Creative Writing

Lakeside pavilion, Forbidden Purple City, Hue, Vietnam

Perhaps a Safer Creative Writing Topic than the Vietnam War?

As part of our homeschooling topic on the Vietnam War, Z has been reading Chickenhawk. While not as “adult” as the current meaning of the title suggests, Bob Mason’s account of flying helicopters during the Vietnam War is, I suspect, a very accurate description of how soldiers lived and, more relevantly, spoke.

So I’m not sure what part of my brain was engaged when I suggested to Z that, when crafting his creative writing piece on the Vietnam War, he should be sure to include some dialogue to bring his characters out a little more.

Z had decided to write about US infantrymen (grunts) on patrol coming under fire. And, all kudos to him, the dialogue is really remarkably realistic.

It flows well. Nicely natural. Not overlong. Good pace. Good rhythm.

Yet utterly, comprehensively, eye-bleedingly obscene.

More Tarantino than Roger Melly. And really pretty good for a child of nine. If it weren’t for the obscenity, of course.

I said — well, Skyped — “Is this a challenge to see how much swearing you can get into one story?”

He Skyped back, “no, but they swore a LOT in chickenhawk so i am following their example.”

Which I couldn’t really fault. And it’s not as if he swears in conversation. Only prose.

Anywise, he is very proud of it. And, I think, as a piece of writing by someone his age who hates writing with a passion (although loves words) it’s really pretty good. So I’ll focus on something practical, like paragraphing, when we do the edit, and leave the swearing be.

Which leaves the writer, the mother and the educator in me battling it out on age-appropriate reading.

I gave him Chickenhawk mainly because Mason offers such a fantastic, passionate account of learning to fly a helicopter, theory, practice, combat flying, camaraderie, the works. There is even a map of the controls!

I thought the military-transport freak in Z would love it. It also seemed to offer an easy route into the American experience of combat, pairing nicely with the Cu Chi Tunnels (both the experience, and the book), and complementing the horrific stuff — Agent Orange, My Lai, the girl in the picture — which we saw in the War Remnants Museum.

I’ve probably got it wrong, again. Mind you, he’s seen Tarantino films. So why not Tarantino prose?

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8 Responses

  1. Fern miller says:

    So do we get to read it? Xxx ps l love this blog Theodora it is as blogs is meant to be.

    • MummyT says:

      I will post it once the final touches have been made. Seems rather odd to rate a blog about travelling with a child PG, or adult content, but that’s Z for you. And me, I guess. Great to hear from you, btw xxx

    • MummyT says:

      The line which really got me was: “The bitches mortared the piss hole and it didn’t blow up!” Quite effective, I thought.

  2. Anne-Marie says:

    When do we get to read this piece of work?

  3. helen says:

    We all want to read this, hope we don’t have to wait till next Monday (schoolday). Tell Zac that his public is waiting. Lots of love Helen

  4. T says:

    sigh, I wished I stumble upon this blog in 2010, while the question in this post is still more relevant. I don’t like how much Vietnam is reduced to just the vietnam war. I wrote about what does Vietnam meant to me, because living in America, that is all people can get out of Vietnam.

    As a writer, you would found there vietnamese literature worth exploring. Though I don’t know if much are translate to English.

    This would be something I recommended to the 10 years old Z (4 years ago). It is about growing up.

    “Bilingual Vietnamese-English Vietnamese children Literature by the famous writer To Hoai Story of the adventure of a criket who left his nest and traveled to different places. He grew up and learned by being with different “people” and in difficult situations. Black and white pages with color cover.”

    Cricket fighting (maybe view as animal cruelty) is a part of Vietnamese culture. There was a section of the book about it from a Cricket’s perspective as the protagonist drunk with glory and hurt his fellow being for the sake of the humans.

    To Hoai, I felt is pretty Mark Twain ish.

    More for your size,

    It explored the various life experienced in those colonial times. It is creative writing as it best. Chi Pheo is a short story in a collective works of Nam Cao. One story was literally about an old lady who don’t have any relative around beside her grand daughter which she sort of sold to be a servant because she is too old to work to take of her grand daughter. The story is about how hungry she was, and visit the master of the girl just for a meal. She ate too much and die as a result.

    I think the works had painted the depressing stories of the people who don’t have much of anything. And old man who holding on to his loving companion, a dog, who he rise for meat for when his son come back and marry. He love the dog as his own son. And the way he betray the dog once he got sick and had nothing thing left to sell for medicine. And about a teacher whose education didn’t bring home any money, but still value that his literature training at least let him enjoy objects like the moon.

    Nam Cao was a communist. But as far as his work is concern, I see it as humanist work and not a communist ones.

  1. May 8, 2010

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