MARGARET JOHNSON'S FOURTH SESSION ON CREATIVE WRITING ~ 25th June 2015 ~ 750
We assembled for the writing group at the usual venue in Norwich. Sadly we lost one of our students today as Joy is unable to complete the course due to outside demands on her time.
First we indulged in a warmup exercise where we all had a piece of paper and we were asked to write the first sentence of a story on the theme of Betrayal. We then passed the paper to the person on our right and wrote a second sentence to continue the story. When our original piece of paper was returned, there was a story of five sentences, written by five different people and we had to write a closing sentence. This was great, and it was surprising how good the stories turned out.
Following this we had a discussion in small groups on the subject of themes of individual books, it was incredible how difficult it is to nail the meaning of a theme.
Margaret 'J', likened the theme to a skeleton on which the various parts of the theme are nailed.
We decided that the theme develops as the story unfolds, in fact Margaret 'J' stated that her theme of a particular book never becomes clear until she has completed about a third of the book.
Margaret 'J', had this list of words on a large sheet of paper pinned to a board.
Ambition, Beauty, Courage, Duty, Fear, Freedom, Happiness, Jealousy, Loneliness, Loyalty, Perseverance, Prejudice, Suffering, Truth.
These of course are all words that can be described as the basis of a theme.
A theme is something to latch onto.
The thoughts you are left with.
Something deeper than the event.
A reflection of aspects of life.
A sentence that sums up the message of the book.
The theme could be many things.
We were then asked to write a sentence to describe the theme of a book that we have read that has made an impression on us. I chose "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" written by JS Bach.
I wrote this basic outline to guide me to an answer....
The theme of Jonathan Livingston Seagull is development of personal abilities and improvement of goals by the example of an imaginary seagull in his struggle to overcome the stages in learning to fly. The theme is the struggle to fly higher, more acrobatically. The theme running parallel is the development of the self by self improvement for example the flight of the imagination. The theme of the story is flight and many imaginary aspects of flight.
I then wrote on the board, the title of the book and the theme of this book is flight and self development.
Margaret 'J' did not think this quite fully answered the request and after some discussion, Etienne came up with this alternative response. 'Does self-improvement empower people?'
When I got home I looked up an answer to the question, What is the theme of Jonathan Livingston Seagull?
This was the reply....
"The overall theme of the book is that we should all strive to reach our greatest potential and break out of the boundaries that limit us. Bach tries to fuse the enlightenment thought that man (or gull) himself can overcome all obstacles with both New Age and Christian concepts of the soul and the afterlife to create his own spiritual philosophy"
Margaret 'J' then displayed a very interesting list of things in her life that inspired her.
We were then asked to list some areas or aspects of our lives that had made the same sort of impression on us.
I wrote the following.
The future is and always will be in your hands.
If I meet someone who cares the future is with that person.
Two can live cheaper than one and life will be beautiful.
Death always happens to someone else.
To find oneself is the goal of life.
Open yourself to others or the book will always be closed.
Let the past go and live another chapter.
We were then asked to write a story on one of several statements written up.
"It might take time but your expectations can eventually be realised"
I wrote this.....
The goal was clearly impossible thought James, 'How can that ever be achieved? " James was born in the rural village of Broxborough in the county of Essex. Every year there was a rural county show, people arrived in droves from all the surrounding farms in the area to take part and view the amazing exhibitions and examples of farmyard implements and machinery. The highlight of the show for James was the performance of the red-devils, a team of paratroopers who were able to land on a very small square of material. James dreamt of performing this and the minute he reached the age of admission he joined up with the Paratroop regiment and was assigned to the company based in Aldershot, where he took his first stumble into an aeroplane after some basic training.