Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Green Hair and Blue Eyes

One of the things I was most horrified to find as I started my creative writing class was that there is lots of "here, imitate this piece". I don't know why I was so horrified by that, maybe because it felt like it didn't require talent. But I'm coming to terms with the fact that imitation is like training wheels for writing. If you're going to learn to write, why not learn from the master.
In one of my classes, we're reading John Dos Passos's U.S.A. trilogy. In the trilogy, he has sections called the camera eye which are both brilliant and terrifying. One of our assignments was to imitate that. I had so much fun doing it. Which was funny, because I was expecting to hate it:

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it starts at 100000 and it keeps going up but the girl with blue eyes and green hair takes no notice because she is looking out from the lanai at the water that is making waves as big as the mountains she knows back home the important number was nine which was my age the year before so it seemed small like a younger child and i seemed big and more important and more powerful because i could breathe underwater

and i didn't know what it meant to lose everything when everything is nothing

but 100000 was 300000 and i was not more important than 300000

the girl with blue eyes and green hair sports her purple suit and informs the Father that it is time to go and the Father who loves her and knows she wants to go and knows she thinks she can do it will not crush the spirit of the girl with blue eyes and green hair and gets the keys and off they go

when they go it is not 300000 it is 100000

i got there and saw first the emptiness the unmanned tower the empty sitting places the lines that looked silly without cars the clouds that hid the sun the people that were not there then i saw the peaks made out of water

the Father sees danger

you run towards the water which is feels like home and you are not afraid because you can breathe underwater and you are not sure if it is real your feet touch the bottom and you are tossed all around and there is water in your ear and you do not think about the 100000 that will become 300000 you have fun and later you are not sure if it is socially responsible to have had fun

but the girl with blue eyes and green hair did not care if it was socially responsible to have fun and the Father cared more about me than socially responsible

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Here's the "gloss" that explains it:

Breaks have always meant trips to Hawaii. I was always that kid who came back from winter break with hair turned green from to much chlorine. I was snorkeling around the bay by the time I was 6 and I was certified for scuba diving at 10, boasting I could breathe underwater. In December 2004, there was a size 9 earthquake in the Indian ocean which caused a tsunami that killed approximately 300,000 people, many of whom were impoverished. We were in Hawaii, I was 10, and didn’t really understand that it was a mass tragedy. What I did understand was that there were giant waves at the beach. So I convinced my dad to take me to the beach. When we got there, it was the emptiest I’ve ever seen that beach. There were big waves crashing on the shore, four or five feet high. I stayed where I could touch, as promised, and laughed as the arms of the ocean embraced me. I dived under the waves, rode them into shore, got pulled under a few too many times, and enjoyed the rollercoaster the ocean had turned into. It was the best day I’ve ever had at the beach. I look back on it and I am kinda horrified at the irreverence of the act (you're not supposed to go to the beach when there is natural disaster that kills hundreds of thousands of people), but I'm also really glad I did it.

1 comment:

  1. I like this exercise. It's true in all the arts that you learn by copying. I especially like the green hair.

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