Fun, or Fair?

Fond as I am of giving myself various virtually unattainable challenges to juggle around alongside that other task some people call life, I have set myself quite a hefty goal in order to expand my writing experience and aid me in catering for the tiny humans of the world.

I have recently joined a Writing for Young Readers course with the Commonwealth Education Trust, to guide me with my plan of beginning writing my first children’s book before the year is up. Despite the Gollum-esq voice in my head looping the words “write a book she says, ha! End of the year she says…never”, I’m actually relatively confident. So far the course lectures and writing tasks have been an informative an enriching experience and I’m really looking forward to continuing with the modules and having others read and review my work.

To help me on my journey I thought it would be nice, and beneficial to me,  to share with you each of my writing assignments to gain some feedback from outside of my course.

The first piece I wrote required me to choose a particular viewpoint, then write a story from it inspired by things I’ve experienced in my life and the myths, legends and culture of my country.  While I know tourists may visit each year and soak up the ‘British Culture’ that we so willingly bottle and price for them, there was not a great deal I could relate to my own experiences. I spent a good while mulling this over, and even researched into English Folklore, but the results from this didn’t seem natural, it was like I was telling someone else’s story. In the end, I kind of did tell someone else’s story, so I guess I may have cheated somewhat. I was inspired by a story my Grandma told me when I was a child about something she experienced in her youth.

I decided to draw upon this for inspiration, as although my Grandma and I came from different eras,  different continents and essentially a different world, her story really resonated with what childhood and teenage years meant to me. It embodied a sense of adventure and rebellion, which I  believe was and still is a fundamental part of youth culture in the UK, and perhaps the world over. Having been given a 500 word limit and an example story in the form of an opening paragraph I think it was safe to deduce we were only expected to produce an extract, so that I did. For this story, I aimed to write with the 8-11 age group in mind.

I plan to finish this story off the way my Grandma told it, as the twist is yet to come, but for the sake of ticking boxes, here was my first submission. As always, feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

                 Fun, or Fair?

Cynthia had just turned sixteen when she experienced her first night at the fair. Still at school, she would dedicate evenings to her studies and was the type of girl who was successful in all her endeavors. By no means was Cynthia a rebellious or unruly young woman, but on this particular day she was bored of it all. “I’m just sick and tired of always doing as I am told” she said to Lilian, with a sigh. “And what do I get in return? I get treated like a baby. I am greeted with a big fat no to all I ask for”.

Earlier in the day, Cynthia’s mother had forbidden her from going to the fair that night. She had been given no reason; a simple ‘because I said so’ was always sufficient enough in her mother’s eyes.

“Just how sick are you then?” Lilian said with a grin, slowly raising her eyebrow as a sneaky look of satisfaction crept across her face. They had been best friends for four years, ever since they met on the first day of High School. Needless to say Lilian had always been the more daring of the two; a quality that hadn’t gone unnoticed by Cynthia’s worried mother. “What are you on about Lil?” said a rather puzzled Cynthia. “Look Cee, It’s time to stop asking and just do” Lilian teased, as she pranced towards the door. “Now get in to bed, and remember, you’re really sick okay?” Then faster than a blink she was gone. Voices erupted from downstairs as Lilian spoke to Cynthia’s mother, but they were much too far away for her to make out the words. Her heart racing, she ran to her bed with the sound of heavy footsteps ascending the staircase.

She closed her eyes as her mother entered the room. “Are you okay darling? Lilian said you aren’t feeling too good”. Her mother sat down at the end of her bed and reached for her forehead. Then, there it was, the first lie she would ever tell on the edge of her lips. Cynthia hesitated for a moment, contemplating the seriousness of the situation she was about to get herself into. “Yes mother, I feel terrible”, her voice trembled as she spoke. “Oh dear” her mother replied, “Yes, you do feel rather warm. You’re best off getting some sleep so you’ll be better for school tomorrow”. Pulling the covers over her, her mother got up to turn off the light. “Sleep tight” she said, before shutting the door behind her.

As Cynthia lay still for a few minutes wondering what would happen next she heard a faint tapping sound; a of handful stones hitting glass. She tip-toed to the window and opened it, Lilian was standing below. “Quick, shimmy down the drainpipe, nobody’s looking”.
Her palms began to sweat as she peered down at the ground. Oh well she thought, it’s now or never, and with a deep breath, Cynthia edged herself out of the window.



What I’m Reading Wednesday

The White Tiger by Aravinda Adiga, I push this book upon literally everyone that I meet. I’ve gifted it to friends on their birthdays, recommended it to colleagues, given it as a secret Santa, even loaned it to my dad. I bloody love this book! It was first loaned to me by my favourite teacher at college  and has been in my top five reads ever since.

Having forced The White Tiger on quite a few people lately, I thought it would be good to give it another go so it was fresh in my mind. I wanted to be ready to discuss the finer detail when those I have recommended it to have finished it.

It isn’t a strenuous read, the font is large and it’s well paced, spread across 321 pages; keen readers should finish it in a week. If my word is not enough to sway you to read this book, then know that it won the Mans Booker Prize the same year it was published (2008) as well as making it’s way into the New York Times bestsellers list, so I’m not on my own here when I say that it’s good.

The main protagonist, Balram Halwai, tells the story of his life story through a series of charming, witty and somewhat blasé letters to Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, who is soon to be visiting India. Wishing to give Jiabao a true insight to life in India, Balram’s letters to the Premier pay tribute to Balram himself escaping the ‘darkness’ of his village Laxmangarh, and moving to the city to become the driver of a rich family; but this is not merely a story of the triumph of a poor man.

It is a tale of deceit, and the exploration of political corruption and socioeconomic status.  The White Tiger is a based on two disparities: the world from the view of the destitute masses in the rural, improvished villages of India and the lavish lives of the westernised crooks who exploit them for their own privileges.

I can’t possibly tell you any more without ruining the plot for you, but hopefully it will make its way into your ‘What I’m Reading Wednesday’ and you can find out for yourself. I must insist that it does….

Meet Balram Halwai: Servant, Philosopher, Entrepreneur, Murderer.

 The White Tiger