Get ready for metaphor!

Today is the beginning of Week 5 of my creative writing course through BerkleeMusic called ‘Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice’. The course is co-created by Pat Pattison and Caroline Harvey. Ms. Harvey teaches the class, as well.

The first four weeks focused on different prompts for writing: what, who, when, and where. Through 5 days of writing prompts, we honed our writing skills, gave feedback to the other students, and received feedback from both students and teacher.

This week begins four weeks of working with metaphors. I love starting new activities! Ironically, I have not gotten into the material yet. Tomorrow, I will dive in, like a human arrow that dives into a crisp, clean pool. Okay, technically, that’s an analogy. See? I do need help.

Need an idea for object writing? Visit http://www.objectwriting.com/

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Week 4 Assignment – Grocery Aisle – 3rd Person POV

Sheila hated to walk down the produce aisle on Sunday afternoons, swathes of blackened vegetable leaves crushed into the tiles over which she walked. The rubber heels of her tan Ferragamo pumps slid left and right. The smell of old refrigeration and rotten produce zinged her tongue and caused her stomach to tighten against imagined alien invaders. Sheila’s fear of germs prompted her to don latex gloves before she dared to touch any loose vegetable. What if some germ vector touched it or, worse yet, licked it? Sheila did not want to take any chances. She hurried her hips out of the aisle and into the dairy aisle.

Cleaning fluids shoved themselves down her throat, and Sheila reflexively covered her mouth. The squeaking of heavy-laden pallets going slowly and followed by rail-thin teenage grocery boys catches her attention the way that fingernails on a chalkboard do. On edge, Sheila whirls around, tightly grips the metal bar of her grocery basket, and begins to scurry away, only to be cut off by a little old lady whose cart is full of hairnets and cans of dog food labeled ‘Cesar’. The steely grit of determination hardens her mouth and tastes like cola as it floods the aluminum from her amalgam fillings into her mouth.

What is her final straw? The approaching wail of an untamed child that like an ambulance siren draws closer. Like a deer that abruptly wakes up to bright lights, Sheila swirls around on her heel, dodges the oblivious old lady, dances down the produce aisle with the help of her slimy friends, and makes a beeline for the express self-checkout lane. Whew! That was a close one, she thinks, as she holds up her kumquat in front of the infrared web that strains to read the kumquat’s bar code.

Daily Object Writing- Catch Up

I needed a break from work and school for a couple of days so I fell behind on my class-required object writing.  I’m including the last 1.75 days worth of class-required object writing below.  This week’s prompts:

  • focus on WHERE, using location as the starting point for writing.
  • The POV is Direct Address, which uses both ‘I’ and ‘You’.
  • The verb tenses to use are any two forms, past, present, or future;
  • include questions & conditionals
  • Time limitations vary (5m, 10m, 90 sec)

Back Seat (10 minute)

You sat in the back seat of your family’s station wagon,  with your arms crossed and a scowl across your ten-year-old, suntanned face. Your mother reprimanded you for kicking the back of her seat in front of you. Now you sat sullen, tight-lipped, and anger punching the front of your stomach in protest. The sticky leather seat stuck to the back of your thighs because you insisted on wearing shorts. The air conditioning in the car has never worked, and you knew that the leather would stick. You pulled up your left thigh, feeling the skin get peeled back tightly from hot, sticky leather as you moved your leg up and down alternately. The open windows brought in the soiled stench of cheap gasoline and diesel. Hot winds nastily slapped your innocent cheeks. Your eyes slit closed against the air drying your eyes out. The grit of chastisement and pent fury stained and grated your tongue and created a sandpaper mouth. The swaying of the car turned your angry stomach sour with nausea. How much worse could the day get? You woke up bright and eager. Two fights with your mother, one about what to wear and the second about when to leave, hastened an inner tantrum that raged about being stuck in the car for two hours. Now here you were, bored with nothing to read, and a mother continuously complaining about your kicking the back of her seat from your own back seat. You turn your head to look out the window and relax. You let the wind fill your eardrums and your mind with white noise. After you get to the cabin, you will unpack your bathing suit, throw it on, and jump into the pool before your mother has time to punish you. Maybe you’ll stay down there; maybe you want to see how long you can hold your breath. How long can you hold it? Half a minute? One minute? Longer? What will your mother do without you, if you never come up?

Candy Shop (90 sec)

Candy shop sticky sweet. Carmel walls striping makes you think that you can lick the walls and you would taste Werther’s candies. Rows of black, white, dark, milk chocolates. The intense smell of sugar forcing a watering of Snickers and Almond Joy in Your mouth. The crinkling of the paper-plastic as you search for an opening. One bite, the sugar chocolate spreads warmth through your mouth, your taste buds relishing in the joy of sugar. Twirl! Yum! What next?

Frozen Pond (5m)

The frozen pond in the Boston Common, the Frog Pond, awaits us! Let us run down the frosty hill, slippin and sliding while we hold hands towards laughing children in colorful winter hats. Can you feel the the cold leather through your mittens as you struggle to pull on the well-worn rental ice skates? Let the excitement build in your chest as you finish tying your laces tight. Let’s jump up together, hold hands, chop our feet on the ice a couple of times, and go speeding across the pond. The wind will rip our cheeks and freeze our teeth. We will have to dodge parents picking up their toddlers off the frozen floor. The tears of children will not move us. Let us be joyful! Do you remember the time we came down to the pond in the middle of the night? Last year, we woke up at 2am, got dressed, snuck onto the Frog Pond, and ice skated for about 10 minutes before the cops told us to bugger off. You giggled madly as you tried to run away in your skates. Your face hitting the pavement and a bloody gash on your brow changed your tune. We spent the night in the ER instead of the clink. Now we are here together, legally. The world is our playground. Where will we go next?

Airport (10m)

You took the Blue Line from Government Center to Boston’s Logan Airport every time that you traveled. It was your contribution to saving the environment, you said. The grimy floors of the train’s cable car felt sticky under your Chucks, and it made you feel queasier than riding the rickety train. Your heavy carryon luggage dragged you, as if even your underwear did  not want to leave the haven of your hometown. Strange places made your stomach wiggle and your feet itch. Your lace-up boots became prison walls that prevented you from scratching that itch. But leave Boston you must, you told yourself, if you were  ever going to grow up. You flew the  US Airways shuttle to JFK airport, a 45 minute nonstop flight. You were vomited from the passenger plane into the underbelly of the fourth largest city on the planet. Massive waves of people seemed to follow you whichever step  you took. Dirt and oil seemed to permeate your skin, invade your nostrils, and sink deep into your lungs. Your unsteady walk, knees knocking, took you all the way to Gordon Hall at NYU. If anyone asked you, you were not have been able to tell them how you got here. You are bedraggled and beautiful. You lick your lips and I taste grapefruit. Your perfume faintly reaches my nose and I breathe in life. How will you know I am yours? You look into my eyes and my soul resonates with the knowledge that you know it, too. You smile and nod. If you say hello, I am yours. The greeter says your name, Heather. I hear a ballet of satin steps rising in time and tempo to the sweet rhythm of violins. The strings tremble with my heart and I sing to myself. You know it, too.  You straighten yourself up. Hello, you say. Hello, I say. Another smile and you are mine. Where will we go? Let us walk down West 4th Street together with

Dress Shop (90 sec)

You, bent over the sewing machine, eyes trained on lines, shiny needle in your left hand, fabric held down against its will in your right. It has no power over you. You weave your magic and essence in, the flow of your life becomes permanent. Your life in the shop gave you life. Now you create life. Where will the dress be worn? You do not know. Let us imagine parties, balls of which you are the bell, ringing in the joy, drinking champagne,

Daily Writing

If you need an idea for writing, visit http://www.objectwriting.com/ for a daily topic idea.

If you’re out and want to sit and write, look around you and pick something: the sidewalk, a traffic light, gum on the ground, the wind, the wire chair you’re sitting on, the latte that you’re drinking – and write. Let it take you where it will.  Keep your mind open. Pretend that your fingers are writing on their own and that you have no control over them.

Many things lay around you that you can choose. You might think writing about a pen is boring, but suddenly you create a character who held the pen last and start writing. What was she writing? To whom? What feelings are conveyed? Sadness? Joy? Just let go and let your pen fly across the page.

A Happy Catalyst

Ideas come from places and people in ways that we, as writers, cannot predict.

Tonight I had a fascinating conversation with a cab driver. I didn’t get his name. He was friendly, as taxi drivers tend to be, and talkative. My cab driver (CD) said he was always trying to think up business ideas. CD started to explain to me this idea that he had: a kitchen where different families could come and cook and, possibly, share their meals with one another. I wasn’t sure how that would work so I began asking questions and, alternately, giving business advice. Where would this place be? How big would it have to be? Would people cook there? What about a restaurant and place where people could cook? How would it be decorated; to fit the culture of the people cooking? What ingredients would they have? Would it be possible to bring in ethnic ingredients that are hard to get in the United States?  Would that entice people to come in and cook authentic dishes if they could get rare or hard-to-get ingredients?  Eventually, the words Community Kitchen came to my mind and CD added the word Boston – Boston Community Kitchen. The idea resonated with both of us. By the time he dropped me off, we were shaking hands and agreeing that the other was person was a ‘good egg’. My last words to him was that I expected to see his face on ‘Chronicle’, a Boston regional TV show that focuses on New England experiences.

The next best thing to coming up with a great idea for yourself is to help someone brainstorm their great idea and hand it off to them, just like a relay racer hands the baton to the next runner. Don’t cling. Keep it going.

Daily Object Writing – Writing from Where

This is all I could manage today:

Street Corner

On the corner of Dartmouth St and Boylston Street, you stand in your high-heels, smooth hair perfectly formed into a ponytail that measures to the top tip of your coccyx. Your ruby painted lips are pursed together slightly outwards, making your lips seem fuller and rounder than they actually are. Your eyes, brown slits heavy with black eyeliner and mascara, scan for around the busy business intersection at mid-day for your next client. Even though it’s a Saturday afternoon, men swish by in grey pin striped business suits. Senior women out in droves holding Barney’s shopping bags, Lord and Tailor leather jackets, and Coach over the shoulder bags congregate on the corners, blocking and annoying residents.  Swirls of activity stopping briefly during frequent light changes, honking cars, and no prospects in sight. How long will this take, you think. Is this worth it? Then he catches your eye – 6 ‘ 2 ” of pure honeyed business bliss right there for you. You catch the man’s hand and off you go.

Daily Writing

I struggle with the decision to quit my creative writing class. Between this and my technical editing class, I feel like I have one-and-a-half full time jobs. It’s overwhelming. But this is my sacrifice, my commitment. How can I improve if I quit when it gets hard? If I were the praying type, I’d do some right now.

Today’s object writing should include past and present tense, be in the third person narrative, include sense-bound writing (all the 5 senses + body + motion), and include time prompts. Here we go:

Sidewalk Restaurant (5 minutes)

She walked into Little Italy with her husband, Steven. They met during St. Anthony’s feast in 2001. Could it be called a meeting? Susan walked backwards away from a vending cart serving steaming-hot fried dough, topped with cinnamon and sugar, and straight into Steve, her Ferragamo heels sending crushing pain up Steve’s calf. Steve whirled around on his feels, fast like a ninja dragon defending the forest, hands up and his mouth open, brow furrowed in anger, heat steaming from his arm pits and his mouth. He was going to yell until he looked straight into Susan’s eyes. Her blue ocean windows of her soul melted his hatred faster than Buddha’s wisdom entering the heart. Seven years later, Susan and Steve married and living on Catalina Island. Susan works as a seamstress in the swankiest bridal shop in town, among the bird calls and the chattering brides. Steve works in real estate, showing his listings with more pride than a primo ballerino on the stage of the Metropolitan opera house. Don’t you get bored of me, Steve asks Susan occasionally, when the nights are warm from the temperature of the air and Steve’s fingertips on her shoulders. No, she murmurs gently, holding her arm across her body. Not at all.

High School Gym (10 minutes)

On Olympic Day, when every class in high school puts their designated country or city on display. The tenth graders strutted Puerto Rico across the right side of the gym, colorful streamers twittering in the air in front of medium-powered fans. The eleventh graders jumped and jived Miami, jeering and laughing with the tenth grades. English and Spanish mixed together in joyful reverie. Maps stood in front of bleachers, hand-drawn. The smells of the high school kitchen drifted in, with spices and sizzles taunting everyone’s stomach from next door. The twelfth graders, much too school-weary to enjoy their Mexican rally, half-heartedly sang the Mexican song of their country, out of town, laughing and swelling choruses together before breaking apart. The gym was not air conditioned. As noon approached, the heat intensified the sounds, the smells, and wore the patience of the chaperones thin. Pinatas hung from the ceiling. Whack! Whack! The beating of the poor pinafore pony cracked and spilled hard candies on the heads of the students, who fell hard on their knees onto the highly-polished hardwood floors. Smack! Who knew kids could act like insects who’d never eaten a meal in their puny lives? Scrabbling, scrambling, scratched hands, squealing rose in a cacophony of happy competition. The crunching of the wrappers in their hands as the kids scooped up the candy and shoved it in their pockets sounded like quiet firecrackers. Just after one pm, the kitchen staff rolled in three tables of food, one from each class. The students and staff descended on the tables before the tables could be secured.  Smells of chorizo, spicy chiles, refried beans, and steak filled the gym. Everyone swayed from hunger and heat. No one seemed to mind. The students huddled in small groups over plates teeming with crunchy tortillas, crispy lettuce shredded, mounds of sour cream, and salsa.  Conversation was replaced with the sounds of plastic cutlery scraping over soggy paper plates. Carlos found it very satisfying. Here in the gym, with all his friends, he was happy. Competition and friendship go hand in hand, he thought. The tortillas remind him of home, not far from the beach. His mother fills his mind.

Grocery Aisle (90 seconds)

Grocery aisle, bits of vegetable leaves darkened with crushing steps. The smell of old refrigeration and sour milk. Cleaning fluids shoved themselves down the throats of each customer that walks down there. An ugly necessity. Grocery boys wheeling heavily-laden pallets of food slowly by little old ladies, carts full of hair nets and dog food marked Cesar with a