writing

What’s my age again?

My blog, stutterstumblewritings (henceforth SSW), has been up and running in public since early 2013. Initially, it was a place to host my creative writing projects as I had been previously publishing on LiveJournal and FictionPress. This year I began a fast-tracked version of UOW’s Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies. Somehow I didn’t realise this included blogging and tweeting for grades until one or two weeks into semester. It was a difficult decision, one I wrestled with for a time, as to whether I wanted to subject my pre-existing (small yet established) audience to a completely different genre of writing by letting SSW host various intellectual ramblings related to media and communications for three months at a time. After playing around with the Menus and Categories settings in WordPress, I discovered it was easy to navigate my blog by creating simple filter systems in the menus.

As I take to Google to find out how all these words I keep throwing on the Internet contribute to this space that is “public”, I can’t help but find a bunch of unrelated search results. My favourite interpretation of what I thought were pretty basic search terms (“public” and “writing”) is Julie Shiels’ collection of discarded objects that she stencils words on.

Image of an abandoned couch with

“When I pointed out to the man who was berating me for vandalism that there was nothing illegal about stencilling a discarded couch – he shouted – ‘Why don’t you act your age’.”

Maybe we can call this the premise for this reflection. A lot of results are about overcoming the anxiety of publishing in the public, of making your work available not only to others but to any person with a wanton mouse and an internet connection. While anxiety has been a long term problem of mine, two years into carving out this little space of public the is SSW I’m not really fussed on putting opinions out there. My priority is that I enjoy myself when I’m writing and that what I write reflects myself as a writer.

This year I developed a new voice.

I will always tell stories. That’s not something I can shake off. However blogging is not stiff and structured in the way prose or poetry might be. I feel like this is a conversation, especially when comments are enabled. I’ve tried interviewing various peopletwice. Not an experience I readily enjoyed writing about. My induction into various ethnographic techniques, specifically collaborative ethnography with the intention of creating a piece of research that benefits both the researcher and the “subject”, gave me a new insight into a creative practice I had not previously experienced. In the past, research to me has meant Googling, consulting the reference list at the end of my required readings and conducting Boolean searches on Summons. This year has seen me interacting with the people around me to find out what they think and feel about media and how it influences the space around them. The immediacy and reality of these interactions have shown me how much more these experiences with other people should be valued at least equally with quantitative analysis.

“Public writing is a form of community service.”

David Leonard, a professor at Washing State University, wrote an article in defence of public writing. He says that by publishing online we don’t limit our readership to scholars. When employing the collaborative ethnographic approach to research, it’s more important for us to reach a wide audience than a few scholars if there is any hope to affect positive change from your research. There are a number of ways I have attempted to increase my audience. I share the majority of my posts on my Twitter account and my personal Facebook page as some of my friends find my writing worth a glance in between social media and Netflix binges. My posts are also shared to my Google+ page and LinkedIn profile. Of the 160+ followers my blog has, I would say the majority are students also in this degree. Sometimes I get random views from the United States, Malaysia or Russia. The majority of my readers are definitely within Australia though, which is probably closely linked with them being students also. Nevertheless I write for myself and I do have hopes to blog outside of class assessments because occasionally I have a good story to tell that I didn’t completely fabricate.

I think the last thing to consider are the changes I’ve made to SSW over the last 3 months. The long-awaited banner has finally arrived. I picked this theme at least a year ago with the intention to make a banner for it and only got around to it in a tutorial where we critiqued each other’s blogs to the point that I felt inspired to open Photoshop and throw together something semi-representative of myself. I’ve toyed with the widget bars but I most prefer the sidebar, with quick icon links to my various social media accounts, a 7-post Twitter feed so you can see me be pithy/shamelessly plugging my blog (blog-ception?) I leave the tag cloud there so you can see what topics I write about although I should be more thorough with tagging as that’s another way of reaching a larger audience. In general though, I rather like keeping things simple on SSW, with a slight hint towards my TV show obsessions such as in the hit counter of “fans” or the “previously on sswritings” widget at the bottom. That way if I grow overly verbose at least my audience won’t be bombarded by fancy themes and widgets and so on.

Media, Audience, Place has given me a lot to consider as a student of communications and media and public writer. I don’t think I really did it justice in this post but the topics we’ve discussed have resonated with me in ways I hope will continue to develop through my future writing. I don’t know if I’m the 22-year-old student I was when this first started; my about page certainly doesn’t say so.

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Nonna’s Hands

I know she’s home
leaning on somebody loving life
all in my mind the anvil and the weight on my back

Ben Howard, ‘Small Things’

The Hordern Pavillion was not her favourite venue but the look on her face told me she was pleased at the turn out for this gig. Ben Howard had cancelled his original date and pushed back the performance two months, much to the disappointment of his fans. The venue’s website had said his set wouldn’t begin until 9:15 PM but when she walked into the general admission at 9:06 PM, he was already on stage, playing a song from the newest album: one she did not recognise. To be completely honest, she was here for ‘Black Flies’ and the rest was all very pleasant background noise.

The crowd was thick and milling, filled mostly with hipster men clasping plastic cups of beer and leaning their shaggy heads over hippy-styled girlfriends in chunky heels and superfluous hats. The room, a big hall with tiered seating on three sides and an expansive standing area all geared towards the stage. There was Ben, backlit and frontlit and all kinds of lit really, crooning away to his guitar, surrounded by more musical instruments than musicians to play them. The band was sizeable enough: a drummer at the back, keyboardist and various percussion instruments downstage right, bass player upstage right, lead guitarist upstage left and a woman alternating between cello, guitar and obscure oversized harmonica-pipe thing downstage left.

Making her way through the crowd, she was grateful for the decision to wear shoes with a hidden wedge heel. However, she was able to see little more than the lighting rig and dozens of smart phones jutting up from the crowd. Ten years ago, people at live music gigs would have had considerably less sore arms, I suppose.

Alessa made herself comfortable in the front row of a section of seats that were completely unoccupied. She had been sitting there enjoying the last five songs when a lanky young man with thick-framed glasses and a patchy beard plopped into the seat beside her, legs splayed out front and arms stretched lazily across each chair back. Alessa surveyed his shoes: beaten up black Vans. They were in no better condition than the shredded hems of his tight-fitting jeans with a tear in one knee.

“You couldn’t have sat somewhere else? Anywhere else?” she snapped, gesturing at the empty seats around them.

It was as if he moved in slow motion, removing his glasses and angling his head to look down his long nose at her. Even his voice was slow. “Sugar, you just looked so utterly lonely.”

Alessa couldn’t help it. She burst out laughing. “Sugar? Surely, you have better lines than that?” There was something about how he said it that showed he’d never used a line before.

He made a face and replaced his glasses, making no effort to respect the personal space bubble. “I saved the best for you? Honestly, walking over here and sitting down was the hardest thing I’ve had to do all day.”

Alessa fixed him with a look, quirked eyebrow and pursed lips.

“All week. All month even.”

She sighed. “You need more stimulating things in your life,” she said, patting his leg sympathetically.

He shot her a sidelong glance. “I’m sure you’ll take care of that for me.”

Alessa laughed. “Oh, alright then, what’s your name?”

“Jason,” he replied with an easy albeit slightly crooked smile.

“Alessa.” (more…)

Hello world #2

So I’ve been using this blog for the last 2 years or so to share my writing. There’s been some creative writing and some analytical stuff. Sometimes I’m proud of my essays so no shame in posting them! Well now my blog is taking a new direction because I’ve started another degree. What degree? you may ask. This new degree is in communications and media and they have asked me to blog and tweet my way through uni. I’m blogging and tweeting for grades! I had the option of creating a separate blog for all this academic stuff but the reason I’m not is the same reason behind why my subject coordinators want me to blog. This blog, stutterstumblewritings, is my public portfolio of work and I’ve made it easy for you to navigate your way through these two interests without having to keep them separate from each other. I’m proud of my writing, my essays and now I’m just adding a new ingredient to the mix!

On Buffy, complex narratives and fandom

Television might be considered the least literary form of all but it is probably the most realistic reflection of contemporary culture and society. Fan engagement with television shows as an expression of cultural preferences and assertion of social values. I want to investigate narratological and cinematic analysis of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer (henceforth referred to as Buffy and not to be confused with Buffy, the character), created and written (mostly) by Joss Whedon. Academics have explored characterisation and themes at length in order to ascertain why the show is so popular. The analysis will be related to responses from the Buffyverse fandom to investigate if there is a link between how a show tells its story and the formation of fandoms in response to and support of effective story-telling. “Television techniques” is my term for the conglomeration of narrative and cinematic techniques. These techniques may be separately applied to other text types – film or prose fiction – however, they produce different effects when utilised in the construction of a television series. My essay will move through different aspects narratological theory, beginning with an overview of narratology, then discussing voice, time and diegesis with relation to ‘The Body’ (5.16). This will be followed by an analysis of the character functions in ‘Doppelgangland’ (3.16), leading to an examination of the narrative structures of ‘Hush’ (4.10). The last stage of narratological analysis will combine Mittell’s discussion of narrative complexity with traditional television script-writing plot conventions in relation to ‘Innocence’ (2.14). Each episode’s analysis will be related to fan reviews and discussions focusing on the same narratological details without the technical knowledge of narratology, incorporating aspects of audience theory with a focus on fandom. (more…)

Quelle Horreur!

My hands grip the steering wheel, twisting this way and that to hide the tremors and squeezing until my knuckles show white bone through the skin. The car is a small white hatchback model from ten years back. It’s old and grey on the interior and entirely unfamiliar. Beside me sits Casey. Alia and a young man who I assume is her boyfriend—but he’s not Manny and Manny is her boyfriend? (I quite like Manny but he’s much too old for her.)—occupy the backseat.

It’s hard to say where we are exactly. The area vaguely resembles the northbound side of the Bradfield Highway, nearing the exit to Military Road. I don’t remember ever crossing the Bridge though. For some reason I can’t turn my head to look behind me; my eyes are stuck staring straight ahead and the image in the rear-view mirror is blurry and indistinct. Why is this such a secret?

A giggle comes from the backseat as Alia strokes the man’s cheek. They murmur to each other, unaware of any impending danger.

My companion seems panicked. The blood has drained from Casey’s face and her eyebrows are high on her forehead. She squishes her hands between the seat and her thighs, nervous.

We’re going so fast now the car smashes on the concrete barricade between lanes, pulling some of the metal sheeting off the side panels. It is flung from the car and crashes to the bitumen, bouncing briefly as we ricochet off the divider into a car on the other side. Still travelling fast but not fast—it doesn’t feel fast at all. (Where is that sucked into the back of the seat feeling?)

Pieces of the car break off and fall away as the vehicle rebounds of obstruction after obstruction in a perilous zigzag, speed steadily increasing until I’m sure we’re out of control now. (Where we ever in control?)

We ascend the exit ramp and are supposed to veer right. Instead we continue through another concrete barricade and plummet to the strange, caged floor of a wall-less warehouse or shed. My chest expands with the falling sensation and when we land I feel nothing. No impact. The only change is the absence of the sense of my stomach entering my throat through a straw. There is no thump or bang. Not one of us is injured. Images of bloody head wounds and broken bones and glass and steam and the heat of fire fill my head anyway.

I lived.

Casey slams the passenger door and stalks away. The sound jolts me from my daze although I still don’t feel quite awake. (Awake? Am I asleep?) I spring out of the car, compelled to follow her. Her distress is palpable and catching.

“Are you okay?” I ask when I finally catch up to her. We are no longer in the strange empty factory and have somehow found ourselves on climbing the side of a grassy embankment. Yellow daisies wave thoughtlessly in the wind as I chase after her. I can’t help stepping on some and breaking their stems.

“Hey, Casey!” I call, reaching for her arm but when my fingertips graze the sleeve she yanks it away.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” she shouts, whirling around to face me. So many thoughts seem to cross her mind, all of them fuelled by fury and fear . I think she might yell at me again but instead a darkness passes over her.

“Leave me alone.”

For a moment I watch her go; already a figure in the distance hunched against a temperatureless wind. Remembering Alia, I rush off to find her. She’s a ways off to my left, following her companion up the embankment.

“Alia! Alia!”

Shaking her hair away from her face to look at me, I see a smile on her lips but panic distorts expression and it becomes a mask.

“Where are you going?” Please don’t leave me alone.

Alia shrugs, the smile looks obscene, and gestures towards the boy- man- friend…He’s not Manny. I’m so confused.

 

Time passes in the space of nothingness.

I don’t know where I am but I’m running around and trying to figure out if it was all a dream.

The car.

The crash.

Casey.

Alia.

I feel like I haven’t heard from them in days. I think I try to call them. I’m convinced it wasn’t real. I have no idea where that car came from or how we would have survived the ordeal.

I can’t find Casey anywhere and isn’t Alia in Canberra? That’s where she lives. Why were we even in the car?

Casey isn’t answering her phone, like she might be mad at me. Or at work or busy. But it feels like she’s avoiding me.

I log on to Facebook and I think I see evidence of the car accident in status updates.

 

Jolting upright, I gasp. The panic dies down as I feel the soft sheets and the weight of the duvet. Knot my fingers in them as I slow my breathing and rapid heart rate.

It was a dream.

I snatch up my phone to call Casey but it rings out. That’s ok. She was going to sleep when we last spoke. I dial Alia’s number and listen to the rings. She’s surprised to hear from me. The conversation is awkward but she’s my best friend and I needed to check she is ok.

cry out…:

can’t read.
can’t write.
drawing’s coming out all wrong.
camera lens won’t focus.
body won’t function.
i ache all over. inside&out.

touch goes to feel, but I want to hold you.
push comes to shove, only the fight’s already done

(I know) the stars shine::but I can’t see it.
(I know) the waves crash::but I can’t hear it.
(I know) the rose thorns catch::but I can’t feel it. 

there’s red all over my hands, COLOUR all through my eyes,
the sounds of life in my ears,
and none of it makes a difference without you.

grin/grimace…:

slip into splits
that grin on your lips
arms finish with a flourish
the bells that jingle crazily
tinkling madly, match your
laughter

they see your joker,
i see your face
the grin that splits your lips
from side to side
you give your act the final
twist

an illusion, you call it
as you spin on the floor,
body moving, sinuous flow
the tails of your jacket flapping with your
speed

and there it is,
your final trick, hips catch
knees graze across the floor,
a crack snaps across the room and your laughter dies on
your grimacing lips
the pain, your face is a canvas for it
the brush and paints in the hands of
fate

 

you were getting old, your tricks were going
cold.