Short Story – That Dear Cockerel

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The publication of my short story – That Dear Cockerel in the Comedy Issue of Grapeshot Magazine, a student publication at Macquarie University.

The full version of the story is on their website: http://grapeshotmq.com.au/2013/06/that-dear-cockeral/ and the first 1,000 words has been published in the hard copy edition which is distributed throughout the university.

The Writing Experiment

In 2012 I was doing my undergraduate unit ENGL304: Creative Writing: Concept and Practice. One of the topics we delved into was Postmodernism and Writing. One of the exercises I engaged in was in Hazel Smith’s The Writing Experiment Part II: Advanced Strategies – Chapter 7: Postmodern f(r)ictions. I had to create a postmodern character who was either:

a) loosely differentiated

b) has one all-pervasive trait

c) non-human.

I chose the latter as I wanted to experiment with writing from an animal’s perspective and writing from the past. I had also finished reading Julian Barnes’ A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters and was completely impressed with the way he used a woodworm/termite as a narrator rewriting the story of Noah’s Ark in Chapter 1: The Stowaway, and then the ridiculousness of suing these woodworm/termites in a court trial from Chapter 3: The Wars of Religion for infesting a local church and eating away at wood. I checked Julian Barnes author note of where he obtained his source of information for Chapter 3, and came across the legal procedures and actual cases described in E. P. Evans’ (1906) The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals. I found a section that documented a cock that was sentenced to death at Bale in 1474 by being burnt at the stake ‘for the heinous and unnatural crime of laying an egg,’ that if hatched, would yield a basilisk, an egg useful in witchcraft.

From here on, I had my character and developed him and his relationships with other roosters and hens he was living with, plus, the significance of his voice. I wanted this creative writing short story to be humorous and yet engage with the fabrication in history and the absurdity of prosecuting animals for criminal acts that were part of their nature or an accident.

Also, during this Creative Writing unit, I was learning about Fictocriticism, which is a hybrid genre that mixes ‘literature’ with ‘criticism.’ It challenges the traditional ways of thinking about and creating new knowledge. Some examples are Delia Falconer’s Columbus’ Blindness, Noelle Janaczewska’s Lemon Pieces, and for more examples go to, Heather Kerr & Amanda Nettelbecks’ The Space Between: Australian Women Writing Fictocriticism.

I had heaps of fun experimenting with Gerald as a narrator and what I wanted to convey in this story. Please feel free to leave any comments below that you would like to ask me.

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