Started The Lorax with one of my higher-level Chinese classes today. They really seem to like it. I’ve been experimenting, of late, with exactly how far I can push their acceptance of new language; so far, there are no limits. As long as I give them fair warning that some words are nonsense, they can accept that. This class loved lolcat, and often make jokes. I’m beginning to think that I was too cautious with some of the other classes. Perhaps, just as I did with my children (I never bothered with traditional “babytalk”, although I did bring their words into daily conversation; we still describe fuzzy things as “feebie”), I should take even the most innocent and unsuspecting of non-English-speakers and fling them headfirst into the eccentricities of our language. (My son’s first book was Timothy Findley’s Headhunter, ’cause I wanted to read it so I just read it aloud to him; if that’s not a brilliant introduction to English, I don’t know what is. The boy is obsessed with language, and is capable of doing things to it that amaze me. Nature or nurture?…) I have a new lower-level class, and I think I’m going to use them as guinea pigs. Shall keep you updated on their… evolution.
Last night’s writing workshop was freaky. There were four of us (I love it when the group is small), and one of my favourites was there. This guy is beyond the realm of the word poet, and is into – corny as it may sound, I can’t think of another way to describe it – word sculptor. He has this absolutely mathematical approach to words that floors me; it’s like he’s some sort of literary Albrecht Durer. (edit, March 8th: Just to prove my point, look what he put up: I like typing out Los Angeles in full when there is a chance. It just looks typographically appealing. The straight L and the angular A. The lower-case “g” adds an element of speed if you work it. They all work well together.) In the piece he had us read yesterday, he described a man as “a small museum orator”. One of the other writers asked him to explain what he meant by that, and I was really pleased that he couldn’t do it. When I read his stuff, especially his prose, it’s not a matter of understanding so much as feeling. I understand “small museum orator”; I can taste the scent of the man at the back of my mouth, hear the tone of voice, feel that cold draught and the need to get out of there as fast as possible.
This writer’s latest thing, though, is the need to make storyboards. He wants advanced storyboards, too – not just stickynotes all over the wall. He actually used the term to diagram the plays. He’s promised to show me what he comes up with; it’s fascinating… like something from a horror film. However, much as I am reviled by the concept (too many rules), it seems to make for incomparable writing.
It’s Friday; I don’t have anything I need to do until this evening. One of my sisters lent me her laptop to test out, and I confess I’m already addicted. Unless I can rouse my muse while sitting at a computer, I am usually left with no choice but to write everything by hand in notebooks and then transcribe it. Yesterday, me an’ the laptop started out in my favourite chair, moved to the dark front hallway while I wrote an angry scene, then ended up in my bed while I calmed the character down. Today, I don’t have to spend time typing everything into the computer: I can go right back to writing. It’s warm enough that I might bundle up and go outside to write for a while.
This is the end of Luddism.