The next exercise…

This time we could go to 600 words!

this time we had to write on what a character feels, see and thinks at a party but we also had to write from someone who intimidates the main character…

“He arrived at the address, parked his faithful old sedan. When he walked past the bamboo tiki lamps flickering in the cool night air he couldn’t stop his nervous fidgeting. The moment he stepped past the front door he was assaulted by the sickly smell of tobacco and incense laced heavily with the smell of marijuana. All through the house came the drumming beat of disco music that accompanied the array of multi coloured lights and reflections of mirror balls.
He wandered aimlessly, still clutching the same napkin full of food and sipping the same beer. He tried to chat and mingle however his awkward shyness tended to make others somewhat uncomfortable and they usually moved away from him leaving him to wonder why he even accepted the invitation.
Then he saw her in the kitchen “Oh Christ,” he said to himself. His mind reeled, what was she doing here at the same party? Almost immediately his heart beat faster and his palms grew sweaty. He looked at the floor then at her and then back at the floor whishing its hardwood boards would open up to swallow him. But universe ignored his cry. So he tried to look casual and aloof as he drank his beer and positioned himself in the kitchen doorway in a nervous attempt to catch her eye. He despondently saw the men standing near to her were in complete rapture as they hung on her every word or move. Something he understood all too well. He had heard other women comment that she was pretty but nothing out of the ordinary only that wasn’t what he saw. As a result, he had admired her from afar. For him she was a goddess, whom he knew had little time for awkward nerds like himself. Then he noticed she was looking at him and he gave his best and ultimately timid smile.

God, she thought, why am I even here? Lately these parties were all the same, bad disco music awful lights the usual drunks and pot heads. Even the food and drinks were as unimaginative as the last party she went to. Why was it that as much as people tried to make their party different they always ended up the same?
There were the women who sat in their little pathetic, clicky groups who invariably bitched and moaned about their men and how useless they were at home and in bed. Of course the husbands avoided their wives just as avidly to gather in what they believed were prime alpha groups. Getting drunk comparing their sports heroes, teams and eventually laughed at their own lude, insidious, sexually explicit and horrendous jokes. Then there were those that sought out the darkest corner they could find to engage in the painful rituals of their one night stands.
She only came to these parties because it was easier than saying no to her friends. Then when she attended she drank either wine or wine coolers as she mingled and chatted. But she never really understood why all the unattached men at these parties always seemed to be drawn to her. Each of them with their despairing sycophantic attempts at trying to seduce her. But she learned to take advantage of those men and subsequently play games with them. But some of the more supposedly masculine men complained she was nothing in the end but a tease. For her though it was a way to help pass the appropriate amount of time till she could politely say good bye to the hosts.”

The second trigger word … Beach

Their weary arms drove the canoe on wards with minds numbed by the slow repetitive motions to propel their transport forward through the treacle disguised as water. When they eventually rounded the point the scene before them was a salve to each one’s weariness. Because ahead of them ran a gently sloping beach of pearl and gold sand basking in the afternoon sun.
In grey stark contrast to the ethereal beach were the grey sun bleached remains of driftwood lay scattered in picturesque chaos, cast haphazardly from the cold dark water. The canoe slid onto the beach with a slow wet scrape. The two canoeists simply sat, unable to move from their weariness simply took in the scenery whilst they recharged their energy in the warm sun and listened to the rhythmic soft slap of the tine waves along the shoreline.
On closer inspection the coarse sand wasn’t gold or pearls but rather grains of quartz, amber and alluvial silt which sloped back to a wide flat grassy knoll before the pine and eucalyptus scrub. A perfect place to set up camp, rest and invigorate themselves before their slow watery journey continues across the lake.

Trigger word… Love

One of the first exercises we were asked to do on the writing course, which  I have just completed, was to write some pros on certain trigger words. I’m not sure I actually captured what the tutor wanted but this was the first piece. I used Love as a trigger word and below is what I came up with…

“Reaching for the jar cupid finds it empty and he knows he is late. The formula, what is the formula? He takes a breath to let instinct take hold. Before long he has a table full of emotions and he begins. First some hate, but not too much. Then some kindness followed by a dash of envy. Mix these with his potion of lust and joy, which has been sprinkled with happiness and a dash of fear. Greed where is greed, oh but only a drop.
He then carefully adds wonder, amazement and he almost forgets ecstasy. He studies the solution but the colour is wrong, he’s added to much hate and fear. However he adds more joy with a good splash of kindness, he swirls the potion watching carefully as the colours of the rainbow swirls and coalesce till the liquid glows and shines from within.
Now he is ready, so he dips each arrow from his quiver into his potion for Love…”

My initial thought was not to write something that bordered on being a little cliche or stereotypical and I think I came close to nailing it. With all the exercises we were given word limits at first I thought ‘rude’ but I understood the reasons. any more than the 250 to 300 words in the beginning made it a bit of a chore to read and provide feed back on.

Since completing the course I went back to it and extended to word count with some extra editing to I hope improve its flow.

Below is the new updated version

“Reaching for the jar cupid finds it empty! He knows he is late.

The formula, what is the formula? He takes a breath to let instinct take hold. Before long he has a table full of emotions and he begins. First some hate, but not too much. Then some kindness followed by a dash of envy. Cupid mixes these with his existing potion of lust and joy, which he previously sprinkled with happiness and a dash of fear. He looks about frantically, greed where is greed, there it is. Careful, for only a drop is all that’s required.

Carefully Cupid adds wonder, amazement, he’s almost there with his results until he remembered ecstasy. By the heavens he can’t that! He studies the solution but the colour is wrong? He realises there was too much hate and fear added. However, he adds more joy with a good splash of kindness, he swirls the potion watching carefully as the colours of the rainbow swirls and coalesce till the liquid glows and shines from within.

Now he is ready, he dips each arrow from his quiver into his potion for Love. He allows himself a smug smile, his wings fluttering he flies off with time enough to spare…”

 

Attitude

Exercise three…

“Writing is a confidence game. Fake it until you make it. A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” (taken from the course material)

I love that quote but I suck at the game of confidence… or so I had once believed. Don’t get me wrong I am by no means your common stereotypical confidant male. In fact, for much of the time I am the complete opposite. You could almost say I am a walking, talking and breathing contradiction.

The one thing I have found in writing my book is the power and weakness of its control. I have the power to start writing where I left off and so breath light and life into the world and people I have created. Yet at the same time I have found a weakness to control a scene or character and so there is a struggle to see who gets on the page, me or them.

I found out through a seminar I recently attended that I am more of a “pantser rather than a plotter.” For a bloke that word pantser led to all sorts of unwanted acronyms. But what it actually means is I write by the seat of my pants much like Stephen King and that’s where the comparison ends by the way.

So I suppose in context I am fifty shades of arrogant with my writing. However, all those degrees of arrogance in no way counter balance my faltering confidence game. Yet.

Perfectionism

Writing Exercise Two…

Through my working career in the varying manager roles I often have to guide and council my staff. It’s a job requirement as a leader but one I always find hard. How can I guide and help others when I am not perfect myself? Now before you cry out “but no one is perfect.” My brains logical left side would agree, but the emotional right side cries in constant desperation as it seeks perfection. So over time I have used a saying on others – perfection is a state of the mind… not a state of the being – which usually ends up with me getting weird crazy person looks.

Okay I’m not perfect and as a human being I never will be. Yet I still find that is what I need myself to be. Worse still is when I do something I thing is as damn near perfection as I can get it and put it out to the world somebody will point out a flaw and the voice in my head screams, “I told you it had to be perfect! You are such an embarrassment.”

I know and understand myself well enough to accept that when I get my book to a level that a publisher will accept I will still have an almighty bloody battle within about whether it is the perfect copy to send and so won’t lead to failure and rejection…

Self critisism

Below is one of the three self exploratory exercises we had to do from the on line course I am doing…

For as long as I can remember, my own inner critic has been the very soil and fertiliser for my procrastination in starting or doing what I say I will or want to. Then when I eventually got off my butt and actually walked the talk there was and is a constant verbal battle with in me between the voice of confidence and the voices of insecurities.

However, I find that with age and maturity my own values and belief in myself has proved a stronger tree to bend from the winds of my own self doubt. Even now after trying something and succeeding in one way or another I often fall prey to the inner voice saying, “you only did well because they had pity on you.” But I still endeavor to try if only to prove to myself and the inner critique THAT I CAN.

When I told everyone I was writing a book I had a kaleidoscope of reactions and comments about it doing well and making me rich. But the inner critique spurned and cast doubt on them all. But then I understood I wasn’t doing it for any real fame or fortune.

The plain and simple truth is I’m doing it for me. The is a second more self indulgent reason and somewhat hedonistic at its core. It’s a great feeling to have characters and a world at your command where they can live, die or just fade away.

Writing course

Hows this for inventive thinking…

Start a manuscript and then do an online creative writing course. Why it makes perfectly good sense.

Actually it kind of does make sense. I have learnt so much that I think doing the edit on the first draft will be as difficult and also as much fun as when I write it. I say write because I am still working on the final chapters.

Things like dialogue… telling rather than showing… These two I might still get a little wrong occasionally. When to add detail and when not to. Not repeating the same word in all aspects from dialogue to description and avoiding the comfort words – as, had and that!

The course I’ve almost completed is – http://www.writerstudio.com.au/course-info/four-week-unlocking-creativity-course-online.html

The online tutor has been both very helpful and sincere in his critique. But of coarse now it’s up to me to keep all I’ve learned to improve my manuscript.