Creative writing

Tell me a story. All right, sit there looking gormless.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I enjoyed doing creative writing when I was at school. It was fun to do that sort of thing. But these days on the few occasions we do creative writing in class, that vital spark seems sorely absent among my little darlings. As far as I’m aware they never do any creative writing in their Chinese class, which makes me wonder where China’s con­temporary writers come from if they’re emerging from a system that doesn’t foster creativity.

“I have to do this maths problem first for the glorious advancement of the Motherland,” said Jia Baoyu. [Long, complicated explanation about how to integrate long, complicated mathematical equation.]
“Homework is so boring,” remarked Xue Baochai languidly.
“But what would we do without it?” said Lin Daiyu. “All that leisure time and not the faintest idea how to occupy it.”

A Dream of Red Mansions (21st century version)

The classes are supposed to be doing Unit 15 from the Workbook which uses pictures of different sorts of watches as the starting point for a story about the person wearing one of them. The first part is easy enough. The kids have to say whether the watch would be worn by a man or a woman; the person’s age; and their personality. As an example, I chose the pocket watch and came up with the following idea:

Sun Wukong is in Tianfu Square waiting for his granddaughter, Xue Baochai, to arrive. Liu Bei has returned from the dead and wants his kingdom back. He comes to the square to resurrect Zhang Fei and Lord Guan using magic. Sun Wukong has to use his magic pocket watch, which was made by the watchmaker in the Jade Emperor’s palace, to stop Liu Bei, but the watch gets broken and has to be returned to the manufacturer. Liu Bei manages to summon his companions from the Peach Garden and they then travel to Xi’an to raise an army of terracotta zombies. (Apply Murphy’s Law.)

But Xue Baochai has a special watch, too – the Watch of Shaolin Power – and she goes Jin Dynasty on Liu Bei and his minions while her grand­father gets his watch repaired and sweeps back to Chengdu in the nick of time.

Well, at least I was doing something in class, which is more than I can say for most of them.

Meanwhile, Glen has been knocked out of action by his asthma which, not surprisingly, has been quite bad. Although we had a couple of nice sunny days, the air quality was fairly bloody awful. I can feel it on the back of my throat. From the phone call I had from Glen before, I’d say he isn’t going to be in any condition to teach tomorrow.

After a bright but overcast start to the day, the cloud has thickened up and the air feels heavy. Rain later? Perhaps. Plants need it to wash all the dust off them.


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