Monday, July 18, 2011

Experiment 14 - Teaching

Soon I will be teaching two English classes in my community. My plan is to write my notes on this blog so that both my class and others can follow my unique teaching techniques.

I believe that writing itself is an experiment. Hardly ever does it come out right the first time. Every one of us has had our papers marked straight through with so much red pen that we feel like we have a physical representation of the bloody end of Hamlet.

But, as with Hamlet, no great work is created without that kind of blood. My UCLA screenwriting instructor, Brian Price, put it quite nicely. He said that if we ended with the same story we had at the beginning of the class, he hadn't done his job. Writing must change. Otherwise it becomes stale and boring. 

How shall we begin what seems like such a painful process? Experiment. Like a cook, we must find the essential ingredients, then find the right amount of each. If we view writing correctly, we will rejoice when the red pen tells us there is room for improvement.

To be a great writer you must accept critique of your work. Perhaps if you were perfect then you would not have the need to have critiques. But you're not. Trust me. There is always room for improvement. Always.

Zena Dell Lowe, a Screenwriting Professor at Covenant College, said that there are no finished works, only works that are satisfactory. As the famous phrase goes,"Writing is about rewriting".

That is so intimidating. Well, yes. But it can be done. People have been writing novels, plays, screenplays, and articles for years. If you want to write, you can. One of the most important things a writer must have is drive. Sounds too much like a Disney movie does it? If you believe in yourself, you can do it. Eh, Disney got that part right.

Writing is not about getting published or famous. Writing is about understanding yourself and the world around you. If you believe that you have a unique vision of the world, which you do, then write. Other people want to know, understand. Writing is just like a conversation with a captive listener.

You have a captive audience. Why not talk to them?


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Experiment 12 - Fashion Layouts

Yes, yes, I did.

This is based off of my Senior Integration Project on Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll: Society Through the Eyes of a Child. It was a historical and biological criticism of Carroll's book.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Experiment 11 - The Same But Different

Today I walked home in an altogether musical, bright, sunshine attitude. This was hardly surprising since the weather was warm with no traces of sticky wetness in the air or the temperature precursor to hellfire madness. I had the pleasure of a full 15 minutes walk to my apartment. I realized, in a very Our Town sort of way, that I had walked this path so many times and was completely unfamiliar with what surrounded it. So, I purposely sidestepped the path.

I was happy I did. I found some wildflowers and a wonderfully gnarly stick that looked intimidating. The bark was peeling off, but my chief concerns were, did it have ants and was it rotted?

Since the answers to these questions was a negative, I proudly carried my rather cumbersome stick, or the adventuresome staff, toward my homestead.

There used to be an old house right next to the soccer field. I had always wanted to visit the demolishing site.

So I trudged forward, almost afraid that I was on forbidden ground. I found fascinating bits of house. It is sad to see such a small representation of something that used to be permanent. Well, it was permanent in the sense that I never expected to see it demolished in my lifetime.

There were red painted circular shaped stones that had broken in two. These I couldn't connect to the house in my mind. The ideas of secret societies and hidden treasures played around in my mind long enough for me to recognize...

A stone part of the wall flung into the foliage just beyond the clearing. I thought I might take it home as a souvenir. Unfortunately, as I turned it over, something moved on it.

It seemed odd for there to be something amber moving along, but there they were, an army of ants scurrying in and out of a hole in the stone.

I felt I had invaded a private party and almost apologized audibly to the ants as I tossed them back.

I shook it off and gazed upwards. There was something anchored to the ground that resembled a high jump. But if any jumper so dared to jump it, they would have a quick and fatal meeting with the trees just beyond it.

It was then that two guys hurriedly came toward the empty lot. One on a bike, the other keeping up on foot.

The first kept riding up the hill and looking at me with a quizzical eye. The second slowed, unsure of himself. "We are supposed to meet here right?" He asked the first.

"Yeah he said in the e-mail we were meeting here." The confidence in his voice was slightly shaken.

I lowered my eyes and walked toward the soccer field parking lot. I tried to glance back at the two guys surreptitiously, but even fake spying was never my strong point.

The silence was palatable, pushing me away.

I wondered for a bit if I could sneak back later and discover what the secrecy was about.

I realized though, I would much prefer a nap.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Experiment 10 - My Horrible Dear

I have always loved you. You have cut me deep. You isolated me. Tearing my heart until all I could do was bleed. I felt a hollow joy when you reigned in my heart. All the things I saw through your eyes were sickly gold. Now my world is deep colors. I am independent from the plans you had of fame and status. I have no flash, nothing to set me above. You think Checkmate. But I don't play chess anymore. I am apart. Those who love you cannot see me. You have always hated me, and now you make no pretense to your feelings. But now I can dance without fear. I can sing to the heart. I know that my new hope is only a baby and that you are strong, but those painful and calculated steps are more beautiful to my Lover than any mountain I can climb. So, my pride, I hope we become enemies. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Experiment 9 - Alone

There is one moment in the day where I was completely alone. When you feel completely alone it is not all about the space in which you are put. I was, incidentally, in a very large space with an adequate stage in front of me. There was something about the room that was so full of emptiness. If I can describe it, I will think of myself as having conquered something. It was only for as long as one can think, "I am alone" that I was actually alone. I felt forlorn, like I needed to move from this awfully empty space, yet, when someone came in, I felt as though they were entering into my private sanctuary, encroaching on my solitude. Some may call this bipolar. I think it is an experiment in positive and negative space. When I was alone I felt the negative space repelling me. When someone came in, I felt the positive space fill up so much room that the other person could not possibly fit. And, yet, the physics of my mind was overturned, and I...had a classmate.

Experiment 8 - Present Tense Picture Monologue

The assignment was to pick a scenario described in our book and write a monologue about it using pictures in our mind of what is happening. This stretched me as a writer because I generally don't write like I am presently seeing something. This monologue felt more like the action section I am used to putting at the beginning of each scene in screenplays.

The flames are just starting to be visible. 5. Coming out the windows and lapping up the sides onto the roof. 4. They caress the houses on both sides. Houses are crashing like dominoes. 3. Big Ben tolls and flames  dance at its base. 2. London Bridge's wires snap and flail as it falls into the Thames. 1. Ash billows over London. Now I can only see the cloud.

So, my character was supposed to be having a dream about London burning and was counting down until its destruction.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Experiment 6 - Questions

Can you stand close to someone but not feel that they are there?

What would life be like if we were judged by the appearance of the body on the inside rather than on the outside?

What happens when there is no hierarchy?

Is there ever a time when that happens?

Can love run over you?

Can it crush you?

Can you get tired of macaroni and cheese? How professional is too professional?

Is there such a thing as too professional?

If Ann of Green Gables lived today, how would society change her life?

Experiment 5 - A Prayer for Japan


Dear God,

Please heal all of the broken hearts and bodies flooding Japan, much greater than any wave could be. Thank you for allowing many to escape. Heal their will and hope for life. May pain bring them to the Healer that You may heal the wounds only now revealed physically. Baptise them with more than water.

Experiment 4 - Insomnia

Good morning world. My eyes squint and my body clearly wants to remain horizontal. Although my eyes refuse to open, they equally protest relaxation. Morning heaves me out of bed with a sigh and a trip. Facts are confused with dreams. The real and unreal mingle. The creative is born.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Experiment 3 - Free Write

I need to write. It isn't something that I do because I love it. I do, which makes it much easier. When I write I can be myself, but I also can make all of the snarky jokes that I will learn to have the guts to say. For example:

Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?

Not until now.

Are you in the library? Because I want to check you out.

I am in the reference section.

I suffer from a servere case of the niceness silencers.

Experiment 2 - Juxtaposition of Joy and Grief

Bird's high notes of a song
Deep sobs
The bird sad
The tears hollow 

Experiment 1 - Thoughts on William Blake's Augeries of Innocence

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

-William Blake

The world is such a vast place that to think of it in a grain of sand makes one stagger at the thought of an hourglass. And, yet, such things are entirely possible. Perhaps, when we are overwhelmed by our insignificance, we should use a magnifying glass. 

Joy can be in the small things, like a wild flower. We all agree that nature is beautiful, but there is a reason why the phrase "Stop and smell the roses" has been used. Because we do not enjoy the little things in life, even the larger things do not have as much weight as they could. If we can allow ourselves to forget the world for even a second and truly look at something beautiful, it changes us. 

Step out of time and savor the small.