Friday, 2 February 2018

Module for the O.U. - work for the MA In Creative Writing.

If you are thinking of going down this route to publication, I thought you might be interested. Part of a recent Module. It is posted to the website and students discuss each other's work. 
I think it often depends upon the subject matter, and how far we have advanced from those first attempts at story writing, as to whether we are minimalist or maximalist. And it is a matter of voice, isn't it?  But my way of writing, with the overused adjectives, my love of hyperbole, my constant use of similes and metaphors, was mocked during the high school phase and I toned everything down.  However, when I first read Angela Carter's work it was a wonderful moment of recognition. Here was someone writing in a way that I admired, in a style that I wanted to achieve. I love the fact that she had the courage to write as she wanted to write, in the way that expressed her vision of the world.  And what a vision. 
This work, set in medieval Shrewsbury, in the early 14th century, has something of the word order, the language, to hopefully give a realistic feel of the period.  I have chosen this story section, with its choice of words, varying sentence length, clauses, rhythms, and use of adjectives, as fairly typical of my writing.
The Pilgrimage of Alice de Brugges
Thomas, waken by the fury of the winter storm, gasps with relief to find he is safe in the wide, upper chamber of his town house at Maerdol Head. No longer terrified by the vision of fiery flames licking at his loins, safe from tormenting demons, he makes the sign of the cross on the matted hairs of his sweat-soaked chest and swears to his patron saint he will never again lust after Prioress Juliana’s silken body.
To add to his growing annoyance, the wind, pouring through gaps in the new shutters, lifts the bed hangings and prickles his skin. His valiant action against the demon hordes has wrestled the down quilt and furs to the floor, and he leans over wife Alice, sleep grunting beside him, her plump, naked body now tight curled against the cold, and with swollen fingers, manages, with much shortness of breath, to retrieve the covers. Now snuggling into his wife’s warm patch, willing sleep to come, he hears a dull thumping above the screaming wind. Fearful that the rain from the hills is flooding the quay, he tries to quieten his agitated mind with the thought that the Maerdol house is well above the river.
The banging continues. Where is Matthew? Why doesn’t he get up from his bench to see to it? One of the new shutters must have blown loose. God’s blood, where is the shuttle-witted fool? Somewhere in the darkness of the house below the banging grows louder. Thomas tumbles through the bed hangings, Alice’s spaniel hits the floor with a yelp and slithers across the chamber, sneezing in the crumbling herbs and dried rushes. With trembling hands, Thomas feels for the coffer lid at the foot of the bed, finds his chamber robe, and flings is round his shivering body. His boot buckles flapping, he feels for the heavy oak door, fights with it as it tries to trap him, and stumbles along the passageway to the gallery above the hall.
That can be no loose shutter, the noise of hammering is coming from the street. ‘The devil take you, go see who knocks,’ he shouts into the darkness below. With one hand on the wooden rail, he feels his way down stone steps into the hall, and in the faint glow from the still hot embers under the hooded hearth, sees the boy sprawled on a bench, a hound licking food fragments from his drunken, ale-stained face. 
His boots around his ankles, Thomas kicks out at the animal, sending it bounding across the hall, its thin rat tail between its legs, shakes Matthew’s senseless body, and shouts above the wind lifting the rushes and howling around the rafters, ‘God’s nails, wake will you. Someone is trying to knock down the street door.’ 

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