Diary of a Lost Soul: A Portrait Exercise

A Note: In order to understand what I have written, it is important to know what this exercise is all about.  I am currently taking an intensive four-day Creative Writing Course under the tutelage of Maggie Hamand, Rachel Knightley, and Naomi Wood.  We visited The National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square for the morning half of today’s session, and we were required to do the following things: 

(1) Select two or three portraits you want to focus on.  Describe them in all aspects (physically, emotionally, etc), and whatever means necessary to fully form the character you got from your chosen portraits.
(2) Write a secret that they are most likely hiding.
(3) Write a lie that they have told others/will tell others.

We spent an hour and a half writing the material down and when we got back to The Groucho Club in Soho for the regular agenda, Rachel and Maggie gave us another activity in connection to what we did in the morning.

(1) Write a diary entry based on the secret of your chosen character portrait.  Select only one of the three.
(2) Write the thought process of the said character down or the reaction of an outside character when he/she discovers that secret diary entry.
(3) Write the resolve or the reaction of the character after finding out that an outsider has read the diary entry.


(So for my character portrait, I chose her.)

I envisioned her to be either a transgender/transvestite or Lady Gaga at first, but as I studied her more, I felt like she was a lost soul.  The clothes she’s wearing and all the mixes and matches were pieced together in an attempt to find herself.  Here is the portrait exercise I wrote down:

(1) My fingers run over the soft silk of my blouse.  Another day, another day.  They always talk about the journey and not the destination, but what if I have always been on this road and forty years into my life, I still haven’t found the end at all?

I guess that’s the consequence of being one with society.  You are so focused on the togetherness that you lose sight of a life apart from that.  You piece yourself together — the etiquette of my mother, the brusqueness of my father, the liberal attitude of my best friend Sammy — all these expectations and anti-expectations can throw you off somehow.

“Have I found her yet?” I ask as I coat my lips with a red shade.  Red is a fiery color, but is it my color?
“Who am I?” I think as I wipe off the excess liner off the corner of my eye.  I get out the front door and immediately the noise of the city streets fill my ears.  Another dawn, another day to find me.

(2) Mum thinks I’m going through a nervous breakdown.  She runs outside my room, the laundry disarrayed.  “Do ou need me to call Dr. Peterson? He says you haven’t seen him for over a month — KRISTINE! Are you listening to me? You better be here, young lady!” 

And she calls me the whack job.

(3) At first I thought it was a stupid idea to be immortalizing my crisis in a notebook.  Who does that anymore? But I guess my fickle, weak mind couldn’t stomach all the nauseating “Woe is me because I don’t know who ME actually is.” 

But you see, I’m not alone as I see all of you here before me — kids, teenagers, even you old folk for God’s sake.  It just goes to show that we can never really give a time where we can honestly declare THIS IS WHO I AM.  It’s a long journey and we all become different beings as we go along.  At the end of it all, it’s safe to assume you’ll find something that sticks.  And like all the ornaments displayed on my body — these clothes, these pieces of jewelry — you can piece the missing ones together to form some semblance of who you are, whatever that might be.  Thank you.

(If you didn’t get it, I made my piece as a TED Talk speech. Teehee.)


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