Friday, December 21, 2012

Writing the wrongs of our forefathers

Is it important for writers to have a strong sense of nationalism and culture in their published work? As a writer this question has been in my mind for sometime now. Here are my thoughts on the subject:
The job of the creative writer.

Creative writing to me is a tool. Just like any art form from poetry, to painting, to film, to anything. It is a tool, which allows me to be creative. To express whatever I have going on in my brain. My argument is centered on this point.  That I believe creative writing should be about communicating, entertaining, sharing ideas and my point of view in the most artistic way. Therefore to have a strong sense of nationalism and culture should not be the main focus of being a writer.
There seems to be a rule in New Zealand Educational Institutions that as a New Zealand writer, we must write with a strong sense of nationalism or else it has no value. We must write to show the world what a New Zealander is. But if we want to write with our imaginations about a fictional world with no nationalistic agenda we are somehow doing the wrong thing. On top of that we must write in common form such as novel or poetry and if you want to tell a story in any other form such as comic book then that’s not the way of the “NZ writer”. These are only examples and are not always the case but this shows the hierarchy in the genres of creative writing which is being taught by closed minded academics in certain educational systems. When a teacher tries to tell their students what they must write about, that is when the teacher has lost focus on what their job is. It is to teach ways to write, not what to write. We are storyteller’s not cultural ambassadors out to right the wrongs of colonization. Although that is a good way to be, it’s not for me. This pressure or control from our mentors to follow their way of thinking alienates a whole new generation of writers and the ideas they wish to express. By doing this it also alienates a whole generation or would be readers who don’t connect with much New Zealand literature on offer at the moment.

The development of Nationalism in New Zealand and the circumstances upholding it.
New Zealand literature began during the 19th century by mainly British migrants and settlers. It was essentially a sub-type of English literature dealing with topics coinciding with English literature but also dealing with New Zealand themes or places. The subjects they covered in the early days of colonial New Zealand were structured around the needs of the British settlers to enforce their ideologies on the native Maori and Pakeha alike. Maori had stories and poetry but they were told orally or through art so what they had to say was disregarded because they had no written form of language. 
Some of the literature first introduced in New Zealand was:
  • ·        for the church spreading religious values and beliefs
  • ·        for establishing the laws and order of New Zealand
  • ·        for governance of the people and the land
  • ·        for the mapping out and naming of the country
  • ·        Provincial and rural literature
These were early examples of nationalistic writing for people of British descent. It wasn’t until the 1950s that New Zealand writers began writing creatively in a nationalistic way. “This flowering of creative and critical talent was not sudden, but the climax of a process that had begun at least two decades before.” (1)
It is clear to see that nationalism and identity formation in New Zealand was more of a political process created in times of racial conflict and oppression.
The 1930s heralded in a new age of New Zealand identity narratives, due to creative writing becoming an educational focus in universities as well as more opportunities to get work published in magazines and journals. Many of these writers were also tackling global, social and political issues expressing ideas of resistance that went against the established views of Pakeha who still looked to England as home. Following a reworking of university education in the post-war era, creative writing has progressively gained prominence in the university setting.
By the 1960s Maori creative writers came onto the scene and they brought fresh ideas and perspectives not yet seen; predominantly to write stories of Maori by Maori.  This was to counter the effects of colonialism and to give Maori a voice in the literary world. They wrote of identity relaying experiences of Maori with elements such as:
  • ·        Tradition
  • ·        Culture
  • ·        History
  • ·        Mythology
  • ·        Urbanisation
From this we can see how New Zealand identity has been developing over different periods which are due to changes in political conditions and paradigms of the nation.

Nationalism as a paradigm that promotes the nation above all else sacrificing the needs and desires of the individual. 

  Nationalism in creative writing is about identifying a culture or nation to promote that nation. This helps people of that nation make sense of their ethnic identity as well as for the wider world to have a better understanding or image of the nation. It’s about a common human need to belong to a group and relating or differentiating from others. “At its most basic, it gives you a sense of personal location, the stable core to your individuality. But it is also about your social relationships, your complex involvement with others” (Weeks, 1990, p.88).

Being of mixed ethnicity can raise many issues when writing with a strong sense of nationalism and culture. The stories they tell are no longer just theirs. They belong to the people of that ethnic mass as well. Being from an urban working class background with not much connection with the history or culture of the ethnicities we belong to raises even more questions of authenticity. How New Zealand are you? How Maori are you? How Polynesian are you? These become labels with a lot of ethnic baggage that we have to think about if we want to write with a strong sense of nationality. Whether we look at identity through a personal or collective framework we can see that our identity has been shaped by our historical grievances.

 In the end there is a place for nationalistic literature and teaching but don’t put that on me as a creative writer and don't hate because I prefer to go against cultural dynamics of this time by doing something that hasn’t been done before.

Weeks, J. (1990). The Value of Difference. In J. Rutherford (ed.). Identity, Community , Cultural Difference, London: Lawrence and Wishart.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Blog about a blog

Ka Kite. I found this blog for procrastinating writers just today when I was looking through blogs for something to motivate me to write a blog about a blog. It is probably the best blog for aspiring procrastinators I've been to in bloggy ages! Even though I think that 'blogging about how to not procrastinate' is still procrastinating, I feel that this site reveals a side to procrastinating that has benefits. The bloggette who created this blog made it a collaborative blog so that bloggers from all around the world could blog about the many techniques there are to overcome procrastination. Because of the diversity of the bloggers the blogs are all very unique. Do you get embarrased by your writing? Do you have a fear of rejection? Well there are plenty of blogs on this subject. Do you have trouble with time management then check this out. Well I was going to write some more about this blog but I've got a sudden case of writers block so I'm going to go watch TV. Kia Ora.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

One picture can say a thousand words.

You've probably seen these before. Meme's. Pronounced 'meeems' are ideas or messages that go viral or become very popular. They are easy to create and if the Meme is liked and shared by people then they spread through society and become iconic. Sometimes the chances of your Meme going viral depends on what is happening in society at a certain time. Because it is Halloween week now the chances of finding Halloween meme's becomes higher. It was the same when the Olympics were on or anything like that. If you focus your Meme on a current event it will increase the likehood of it going viral.

 Some Meme's go viral because they contain political messages.

Some Meme's are to uplift and if it has a quote from well known people, then the meme is even more likely to go viral.

Some images are constantly used in Meme's but remixed with different text which means that Meme's can be made by anyone and they are; which amounts to a whole lot of shit to sift through on your fb page or whatever social networking site you use. Whether Meme's can be called a new artform I am not sure but judging by what people call art in the passed then its as much art as anything else.

Heres some I made up. One serious, One not, both stink.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Studying at MIT

This is my unedited post. Check out my edited post here and see if you can spot the difference

Creative writing has never been one of my strong suits, but that didn’t stop me from enrolling at the MIT Creative Writing course. I started there at the beginning of 2011 after coming back from Aussie. I didn't want to do just any job so I had two choices: either study or jump on the benefit. Manurewa WINZ is evil, evil, evil, so I was looking at courses. I saw that Witi Ihimaera author of the Whale Rider was one of the writers teaching Creative Writing at MIT so I applied. Along with him there was Robert Sullivan, Albert Wendt, Sue Orr and more. To get accepted I had to give them a 15 page sample of my own writing. I don’t think it really matters what you write, just that you can show you want to write. The desire to write is all you need to pass this course and succeed in writing as a profession. If you have a passion for creative writing it’s a good idea to study at MIT in Otara. If you are having domestics at home, CYFS is right next door. If you still don’t have a job after finishing your studies don’t worry as Otara WINZ is next door to CYFS. If you like picnics (like I do) there is also a big park next to course where you can sit under some trees and have some drinks, while you think up new ideas. 

   After almost 2 years at MIT I have had some good opportunities for growth and experience come my way. I've had poems and short stories published as well as books with my illustration work. Other classmates have even received funding grants to travel, perform poetry and write like Daren Kamali who won a writers residency in Hawaii like a boss. Some producers and people in the film industry have also expressed interest with some of the students writing. Our tutors are all well-known published writers and regularly travel like Robert who is having a nice time in Germany at the moment as you can see from past blogs. He was going to skype teach us but the MIT internet was crap so we had a reliever tutor who taught us about writing online. Each tutor brings something different to the class.

    Sometimes we write poetry, which is not only self-therapeutic but it can also lead to getting published. Some students take that even further and perform their poems to an audience. Students also have to write short stories which are mainly so you have material that you can come back to after you graduate. Some of the best novels started with a short story. Then we write academic essay's which are really not my favorite but necessary. We also just started blogging and learning the digital side to writing. I have a background in illustrating and would like to create graphic novels and here everyone has a chance to find their own path because there are also optional papers that allow you to try other creative arts at MIT such as Visual arts and Performing arts. I also did an optional business paper on how to manage yourself as an artist which was really helpful. This all leads up to the final year, where we spend the entire time working on a novel. Something I'm really looking forward to.

    If you think creative writing is something you might be interested in, then enroll in MIT to achieve a bachelor in Creative arts. It may not make you rich but, if you have the desire to write for a living then you will gain a kind of education only MIT can give. Then you might get rich.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Google translate

The translation of the Maori version of the New Zealand national anthem.
O Lord, God,
of all people
Listen to us,
Cherish us
May good flourish,
May your blessings flow.

After going through google translate changing the language from English to Kannada to Malay to Urdu to Hindi to Esperanto and back to English and this is what you get:

My God, my God,
Let us pray to Go
we thank
Can best be organized,
You can Mjjhob flow.

And how could I forget the English version of the New Zealand national anthem:

God of Nations at Thy feet,
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our free land.
Guard Pacific's triple star
From the shafts of strife and war,
Make her praises heard afar,
God defend New Zealand!

Mungu wa Mataifa ya miguu yako,
     Kifungoni kwa sababu ya upendo sisi kukutana,
     Kusikia sauti zetu, tunajibu,
     Mungu kutetea nchi yetu ya bure.
     Walinzi Pacific ya triple nyota
     Kutoka shafts ya ugomvi na vita,
     Matokeo sifa yake walipopata mbali,
     Mungu kutetea New Zealand.

That was in Swahili. Now I will translate to Vietnamese, Japanese, Indonesian and Persian which looks like this:

خدا پای خود را از کشورهای دیگر،
      زندانی عاشق یکدیگر را ملاقات کنیم
      شنیدن صدای ما، ما گفت،
      خدا این است که حفظ آزادی ما.
      حافظ از اقیانوس آرام 3 ستاره
      از محور درگیری و جنگ،
      در نتیجه، آنها، شهرت،
      خدا دفاع نیوزیلند.

And when it comes all the way back round to English it translates to(sing it if you can):

God  from other countries feet
       Prisoner of love we meet
       Hear our voices, we are told,
       God is protecting our freedom.
       Keeper of the Pacific 3 stars
       Axis of conflict,
       Thus, their reputation,
       God defend New Zealand.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Internet language experiment.

The middle class kid said his apology to the plaintiff for pulling out the pistol at the laundry shop. Sometime later the public accusations lead to a sudden plea seldom seen by the troubled crowd. He praised the fatal vacuum harvest epidemic and spit at the skilled naval marine devil who organized the warehouse cargo. The not very articulate but brave woman fits stereotypes that frustrate the foreigner. The likelihood of fame is upon her from the striking gaze of the nation her mind goes blank halfway through. She feels isolated.Fucking embarrassed. She grins then takes the plunge talking about the sponsor, the demographic, programming, and the legislator. The rally squad cheer. This is an example of how to write at my creative writing course
by Justin Beiber

Each word highlighted, is from the bottom of a list of the 5000 most searched words on Google. I am hoping that this little story that doesn't make sense, made up of common searched words (but not too common or you will end up on the bottom of the search results list) will get my blog more page views. If you were brought to this blog because of searching one of those words please leave a comment. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My Facebook Story

There has recently been an outbreak of a stomach bug called the Norovirus in south Auckland. It’s a stomach bug that gives you the shits and spews and also makes you feel like you're pregnant with an alien baby. Officials say it spreads easily through children and is mainly from not washing hands after wiping ass. However there are many ways you can catch it and sometimes it is of no fault of your own such as your drinking water supply being contaminated by wastewater, it can also be found in the food you eat or the air you breathe. It often occurs in semi closed communities like hospitals, rest homes, camping grounds, prisons etc. To some people it’s almost taboo talking of such things but because I think I had it; I don’t mind talking about it.

  Recently at south Auckland's Middlemore Hospital there was an outbreak of norovirus, with over 150 patients, doctors, employees and visitors showing the symptoms of norovirus. One ward is even being used for norovirus only and the hospital was asking visitors to ensure they were well and had no symptoms of norovirus for at least two days, and to wash their hands rigorously before and after visiting. To have a viral outbreak in a hospital like Middlemore is quite a worry. It makes me wonder if they are doing their best to keep things clean there. It seems strange that a hospital in New Zealand could have had an outbreak like this and even stranger that no one is even complaining about it or raising it as an issue that needs to be addressed. Hopefully there will be an investigation into how this could have happened.


  My older sister who works in an early child care centre got it first. About a week later her daughter got it. I had to look after her while she had it and then surprise, surprise, I got it. That is how easily it spreads. It seems to last only a few days but it’s a really nasty few days and leads to a forced detox and a spring cleaning of the bathroom to get the smell out as you only have to smell it to catch it. Clothing was washed twice and my bedroom was wiped clean from the upchuck when I was too slow to get to the toilet. I had the urge to purge and salsa with the toilet every 20 minutes that first night. I was quite surprised at the amount of food there was coming out. It was full of chicken pasta from the night before and boiled cabbage in an ocean of miso soup and I haven't started talking about the runs yet! All I’ll say is 'You don't want it." it burns like acid!

  On the plus side I lost abit of weight and also a group of about 20 Australians who had been skiing in New Zealand reported norovirus symptoms after returning home to Australia last month, "Hopefully they pass it on." Public Health South doctor officer of medical health Darrel Beck told NZ Monkey Newswire.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Edit Wikipedia

I've just learnt how to edit Wikipedia for my digital writing paper. It was so easy I find myself looking back on everything I read on there and wondering how much is really true. I had a turn editing my tutor Robert Sullivan's page. Unfortunately I missed class so didn't get the low down on HTML and all that because I had contracted the norovirus (or something similar) so I was bedridden for the last two days. Luckily I have a fair idea of what HTML is about so shouldn't be too lost next class. If you go down to the bottom of the writing style section in Roberts page you will see my edit is the last two sentences. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

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Namaste! Peace, blessings and hamony sisters and brothers.