OCA

Central Park and The Power of Now

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Taking a walk in New York’s Central Park was on my bucket list. Having never visited New York I’m not sure where the urge came from. Maybe it was a childhood spent watching Kojak and Cagney and Lacey, or the magical scenes of the park portrayed in Elf and Home Alone 2. Whatever the reason, a recent trip to New York provided me with the ideal opportunity.

My first visit to Central Park came on a hot summer’s morning. The walk from the hotel, on Upper East Side, caused the humid air to stick to my face. Skyscrapers shadowed traffic jams. Yellow New York taxis fought against a wall of sirens and car horns. Carbon Monoxide hung in my nostrils.

Walking through the entrance, the first view of the park is understated. Iron railings stand in front of small bushes and trees where street artists ply their trade. I could have been in any park in London. As you walk along there is a point when something mystical happens, a point where you are transported into another world.

The Man in Costa

cup-of-coffee-1328582-639x852Over the past month I have been immersing myself in the OCA Creative Writing course and working on a number of exercises designed to improve the skill of writing as seeing.

The process takes the student from observation and freewriting notes of what is seen, to carrying out a series of drafts to produce a poem.

An opportunity to try this presented itself one day whilst I was having a cup of tea in Costa.

In amongst the usual mid-morning commotion my attention was drawn to a man, sat opposite, reading a hard back book. The book appeared to have turned him to stone and provided a complete contrast to the chaos going on around him. I decided to
watch him for a while and discreetly take notes.

The observation provided four A5 pages of freewriting, and a series of drafts and re-drafts produced the following passage of prose.

 

It was his stillness that first attracted me, allied to the fact that he was reading a hard back book, not a laptop, or Ipad or Iphone.  A statue, immersed in the aromas of pastry and coffee and the sounds of clanking china and conversational din.

On the next table a young man shouts into his mobile, another man in a suit types frantically. Their table strewn with files and pieces of loose paper.

Boxing Clever

boxes-1172056-1280x960It is strange how we can get stuck in our ways of thinking. Our brain is a great labeller. It likes order and putting things into boxes.

Recall a moment when you met someone for the first time. What were you thinking?

I bet it would involve attaching some sort of label to them. “They seem nice,” “you’re a bit noisy, “I might struggle to get on with you.” It’s the brain trying to fit your experience into a box.

This is where I currently find myself with my writing. When I complete a piece of work, through one of the course exercises, I immediately place a label on it.

I’m Dreaming of a Dark Christmas

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The Doranville Book Club

Only 15 shopping days left until Christmas and I’ve had enough already. The mid-August visit to the Christmas decoration shop in Boston, Massachusetts, always had the potential to cause me to peak early. I now need something a little darker and more menacing to keep me going to the 25th of December.

The Open College of Arts – Creative Writing Facebook Group, posted a link to the following blogpost on The Reading Room blog,  “Alternative Reads for Christmas” .

The Doranville Book Club held an emergency meeting to discuss the books provided on this alternative Christmas read list (see photo). After much deliberation, the choice for our Christmas reading has been narrowed down to two;