Practicing different styles of writing this summer has been enjoyable. These particular excerpts were selected by my mentor, Dr. Burton, in the travel writing packet for my course contract. Not only has it introduced different variations to my own writing (the dash, which is something I never used previously), but it has helped me look at how form and content really do have an equal voice in what gets said. I will be providing some of these imitations and my commentary on the short passages to document my process.
Imitation Practice: Model 1
Passage 1, “The cottage had a good trim garden in front of it, and another behind it. I might not have noticed it at all but for them and their emerald greenness. Yet itself (I saw when I studied it) was worthy of them. Sussez is rich in fine Jacobean cottages; and their example, clearly, has not been lost on the builder of this one. Its proportions had a homely grandeur. It was long and wide and low. It as was quite a yard long. It had three admirable gables. It had a substantial and shapely chimneystack. I liked the look that it had of honest solidity all over, noting anywhere scamped in the workmanship of it. It looked as though it had been build for all time. But this was not so. For it was build on sand, and of sand; and the tide was coming in.
By Max Beerbohm, “Something Defensible”
Imitation of Form:
The soup had a healthy layer of oil on top, and a generous helping of fish below it. It might have gone purposely unnoticed but there were eyeballs and bones poking up through the orange redness. The banku itself (I noticed upon closer look) was abominable without the soup. Banku has the constancy of play dough; and the taste, sadly, is not much better. The very look of it was unsettling. It was solid but slimy. Soft but grainy. It had a flavor of rotten milk. It had a color like puke. I hated the way I had to fondle it before shoving it down my throat, taking care not to chew before swallowing. It looked like my death certificate or a divine revelation that I could never serve a mission. But thinking did not help. For I was in this house, and not my house, and Akua would not be satisfied until it was finished.
Imitation of Form:
The man had a questionable smile, and a cross-cultural intention behind it. I probably wouldn’t have noticed as usual but for his eyes and their bloodshot redness. As for him, (I could only guess) he’d drunk a beer too many. Funerals are a sort of trap for that; and this man, obviously, had been lured by a free drink. He had a confused stagger. He was proud but vulnerable. He started coming onto me. He had a crushing handgrip. He was kept moving in closer, confirming the alcohol on his breath. When he put his arm around me I took a leap back, searching everywhere for a sign of my sisters. The room was swaying like the currents of a black and red sea. But no one was in sight. So I broke away and swam, and swam, and didn’t look back.
The cottage was simple but beautiful. Sussez is covered with them, though they are not meant to last. This one too was built on the sand, a prey for the oncoming tide.
The cottage, though quaint, had a simple lovely grandeur.
Oh quiet, beautiful cottage! Why must you be so fleeting? Why must your foundations lie in sand? What hope is there for me, chasing down proof of simplicity?
The cottage was not ugly. It was small but quiet, savoring something like the notion of solace. But these things are never lasting, and I was not surprised to find it rooted in sand.
I think this form works for me. I liked the imitation in whole better, and I’m still struggling with the metaphor substitution, especially with something like this where it doesn’t seem to have very many. It is just straightforward and descriptive. I liked it when describing something like my encounter with the banku. It allowed me to give colors, descriptions, and other concrete detail but to keep a sort of pattern and repetition to it, while eventually circling around to the point in the last sentence.