Vikki – By Miranda di Carcaci
By Miranda di Carcaci
‘You are the company you keep.’ This line is normally used to dissuade teenagers from hanging out with the kids that smoke weed and steal pick and mix from local cinemas. At SCA it’s a massive compliment.
Last week we were asked to choose the three mentors we wished we’d spent more time with at SCA, both as advice for the next intake, and to let the power of retrospect help us snatch the last couple of weeks we have left with them. It was useful, but also led me to reflect further on the role of mentors in the school. Once you enter the bubble of SCA, it’s amazing how quickly you become accustomed to being surrounded by the staggering talent and experience that fills our studio each day. So much so, you underestimate how much you’re learning via osmosis alone. Before it all ends I thought I would reflect more deeply on the way each mentor has helped shape my journey, and the advice they have given me over the past year, in a series of SCABS. Partly because I owe Marc about 1,398,775, but mostly because I could not contain so many pearls in one SCAB alone. I hope that it will serve as a reminder for the rest of my career.
Vikki was the first mentor I spent time with at SCA. Her laser precision cut through my flabby little sentences like a hot knife through butter. So much so I wrote a SCAB about it way back when:
‘Since I arrived at SCA, my word documents have become a battleground. Throughout the day I find myself slaying semicolons, banishing brackets, cutting words left and right in a constant drive towards simplicity. When it comes to my prose many of these were mercy killings. I will be ever am grateful to Vikki Ross for showing me ‘that’ didn’t have to be used twice in every sentence for it to make sense, and so, halving my word count. Indeed, my gratitude extends to every mentor who took the verbal fluff I swore was an idea, and distilled it into a logical and workable line.’
Reading it again today, it’s clear I still had a long way to go (underlined are the excess words I could’ve cut last time… but such is life).
However, Vikki’s role in my journey wasn’t just about reducing. When we first sat down, I showed her a jumble of words, purporting to be an ICE newsletter (there are some things I won’t miss). Stumbling through it, apologizing for the liberal use of ‘that’, the mysterious transition half way through to American spelling, and a serious disregard for the importance of commas to the English language, Vikki stopped me.
V: ‘Can I give you some advice?’
Internal voice: ‘I hope she doesn’t say something like ‘punctuation isn’t optional’’.
V: ‘You are much too apologetic.’
M: ‘Sorry— I mean thank you’
Internal voice: Christ you’ve done it this time, Miranda, do I apologise for apologising now???? Should I feign a recent lobotomy. She didn’t even say anything for you to be grateful about. Maybe I should just start slowing wheeling this chair backwards into the huge cavern that has no doubt just opened up to swallow me whole.
Fortunately, she continued, saying that it is an unfortunate habit of young women to be too apologetic, making you feel like you’re always on the back foot. Since then, I have tried to keep my voice and choice of words as assertive as possible, especially when talking to new people. I hope this is a lesson that stays with me long past my time at SCA.