Beyond the wall

This weeks module for my Writing for Young Readers course covered genre, form and audience. It touched upon the types of genres specific audience groups prefer, their understanding of language, and how to tailor my writing to cater for each reading level. The assignment that followed required me to choose a genre, form and audience and write up to 500 words on a subject of my choice.

Initially I decided to write a poem for 6-8 years. In the interest of complete transparency, I only chose this based on the amount of effort I thought I would have to put in. I’m quite good at writing poems for comical purposes, so I figured I would be able to knock one up in no time. Little did I know my ignorant laziness would present me with a lesson to be learned. Writing for this age is not an easy feat, especially when you have nothing to draw reference upon. I don’t ever spend time with any children of this age, so I’m massively out of touch with their level of understanding, even after completing this module. I just don’t know what they’re in to. I tried to think back to when I was of that age, but I simply couldn’t remember. Groovy Chick, Goosebumps and Tammy Girl is all I could think of, and even then, was that more 12+. Who knows? Was everything I came up with patronising? Probably.

So I bailed. I’m going to have to let that idea settle while I learn more about this age group. I’ll be doing some market research, so if anyone has suggestions on books to read for this audience then please let me know in the comments.

Instead the end product was something that came to me this morning. The book I’m reading at the moment is called ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ by  M. R. Carey, which provided some inspiration into the premise of the idea for my story. It’s the idea of being trapped somewhere, knowing your a little different from everyone else around but not really understanding why. I wrote this with the intention that it would be an adventure story for the 9-12 age bracket. I haven’t had any feedback from my course yet, so I don’t know if I’ve hit the marker in terms of getting the language  and sentence structure right for this age. I would love to hear if anyone has any feedback 🙂

Beyond the Wall

Kate had never been on the other side of the wall before, though she’d always wanted to. The boys in her class had said they jumped over once, but she didn’t believe them. They also said that girls weren’t able to climb walls like can boys, so that’s how she knows they are liars. Kate’s a very good climber. Good enough to beat Billy over the wall, that’s for sure. The boys at school are always saying stuff like that. Girls can’t do this, girls can’t do that. Billy once told Kate that no girl could ever become an explorer, or an adventurer. “Girls have to stay on the base, it’s too dangerous for them outside” he would say, but that only made Kate want to do it even more.

That is where Kate and her family live, at a place called the ‘base’. Surrounded by walls as tall as buildings it’s guarded by men with helmets and guns. There is a supermarket and a swimming pool, and their school is on base too, so the women and children never get to leave. Everybody who lives on the base has a dad or husband in the army. Her dad is a solider, so she doesn’t see him very often. He goes away for months at a time, but they spend lots of time together when he comes back. Kate’s dad said she can do anything if she puts her mind to it, and that she believes.

One Friday at school, Billy and the boys were giving Kate a really tough time. In class they were all learning about the Pacific Ocean. Miss Mulberry told a story about a lady called Sharon Sites Adams, who was the first women to sail across the Pacific all on her own back in the 60’s. It was the coolest thing Kate had ever heard. “Miss, when I go to Secondary School, will I learn how to sail like Mrs Adams did?” Kate said. Before Miss Mulberry could reply, the boys burst into laughter. “Ha, in your dreams” said Billy. “There’s no Ocean on base, and you know you’re never leaving” he scoffed. Leaning backwards into the heels of his chair, he reached his hand out to Danny, who gave him a low high-five under the table.

When the whistle blew Kate collected her bags and ran straight through the halls and out of school. Red with anger, she didn’t stop running until finally she made it to the wall at the edge of the base. She stood for a minute, starring at the patterns in the cement. Shutting her eyes she wished she had the courage to make it over that wall. Imagining what it would be like on the other side she squeezed her eyes tightly to fight back the tears. All of a sudden Kate began to feel strange. Slowly opening her eyes, she could see fields of green all around her.  She was beyond the wall.

You, a grown adult, are afraid of the dark. Explain why this is a legitimate concern, so friends won’t laugh at you.

The great unknown, more often than not, is far less wondrous than it is portrayed to be in books, and in films. Take the ocean as an example; vast masses of water suffocating the earths surface, home to bloodthirsty beasts and uncertainty.

Manipulated by the elements it sends lashings of waves that cause chaos and destruction. Tearing down ships and homes, claiming land and lives it does not own. I find it bizarre to romantacise such a thing.

It’s like this, picture you’re treading water a quarter of a mile offshore when suddenly a wave washes over you, taking you under. You resist, but it’s stronger than you and that’s something you can’t control. Each movement you take to fight against the current draws the breath from your lungs, rendering you powerless. You can’t scream underwater. No one can hear your cries for help. What’s next from there is unknown to you. All you can be sure of is that there will be darkness. That’s how I feel when darkness consumes me, like I’m drowning in the unknown.

It’s like driving into the night on a path lined with broken street lamps, unaware of the road ahead of you. You could be driving off the edge of a cliff for all you’re sure of. Or walking through a deserted park when the sun has set, no stars from which to seek relief; no light to guide your way. Though situations may differ, what the darkness imposes, what it takes from you, remains the same.

I oppose not only what it does to the senses, but what it does to the mind. The places it can take you, past, present or even future. The unknown; it’s where anxiety lives, where fear culminates. It darkness, it is drowning, it consumes.

To me, the dark and the depths of the ocean are one in the same. When you’re draped in darkness, you could be anywhere, no matter if it’s in your mind or not, for you can’t see any different. Be it the bottom of the sea or the edge of a cliff, these places they feed on vulnerability, and you’re never more vulnerable than when immersed in darkness.

Think of your greatest fear, how would that scene play out? Where did it take you? Did it end darkness? It always does.

Now all that considered, do you blame me?

Prompt #4: You, a grown adult, are afraid of the dark. Explain why this is a legitimate concern, so friends won’t laugh at you.

 

Write a poem about a tomato

 

What you are, I can’t decide;

Your very core, concealed inside,

Skin so thick, as nature made so;

Where do you fit? Not even you know.

Your seed bears life, yet instead it is savoured;

Bound by ties and restraints? Consider them wavered.

For why tick the box, when there are circles and stars?

Just as boys play with dolls, girls like guitars.

No bother then, if you are fruit or foe;

You taste good to me, and that’s all there is to know.

 

tomato-heart.jpgPrompt #3: Write a poem about a tomato

Describe a room in your house

There was not much wrong with the room aesthetically; just that it was cold and bare. The walls, despite being shiny in places from the omniscient glow of a nearing light bulb, were empty. Never adorned with any pictures or posters they were untouched by ornaments and character. There was however, a single nail hanging out of the largest wall, as if it once wore life before its dormant state.

In an attempt to brighten the place up there was a small, single palm tree placed on an iron table in the corner of the room. In actual fact it gave off quite the opposite effect. It wore crisp, browning leaves that wept whilst its body bent at a curve in search of sunlight. Isolated and starved it sat there, far from appeasing its intention but beautiful in its irony.
The furniture shared the same sense of solitude; just two odd fabric settees. One was stripped of it’s cover and backed tight against a wall, and the other cloaked in brown separating the dining area. Neither were pristine enough to look too uninviting, nor were they worn to the degree in which they looked comfortable. The carpet below was speckled in such a way that gave it no dominant colour, made up of patches of beige and grey. It wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t offensive. It was warm beneath my feet, and cushioned just so that the floorboards beneath did not creak under pressure.

By day, the light the tree longed for peaked through the patio doors, framed by thin white voiles that fell softly at each side. Opening outwards to the world outside the doors relinquished an element of sadness sometimes felt when sitting in a room so small and empty. It may not have been much, but it was home.

Prompt #1: Describe a room in your house

642 things to write about

Recently I’ve been feeling pretty uninspired when it comes to writing. Excluding reviewing the odd EP or interviewing a few artists, I don’t remember the last time I sat down to write for fun, or just for me.  It’s something I’ve been moaning about for quite some time now without actively doing anything positive to change it, until now.

After hearing me whine on for months, for Christmas my other half bought me an incredible book to rekindle my desire to write for enjoyment . Written by the San Francisco Writers’ grotto the book is called ‘642 Things to Write About‘ and contains, well you guessed it – 642 things to write about.

12696239_10153223935311021_1669573302_n

Having flicked through and cast my first impressions what I like most about this book is how nonrestrictive each of the topics are. Some are serious while others are silly. None seem particularly demanding and they all do well to provoke different thoughts from varied perspectives. This is why I’ve decided to give it a go and will be sharing each piece on this blog, along with anything else that inspires me to write.

10620929_10153223934301021_1582958437_n

I’m setting myself the challenge of writing two small pieces a week, or one big one if that’s where my ideas take me.

Feel free to write me with any feedback you may have, or if you would like to share anything similar you’re doing with me. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading and I hope you stumble across something you enjoy.