My Life As An Alphabet
I thought I’d give the ghost story a rest for the moment, but I’ll take up the story in my next posting.
For this one, I thought you might want to know what I’m working on at the moment. In my first post I quoted from it, so it’s probably okay to give a little bit more information. It’s called My Life As An Alphabet and it is based on an English assignment that my wife often gives to her students. In that assignment, students have to write an autobiography in which each paragraph is based upon the letters of the alphabet. So, twenty six paragraphs in all. For A, for example, a student might write: A is for Alan, my dipstick brother. He is twelve and a complete pain in the backside. I remember when he...
It is a very cool assignment and students get right into it. In fact, even reluctant writers have been known to write 3,000 words when normally it’s a struggle to get a sentence or two out of them [teachers take note!]. My novels often come from small beginnings and My Life As An Alphabet is no exception. What if, I thought to myself, a student was given this assignment and decided she couldn’t just do a paragraph for each letter but had to write a chapter? What if this student was very strange and saw the world differently from everyone else? What if she wanted to tell the story of her bizarre life through this assignment: her relationship with her mother, father, her Rich Uncle Brian, her pen pal Denille, her best friend Douglas Benson From Another Dimension and her pet goldfish, Earth-Pig Fish?
I am three quarters of the way through it and I’m having fun. So here is Candice’s first letter to her American pen pal, Denille [Denille never replies, for reasons that may become obvious, but that doesn’t stop Candice writing every week. She’s that kind of girl]. And this may give you some insight into the character of my heroine:
My name is Candice Phee and I am thirteen years old. I go to school in Albright, Queensland, a small town about forty kilometres from Brisbane. I suppose you don’t know about kilometres, because you deal in miles. Forty kilometres is about twenty five miles, I guess [I put in “I guess” because I’m told Americans use this phrase a lot. See, I’m trying to connect].
So. About me. Well, I’m kinda average height for my age [‘kinda’ is another example of linguistic connection] and I have long, dirty blonde hair. I don’t mean ‘dirty’ in the sense that I don’t wash it, because I do. Every day. But more in the sense of its natural colour which, to be honest, makes it seem as if I don’t wash it every day. Which I do. I have freckles. All over my face and my body. I can’t go out in the sun unless I use cream with a sun protection factor of about one zillion. Dad says I should only go out in the sun when I’m wearing the kind of full body armour favoured by the SAS, but that’s just a joke. I think. I have piercing blue eyes. Two of them [joke!]. Some people say they’re my best feature. Actually, it’s mum who says they’re my best feature. She says they are like corn flowers. Or is it cornflours? Cornflour is white and you use it for baking, so it’s probably corn flowers. Anyway, they are a light blue which is striking. Mum says they are striking.
I used to have a sister but she is dead. This makes me an only child.
I don’t like much of the stuff that other people my age like. Computers don’t interest me. Most music is boring. I don’t have a mobile phone because hardly anyone talks to me in real life, so I can’t imagine anyone would want to ring me or text me. What would be the point? I only like movies that make me cry. I don’t have friends who think they are my friends. Apart from Douglas Benson From Another Dimension who I will tell you about in a later letter [see, I’m being mysterious].
What is it like being American? I only know from watching TV [another thing I’m not keen on. What am I keen on?] and it seems to me that being American must be very hard. Dad says that Americans are arrogant pricks who think they are better than everyone else and couldn’t name the countries to the south or the north of them. I’m not sure this is true [but if it is, the answer is Mexico and Canada]. What TV I’ve watched gives the impression of Americans as shallow and obsessed with image. Are you shallow and obsessed with image? New York must be an exciting place, what with all that violence and bling. Have you been mugged? Please let me know because I am interested in things like that.
Albright is not like New York, even if I don’t know what New York is like. We don’t have bling, for one thing, and violence is limited to a punch up once a month at the local pub on a Saturday night. It’s a sleepy place. They say New York never sleeps, so we will be a good match, what with your town never sleeping and mine constantly sleeping. We will be like Yin and Yang.
Write soon. I am very much looking forward to hearing from you.
Your pen pal,
It is fun being a writer...