Sunday, March 7, 2010

First week back at uni

Just a bit of general housekeeping. I am back at Curtin for my second year of Creative Writing/Literary and Cultural Studies. I'm studying poetry and short fiction this semester, as well as some literary and cultural stuff, including a course on popular music. I get to do a presentation on Fight Club at the end of the semester, which I'm really psyched about, and as I get back into the rhythm of things I'm picking up the pen a bit more frequently, and trying to read through a couple of novels when I can. I have been reading "The War in Heaven" by David Zindell, which is absolutely fantastic, but it's not something you can read in snapshots, like on a bus or on your lunchbreak. So I've put that aside for the time being (hopefully not for too long this time!) and instead I've picked up another of Chuck Palahniuk's novels, Survivor.

I've read Fight Club, and I'm about forty pages into Survivor, and I must say that I'm drawn to this man's knack for writing prose. He writes "differently" to your average New Your Best-Seller, and I think that really makes a difference, and really makes his writing pop out. In studying the more minute techniques of narrative, I hope that I can follow Chuck towards this path of literary originality. I know it sounds ironic, trying to achieve originality through the following of others. But I think it works for me. I'd like to think my stories can offer something different to my readers.

This difference, however, has its downfalls. You see, when people read, they expect to be entertained, and the conundrum lies with reverting expectations and still remaining entertaining and compelling. I think people look for generic hooks and tropes, and when they're not there, or portrayed differently, it is harder for the reader to accept the story as it is, or fully understand what I, as the author have tried to do. At the moment, I'm really trying to push my prose into a metaphoric state. I tried to get my latest story "Painting Flames on Runaway Trains" to pace itself like that of a runaway train, gathering momentum until the penultimate crash.

I'm not entirely sure how to approach my next project. I've just been running through ideas before I go to bed, jotting down the core themes I'd like to get at, and how I could approach them. So far, all I can say is that it's about an astronaut that is abandoned on the surface of Mars and left to contemplate his abandonment without a soul to communicate with.

My poetry tutor, Brian Dibble, said in my first class that poetry was metaphorical, but prose is metonymical. Maybe it's just me, but I think the metaphoric and metonymic natures of either two forms are interchangeable. I prefer my poetry to be grounded in the real world, whereas I like to give my prose metaphoric qualities, particularly in the rhythms of the sentences I use. Repetition, patterns, words that roll off the tongue like poetry, without actually being poetry. I like to get inside the heads of characters, to explore into what makes them tickin my prose. I like to stand back and observe things as they are in my poetry. I like to think that playing around with these two art forms has taught me a lot, and ultimately, unlocked my ability to tap into ideas I previously thought impossible. My first story was a gothic horror, it goes through the usual themes and expresses things that have been expressed over and over again. I like to think I can move on to more interesting, deeper stuff. I only hope it will be read and enjoyed as it is.

So, yeah, my first week has been good, nothing outstanding, going to try to get on top of my homework tonight and ready myself for week two. I don't know what this Mars story will end up like, but as a writer, and as a person, I like to think that life is flexible. You can bend it and conform it to your will, and likewise, it can be so warped that you won't know what the future will hold for you, whether it be a year or a month or a day. Things just are the way they are and you've got to just run with it and hope you end up where you want, or somewhere just as good.


  1. I definitely see some Chuck in your work to date. Keep at it.

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