Last week, I went to a Creative Writing five-day residential course at Villiers Park near Cambridge, and honestly, it was amazing. It was great to meet so many new friends, who live all over the UK and all have the same interest in creative writing. I learned so much during this course from them, and even though I’ve only known them for days, I felt like I’ve known them for months now. We all made friends from day one, and I’ve got so many funny moments from this. I never actually realised how much I’m going to miss these guys.
Everything about the course was great. The tutors who taught us were so helpful when helping us improve our work, and I feel that I’ve already become a better writer. The play that we all saw at the Cambridge Arts Theatre on Wednesday, Lady Anna: All at Sea, was brilliant, coming from someone who hates plays. Even the food was just outstanding, especially their cheesecakes.
Anyway, so as I’ve been on a Creative Writing course, and I’ve got lots of work sitting on my laptop, I thought “Fuck it. Why not just post all of the stuff I did at Villiers Park on my blog?”. I’ll try to create a backstory or summary for each piece as well (whenever I can). So here goes:
100 Word Story
On Thursday, author Katy Darby came in and spoke to us, and talked about her book ‘The Unpierced Heart’, and how she got her book published with Penguin (which is impressive). She also read an extract from a book she edited, called London Lies. Her impression of a Cockney accent was amazing, and just made it even more hilarious!
She also mentioned something called Liars’ League, which is where writers write a story which is exactly 100 words long, and then actors read them to a live audience. We were then given the challenge to pick something out of a bag and then we tried to write a one hundred word story with that object. I picked out a baby polar bear teddy, and this is what I wrote about it in 100 words:
“Last week, I was looking through two old boxes which I found at the corner of the attic. In the first box, I found a collection of old photographs, in a folder, labelled ‘Baby Photographs’. I quickly looked through them, until I found a picture of me, two weeks old, holding a small teddy bear close to my chest. I thought to myself “God, I’ve always looked cute, even from an early age”, before placing them back in the folder. I opened the second box, and at the bottom, I found the bear that I was holding in the photograph.”
Now I know what you’re thinking. No, a non-fiction essay isn’t the stuff you have to write in your exams. It’s basically a memoir, or a biography, or something like that. We were given the task to write about a specific memory, so I decided to write about my nan because it’s the first memory that I could think of in the time. It’s called ‘The Incident’.
The greatest memory I can remember about my nan was two years ago, at my brother’s wedding. I remember when everyone arrived at the church, and after waiting what seemed like twelve years, my brother finally arrived. Not in a fancy limousine, or a Rolls Royce or something like that. No. In his Renault Clio, that he bought off Ebay, with missing wheel or something like that. No car decorations either, you know, like the ribbons people stick on the front of their cars, with the sign ‘Just Married’. Nothing.
When he arrived, he told us all to go inside and find somewhere to sit. You know, on those benches that they have in churches, which makes your arse go numb after five minutes. Ten minutes went by, and no sign of the bride. I was so bored waiting for her and the bridesmaids to turn up, that I considered reading the Bible in front of me, just to pass the time. Just to clear something up, the only way I’m religious is that I have a roast dinner on Sundays.
However, my nan just decided to randomly shout “It’s not too late to do a runner now, Daniel!” for no reason, which everyone laughed, including me. The bride’s side of the family didn’t find it funny. Or the bride, who was walking down the aisle the exact same time. The timing was impeccable, and that’s what made it even more hilarious, even to this day.
We weren’t really welcome at the wedding reception after ‘that incident’, as everyone stared at us the entire time I was there. It didn’t help that my Nan starting crying after I left. Apparently, she started shouting “My grandsons don’t love me! My grandsons don’t love me!” Yeah, she was very drunk. She had about two bottles of wine that day. That’s what alcohol does to you, kids!
But I suppose this moment of my nan was important to me because that was the last time I saw her before she passed away last August. I still miss her, and I still beat myself every day that I should have been there for her more often than I did. The only time I ever really saw her was when we used to visit her house every Christmas when I was a little kid. It was great to see all of the family together, even relatives who live up north and across the pond in America. Now it just seems like the only time we’ll see each other is when someone else dies in the family.
However, it made me recognise the most important things in life. Not getting good grades on a piece of paper. What’s important (to me) is to have a close-knit group of friends and family, who will be there for me when I need them, and can understand what’s wrong with me, and to make me feel better about life in general.
My nan’s death also made me realise that I have to look to the future and to stay positive and look forwards, instead of looking backward and regretting my actions, even if it does fucking kill me at times.
To finish this piece off, I briefly remember someone asking me this question earlier this week. “How can you appreciate happiness in your life, without experiencing sadness along the way?”, which I felt described my feelings perfectly.
On Friday, we all had to read a piece (of our choice) on a podcast, and I chose this piece as I thought it was probably the best out of everything. It had a mixture of humour with a serious side, which was basically my nan in a nutshell. I would put the podcast on here, but it sounds like I’m talking through a tin can. I sound absolutely terrible.
Second Person Non-Fiction Essay
We were told after we wrote our first non-fiction essay that we had to write another one. This time, in 2nd person, which isn’t as difficult at I thought. However, it was difficult to think of a topic at the start, so then I decided to create a story based on a relationship, where the girl had cheated and I was writing from the guy’s perspective. It’s called ‘You Lied to Me’.
You lied to me. You promised me, as we were walking down Weymouth beach at night, holding each other’s hand, and looking at the waves meeting the sand as the sun sets over the horizon. You turned to me, looked me straight in the eye and said you wouldn’t talked to him anymore. You know, that guy who was richer, more intelligent,better looking than I’ll ever be. You promised that you would love me more than anyone else, and that I was your number one. But you lied to me.
Look, we used to be perfect together. You used to come round mine every weekend, and you would sit on my lap and we would play Mario Kart all night, even though you were awful at it. We used to have cute pillow fights together. We used to do the other relationship shit that everyone else did, like how you would cuddle me from behind when I was talking to someone else at school or college. You were everything to me. I thought you were the one. But you lied to me.
I wish I could have seen it coming. You used to talk about this guy all of the time, and how you would say how amazing he was. Like the time when you told me that he’s a hero, because he saved an old lady from getting hit by a car driver. You always said you loved him. But I didn’t realise how truthful you were at the time. After all, you always say ‘I love you’ on people’s selfies, with three kisses and a love emoji. I thought that’s what you meant, in that kind of way, but I was wrong. You lied to me.
For this task, we worked in pairs, and we both had to come up with an idea to write about, and then after we got the idea, we would both write a story individually. Now, I worked with someone called Lily, who was part of our mini-squad, and is the one who said “I can’t dip pizza with pizza!” She’s never going to live it down.
Anyway, so me and Lily decided to do a scenario where two people are eating lunch at a restaurant. I decided to do an ‘awkward and comedic’ first date, where it goes wrong very quickly, whereas Lily decided to do a more serious story, with two people having lunch in Manhattan, and are trying to repair their relationship.
“So…” he said, finally breaking the awkward silence that surrounded them. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m fine thanks,” she said, bluntly. He sighed. This was going to be a long afternoon.
“And what job do you have?” He listened intently, leaning his elbow dangerously close to the edge of the table.
“Well, I’m a -” She was interrupted by a large bang, and watched her date fall helplessly to the floor. His elbow collapsed with all of his weight, face-planting the marble tiles as a result.
“I…I’m so sorry, everyone” he shouted, turning around to see the disapproved faces of onlookers. He could feel his cheeks burning, as he sat down again, pretending like nothing happened.
“S-s-sorry about that. What were you saying before?” he asked. He realised his nose was bleeding slightly, and used his handkerchief to clear some of the blood around his nostrils.
“What I was about to say, before I was rudely interrupted…” she stared coldly at him. If looks could kill, he would be dead seven times already. “…I’m a counsellor. What about you?”
“I work in a business. Water?” he hurried.
“Yes, please.” He then proceeded to fill his glass up, but he accidentally knocked it over. Water flowed across the table into his crotch.
“I…I…I’m so sorry” he apologized, before standing up, trying to dry himself off.
“Oh, you know what. Forget it!” she snapped. She stood up sharply, knocking her chair over, and headed towards the exit.
I think I will finish off this blog article with my first piece of the week. We had to create a short story where we had to include tension, but we had to use our own fear. I decided to do the story surrounding the fear of heights, as I’m fucking petrified of heights. I get scared when I’m on top of a ladder!
“Just do it. We always make the new person go first.”
“Yeah, but why can’t I watch someone else do it?” Adam moaned.
“Just fucking do it, pussy. Or are you too scared? Want to call Mummy?”
Adam sighed. This was the first time that he went cliff jumping, and probably his last, he thought. Adam looked down. The cliff was about twenty feet from the sea, which was too high for him.
“I can’t do it!” cried Adam to the group standing behind him, swallowing nervously.
“You either jump now or we’re going to pick you up by your legs, and throw you off that cliff!” one of the group members screamed.
He slowly stepped forward, edging closer and closer to the edge of the cliff, until he could see the waves rushing in and touching the beach at the bottom. He froze, motionless like a statue, looking at the beautiful scenery that surrounded him.
Suddenly, his legs start to shake violently, and he could feel his heart beating faster with every moment passing by. He could feel his palms sweating, and found it difficult to breathe. Bending his knees to jump, his legs collapsed, sending him falling to the ground, inches away from near death. He got up again and tried to bend his knees to jump, until-
“BOO!” One of the group silently crept up behind Adam and shouted in his ear, before firmly grabbing his shoulders, and vigorously shaking him back and forth. The others laughed behind him. “What, did you think we’d really let a newbie jump first? It’s dangerous out there man!” he laughed. “Come on. Let’s get you away from the cliff, before you do yourself damage.” Adam breathed a sigh of relief.
I would definitely be Adam in this situation…
So yeah, that’s some of the work that I did at Villiers Park. I think I’m definitely going to have to do more creative writing on this blog from now on. It’s so fun to do