Tuesday, July 14, 2009

One little big step

As you've probably gathered from my overly wordy blog, I like to write. Recently, I signed up for a six-week-long creative writing class from UCLA Extension. While I've participated in NaNoWriMo multiple times in the past, signing up for this class marks my first formal foray into creative writing. My big problem is, though I love to write, I am terrified of letting other people read anything I've done. In an effort to "do better," I'm going to post my first exercise from my class here and you're welcome to (gulp gasp) let me know what you think. Depending on how this goes, I may post more in the future. Our first assignment was "show, don't tell" and here's what I submitted:

The tabletop fan sat motionless, the newspapers in front of it unrustled. Of all the things to miss, it was the silence of the newspapers that was getting to him. Henry Midfield huffed in annoyance - this slight movement sent his glasses slip-sliding down the sweat of his nose where he caught them and shoved them back into place without noticing. The ice in his drink had long since melted and, next to his chair, the papers that needed grading sat untouched.

Across the room, the TV and radio stared mutely at him, their power buttons black and beady, like the eyes of frogs caught in the porch light. The silence sneaking in from the kitchen only made him more aware of how he had grown used to the hum and chatter of hard-working appliances.

At first the silence had been a pleasant novelty – something about which one could make small talk with neighbors and overly chatty cashiers. Now, though, in its third day, the silence seemed to be hanging back, an injured animal planning its revenge and it was making everyone just a little more unpleasant than usual.

Outside, the neighbor's children were sullenly splashing in a muddy looking wading pool. Sunset was approaching. Normally it was about this time that Henry uttered his first curse of the day, directed at but never spoken to the neighbor who installed a floodlight on his garage that burned through Henry's kitchen window, marring the pleasant banality that should have marked his post-dinner washing up. Today there was no floodlight and no washing up – two more things he never expected to miss.

He swayed up from his damp chair in the living room and waded through the humidity into his kitchen. The room felt cramped and the faded blue plastic cooler set directly in front of the refrigerator only made the room seem smaller. The cooler, like some scratched-up modern-day treasure chest, held the last of the food he had been able to rescue from the refrigerator – none of which was even remotely appetizing at this point.

Lurching back to his chair, Henry sat down and placed a cigarette between his lips, but didn't light it – even that flash of fire would be too much. The ashtray next to his chair was nearly overflowing with unlit but well-gummed Marlboros – the sight of it made him sick. Henry wiped the sweat from his forehead and, squeezing his eyes tightly shut, flicked his lighter and inhaled.


madlion said...

Cuz still nobody commented on your post after 3 days, I decided to leave a comment even tough I'm not a native speaker and therefore not the best judge.

Your text is very vivid!

Don't know if that's the right word for it.
Let's say it simple: "I can see, what you're writing!"

Miz K said...

Thanks very much, Max - I'm glad someone left a comment and I'm glad you thought it was vivid - that's what I was going for! I may consider posting fiction here a failed experiment and stick to "here's fun stuff we do" in the future.

zeta said...

Heya Miz K, Zeta here from NaNoWriMo--Great job! I just swung by the blog while having brekkie and caught your fiction. How brave you were to post! I'm don't have the stones for that...

I liked it all, but paragraphs two and three esp remained with me (desc of silence and kids in the wading pool), as I could very clearly visualise what you were describing. I assumed power outage, and then knowing your gift for providing the unexpected, I started wondering about apocalyptical end times, bankruptcy, takedown of the power grid by determined hackers, you know, that basic stuff o' novels. ;)

I'm really glad you've gotten serious enough about your writing to take it to another level. I can't wait to buy your first novel! I've been battling my revision demons for a month or so as I start working over NaNoWriMo '08 to start sending out. I'm walkin' a hallway of depthless dark, and I can hear the nameless things slithering and whispering just an arm's length away. I can see the faint light of the room at the end, but crimeny, it's a long way down that passage.

Oh crud! That whispering thing is my brain telling me I'm late for work. Ta for now!

Miz K said...

Hello Zeta - so great to hear from you again! You were right on the power outage - it's turned out to be a really fun thing to work with - I'm on the fourth small part of the story and though my writing class is almost over, I expect to continue toying with these pieces of story and trying to form them into a coherent whole. I didn't even try revising my NaNo, though I should - this is the first year I've been pretty happy with it and with my ideas. I'm looking forward to giving it a go again this year, but November's going to be tough as we have an extended trip back to the US taking up the last two weeks of the month. I should probably just look at those long flights as writing time. Let me know if you need a reader for your Nano as you revise - my rates (free) are very reasonable - LOL. Have a great day and thanks again for stopping by!

Sally Carter said...

Wow Miz K checking you out after a looong case of blogitis has caused me to eshew all things blog. You're doing proper learning and stuff!! I'm envious! You go girl! Thought your text was deeply descriptive - a good strong start - and I'll gladly crit anything you care to share here or elsewhere. Good luck!