Non-fiction writing came to me quite unexpectedly. Out of the blue I was asked to cover a creative writing evening class and that class became a regularly evening of creativity. I have to admit it I loved teaching. What’s more, the students asked me to put a book of lessons together. Shortly after A Short Course in Creative Writing became an audio book. That book has sold internationally and in large numbers. Sometimes the accidents are the ones that sell the most.
Boredom is the mother of all random book-dooooom. The Office Zoo was conceived during a very dull conference call and became a great source of entertainment for me. During one particularly dull moment, I glanced around the room and all the office workers transformed into office animals. Over the months I compiled all the office animal types during the weekly call. I will be honest, this book is not kind. It contains the office stinkers of the world and office slugs. The thing is it is truthful. What makes it even better is the way that Ray translates the office types into audio. The way he sounds so repulsed has me in hysterics. All the while he sounds like an avid documentary maker.
A SHORT COURSE IN CREATIVE WRITING
An easy and comprehensive course on creative writing. The book was originally created for Michelle’s students so that they could have all their lessons in one place. They wanted to be able to follow the prompts, remember how structure worked and the techniques of finding the ‘easy’ ways in which to create. A Short Course in Creative writing has since been produced on Audible and sold internationally enabling Michelle to help more aspiring writiers in the creative endeavours. Please note Michelle also writes as Ruby Allure so you will find the Audible book under Ruby’s name.
A few little things to consider about what you wish to write. Writing a memoir or a life story is the opportunity to step into yourself, reflect upon your life and share it with others. This type of writing is based on reality, the experienced, a history and a series of events that have been interpreted by the person whose life it is. Writing a memoir or personal life story is the prime opportunity to re-live, remember, re-experience and possibly even resolve life events. Through writing a memoir or life story not only are you sharing who you are and your experiences, you are enabling yourself a catharsis – a way in which to process events. Through writing your life story you will re-visit situations from a new perspective. You may even notice that you have changed in your approach and perception as you have matured.
Constructing a memoir will involve writing from reality. To gain clarity one may reference old journals, diaries or letters to remind the writer what has taken place. This style of writing is classed as writing from reality because it references actual events, real people and that which has actually taken place. Writing from reality is often known as non-fiction which covers: newspaper stories, editorials, personal accounts, journal articles, textbooks, legal documents and documentary.
Fiction, on the other hand, is imagined; however, it can be built from real life people, places and events. Fiction stories, although constructed from the imagination, are often written to suggest that the story is real. The author often writes the story by researching, imagining and referencing through research. Fiction covers poems, stories, plays, novels, film scripts and dramas.
In addition, fiction is commonly divided into three areas. This division comes from the general appearance of the text:
- Stories and novels are made up of prose usually which follow the usual paragraph structure. The story is then divided into chapters
- Poetry consists of lines of varying length. Sometimes there is rhyme, other times there is simply a rhythm within the construct.
- Plays/scripts consist of spoken lines, stage/television directions. The play is arranged in scenes and acts.
If you think about it, the difference ultimately comes from the mind – the imagined versus the remembered /experienced.
Some of the best advice that I have been given is to write about what you know. The question then becomes what do we really know? Where does reality stop and fiction begin – is there a blur? When we write fiction we often take aspects of what we know, our reality, and combine the realistic ingredients to create a story. There is a fine line between what we remember, our reality and using what we have experienced to generate fictions. With this in mind, have you noticed that you and a friend have different memories of the same event?
Try the following: Write a short piece or journal entry from memory using one of the following titles. Please choose an event or a situation where other people were involved.
· The Biggest Challenge I Overcame
· The Day My Life Changed
· What I Never Expected
· The Reason I Laughed So Hard
· My Most Inspiring Moment
· The Major Event!
THE OFFICE ZOO
If you were an office animal what would you be? Erm…What do you mean an office animal? Well you may not know this but there are numerous varieties of office animal migrating to the work place each day. Every type, with its own characteristics, are awaiting discovery in the Office Zoo. All of those who enter the office jungle on a daily basis have potential for office animal categorising adventure. Whether we like it or not – each of us falls into one of the many Office Zoo categories. So which one are you? Which Office animals surround you? How would you know who is what without an Office Zoo Field Guide?
The Office Stinker There is usually at least one Office Stinker. No one likes to say anything in case they offend the stench-originating party. So why is it okay for this stench-emitting individual to offend everyone’s nostrils on a daily basis? The aroma of rotten sprouts, body odour and general death fills the air and everyone tolerates it because they fear offending the stink-acious individual! Come on!!! Really? Instead of confronting the stink originator, everyone makes faces or discusses the rancid aroma in non-stink-infested locations around the office or in the toilet. The fact that people escape to a lavatory to avoid a stink may alert you that something has gone seriously wrong! Subtle hints do nothing to alert this individual to their insidious smog. A surround of air-freshener plug-ins will not change the awkward truth – this person stinks!
In all honesty, someone should provide the stinker with the truth that something horrible is taking place around them or being discharged from them. That courageous someone (who is kind and honest – the office straight down the line/give it between the eyes) needs to deliver the news politely. ‘Please Office Stinker wash your undercarriage/smell-emitting orifices or leave!’
Through careful observation, I have noticed there seems to be two factions of Office Stinker: There are those who do not wash properly or at all. They have a tendency to violate nostrils on a continual basis and over a time-period. You know when they are in the office because there is a waft of rancid bodily odour with a hint of sour garlic. Strangely they appear completely unaware of how bad they smell, yet have not worked out that shower gel and water applied to one’s body on a daily basis increases the number of people who talk to them. What’s more, greasy hair slicked to ones face can be transformed by using shampoo, a beautiful luxury that makes one’s hair clean and shiny! The other benefit is that one can flick one’s hair without experiencing a soggy slap to the face.
The Office Stinker unfortunately never recognised the above body cleaning revelations; instead, those poor blighters who sit in close proximity become accustomed to such a smog, stuff tissue up their nostrils or wear scarves to cover their noses. Appearing like a bandit on a daily basis does not do much for one’s self-esteem or provide the ‘bandity’ individual with a bonus. In truth, this violation to human nasal rights is not fair! Those harassed by nasal invasion dream about an allocated stinker’s desk located outside the building or on a remote island so that fellow workers can concentrate rather than gag! The other kind of Office Stinker, known as the Office Blow Off, is usually a man who aggressively passes wind at people. He can threaten, bully or hold hostage using intestinal gas proliferation. This person is cruel; they know the power of the stink and use that power. Personally, I really have an issue with this kind of person. An example of this character was a rather flatulent chap who actually threatened other employees with his bottom. One time he demanded a biscuit from his colleague by threatening him with a fart. It is not fair but there is usually at least one bottom-stinker type. The female version is the Office-Silent-But-Deadly. You would never know that deliberate whiff was her because she is so sweet looking. What’s more, she has a tendency to leave little love puffs surreptitiously about the office. She never does it close to where she sits because that way she can get away with it. This woman has a stinking strategy and is dis–stink-ly aware of her flatulent issues. What’s more, she masks her stealthy stink by appearing overly cheerful, you know she really finds it hilarious that her love puffs are distracting someone from their work.
Something worth being aware of is that if there are two stinkers in the same office, you are most definitely unlucky… There is also a rule of averages where if an office has more than one stinker, then another office has none. If you believe there is no Office Stinker in your office then you must ask yourself a very dark question: are you the Office Stinker?
Lesson – it takes courage and the learning of the ancient art of nasal attack resistance. When delivering the hideous news to an Office Stinker breathe through your mouth and focus on the outcome of fresh air in the office. When confronting the Office Blow Off – look them directly in the eyes and tell them that the team has had enough of their posterial antics (all the while be prepared to run or bat off any potential of an arse attack!)