Turbulence – Day 124 – Gemma Seltzer

It’s the last day of Mentor March and I am incredibly excited to write about my last mentor… Gemma Seltzer.

I was told about London based author, Gemma Seltzer, last year when the idea of this project was just a vague dream. She had started out writing a story every day for 100 days based on interactions with strangers and posted it to a blog (speaktostrangers.co.uk/). It was so successful she has often asked to re-create it in different cities and even written for the TATE Modern. She was young and she had started out with just a self run blog… something clicked in my brain and I decided then and there that my vague dream would become a concrete reality. The idea that had always seemed overwhelming and distant suddenly seemed like a real option. 

So last week I decided to email her and ask her for advice and a prompt. And on the weekend I got a beautiful reply…

“I’m so pleased you found something in my work that inspired you too – that’s made my day,” it began. “From a browse of your site, I can see you have loads of energy and a great range in your writing. What a lovely project, because it’s about real life and people as much as it’s about good writing.” 

I was so chuffed! She also told me to write in different places around Brisbane- explore every aspect of it. I think this is a really great idea and I will be using it as my theme for next month (April).

Lastly she gave me a challenge “Write your story on a piece of paper, fold it into an plane and let it go in a crowd.”

So I wrote a story and folded it up…

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Then threw it off a balcony into the Myer Centre food court in the city. I watched as it sailed down narrowly missing a young man’s head. Unfortunately he was listening to headphones and completely missed it. It landed somewhere at his feet and I now I have no idea where it is. Hopefully someone will pick it up…
 
Born from a few rash folds it knew only one purpose, to fly. But as its flimsy body quivered in the breeze, terror began to weigh it down. If it failed, its inky cargo would be lost.

It mustered its courage and leapt into a gust of wind, hoping to ride it smoothly to its destination. Alas it was only a few turbulent seconds before its bleached pulpy wings gave out and it took a nose dive toward the pavement below.

With only discarded chewing gum for company, it lay crumpled on the ground. But then a hand smoothed its wings and launched it into the air once more. This time it flew for a good while, and when it faltered another hand caught it. Its journey continued on like this until it wasn’t sure which way it was going, or if it was even facing the right direction.  

When it finally came to rest, it looked around, disorientated. Then, a face slid into focus, and it realised it had found its destination. The inky cargo was delivered in perfect reading condition.

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Electronic Author – Day 123 – Grusin

I’ve been studying in the library all day so I’m basing my story off the only mentor I’ve had today… Richard Grusin- the author of my reading (“What is an Electronic Author? Theory and the Technological Fallacy”) I’ve taken the words “Electronic Author” on behalf of Grusin and set them as my prompt words. 

Constantly awake

Pounding the keyboard

Recording every millisecond of consciousness

Noting every lonely question  

Extracting thoughts

Spinning them into intricate webs

Filling them away

The electronic author of our story

Carving – Day 122 – Derek Weeks

Last night I was walking in Southbank with some friends and I heard Katie Perry coming from a boat… that sounded like a school semi-formal to me. On closer inspection it was my old high school’s semi-formal. I spotted my old film teacher Derek Weeks among the sweaty dolled up teens, and decided to go up and have a chat. 

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Without Derek’s classes I’m not sure I would have gotten into writing, because I never would have chosen film as a degree. He was certainly a mentor to me at school, and his enthusiasm for film and story rubbed off on me- so I asked him for some advice and a story prompt.

It was then I remembered how frustrating (and genius) Derek’s teaching methods are: he always forces you to draw your own conclusions and (occasionally) he’ll let you know you got it right. 

He wouldn’t give me anything, “I don’t know just go and live,” he said. So here’s my story:

Kit was an apprentice. He carved stone every day. At the end of every day the head artisan would look at his work and ask the same question, “What do you think?”

Kit never knew how to answer. He assumed if it was good, he wouldn’t ask that question, so he would pick out it’s flaws and try harder the next day.

On his days off, Kit would travel to see ancient carvings and take notes. Every day his work would get more intricate and more creative. He built towering structures that seemed to defy gravity and even perfected new ways to carve. But in the eve he was always met with the same question.

“What do you think?”

One day he cracked like an over chiseled stone.

“I don’t know how else to impress you!”

The artisan smiled.

“To be honest, I was impressed with your first ever carving,” he said. “But my opinion isn’t important, what do you think?”

Kit looked around at his constructions, as if he was seeing them for the first time.

“I think they are beautiful,” he said.

Sisters – Day 121 – Cinnamon

It’s my friend’s birthday today. We’ve been friends since I was born, 22 years ago, and it’s got me thinking just how lost I could have gotten so many times throughout my life without her. Happy Birthday Cinnamon! Here is us pulling pranks together on the night of the new millennium- 14 years ago.

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There were two sisters

Born to different parents

Guiding eachother

Astro-naught – Day 120 – Georgia May

I think a good friend is a mentor, and Georgia is a very good friend. She suggested “Shy Astronaut”.

Herman watched the pod float past the ship, his colleagues trapped inside. He could save them with ground’s help, but his mouth was suddenly as dry as his mother’s humour.

His finger hovered over the ground control video intercom. He’d never done the reporting, he was just the brains. Besides, his office crush was on shift and he’d never been able to speak to her.

He pressed the button.

“Ground. Hello? Do you copy? Hello?”

At 35, this was the day Herman finally learnt to speak to girls.

Listening to Rooms – Day 119 – Alex Niell’s Found Photos

I pulled out the last photo sent from Alex Niell today, I’d been saving it for a rainy day and well- it pissed down most of today in Brisbane. Also, I thought it’d make a good mentor story. I really like the photo- whoever he is seems to be having a nice moment. The stickers on his bag kinda look like the ABC symbol and I’m pretty sure they’re in Russia (hammer and sickle on the wall)- but that’s where my Sherlocking ended.

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You used to listen to rooms. We went all over Europe, my rucksack filled with film and yours with cassette tapes. I never understood why. I’d stomp around the room inspecting every detail and there you were just sitting and listening. It would frustrate me that you were missing out.

When I came home, I hung some of my photos up. I remember laughing, imagining you setting up tape players around your house in a similar fashion.

Then the other day I was painting with my daughter. I watched her chubby fingers smear across the paper, she was making a terrible mess. So I decided to close my eyes for a minute, and I realised she was humming. It was beautiful, so I asked her if she made it up just then. She told me she makes up new ones every day. I’d been missing them.

So now I’m wondering if I can have a recording from our trip. We could do a swap, I’ve always liked this photo of you, perhaps you will too?

Love

Sammy

Infinite – Day 118 – Jon Silver

Yesterday I met with another of my old lecturers, Jon. 

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As usual I asked him what he was good at that he could teach me. He told me he’s a good salesman. You can’t sell something by just telling, you have to ask questions and let the person come to the conclusion that they need it (yes ‘need’ even if it’s a bird shaped pen- they might need it because they have an emotional need to keep their childlike sense of fun with them through out the day’s meetings).

Then I asked a new question, “what have you failed at, that I should avoid?”

He told me resting – not just the body, but the mind and soul too. And if you don’t you’re only creating obstacles down the track. I needed this advice as I’m currently pretty sick and stressing myself out.

Finally, I asked for a prompt and he asked me a pretty hefty question: Is the universe a living organism?

Here’s my story:

The Sun burned inside him. He was never able to fit in or concentrate. He’d drift like space junk, trying to articulate his milky ideas to others. He liked looking up at night. It looked like a brain to him, perhaps they were all just thoughts in a huge brain. The others would laugh at him. So he went to his grandmother.

“I’ve always thought our minds are made up of thousands of galaxies,” she said, and he could see the wisdom of millions of stars past and present twinkling in her eyes.

“Never assume your thoughts are worth less than others,” she continued. “Your mind is infinite. Perhaps there is even a tiny boy on a tiny planet inside you, who is wondering the same thing.”