Thursday, August 23, 2012

my thoughts on: The Beauties by Anton Chekhov

The Beauties by Anton Chekhov
published 1888

I first heard of Chekhov's The Beauties last semester in one of my English lectures. The lecture was on the literary form of the short story. 
The Beauties is said to be one of the most important short stories of all time.
It is a wonderful example of how a short story does not at all depend on plot. In The Beauties, nothing happens - twice.
It's beautiful, it's emphatic, it just is what it is. And it needs nothing more. 
It left nothing to be desired. 

The story is one boy's experiences beholding exquisite human beauty.
It is his contrast in reactions and feelings to these beauties, his starkly different responses to them, his analysis of what beauty is, and how others might perceive them. 

The Beauties, I think, has helped me realise how unimportant plot can be in fiction. Watching my lecture online yesterday (for my creative writing unit), Brenda (Walker - author and unit coordinator) focused on the importance of character (as opposed to plot) in fiction. The Beauties is a brilliant example of that - of how little I need worry about plot when I go to write my story. It's one thing to hear advice, and another to see it in action. That's what I'm hoping The Beauties is for me. 
The fuel for my creative fire.

Friday, August 17, 2012

musings on the concept of "story"

I don't normally do these kind of posts on this blog - the sort of posts where I just ramble and rant on about something. I don't even really do these on my personal blog anymore either. But today I feel like this has been a recurring thought on my mind, one that might interest you, so I'm sharing it. 

It's just about 10pm on the dot right now, so if I can get this out of my system and onto the screen by 10.15pm so I have time to hop on the treadmill (I call it the dreadmill) and do a spot of creative writing before bedtime that would be awesome. 

The thing I wanted to talk about is stories. The concept or idea of the story. What a story is. The shapes and forms we find stories in on a daily basis.
Yesterday in my tutorial class for the creative writing English unit I'm doing, the topic of "story vs narrative" was discussed. Our tutor was trying to explain the definitions of 'story' and 'narrative' and their relationship with one another. It's still a little hazy in my head, even though I wrote notes down. But anyway, what I got from that discussion was that a story can have narrative but not every narrative is a story. It's one of those confusing things. 
And this afternoon as I was watching the latest episode of So You Think You Can Dance, Nigel (producer/judge) was saying how amazing it was that Mia Michaels (choreographer) could create a story in only a minute and a half. Which is so true, and made me realise you don't need a plot to tell a story, and there's no need for any arc or methodical structure when it comes to story and storytelling. I believe it's the 'telling' part that makes it a story. You can put a couple people up on a stage and turn on some music and suddenly you're watching a story unfold before your eyes. Or you can sit down on your living room sofa, open up a book and there's a story sitting there patiently on your lap. It could be a montage, a sequence of images, a movie. Or a TV ad, or one sentence.

I've been finding it really, really difficult to start on my creative writing process. For this unit I'm doing we have to submit a folio later in the semester, featuring a few poems or a short story within a word limit. I want to tell a story. And I'm starting to figure out just how ambiguous my task really is, and how percolated the concept of stories is. There's a struggle within me - one voice is yelling at me saying that is exactly what makes telling a story easy, and another voice telling me that it's for this reason that I'm finding it so hard.
I don't know. I'm going to try my best to get this concept of story rooted in my mind and rooting for me to just go for it, jump in, and tell a story. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

my thoughts on: never let me go by kazuo ishiguro

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
published 2005. read synopsis.

First I watched the film and ever since, this story had been deeply embedded inside my mind. 
And then I read the novel. 
Before I begin talking about the book, I just want to quickly say that I think the movie was excellent and did a fantastic job capturing the world inside Never Let Me Go. Yes, some things weren't exactly represented accurately from book to film, and I might think differently about this when I watch the movie over again. But for right now, I love the film. I truly, truly believe that Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield were brilliantly cast in their roles. 

Ok, now the book. 

I am dumbfounded by Kazuo Ishiguro's writing. Never Let Me Go is one of the best written pieces of literature I have ever read in my lifetime. The way the story was written, the way the author wielded his words, and the way the language spoke in a voice so distinct that I couldn't hear the author at all, but only and solely Kathy's voice - these are all reasons why this book is one of the best written books I've read. The story is told in way that greatly warrants the book to be read aloud. I was trying to hear the words as spoken by Carey Mulligan (her voiceovers in the movie were so excellent and I love her voice in general) and I was tempted to buy an audio book version of the novel online. Kathy H, the narrator, told the story as if she and I were having tea together one afternoon. I can't even articulate properly how much I love the way this story is written. I would buy the book for this factor alone. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Uni's back - these are the books I need!

So I'm back at uni again for the second semester of the year starting this week, so I thought I'd use this post to show you some of the books I'll be needing for my studies this sem!

First off, these are the four units I'm doing: 

1. Reading Creatively/Writing Creatively 
2. Greek 2 (I did 'Greek 1' last semester)
3. Meaning and the Moving Image
4. Romanticism and Change in the Long Nineteenth Century

And these are the books I'll be needing!