Friday, January 18, 2013

330. Writing Exercise #1

One of the classes I'm taking this semester is a fiction writing workshop. It is also my most terrifying class, and probably the most surreal as well. If I counted correctly, there are 26 students in my class. 6 are women, and the other 20, based on the first evening's observations, could be the same person. They're practically Cylons. Except...real.

I've always been aware of this particular demographic, but I've never found myself surrounded in so many of them at once. I'm not sure what to call them, exactly. Twenty-something, awkward, painfully nerdy boys who desperately want to the world to know how intelligent they are. They fling themselves at the professor, a charming and somewhat witty woman, slightly older than me, and who reminds me of a friend of mine. They make the sort of jokes that should fall flat in any other circumstance, but because these fellows all seem to share a brain, they actually chuckle at one another.

In my Anthropology class, we were asked to state what local sub-culture we thought we'd like to study if the opportunity presented itself. I had initially answered graffiti artists, but now I find myself fascinated by these gents. They make me feel like I'm at a Star Trek convention, except worse.
Don't get me wrong, I adore Star Trek...but these are the writer's workshop equivalent of fanboys

Having said all of that, I am deeply intimidated. Overall, I feel that I've made great advances in getting over my stage fright. I can sing karaoke in front of people, play keyboard with the volume turned full blast so that my band mates can actually hear me, and I can even give fearless presentations in front of a classroom of my peers. But there's something about reading a story that I wrote in front of these people that fills me with terror. I couldn't bring myself to raise my hand to volunteer. Although I can't say this with certainty, I have a feeling that I would be more comfortable posing nude for my figure drawing class than I am reading something that I wrote in front of these people. Posting it anonymously online, however...totally cool.

This was our first exercise. Go sit somewhere, observe people, write a short scene based on what you saw. I didn't have time to physically go anywhere and observe, so I just imagined where I would have gone if I had the time, and made something up.

And yeah...expect more of these. It's going to be a long semester.
Lance was waist-deep in one of his rambling stories again. Patrice sighed to herself in resignation and cast a bored look out the window. An unusually large crow stood on the sidewalk, wrestling a steak fry between its beak and one of its feet.  

This one gets better every time he tells it, she thought. 

The brim of Lance’s hat wagged back and forth as he talked. Over his right shoulder, Patrice caught the eye of a blond, curly-haired baby who had been busily decorating itself in his breakfast. The baby paused as the two of them locked eyes, and its mouth peeled open to reveal an enormous, pumpkin-toothed grin. It squealed with laughter and bounced in its high chair.  

“Isn’t that amazing?” Lance’s voice intruded.

“Yeah, it’s pretty unbelievable,” she replied, still watching the baby.

Seemingly delighted to have an audience, the monster had redoubled its efforts to entertain. Its face was now caked in Cheerios and dripping with a syrup of liquefying banana. Flecks of milk spurted from the end of a small plastic sippy cup clutched in its left hand. Patrice sat transfixed, unable to tear her eyes from the creature as it smooshed more banana across its eyebrows. Another wild arm movement and the remaining molested fruit plummeted to the floor. The baby’s mother, clearly exasperated, rose to collect it along with the assortment of silverware, napkins, and loose Cheerios surrounding it. 

Slowly returning to her senses, Patrice turned her gaze back to Lance. He was watching her quietly, apparently having realized that she hadn’t been paying attention to him at all. She cleared her throat with a light cough, and stared down at the small mound of untouched scrambled eggs on her plate. 

“Is everything ok?” he asked.

“Sorry,” she replied, running her fingers through the ends of her hair. “I just…I need to tell you something.”

1 comment:

Joshua De La Noco said...

Oh yeah. That is fun.

And now f'real.

Friend, you are smart, creative, and wonderful. It is a large reason why you have so many smart, creative and wonderful friends. You have nothing to fear, so go kick some ass.