I’ve been writing a whole lot about what I do here in London…all the places I’ve been, sights I’ve witnessed, plays I’ve seen, cafes and pubs I’ve eaten at. But I haven’t talked a lot about my reaction to those events in terms of how they’re contributing to my London experience as a whole. Well, maybe I’ve touched on it, but not to a large extent quite yet.
As my program here nears its end–I can’t believe there’s only one week left–I have to start thinking about my portfolio and how I’ll present “my London” to my professors. In class today, we did a few exercises to get our brains churning and maybe spark some inspiration. I’ve had a pretty solid idea for my portfolio since week 1–actually since well before arriving in London–but these exercises were fun and helpful nonetheless.
So I thought I’d share them here, instead of just telling y’all what I did this weekend. I’m sure I’ll tell those stories eventually, but I wanted to do something different, for now.
Our first exercise was to write a six-word narrative. Yes, you read that correctly: a six-word narrative. Ernest Hemingway did it once: “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.” That’s a whole story in six short words. It’s about as difficult as it sounds, but it’s a good kind of difficult. It forces you to think critically about your experience(s), to think about what is so special or memorable about said experience(s), and to shorten it down to six critical words. Here are my attempts at six-word narratives. They are by no means polished.
Keep on keeping on in London.
Fast-paced lifestyle is not for me.
Past centuries juxtaposed upon one another.
Day two: what is white coffee?
Service suspended indefinitely. I can’t breathe.
Panic attack in foreign country: check.
Next, we got a little more flexibility with our word count: 100 words to tell a story. Complete sentences optional (thank God).
My computer died. Of course. Quickly, desperately look up nearest Apple Store. Does my warranty apply overseas? Guess I’ll find out. Prayer after prayer on the overstuffed tube train. Watching people’s hands to make sure they don’t touch my backpack. Paranoia is hypersensitive today. Get off the tube at Covent Garden. I’m shaking, trying to stop panicking. Approach nearest employee. Try to explain my predicament without sounding pathetic. No use. Break down. I’m worried about money and my warranty. Calm down, sweetheart. Your warranty applies. Everything will be okay. My next question is, where can I find a good breakfast?
(Yes, that’s 100 words. I counted.)
Our next “exercise” wasn’t so much an “exercise” as it was a response to a question: what changed during your time in London? It’s a nicer, cleaner way of asking what I’ve learned while I’ve been here, I guess. Here’s my honest response, word for word, from my notebook…no word count on this one.
At one time, I considered myself a city girl because I grew up in Atlanta. It didn’t take but about a week in London for me to reevaluate that characterization of myself. Perhaps there are different types or levels of city girls. If that’s the case, I am most definitely not the city girl I once imagined or thought myself to be. A quasi city girl, maybe: I can handle it for a couple weeks at a time, but not full time. Maybe Blacksburg has had that effect on me. I’ve gotten too used to the mountains and slower pace of life, even during semester crunch times. I tell people I want to return to Atlanta someday. Maybe I still do, but I should probably reconsider the whole “city girl” notion before I move on after life at VT.
Those are all raw, unedited writings from today’s class. Well, the 100-word story had to be edited a tiny bit, but nothing substantial. I’ll probably turn one of those into something for my final portfolio.
One last exercise we did in class…we did this in our second week, after seeing A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe. There’s a type of poetry called “exquisite corpse”–at least I think that’s what it’s called–in which each person in the room contributes one word to a running list, thus creating a “poem” as a group. We did a poem like this about A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with an added challenge: we had to co it a la Twitter and keep it within 140 characters. I think we went over, but not by too much. Here’s our “exquisite corpse” tweet:
Wilderness whimsical faeries long dreamlike schemes lust mistakenly lost flowers blooming infatuated harrowingly destroy chthonic bodies.
I added my own line breaks (and a few extra words to help the flow) to put it in more of a “poem format”…
whimsical faeries long
[for] dreamlike schemes
lust [is] mistakenly lost
…and that’s what we do in class, when we’re not touring historic sites or venturing through museums or boating up the River to Greenwich or watching incredible plays. Super excited to visit Bath on Thursday, and to see Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple of Inishman tomorrow!