Something in the "Middle": Writing Longing as a Form of Prolonged Closure

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Clarkin, Sophia
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Undergraduate research. , Undergraduate thesis.
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Writers siphon complicated emotions surrounding longing into numerous forms. Poetry and screenwriting poignantly narrate the concept of longing in their own respective manners. These formats allow for strong mimetic connections between audience and writing. Screenwriting involves mimesis in a structural sense, imitating qualities of life in a formulaic way. Poetry, on the other hand, abstracts these reality-based occurrences in a way that provides a looser formation of written, often unconscious, thought. With this fluidity, writers can release their innermost desires and falsified realities. There is an implicit relationship between longing as a form of prolonged closure and the writers’ exploitation of this emotion. Despite the formatting differences, there are many connections between poetry and screenwriting, and that directly plays a part in the ties to the formats’ mimetic reading. These poets and screenwriters write about prolonged closure to fulfill their own longing that can never be fulfilled within reality. In tandem with this reading on closure, I will also present my personal writings on the topic. I combined the structure conventions of poetry and screenwriting, mixing these genres in such a way to express this longing as a form of prolonged closure, because these forms flow together naturally for me. The script's third-person narration helps me view personal areas within my life from an omniscient perspective. Looking deeper into this concept of a lack of fulfillment, the structure and format of the coinciding genres will be formative into my research. I will also be looking into the utilization of the hypothetical and toying with reality, the fragmented ambiguity within both genres, the form of longing itself, and closure’s circular narrative, all of which directly shape a readers’ interpretation of both poetry and screenwriting and the capabilities of defining both. I will look at poetry such as The Surrender Theory, a collection of poems that deals with this incredibly personal relationship with closure and how to find it, dealing with love and loss and how to cope with both. I will look at scripts for the films Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and (500) Days of Summer, both screenplays that agonize over the struggle of closure surrounding a relationship and portray vastly different ways to handle said processing. Finally, I will also extricate analytical pieces regarding the writing of closure and mimesis as a whole, from McConnell, Riffaterre, Hamburger, Meyer, Maran, Longenbach, and Carlson. These analyses can help articulate my own personal writing's deeper consciousness, the context within the piece, the idea of the “middle” – an ambiguous, ever-present feeling of floating between the start and end of something – and acknowledge how my writing falls within the previously stated structural premises' intertwining of the poetry and screenwriting genres to best exemplify longing’s prolonged closure. Poetry often explores the dynamic between very personal, private thought and the transference of that to a more public, communal form of expression. Screenwriting, however, tends to lend itself to the visual – film, the use of actors, the culmination of music and cinematography – in a way that poetry does not. Poetry therefore becomes a much more private and individualistic medium whereas screenwriting is often meant to be broadcasted, which therefore creates a clashing dynamic when combined. However, I believe that both forms tend to pull on each other’s qualities more often than not. Poetry, although it may seem incredibly personal and private, tricks readers into the belief that it is in the rawest, most pure form of writing when, really, it is often a caricature based on reality. Screenwriting typically does the opposite. Scripts utilize these hypothetically fictional or overblown characters to hide behind the imaginative when exploiting reality. Many view screenwriting solely as pure falsity created from scratch, when typically, it sprouts from a pre-existing, private understanding of a truth based within reality. Together, this mixture of poetry and screenwriting merge private and public, persona versus personal, and create a highly ambiguous understanding of what reality the writer presents to those who read. For my own personal writing, romance tends to creep into every piece. The romantic experiences that I found myself speaking on were open-ended, lacked closure, and generally left me feeling confused, isolated, and on a mountain of high highs and low lows. Poetry, and eventually screenwriting, allowed for me to process these feelings into words and scenes, using different characters and contexts to rewrite and relive my reality. Poetry delves into the very personal details, the crumbs, of a situation, whereas screenwriting stretches the subject in a way that feels much more closed-off due to the nature of a three-act structure. Having the elongated subject matter combined with the present, more intense moments provides a space where the "middle" gets convoluted. Breaks in this three-act structure creates confusion, disrupting what typically appears to be the "middle" to question the very nature of a "middle" at all. In doing so, writing these experiences in a hypothetical way, in a stream of consciousness, and sometimes even in intoxicated-esque manners allowed me to understand and work through how I felt about the situations presented before me in an unrestricted sense. Encapsulating my own personal frustration with the "middle" became an advantage, creating a narrative that blurs the lines between this reality and fantasy. Things such as playing out situations, overblowing supposedly mundane moments, and relating time to these scenarios became a common theme throughout my piece, especially regarding the poetic lines. Poetry and screenwriting typically do not correlate. The forms clash, screenwriting normally a tightly structured format that heavily focuses on characters, dialogue, and plot, whereas poetry focuses on the abstract, a more imagery-based reimagining. Together, these forms push and pull at concepts like character, plot, detail, style, format, language, and overall general interpretation. Combining these differing facets within one piece was a challenge; balancing dialogue with imagery or symbolism with plot becomes a tricky line to walk. I experimented with visual media such as color (in using red as a way to express an unconscious aftermath of thoughts), the mixing of formats, and different symbol and character usage. I took traditional formats within screenplays and poetry and intertwined the two to create a nearly unrecognizable format to best relay my inner emotions and desires. Through combining the forms, it allowed me to best comprehend concepts of love, loss, closure, alcohol, addiction, physical and emotional intimacy, wishes and doubts, hypotheticals, fantasies, overthinking, and every other potential thought process present while in a relationship that never quite started or ended.
71 leaves.
Includes bibliographical references (leave 65-71).
Clarkin, Sophia. (2023, May 15). Something in the "middle": Writing longing as a form of prolonged closure. Retrieved from:
Wheaton College. (Norton, Mass.)
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