There’s War, But Will There Ever Be Peace?

I have begun to feel that there are two things inevitable in a human’s life. Firstly, that we will die. Secondly, that we will wage war. 

I guess I’m just being a little depressed and depressing, but I feel that as long as there is more than one person around in the world, there is bound to be hate and subsequent conflict. One person may argue with themselves, doubt themselves, but I’m sure that even with humanity’s innate skill for wreaking havoc they would still find it difficult to wage a war against their own self. I am very much aware that humans aren’t just the perpetrators when it comes to a fondness for war, but whilst animals may fight wars for similar reasons, resources and territory, it is only humans who have created weapons capable of destroying the entire planet many times over. As humans, ants stealing larvae from rival colonies means nothing to us. Mobs of meerkats battling it out over hunting grounds do not affect us. However, when we fight, it is like we are willing to sacrifice the Earth in order to prove others wrong. Everything knows when the humans go to war. America first developed atomic bombs as a way of forcing Russia to back down, as a way of proving Russia wrong through brute force. However, when Russia itself made an atomic bomb, America had to find another solution beyond forcing them into submission. There were threats of mutual annihilation over something which now seems like smaller, like it has been analysed overmuch, like clothing shrunk and discoloured through frequent washing.

I don’t think I’m being very clear. All I know is that nine countries possess 16,300 nuclear weapons. All I know is that for human selfishness, there are some willing to destroy everything. Think of what even ten of these weapons can do in the hands of zealots. Such as ISIS. They believe that they’ll go to heaven and get their seventy two virgins if they can force their extreme views on others. 

And I guess that’s what all conflict can be seen as boiling down to. Going too far. Wanting to get the last word in. Can there ever be any positives in extremism? I don’t feel that there can. Just thinking about it, I think I strongly believe that extremism of all and any kinds is responsible for almost every case for war. Extreme political views? We’re right, let’s take you over and make it right for everyone. Extreme religious views? Our God is righteous and yours is fake, this is the right way to live. Even extreme personal views. I’m a feminist, I just want equality, no matter the gender. However, I’ve heard that there’s a petition going , trying to reclassify feminists as terrorists. It sounds ridiculous. But, when you learn that the woman responsible for this petition is sick of ‘feminazis’ literally attacking people, you begin to understand. You may feel that you’re betraying yourself as a feminist, but you can accept where she’s coming from. Some people have taken it too far. Fight for your beliefs, yes. But don’t shove it down people’s throats. The suffragists played more of a role in gaining British women suffrage than the militant suffragettes. 

  
The extreme groups always drown out the moderate groups. There are some who will consider all Muslims to be terrorists, as ISIS is an extreme Muslim group. Football fans are all hooligans who love nothing better than to start meaningless fights over whose team is superior. Feminists are mad, bad and troublesome to know. But it will always be the extreme groups that cause the conflict. At least, this is what I strongly believe. 

I don’t feel like this was a rant. I think it was more of a sad acknowledgment of human nature. I’m really sorry if this was confusing and all over the place, I was feeling a little disillusioned tonight, although cases like this are why essay plans are the way forward. If you think I’m wrong please tell me, but there is the chance that I’ll wake up tomorrow, read what I’ve put, and think ‘no, that’s not me at all‘. But I don’t feel like I will. I think that these thoughts may be duller and less focused tomorrow, but I feel like this belief in human nature is something that might always stay with me. 

Thank you for reading.

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Book Reviews With Comments

One of the main things for both my creative writing exam and coursework is the commentary. Higher marks if you mention authors and how they influenced your writing. So I’m going to start writing book reviews, as it means that I will be able to see what works or not, and be able to incorporate the more favourable elements into my own work. It will also help, because as part of the commentary you need to comment on your creative process and symbolism, so because of this it will be easier to recognise these things in my own writing.

(And also I was forced into this)

Metal and Nature Prompt

This was based off a prompt that I brought in for my class. I was originally going to do it so that there would be three prompts, so nature, then metal, and finally joining the two together. However, there wasn’t time, so I only gave them the final prompt to do. My first thoughts was that the scenario was going to be similar to the one in Hybrid, where a virus makes machines merge with human flesh. However, I thought that my current idea would be a lot better, so here it is. I hope you enjoy!


One day a troupe of men came marching through a forest. Despite being hungry, exhausted, battle-scarred, not one lingered or fell behind. Their feet seemed heavy, as if they were being held down by the sins of war, by the numerous dead, and their arms hung low, as if they were finally leading the children they hadn’t been able to save to safety.

They had seen horrors, these men.

And they had learnt, through the cruel experience of war, that these horrors would continue, regardless if they were there or not. The mutilations. The destruction. The look of death in the eyes of those still alive. This was the reason that the men couldn’t sleep easily at night. Well pressed uniforms contrasted against blood crusted hair, with mud under bitten fingernails, with filthy rags covering many wounds. They wore bandages on their heads to show that the main cause of their suffering was in their minds, but they would be regarded as heroes by loved ones and strangers nonetheless. They were on leave.

They moved quickly and clumsily, filled with enough visions of the future to dull and warp their present. They were careless and on leave, and not yet on safe soil. They were wounded from injuries that couldn’t be fixed, would never heal. However, all the other side saw were enemy soldiers, and their response was customary of those at war.

The shells ripped through the trees, ripped through the dazed men. Shrapnel flew like arrows in every direction, plunging into human flesh, plunging into the trees, plunging into the birds that had flown too low. The merging of the natural and metal to make strange creatures, twisted into awful shapes. Metal dust covered the green foliage, and glittered in the shining blood of the fallen and relieved.


I quite liked this one. I did find it quite difficult to do, despite having chosen it, but once I’d decided on an idea it was a lot easier, as I just went with the flow, and made only minor changes as I went along. Normally when typing a piece up I end up making a lot of changes, but I found that this wasn’t the case with this one. I like the imagery, such as the ‘metal dust’ and ‘shining blood’, and also the fact that I only  linked nature and metal right at the end. I thought that the ending gave a real sense of pathos, by the fact that they’re so relieved that their suffering has ended.

Reminiscent

This came after our other teacher asked us to write a short story based on Erosive by Ali Smith, which can be found here http://textualities.net/ali-smith/erosive. It had to include:

  • an oblique title
  • a thread not linked to the main event
  • dialogue without punctuation
  • intro, middle, end and beginning in that order
  • a broken relationship
  • everyday activities which show state of mind
  • a motif

I wasn’t sure what to do about at first. I’d originally done a piece on an ‘unusual voice’, so I wondered about doing it from the perspective of a cat, whose owner has died. But I didn’t think I could include all that I was meant to, so I had to look elsewhere. A friend gave me inspiration, and I began to think of how isolation could explain the broken relationship. It’s one of my best pieces, and I hope you enjoy it.

(Although my Creative Writing teacher completely disagreed…)


Reminiscent

How long have I been here? Has it been too long, or not long enough? Time has become the constant disorientation of white, like up until now my life has just been a dream, and now I’m awake and trapped by the tangled sheets and unable to breathe. I look out the window. It is too dark to see and so the glass reflects my face back at me. The reflection is intersected by the decaying leaves and framed by the drooping flowers of the plant on the windowsill. I move into the bathroom, comb straw hair and brush grey teeth. They notice these things here. It hasn’t changed anything, but they’ll see it as an improvement. It seems like I’ve been asleep for a long time. I leave the room; leave the medicines and instructions on the bedside table. I bring the plant with me, look for water. You cannot drink the bathroom water, so I go looking elsewhere. Dead leaves fall off and float to the ground behind me.

Middle

I am about to water the plant at the sink in a kitchen when I am stopped by a man.

You can’t do that here, he says, the water has special chemicals in it. It’ll kill your plant instead of saving it.

Uh, I say.

Have you tried the bathroom in your room? he says. The water should be fine for the plant. You’re not supposed to be here either, are you? he says.

He ushers me out, and I keep walking, confused. I remember that the bathroom water isn’t drinkable, but I’m too late and the man has gone. I continue following the corridor, past an open door, through which there are many people talking and drinking tea and eating biscuits. One rushes out upon seeing me.

Hello dearie, I thought you weren’t meant to be out today? she says.

Flower, I say. Water.

I see, she says. Anyway dearie, how are you feeling?

Uh, er, I say.

What she says is: any problems? but what I hear is: do we need to increase your dosage again?

Er, I say, but she’s waiting for an answer. I shake my head tentatively, look down at the ground.

Come on then dearie, she says, grabbing my shoulder and pushing me back the way I came. Let’s get you back. She marches me back into the room, leaves me standing in the middle and loosely holding the dying plant.

Oh, naughty girl, she says as she looks at a clipboard, you missed your scan this morning. I’ll have to book you a new one. That’s what you get for wandering off, she says.

Flower, I say. Water?

Leave the plant! she says. I’ll water it in just a bit. Wait for me to come back.

She leaves and I continue to stand. The plant was a gift from my friends. I don’t want it to die. I stand like this whilst the whiteness creates spots in my eyes, still holding it, until I’m certain that she has forgotten. I step forward and try the door that she locked behind her. I move to the bed, place the plant against the pillow and fish around the floor under it. I come up with a dusty key that I had found under the bed a month ago. It’s not mine. I unlock and open the door, look back. Slumped against the pillow, the two remaining two withered flowers look like the drooping eyes of a friendship nearly dead. I pick the plant up. As soon as I exit the room, turning right this time, it is like I am transported from not unfamiliar surroundings to a maze of gleaming white and squeaking shoes. Blue lines lead me to a large room filled with people sat on chairs. Below the sign ‘reception’ and behind the counter are two women, one of them the person who forgot. She stands up, but it is the other woman who comes to me.

You alright love? she says. Do you need any help? She says that, but what she doesn’t say is: we were just talking about you and your plant. What’s wrong, the asylum full?

Flower, I say. Water.

Please, I say.

Yes, I’ve heard about your flower, she says, looking back at the other woman who is now sitting again. Let me have a look.

She wrenches the plant out of my resisting hands, tuts at the defiance shown.

Well love, she says, I think it’s one of them desert flowers. They don’t need water.

Dying, I say. Help.

You might actually have given it too much water, she says. Maybe you’ve been drowning it.

I look down at the flower. As she’s been talking three petals have drifted to the floor.

Why don’t you sit down there love? she says as she points at a chair. Don’t move until we can sort you out. Alright with you, who dini?

Who’s dini?

End

I sit hunched up, staring at the plant. I ignore the curious stares of the strangers on other chairs; flinch when a hand brushes my arm. I’m an anomaly to them. They are unaware that my brain still functions, if not well. Even if it doesn’t look like it, it still works. I keep watching the plant as people come and go. It dies in front of me, and I’m left holding an empty shell. My newly broken mind feels its loss keenly.

Beginning

I’m in a hospital bed, telling worried friends that it’s for the best, that I’ll get better soon. I don’t tell them that it’s the kind of thing that will only get worse. The doctor enters, tells them that it’s just in case, hurries them out. One of my friends, a girl whose name I do not recall, has left a little pot of bright purple flowers by my bed, the name of which I have also forgotten. I ask the doctor and he doesn’t know. But he may never have known, whereas I (used to.) have just forgotten the name briefly. They are my favourites though, I remember that. Blank time on, and I still don’t know, until it has just become nothing, and nothing has ever had a name, not any that I remember.


When I was writing this one I put a bit of myself in the character. As someone who has depression, I felt that as I was writing I could be seeing my own future, if it goes really bad. I wanted to show that, despite outward appearances, the person is not stupid. It was kind of my small attempt to end the stigma against mental illnesses.

I tried to use a lot of symbolism throughout the piece. The attempts to keep the plant alive were like trying to keep a friendship alive. Looking for water, with which to revive the plant, was like searching for a way to keep a friendship going. The solution that they do find could end up doing more harm than good, and they are advised not to do it. In a case of ‘if you want something doing, do it yourself the nurse gives the easy option of letting someone else take care of the problem, however it does more harm than good. By not taking care of their own  issues, they end up adversely affecting the plant’s condition, and it would also be likely to have a large impact on a friendship that is already on its last legs. By the end they adopt a laissez faire attiude, with the belief that things would improve if left alone. There is also the suggestion that it is an overabundance of care that has caused the problem, and the result of this is the plant and the friendship dying. However, the subsequent death of the plant gives the impression that it would have been better to take a chance and water the plant at the sink. It would have meant that at least something was done to remedy things, and so promotes the idea that ‘what’s worth the price is always worth the fight’. (If Today Was Your Last Day, Nickelback)

Other Points:

  • No pure water – the water in both the bathroom and the kitchen will likely kill the plant, so we wonder why both the bathroom water and the kitchen water would have an affect on the plant’s condition. If it’s not fit for plants, then how can it be fit for humans? Promotes the idea that the place is an unhealthy one for the person, especially with the forceful and unkind nurses. By linking the beginning section to the plant dying, we wonder if the person is also fading away from their time in there, which again shows the poisonous element of the hospital.
  • They are genderless and ageless – I kept the character completely anonymous so that people would find them easier to identify with. They could be an elderly man with dementia or a teenage girl with severe depression. They could be in a care home with abusive nurses, or their own minds could have distorted what they’re experiencing. The section labeled ‘beginning’, by showing the start immediately after the ‘end’ section, means that the reader is given a sense of what might happen in the future, from normality to severe problems. The lack of a timescale also makes it easier to identify with, as we are unaware if the decline happened quickly, or was a slow decay.
  • Only describes their body possessively – up until the ‘beginning’ part they only use possessive language when they are talking about themselves. This provides a sense of detachment from their surroundings, as if they are moving through a dream land. This also helps to give the impression that they are the only thing they trust in the situation, whereas before, in the ‘beginning’ section, it is clear that they had accepted what was happening, and could therefore deal with it appropriately. This contrasts to their future, as they seem to be rejecting what they once recognised as being their fate.

Please let me know if you see anyhing else of interest!

A Script to Make You Laugh (Hopefully)

I was looking through my old pieces of work when I found this little gem. I obviously didn’t take this one seriously, as can be seen by the basic character info. It’s a script, but I don’t think it was based on a prompt. There doesn’t seem to be any indication that this was a prompt driven piece of writing. The question was How do we produce an engaging script that includes a change and allows us to connect to the characters? I think I failed.


Character plans

Sandra ‘soya’ Bean

  • Married to her work at the soya milk factory
  • Hobby is wine tasting
  • No close family
  • Lives in a flat above a shop
  • She doesn’t drive, but bikes everywhere
  • Her secret: not actually lactose intolerant, she just loves the taste of soya milk

Heidi McCaw

  • She’s single, but looking for love
  • Works as a bird of prey handler
  • Hobby is cactus gardening
  • Close to her sister
  • Lives in a semi detached house
  • Drives a small car
  • Her secret: she stole an owl once

Script

(Two women are sat either side of a table at a coffee shop. Sandra has short brown hair, cut in a stylish bob. Heidi has long and tangled black hair, and a bright red bandana keeps her hair out of her face)

Heidi: So, where are you working now?

Sandra: I’m at that new soya milk factory. It’s just out of town.

Heidi: Oh yes? Enjoying it?

Sandra: It’s the best job I’ve ever had! Are you still into birds?

Heidi: I’ve never been out of them. (Pause) Can I get you a drink?

Sandra: Sure, thanks. Do they do soya lattes here?

Heidi: I think so. I’ll go see. (she goes to the counter, and comes back a minute later with a latte and a small glass)

Sandra: Thanks, I needed this. I’ll pay you back. What did you get?

Heidi: This one’s on me. And I got a shot of the Famous Grouse, which is one of the best I’ve ever had. Speaking of this, are you seeing anyone?

Sandra: (tosses her hair) I’m married to my work. (She sips her latte then spits it out) This isn’t soya!

Heidi: Sorry, they didn’t have soya milk, I just got you a normal one.

Sandra: I’m lactose intolerant, you mewling quim!

Heidi: I thought you weren’t, you always used to drink milk and stuff at school.

Sandra: People change, Heidi!

Heidi: Sorry! Sorry, I’ll get you another one.

Sandra: No no, I’ll be fine without.

(Long pause)

Heidi: Do you like birds?

Sandra: It depends on the type you’re talking about.

Heidi: Do you prefer greater tits or eagles?

Sandra: I don’t really know.