spacing in between lines. Between Word and WordPress something has gone awry.

If you have been following our Through My Window Poetry Series, this is my son’s interpretation of the theme. He had to write this poem for school. I came up with two versions of my own, which I was quite pleased about. Initially this was just to provide him with an example, but I became inspired by this theme and the range of perspectives it offered.

When I first found out that he had to write a poem, I was quite concerned. It sounded like a pretty ambitious undertaking to me. We never had to write a poem at school and even I was a long way from being a born poet. I remember my own embryonic efforts back at high school (all about unrequited love of course) which I poured out to my friend on the bus. These poems could have induced paroxysms of severe vomiting. I still have them but they are kept very much under lock and key.

However, Year 7s have to be pretty grown up these days. No sooner had they walked through the gate and they were given their jabs, had school photos and also had to write a real poem. None of this “the cat sat on the mat” or “roses are red” stuff but something original and Mister more than succeeded. I gave him a bit of a hand with punctuation and layout and we talked through his ideas so he could really clarify what he wanted to say. This included some heated moments but he did really well and I didn’t write it for him. He had a vision and he pulled it off. That’s something for anyone to celebrate…young or old.

Once again, I’m left to say that school is stretching my children in areas I never thought possible and I’m just left dumbstruck on the sidelines wondering what they’re going to get up to next.

I am Mum in a magical yellow taxi waking up every day wondering where we’ll be heading to next. It’s becoming an incredible journey but I also have to admit it’s a bit surreal and way beyond the scope of GPS.

Thank you for joining me for some of the drive!

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Writing Class: as bald as a Blobfish!

As a compulsively addicted, forever-at-it,  passionate writer, I’ve been trying to find sneaky, subtle ways of encouraging my kids’ with their writing without getting sprung.

As any parent will agree, as soon as you show more than observational interest in any of your child’s activities, it puts on the kibosh on them. You are the kiss of death and the worst thing any outsider could possibly ever say to your child, no matter how well intentioned their motivational efforts might be,  is: “You’re just like your Mum/Dad” or even worse still “Ah! A chip off the old block!!” When I was a kid, those sort of comments were “stick-your-finger-down-your-throat-type” revolting and a instant death knoll to any kind of interest. RIP!

At the same time, I still want to do some writing with them and somehow pass on something of my box of magic tricks…even if it’s only enough to enable them to be competent writers and express themselves enough to cover school requirements. That in itself is a challenge anyway.

That said, if they were to show any interest at all in writing well…Yes, I’d still probably have to keep myself in check because, as I said, a bit too much parental encouragement can be a very damaging thing. We all need to wait for the butterfly to make it’s own way out of the chrysalis or it will never be able to fly.

Reading their eclectic writing efforts, I definitely felt I could help them but the real trick was HOW. I didn’t want to go on the rampage with the notorious red pen and turn them off writing for life but at the same time, I appreciated that I know a few tips or short cuts. I mean as much as I agree with Lennon’s quote, sometimes you you just want to cut to the chase and get to your destination without any hassles or impediments. There’s a lot to be said for taking the easy way out or what’s known as “The K.I.S.S. Principle”: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

I don’t know if you remember back to your primary school compositions or creative writing exercises but my Mum taught me how to spell enthusiastic when I was 11 and I soon found that when enthusiastic ended up in my compositions, there was that illustrious red tick and a VG (very good) in the margin and I was smiling like the proverbial Cheshire Cat. While too many big words wasn’t the way to go, judicious use definitely paid off. By the way, my Mum also gave me a Roget’s Thesaurus at the time and I soaked that up like a sponge. As you can see, I was a bit of a writing nerd even then. To make matters worse, I was also accused of reading the dictionary in high school but I still deny it.

As I said, I’ve been fumbling around trying to find some simple things I could do with the kids to nurture their writing and help them get ahead. Then, last week, I attended a meet and greet at the school and walked away with a very simple sheet about how to build a super sentence, which was fabulous. This also included working on similies, which can be a little tricky at first.

We started off with a simple sentence:

Yesterday, Bilbo had a haircut.

By asking who, when, what, how why, where and including a simile, our simple sentence expanded into:

“While most people receive scrumptious chocolates and stunning red roses for Valentine’s Day, Bilbo, our woolly Border Collie, received a free haircut and is now almost as bald as badger”.

I wrote most of this as an example.

So my ever-inquisitive daughter asks what a badger looks like and we jump straight to Google Images and she promptly tells me that a badger isn’t bald and is actually rather furry. Of course, this launches a new line of inquiry which has absolutely nothing to do with writing super sentences and I’m starting to suspect that my daughter’s taking me on another one of her circuitous goat’s trails. Yet, who ever said you had to stick to the narrow path to gain an education?

It turned out that the expression “as bald as a badger” comes from Victorian times when the original expression was:  “as bald as a badger’s backside”. Badger’s hair was used to make men’s shaving brushes. Brush makers would trap badgers and take the hair from their derrieres and then set them free. Eventually the hair grew back however it wasn’t uncommon in England’s Victorian past to see badgers with bald backsides.

Quite an interesting bit of trivia really!

Well, as interesting as this explanation might have been, it didn’t have much application to a modern kid whose Dad uses an electric shaver or in the case of my husband…an electric beard trimmer. Although my husband has a very full head of hair, for many kids whose fathers shave off their receding locks rather than going for the finesse of the comb-over, a more appropriate simile would be:

“as bald as my Dad.”

So my daughter who is the master of asking tricky questions and really putting me on the spot suggests her own take on this simile. A simile which the rest of the world has left alone for at least 100 years. Her version of the simile was:

“as bald as a blobfish”.

At that point, my ire was raised and I was getting really stroppy…especially after trying to build a super sentence out of: “I am awesome”.

BLOBFISH????? WHAT THE???

Just when steam was starting stream out of both ears and I was definitely losing my cool, she looks up Blobfish on Google Images. My goodness!! It actually exists and it is as bald as a badger. While you can research the Blobfish yourself if you’re interested, it’s main claim to fame is being awarded the title: World’s Ugliest Animal in 2013. While it certainly looks odd, I wouldn’t call it ugly. It’s a bald, blobby, gelatinous thing which actually looks kind of cute in an alternative, dare I say “different” kind of way. It could even look a bit contemplative or spiritual.  That said, it also reminds me of a lot of blokes you see walking around with bald heads.

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”.

John Lennon

Yes, while the rest of the world might despise the Blobfish and think it’s ugly, we love it. Cherish it. Indeed, I am in the process of ordering a toy version for my daughter’s birthday. After that priceless conversation, we had to had to immortalise the moment! I just haven’t quite worked out where to store the moment because it is on the large side and her room is already bursting at the seams.

Blobfish looking plush.

Blobfish looking plush.

After processing all of that, “bald as a blobfish” is starting to appeal and dare I say that it even exceeds all my wildest creative dreams for my child. Why should she settle for a comparison which no longer makes sense when our dog could be as “bald as a blobfish” instead?

It seems that my wish has been granted after all and I’ll take the blobfish over a badger any day!!

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference”.
Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken

 

Have you ever been caught by a blobfish? I’d love to hear your tales!!

xx Rowena

Further reading:

http://dykn.com/the-truth-about-why-the-worlds-ugliest-animal-isnt-that-ugly/