Friday, 10 May 2013

Creative Writing Exercise 1

I don't do anthing in a hurry, I call it research, covering my bases, exploring options but really we all know it is nothing more than procrastination. I don't think I am alone in this but I know I can be incredibly talented at putting things off so although I decided way back in October 2012 that 2013 would be my year to indulge in two activities that I used to enjoy before babies came along it has taken me nearly half a year to make a real start.

Now that the babies are old enough to amuse themselves for good chunks of time I thought this freed me up to regain some of my skills that have fallen foul of the intense child reaering of the last decade. I was very wrong, the big babies may not need me 24/7 but caring for them, the home, the husband, pets, garden and a part time job still suck the time and energy away from what I really want to get on with which is swimming and writing. I have made a dreadful start on both, so far this year I have managed a 15 minute swim and sauna and am (almost) happy with an entry for an upcoming short story competition which doesn't sound too bad until you know that the competition is for 150 words of creative fiction - a short short story which is a very new concept for me and not as easy as it sounds but I will have something to submit and that was the whole idea. Prizes and acclaim are far from my mind, for me entering will be quite an achievement and I hope to enter another couple of competitions this year to keep the ball rolling. Without a deadline or goal in mind (my self imposed deadlines end up being very flexible) I find I keep putting the writing to one side in favour of baking a cake, putting the laundry away and staring for ridiculous amounts of time at the chickens scratching around - at least they are being productive.

So, to get to the point (you can see why 150 words was a challenge for me) I took some creative writing books out of the library, looked up some exercises and decided to just get on with it. To make me feel that I was producing something for a (tiny) audience my next decision was to post them on my blog which is very brave for me - sharing fiction on any level makes me anxious. My next thought was maybe some other people are feeling the same way and would like to join in either publicly or privately, it would be nice if they did, kind of like a writing buddy but even if no one does I have finally made a commitment and I will plunge ahead.

So, before I start with the first exercise (short ones to start) I hope the various authors I have borrowed these tasks from - the first one is from Louise Doughty's 'A Novel In A Year' (which is not on my agenda but the exercises are in manageable chunks so I will do  a few before moving on to another set) are ok with me using the exercises in a public forum, I guess they will let me know if they ever find out what I am doing and don't like it. You can check out Louise on http://www.louisedoughty.com

The following is a baby step but at least I have made a start.

Exercise 1 - finish the sentence 'The day after my eighth birthday my father told me ......'

The day after my eighth birthday my father told me to clean up the blood, there was a lot of it and it was starting to turn to jelly. Gathering a cloth I began to mop up the scarlet puddles, the dry cloth smeared the blood around but didn't remove it so I wet the cloth with the hose.

'Don't bother with the cloth, that won't do the job, you need the hose', he said and showed me how to turn the nozzle so the water came out in a single stream, hard and fast, perfect for sluicing the blood from the little pits in the lino. The force of the water turned the blood into pink froth which slipped down over the wash house step leaving the bubbles to pop on the grass.

I am happy with that, I had originally written more which explained the blood but as I was in two minds myself as to where it came from so I deleted it. If I am not convinced nobody else will be either. The requirement was only one sentence anyway so I will leave it there. I like it though so who knows, I might pick it up again one day and find out why there was blood all over the wash house floor.