Learning to write by correspondence course
The creative process is fascinating. Sometimes I can recognize the inspiration for a story, sometimes not; and a story might present itself at any hour- day or night.
So, here I am, it is 2 o’clock of a morning. I have been awake since 12 midnight with all sorts of thoughts running around in my head and keeping me awake.
I don’t know why I am remembering something from my teen years – a very long time ago. I have always wanted to be a writer, and I started writing stories in my early teens. I soon realized that I needed guidance , and being too shy to ask my teachers for help, I nagged my poor mother ( and we were poor) into using some of her partner draw to pay the first installment on a correspondence writing course out of England, advertised in a newspaper. ( I didn’t finish the course so she wasn’t much out of pocket).
I don’t recall much of what I wrote for that course except for this exercise. I was supposed to write a story using a nursery rhyme as reference point. I chose Three Blind Mice and wrote what I thought was a funny story about the blind mice mistakenly eating soap thinking it was cheese.(I was fourteen at the time)
My correspondence tutor’s response was that this was not a rational story – no mouse would mistake soap for cheese, their sense of smell would guide them. It wasn’t just that comment but the mean tone of the other comments that made it the end of my writing career- for a time.
So, here I am thinking, at just past 2 o’clock in the morning, how to make that story rational.
I need a witch. Unfortunately we don’t have witches in my country (Jamaica). We have obeah women, but to use one in the story would frighten some parents into not buying the book since they fraid the word and others would complain that representing an obeah woman as evil is to disparage our culture. So, I’ll import a witch-she is not ours so it doesn’t matter.
Back to the Story
3 blind mice (they really should be rats-mice are so tiny, but rhymes for mice are more fun.)
Who lived in a hice (for rhyming purposes)
Had one bad vice
FOOD- it was so nice
So, one night, the three greedy mice went into the witch’s cupboard and ate off the one dukunoo (small sweet pudding) she was saving for her breakfast. They were so full that they fell asleep, same place. Next morning when the hungry witch went for her dukunoo, all she saw was the three fat belly sleeping mice.
She was so mad that she immediately cursed them and took away their eyesight. But by evil law, one curse was not enough; she had to put a second curse on them. She allowed them to choose which other sense they would lose.
The three mice discussed this and decided that they could not live without the sense of touch/feeling; since they were blind they had to use this sense to guide them. They could not live without hearing, since they needed to hear when the witch started snoring so they could safely go into her cupboard and steal her food. They could not live without the sense of taste — FOOD was too nice! So they chose to do without the sense of smell.
Ergo, (I love that word) as the story progresses, the mice can neither see nor smell. So now they can mistake soap for cheese.
Artwork brief for this – three mice in dark glasses, coughing and spluttering and spitting.The bar of soap sits in their midst showing the teeth marks. Wish I could draw.
Okay – for the soft — hearted children, I might add that the curse was only temporary. The witch tells them that she will lift the curse if they complete an impossible task. ( I haven’t decided what task yet. Probably to stay away from her cupboard for twice months — I need my rhyme).
So, Mr/Ms Snarky- Correspondence-Writing –Course- Tutor, would that now make it a rational story?
I started off talking about the creative process. Strange isn’t it?
I just might write that story one day.
P.S Over the years I have met two incidents of rats eating soap- one in a bathroom and one in a washroom. They say rats will eat anything.