Thursday, April 23, 2015

Three Short Story Ideas

Week 7 of Narrative Writing class, this week, our exercise is to develop three story ideas. These will then be discussed and 'pitched' in class to help everyone decide which one they will work up into 3,000 words. Here was the brief: 

"We'll be discussing essential short fiction components and everyone should bring three ideas to pitch as their short fiction writing ideas. Think of pitch as a sales endeavour and be prepared to sell your ideas. Practice spending a two minutes talking up each of your ideas. We'll discuss their merits together."

Here are my three story ideas: 

Vida Butterface lives alone above Café Fountain, in Sydney’s King’s Cross. She lives alone and suffers from lipodystrophy which means she has a very old face but a young body. Kings Cross is not just her home because it’s where she lives. It’s home because amongst the history and sleazy reputation lies a groundswell of acceptance – from the newly-moneyed in their fancy apartments to the downcast who line up outside the Wayside Chapel for a chance to feel human, if only for a few hours. When Vida joins the Honeybees she realises that competition is a level playing field, where the only thing that matters is what you bring, not the package it comes in.

Death Dog
A dog that can smell death approaching other dogs. Sarah, lonely and naïve, who wanted to feel connected to the community. The creepy old man in the lace-fringed mansion. Jewel-encrusted taxidermied domestic pets. An alluring and unsettling new interior decorating trend shaking the foundations of the sparkling, seaside suburb of Mosman. A community of people who run out of fingers to point when their bubble is burst.

Georgina Saint vs Emily Drake
When she started at the small accounting firm, Drakedorf, Georgina could only see her own reflection. Am I wearing the right clothes? Will they regret hiring her? But as she approached the threshold of the third week in her new job (no-one else had lasted so long, the agency were thrilled) the questions started to change. ‘She’s a monster’ whispered one in the bathroom. ‘How is it with Her Ladyship?’ fished another as they both waited for their print outs. And then there was the computer files – a tome of biblical proportions, where ex-colleague A begat ex-colleague B and together went down in the annals of the firm and became the legends of those who went before – a trail of fingerprints and hand-written notes in the margins of scanned documents. Myths of immediate summarial dismissals. Frogmarched from offices by the khaki-clad sentries. Torturous written warnings. Would Georgina join the league of those who had since departed or would she confront Emily Drake, the boss who imprisoned the good actuaries of Drakedorf? Or should she follow her hunch that modern office politics are simply the playing field for mental imbalance and psychopaths, and not trust her colleagues?

I can't wait to see which story 'sticks'. I think of stories as characters, living organisms capable of independant movement. They buzz and whirr and feed in my mind, but sometimes only have short life spans or they can grow tall and wide and tangled. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

No room for demons

Image by Robert Ullman
I’ve been listening to the audiobook version of Amy Poehler’s book ‘Yes Please’. There’s a chapter in which she writes/narrates the sad tale of the demon within us all. It’s the horrible voice that sidles up to you and snaps ‘You have way too much cleavage for that dress’ or ‘Purple eyeshadow is not good on you, you look like you have two plums instead of eyes’ and other less PG rated gripes, moans, cackles and swipes.
The best thing about the demon voice in Poehler’s audiobook is that it is read by a deep-voiced man. It could be Seth Meyers, Mike Schur, Eileen Poehler, William Poehler, or Patrick Stewart who all have talent credits in her audiobook. Whoever it is, he made the demon sound like a cross between Barry White, a catcall from a building site and that guy who does the love songs and dedications on 101.7FM who makes me feel queasy.
That demon voice turned up in my yoga class the other day.

I do yoga in a gym which means two of the four walls are all mirrors. I turned to my right and the demon voice and I caught a glimpse of my arms raised over my head.
‘Ugh!’ said the demon ‘Those arms and you do not belong in this yoga class. They’re too white . . . ‘
‘Shut up, demon’ I said. ‘I’m here to do yoga, not listen to you’.

The demon slunk to the back of the room and hid behind the swiss balls.I kept on with the yoga, enjoying the stretch, breathing in and out.Later, as I stood in Warrior Two, I gazed out beyond my fingertips and again we caught a glimpse of my reflection. I turned away as quickly as I could, but not fast enough.The demon was by my side in a flash.

‘Dear Lord, you look like a lumpy balloon in that singlet top!’ He droned into my ear. ‘Lumpy!! Balloo”
‘F**** off, demon.’ I said ‘I can’t do yoga and listen to you. You’re just going to have to go.’He folded his arms, pouted and disappeared on my next exhalation.

I like that Amy Poehler has given the demon voice a timbre that is not my own.

It makes it easier to differentiate between what the demon says (lies) and what is true (none of it).

Down with demons. Hurrah for clever, smart, funny women.

BTW – if the saying is true that you’re influenced by the 5 people with whom you spend the most time, then lately I’ve been hanging out with Tara Moss, Lena Dunham and now Amy Poehler. Not a bad crowd. I know they’re not really there, but they narrate their own audiobooks and it makes me feel like we’ve had a good sit down and chat. I’ve always been a good listener.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Quitter Chronicle: Life without Facebook - Week 5

Do I have the self-control of a 30 year old . . . or a 13 year old?

And just like that, I was back online.

In a lot of ways Facebook can be as much of a time vortex as shopping can be.

This strange Bermuda Triangle between my need, desire and the enabler (choose between shoe/clothes/homewares/food shopping or Facebook as they all exercise similar powers over me). I can be shopping, decide I need the bathroom, leave the store and head for the bathroom – only to end up there 45 minutes later after I have been to about three stores along the way.

Facebook is much the same. I estimate I have spent about an hour on there over the past week. Not bad, you say? It is if you’ve decided you want a Facebook-free February (and January)!

At least I’m not at the stage where I’m scrolling while I stand, waiting, at the traffic lights. That would be bad.

Not to say that I haven’t enjoyed checking out a few news stories and friend’s updates this past week…

With just three weeks of my challenge left - surely I can give my brain that extra space!?