Year 12 English Extension 2 Work Report “Children and fools speak the truth” From the many different options of major works available in Extension 2, I chose to write a short story as the creative aspect of this option was appealing. The reality of this course was not exactly what I had initially expected, and the first two terms which were nearly purely investigative were challenging. I believe that if I had begun writing earlier, and implementing research only when necessary, I would have made more progress by now.
My intention was to write a series of 3 short stories, set in 3 different countries (Australia, Japan, and Spain/Cuba). The purpose of this was to convey the different ways people react to the same situation. In other words: The influence culture has on our capacity to respond in a dire situation. In the process of my research however I found that the main focus on my interest lay in the psychological aspect behind the reasons for a person’s actions. I consequently decided to adapt my story, and since this point it has developed down a path far from my original intention.
Through my Major Work I intend to explore the definition of truth, the way perspective affects what one views as the truth and the way in which one’s reasons for lying change due to their life experiences. I have decided to maintain my idea of having three sections to my story; however they will now be merely a continuation of the single plotline, seen from 3 different perspectives to aid my intention. Through my central character I aim to convey, through an extreme yet highly plausible grieving reaction to the death of his wife, the manner in which the stages of grieving cloud his own view of the truth from himself.
I am achieving my intention of revealing the multi-faceted thing that is truth through the utilisation of a first person narrative voice in each of the three sections. This is so that the audience achieves the same sense of subjectivity that the character has in the section being shown. I mean to have the audience sympathetic with each of the characters in their respective sections, only realising that the character has a biased or clouded perspective once the story is passed on to the following character.
I aim for this technique to initially surprise and then relax the reader into the “real” truth of the second character, and then for the final change in perspective to leave the reader with the sensation that the “real” truth may never be found. The story is designed to lead the reader down an intellectually fulfilling path, however not satisfying the cliche needs for a true ending. I wish for the reader to understand the concept of there being no real truth and to feel curious about reality and the subjectivity of it.
The ending will be left ambiguous, leaving the audience to draw their own conclusion, which will be based on what each reader subjectively understood the story to mean, and what they each learnt from it. I do not expect it to be intellectually outstanding, nor do I mean for it to be read as exceptionally sophisticated enough that a great deal of complicated theories and ideas are explained, revealed or admired. Inversely, I wish my major work to reflect a very simple story, one which could happen anywhere to anyone, and through its simplicity show how complex even the simple things in life, or as a result of the ultimately feared death, are.
My Major Work is meant to be relevant to the majority of potential audiences through its portrayal of issues that are pertinent to most inquisitive people. The theme of death and the psychology of a traumatised mind may not be appropriate for a young reader; however they are also not inappropriate, being in no way represented in a gory, crude or frightening manner. In fact the most frightening aspect of the story is the extreme grief of the main character as a result of the loss of what he views as his reason to be alive.
Considering this, it may not be appropriate to a highly sensitive reader. My Major Work is an original piece of work as it uses an unusual plotline to convey themes and concepts which have not previously been explored through a novel of such simplicity. I am also using the genre of magic realism which is rarely used in a contemporary context. Due to the encouragement of my Extension 2 facilitator I initiated my Major Work through a long period of research, part of which forms a basis for the psychology and the reality behind the main characters reaction to death.
The research has resulted in my capacity to determine what is possible, and what is probable. This is necessary considering I need to be careful as to what I convey as “real” and what is “unreal”, due to my genre of magic realism. The research has included both the internet and books borrowed from my father, a psychologist, as well as conversations with my father about the theoretic and practical aspects of the grief cycle of my character. As well as this, recently someone close to my family passed away, so I have my own experience with grief to draw upon.
In addition, someone else close to a family member is in danger of dying very soon, and the fear and denial that this has incorporated into the subconscious parts of everyday life have been apparent to me, revealing even more of the practical aspect of grief, the aspect which is outwardly conveyed to the grieving person’s peers. This side of grief is different to the internal conflicts and emotions which sometimes remain hidden even to those closest to the person.
I have also read novels by Nabokov, Allende and Tim Winton which have reinforced my understanding of the genre of magic realism as well as given me general experience in the manner of writing a novel; the features of language, unfolding of a plotline, characters and narration style. As well as this, during the summer holidays I attended a workshop at the University of Sydney which was on creative writing in general, and more specifically on the Belonging creative task.
This workshop resulted in a deeper understanding of the story writing method, teaching me it is a better idea to use experiences familiar to us than to attempt something which we will be unable to fully complete or convey. Following this overwhelming input of information, I attempted to generate some of my own and began tentatively to try the actual story writing. After many false starts, I decided to merely write despite the sensation that it was not following exactly as planned, and after I had a few thousand words on paper, I cut it back and sent it to my mentor.
My mentor used to be an editor and was very helpful in helping me find my path and directed my attention to questions that needed answering, as well as flaws in my writing style and character development. I decided to draw a mind map, something which is unusual for me, and answered as many of the problems and questions I could think of before starting again, with more success this time. Currently I am feeling slightly frustrated by the lack of creative energy that usually accompanies my story writing, however I am slowly finding methods which overcome this problem.
Through organisation and brainstorming as well as ensuring I write whenever I feel creative, I am gradually progressing towards the goal of 6, 000 to 8,000 words. I have come to a realisation that because it is a much longer and complex story than the usual Advanced or Extension 1 creative tasks, that it is impossible to perfect it as I go along. A new method of writing as much as I can and getting all my ideas on paper before editing and cutting has shown itself to be highly successful.
Even when 90% of what I write is cut out, there are always segments and ideas which allow me to continue with my story. Other than the completion of the story itself, there are other things I must do in order for this to be possible. Though I doubt further research to be necessary, it is highly possible that throughout the completion of my Major Work I will find it essential to investigate further to aid and abet my story.
Although research on the theory of my story may be improbable, research on the practical story writing aspect is highly possible, and even crucial. My style of writing still requires more work, and research into books on creative writing and my genre of magic realism in particular may prove to be useful. I must also ensure I remain up to date with my journal, as I find it difficult to write down what seem like insignificant and unimportant thoughts or ideas which despite their relevance to my Major Work.