There’s so much in New York City to satisfy your creative cravings!
I found a writing class in Brooklyn. And you could try out the first class, and choose to sign up or not. I knew I couldn’t sign up for it right away, but decided to try it all the same. And I was pleasantly surprised. Now, as an engineer, I look down on all artsy-fartsy types, and am wary of all writing classes, because I’m under the impression that all those folks dont get the madness down to a method that works well, and if anything gets done there, it’s by pure chance. I hate being told to wait for inspiration or to channelize it. I hate whining about writer’s block even though I do it all the time.
Anyway, the class I attended was none of that. It provided a form and structure to screenwriting and formulating plot points. At the same time, it didn’t hinder creativity, but provided a channel for it to flow when stuck. The rules helped you express yourself better, more smoothly.
We did two exercises. The first one was a meditative sort of thing where we tried to think of a character, give them a tactile need, and create conflict by putting a locked door between that tactile need and them, and add another character who has the power to open the door but for some reason doesn’t. And we were given fifteen minutes to write what we saw in our heads.
The characters I came up with were inspired by people I saw on the subway earlier that day…. there was a big black woman next to me on the train, who was reading a novel, and she looked like Aretha Franklin, only with martinet-style glasses and flecks of grey in her hair. Then there was a thin, petite black man in his early twenties sitting across from me. And there was this old big black man on the downtown Express.. so here goes.
Aretha stepped urgently across the narrow street, looming large over the petite thin people around her. She opened the black metal gate forcefully, not caring for the ivy covering it. She faced a large, thick, teakwood door with a shiny brass knob. Kieran usually left that open.
She tried the knob, but the huge door refused to budge. She pushed hard, in case the door was jammed, but to no avail. Locked.
“Kieran! Open the door!”, she yelled through the open window. “I need to see Amos. Tell him I’m here!”.
“Sorry Aretha,” came the reply. “After all the hurt you’ve caused, none of us want you here”. He paused hesitantly. “Amos doesn’t want you here”.
“You’re lying!”, she retorted. “Amos wouldn’t turn me away”. Her eyes welled up. “I just want to tell him I’m sorry”.
“No, Aretha”, Kieran was firm. “I can’t let you upstairs to see Amos. There’s only so much emotional trauma a man confined to bed can take.
“Just go away, Aretha. If you love Amos, you know he shouldn’t be seeing you”.
I surprised myself there. I really thought I couldn’t write any fiction with any feeling before this!
Then we had the second exercise. Everyone had to write about the same characters with the same tactile want. So we came up with a protagonist Charlie, a.k.a ‘Chuck the Duck’, who has a tactile need – a cheesecake. Then there’s our antagonist, Marlene, a.k.a ‘Marlee the bitch’, who tries to prevent him from getting the cheesecake. Mind you, we came up with all this on the fly. So here’s what I came up with to fit all these things. Again, fifteen minutes to write.
Charlie sighed unhappily on his walk around the park. He hated exercising All he wanted to do was sit back in his La-Z-boi and eat Doritos while watching reruns of The Drew Carey Show. He was tired after two rounds of jogging around the jogging track, and he didn’t want to go through two more rounds of walks. His muscles ached. He felt hungry. His system craved something sugary and fatty. Two weeks since his trainer had allowed him a treat.
He hated, hated, hated her. She was tough, and she could be nasty when she felt you hadn’t been following her instructions. She would berate you, hurt your body image and lower your self-esteem. Not for nothing was Marlene Cooper called Marlee The Bitch.
Charlie sighed some more as he waddled across the tiny bridge; his weight made it hard to keep a steady stride. That memory of a schoolboy nickname of ‘Chuck the Duck’ still rankled in his mind. And Marlene had somehow found that out and began calling him that whenever he groaned during his workouts. He felt unpleasant. He decided to ditch his walk. He couldn’t take it anymore. All he wanted was a creamy white cheesecake with bright red strawberry jelly covering it.
He walked to the Cheesecake Factory a stone’s throw away, ready with his wallet out. As the bell rang when he opened the door, who should he see but… Marlene! At that moment, he hated every inch of that slim athletic figure he’d once found appealing, every last inch of it.
So… how are these? What do they sound like? How do these bits make you feel? Do let me know!
Now maybe I’ll give the next NaNoWriMo a real shot!
For reading her for more than four years, for picking too many ideas from her and simply for documentation, I’ll copy Garance Dore’s post on the evolution of her style and nod.
Like most girls, my first and the biggest influence in clothes and dressing sense has been my mother. “Dress presentable” she always says. She means be creative with designs, have a well fitting good pair(s) of jeans, heels, heels, heels, mix basics well, carry yourself well and let it match what you are wearing, work with basics, good quality cloth, colors that suit you, nice hair cut, less accessories and NO CREASE ON THE CLOTHES. Neat. And tidy.
I can say till about middle school, I had the same pattern of wearing clothes. Blindly follow what amma says. And the results are well, who cares as long as people are complementing. “Oh! wow. That’s a nice dress. Let me guess, your mother must have stitched it”. “You and your sister wear the same kind of clothes. You must be twins”. Then there was this set of clothes that either mama got from forin every once in a while or cousins sent from Fashion street. “I mean it’s nice. Different, but nice”. “Outlandish aagide”.
High school was probably very exciting. Another reason why I wanted to go to Marimallappa’s was because of wednesday colour dress. This meant that I could actually wear all my clothes, somewhere other than the limitedness of our social interactions and sangeetha class. Of course, I had to cut down on the mini skirts and shorts to put maska to the teachers on my cousin’s advice. “tale baagskoNdu naDi. yaavaaglu namskara annu.” This meant wearing them in Sayyaji Rao road and getting passes. But then all the batte hunting, crochet thread or woolen hunting, lace, satin, button hunting, garden sale, Institute of Engineers craft exhibition for raw materials for amma’s latest holige project was way too much education to miss out on. The whole phase was all about mixing awesome quality clothes from forin with what amma made. A bunch of jackets and and a couple of blouses, I still have and use.
For someone who strongly believes that no girl should wear loose-loose chuDidaara, yeNNe hachkoNdu yerd jaDe and baaDhogira mallge hoovu till beyond middle school, 1st and 2nd PUC was too much for a transition to only chuDidaara. Considering the serious IITJEE aspirant from Mysore who doesn’t go to tutions that I had become, it was too much suffocation to wear only chuDidaara to college. Compensation: I got enough of them to go without repeating for more than two months. It is another issue that I used to bunk too many classes.
I guess the dark age really came in Engineering. Bad nourishment, lack of hygienic conditions in the hostel, skewed boy-girl ratio and the lack of a Nazi eye to monitor were probably the starting points. NITK probably had far more interesting things to do than bother about frivolous things like what I’m wearing, I told myself. After that, I discovered how easy it was to hoard on department t-shirts, fest t-shirts, fest t-shirts from last year’s and t-shirts from some other college fest I attended. Easy maintenance. Takes very less thinking when you wake up late for the class and don’t care what you wear without that morning bath. It is easier to slip when your exposure to girls is the ones around you who pretty much slipped like you and things seem to be working well. DASA girls? “Screw those bitches”. The bigger mistake was deciding to grow hair after 16 years of mushroom cut. I got the wrong cut. The result of all of these was a very bad phase which I hope to never get into ever again. Also a huge set of photographs with lovely memories, but make me want to cry or puke or both.
One big reason I love Bombay is for the clothes. Some others say that it was my NIFT Delhi roommate who convinced me to get out the phase and try harder. What I saw there was, the ease with which people carry both western and desi clothes. That, chuDidaaras don’t come just in the form of the conservative style of the Mysore middle school children with purple and orange jari border. Clothes in one billion styles. Bangles and scrunchies and ear studs, all waiting on Hill Road, Linking Road and Colaba Causeway, for me to bargain and buy. When people all around you are pulling off the quirkiest of clothes, it is easier to experiment. I guess I realized irrespective of how many clothes my mother made me wear, irrespective of how easily I could wear them, I had no clue what to populate my wardrobe with from that huge pool of extremely cheap clothes. I probably didn’t have my own sense of style. If you make a mistake, people will smirk. If you manage to pull it off, more people notice and compliment. The only thing I learned from this was that amma was right all along. It is a different thing to realize each instruction as though it is your own.
Living in a place with four different season on a shoe string budget comes with its own challenges. What will you do with three suitcases of clothes you brought there when summer gets over? Two jackets for the other three-fourth of the year? Really? Even if you layer, do you realize the clash of colors and designs without that snow jacket? Oh my god! My best pair of jeans make me feel cold below 5 C. And Buffalo’s winter can go all the way down to – 20 C. How many snow boots can my budget allow me to buy? Panic! Panic! Panic! How to buy minimalistic clothes and incorporate one from another season is something I’m still struggling with. But I’m pretty sure to have atleast made a beginning in something so creative and I find pure pleasure in. Amma finally agreed that I might have some sense of style.
Neat. Tidy. Pulled together. Some attitude to carry all that with. That’s all I aim for.