Week 11 Assignment-Old Swimming Hole

This assignment ends Week 11 of my BerkleeMusic course called “Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice.” The criteria for the assignment are:

  1. Pick a collision from this week
  2. Pick a point of view
  3. Pick your verb tenses
  4. 300-500 words
  5. Include the title in your assignment

Other criteria that we’ve used in our assignments include: varying sentence length and varying sentence type (statement, command, conditional, questions). I included those as well.

Collision Title: Old Swimming Hole -> Temptation -> Jewels in an Unlocked Case
Point of View: First Person
Tenses: Present, Future

Week 11 Assignment

The turquoise waters of the old swimming hole tempt me with their alluring glitter. I thrill from the age-old desire to grab forbidden treasures and make a quick escape. Nervousness floods my mouth. My lips tremble. I lick my sweaty upper lip. I slowly look around. First, left; then, right. I see no one. I hear only rippling waters, tweeting sparrows, and reeds hushing each other as the wind sneaks by. With no alarms raised, I pull off my tank top and toss it on the ground besides me. I forcefully breathe in the emerald marsh air. Ah!, I sigh aloud. I pause to listen, but no one answers.

I go over the plan again in my mind: I will lunge my left leg backwards, ready both fists by my side, bounce three times, and take off. I will race down the weathered diving plank as if the police were in pursuit. My imaginary pursuers will reach for me too late as I spring off the edge of the board and into topaz waters. The plank’s thrumming will drown out the coppers’ anguished cries. The anticipation dries my mouth with the taste of mineral salts. Will this work? A red-tailed hawk scolds me: Stop wasting time. Silver fear infuses my nostrils. I rub my shoulders hard to psyche myself up with bravery.

My ears perk up at the pale sounds of far away laughter. Now: do it now, I mentally yell. Adrenaline floods my limbs. I sloppily throw my left leg back, makes fists, and bounce twice. I sprint down the plank at full speed. At the last moment, I launch. As I descend from the high arc, I hold my knees tightly and close my eyes. I slam through the pearl surface. Water roars into my ear canals and penetrates my mouth. I open up completely, kick my legs, and spin until dizzy. I come up with arms outstretched, gasping for air. Approaching laughter is my final warning. If I don’t get out now, I’ll be seen.

I scrabble haltingly out of the pool of liquid jewels. Each falling droplet leaves a semiprecious trail of temporary clues. I roughly yank my tank top back over my head and down onto my torso. I smell hot August sun drying the last aquamarine memories from my skin. Alum, the fool’s gold of the swimming hole, tarts my tongue. I tiptoe into the tourmaline thicket down a rarely used footpath. I periodically turn back to look for the swimming hole. When I no longer see it, I breathe a sigh of relief. I keep walking. I do not stop or look back. My sandals crunch sticks pleasingly. I whistle victory at my easy escape.

Week 11 Discussion & More!

This post documents my participation in our weekly class discussion question for my BerkleeMusic Course, ‘Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice’.

Teacher Question:   Of all the other students’ postings this week, which was your favorite?  Why?

My Response
Hi, Caroline,

I’m not sure I have a favorite. These last two weeks are difficult to write and I think we’re all struggling to some degree. I feel like we all respect one another’s voices and that it’s not a matter of having a favorite; it’s a matter of understanding what technique or method does the writing we like the most use to a skilled degree that makes it work in the first place. It might also be a better question to ask us about where we’re having the most success, what is most difficult, and suggestions or recommendations that we might generically have for other writers in the class.

Also, I prefer to think of it as ‘writing in both directions’ instead of ‘working in both directions’. I feel like I’m going to need a lot more practice in this area.

Thanks,

Wendy

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I’m sad the class is almost over.

Week 11-Day 5-Old Swimming Hole

Old Swimming Hole -> Temptation -> Diamonds in an Unlocked Jewelry Case
The water sparkles invitingly. You reach out tentatively to touch the icy reflection. A million bright lights cut out in angles on the horizon. You squint and blink, pain cutting your eyeballs ever so lightly. Noises! Behind you! You swivel as a thief in rubber-soled shoes, freezing in place. Your eyes scan the scenery for any movement. Only the sound of rippling water greets you. Slowly you reposition yourself and slip your toes in. Pause. No alarms. You put both feet in. Water shimmers around your ankles. No other customers around to dive in. No lifeguard to protect the old swimming hole from intruders. You dive in, the thrill of the chase buoys and propels you. You’re in now. The point of no return. You’re in deep. You rise up for air, gasping. No one’s around to hear you rooting around the place. Yes! You backflip under water. You breaststroke quickly to shore. The place is all yours! No finger prints. You can turn over each piece in the case. Shells, rocks, seaweed, an old boot. It feels good to be bad! No one can catch you now. You fill your heart full of these shiny memories that glitter. Temptation. Fascination. Admiration. You scrabbled out of the pond of liquid jewels, each one dropping off you in a million tiny pieces. You dry off. Water on your skin disappears. Watery fool’s gold. You escape the shop without being seen. No video surveillance to catch your raid. Just dark foot-shaped shadows on the dirt.

Unlocked diamonds in a jewelry case are an old swimming hole 
The pool of glitter temps you. You squint, looking from the corner of your eye. Looking at the shimmer head on? Daggers of pain hit your cornea. Laugher peals out of the swimming hole, temping you to take a dip in its forbidden treasure. Other kids splash and play. They flaunt their watery wealth on their necks. Heads emerge from the black velvety depths. Sun radiates their pearly necks laced with water droplets. The peer pressure bears down on you. You join your partners in crime, digging into the fresh-water case. Joy. Freedom. No parents are around. No lifeguards. Just you, the others, and your wet playground. Water games enrich your day. The unrecorded activities whet your confidence that you will all pull  off the swimming hole heist. Your swimming suit pockets fill with abundance, seep out, then refill. Each fill brings a bigger cache of memories. Adult footsteps crack on sticks. Oh, no. You scramble unevenly to escape your summery den. Hurry! You wave to the others.  Arms and legs brush off the proof of your crime. Towels soak up the blame. Squeals reveal your location. Caught! Your parents see you quickly trying to hide your tracks. Stop! Your father stares. Your mother crosses arms. Feet tap impatience. Come! You hang your head in shame. I’m guilty! Guilty as charged! You lift your head defiantly. Your ear is turned. Ouch! You are dragged away. Your escaped partners watch  from behind bushes as you are dragged away to your punishment: No dinner!

Week 11-Day 4-Western Movie

In this penultimate week to my BerkleeMusic course called, ‘Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice’, we are continuing our work with metaphor. We are given an object (Western Movie); we are charged with picking a linking quality (Adventurous) and a comparison object (Team of Arctic Explorers). We are asked to write for 10 minutes about our topic (Western Movie) but using words from our other object (Team of Arctic Explorers) to describe it. Finally, we are asked to flip it around and describe the comparison object (Team of  Arctic Explorers) with words that you might use to describe the given object (Western Movie).

My challenge has been that I slip confusingly back and forth from one to the other. Or I find the given object (Western Movie) uninspiring.  I read some about Western and Western Movie history, pondered on the qualities associated with Western Movies, and chose one.  It bothers me that they seem to sound similar. I was hoping for something more interesting. Oh, well.  Here’s another link in the chain to building better writing skills!

Western Movie -> Adventurous -> Team of Arctic Explorers
The group decided on their basecamp: Ashtonville, Texas. Two mountain ranges of deserted storefronts formed a central, barren corridor. The harsh landscape warned them from further entry. Winds whistled around solitary cacti in cloud bursts, burn-freezing the inside of the cowboys’ ears with icy fury. The men shouted to each other, signaling with their gloved hands where to drive the the stakes of their spurs. The men took out their pickaxes and started to chip away at the desert sands. They sweated inside their Texas uniforms, bandana’s wrapped around their faces to keep out the dust flying into their skin.  With their backs straining under a dark, ominous sky, the cowboys raised their tents. Standing in a single line, the men passed their tent supplies from one to the next.  When their covered wagon was unpacked, the men retreated to their canvas cave in the middle of their Nowheresville. Mark struggled to zip up the door. The others nailed down the edge of the canvas sides that met the dirt where it was not already held down by their supplies. The men sat around in a circle on their sleeping bags, each one silently unwrapping his protective uniform off his wiry, Texan frame. A small leather waterbag was passed around; each man took the smallest sip possible. A coyote howled. Dust balls hit the side of the tent. The men listened.

Team of Arctic Explorers is a Western movie
The men hustled their animals, their tent, and their supplies down the narrow trail between the two Arctic mountain ranges. The band of five brothers roped themselves together in a straight line. The wilderness called around them. Howls. Cries. A scream cut off. The brothers stopped, swore loyalty to one another, and continued on. The eldest, John, led the way. Nothing would stop them. The sheriff promised the research team a reward: bring home the thief. Get paid. Watch as they hang ’em high! Riches. Feeding their families. Telegrams by covered wagons led by Huskies back East. Warm thoughts of money spurred them on. Gold coin. A hot bath. A hot meal, better than these survival granola-flax-peanut butter snack bars. Roar! A bear stood in their way. On the other side, a frozen lake with an opening. The men huddled under their hats and broke away with shots in the air. Pumped! Full of internal fire, hunger, and need, the men circled around the bear. ROAR! The white bear got down on all fours, ready to pounce. From all directions, the men fired down on the white bear. Red covered white in drips and streaks. Hearts raced. John stepped slowly toward the bear, poking it with the end of his rifle. Dead. They removed their hats, held them over their hearts, and thanked God for their good fortune. The men heaved the bear onto the portable cot, and dragged it back to their basecamp. Yes!

Week 11 Day 3-Cobwebs

Hello!

Today’s writing asked us to take the word cobweb, pick a linking quality, find another thing that shared that quality, and then write for 10 minutes about cobwebs in words that illuminate the linking quality with nouns, adjectives, and verbs from the other shared item. Whew! That’s a confusing summary. Here’s what I did — this will make it clearer. Sort of. Sometimes I start writing things that sound better if I was writing in the other direction. That’s the thing I’m learning this week. I can tell – I’m gonna need a looooooooooot of practice.

Cobwebs -> Capture -> Armies
The threads of the cobwebs spread out from one corner of the doorway. In camouflaged, semi-invisible lines, cobwebs hide their numbers from their enemy  flies. They shimmer in the light of the desert day, blending in harmoniously with the oases that tease from a distance. The approaching fly troops mark a straight line, hoping to penetrate the interior by sheer force and numbers. The flies underestimate the threads that belie the power in their ultimate weapon of choice. The stickiness binds the flies legs and abdomens like rope lines suddenly pulled to fell the enemies’ legs. The troops subdue the body of the flies after a few minutes of struggle. The cobweb’s commanding officer drops a line down to where the enemy is being held. He wants to see for himself that the enemy is captured.  The black widow spider pulls out his hands, hold his enemy in his hands, and then pierces the fly with the knife on his machine gun and empties his poison into the fly.  A few seconds later, still and stiff as a wooden plank, the spider binds up the fly, carries him to up to the corner, and leaves him for the troops to snack on. The spider returns to his desk and waits for the call from his troops to parachute in for the final kill once again.

Armies are cobwebs
The troops last assignment: fan out in straight lines to hide their numbers; go from corner to corner and stick together so that no enemy can break through the lines; hold your positions and do not move unless ordered to do so. The men dutifully walked single file until they hit a wall. They turned direction approximately 20 degrees to the right and kept on walking. Meanwhile, the commanding officer sent a second division up towards the top of the hill. One by one, they parachuted on silk threads down until they reached the other division at a second spot along the wooden wall, through which they could not go.  Meeting up, the troops walked inwards, two by two for a brief time, then walked or flew in the opposite direction, until they met back at base camp. All through the night, they worked tirelessly to build their camp. Animals called to each other eerily. The hair on the arms and legs of the troops stood up but they kept going. Towards dawn, their camp complete, the men slept. One kept watch over their camp, on the lookout for any invaders. Finally! An alarm rang out. The men looked up — space invaders! Flies darkened the skies. Legs trembled and hearts raced. How can we tame the incoming beast? Working together the men folded in on the alien more strongly when there was struggle. The men wrapped around the alien and delivered the stunning blow to the gut. All was quiet. A breeze blew. Men wafted gently and then broke away from the camp. The site of the beast overcome sickened them. Some men regrouped, going over their plan. The commander arrived. He surveyed their capture. He pierced its armor and ate quietly, under the hungry eyes of his submission troops.

Week 11-Reversing Direction through Linking Qualities

Hello! Last week? Well, last week I got thrown off by needing to take two of my three cats to the vet two times each. I only got to one daily writing and then the weekly assignment.

Week 11 is more of the same. We are given an object and asked to think of a linking quality and another object that links the two. We are to write about Object A using terms from Object B and then reverse the order and write again; 10 minutes timed writing each direction.  This is hard work. The class has one more week and I can see this work continuing afterwards.

Day 2 – Hatred

Hatred -> Filter -> Camera Lens
The camera lens of your anger filters the way you see the world. Innocent behaviors cast with a red overtone menace at you with intensity. The hot breath of conversation fogs up your ability to focus; you cannot see clearly through the haze of your hatred. People glare at you across the crowded room, eyes bearing down at you through the lens. You try to make adjustments. You pull back from the viewfinder, shake your head, close your eyes, furrow your brow, and bring the eye back to the viewer. You try to switch your mind into manual instead of the automatic setting of your amygdala, which rises in your chest the way the rising heat of sun causes an intense ray to focus onto a dry leaf, setting it on fire. Your emotions have dried up, burnt into the crisp of hatred focused on what little was left of your heart. You take lessons, you meditate. You ask random strangers to pose for you in desperate attempts to shake off the screaming-red colored filter of anger. The wind carries away what’s left of you. You replace the lens. Trying to clean it, you scratch the surface. You wince in pain at the thought of the cost of getting a new lens. You visit the store, try on various  models, and pick one that seems clear. Yet when you leave and try to take a new picture of the world around you, the red remains. Ants look pissed off carrying their crumbs to the hill. People walk by, gesticulating heatedly into their handsets. You catch them from the side; a permanent mark of anger stains their faces. Blue jays scream at each other. Grilled cheese becomes burnt cheese. You throw it out. You pang with hunger. Someone breezes by and fans your anger flames into a roaring fire, into a blaze strong enough to burn down ten thousand acres of ancient forest in a few hours’ time. You capture it, frame by frame, a vast swarth of destruction across the vista of your life. It e

Camera lens is hatred
The camera lens seethes and projects its red-hot anger onto the subjects as they mingle over white wine spritzers at the bar. Watching the people intensely, waiting for an argument to break out, so that it can catch its subjects in the act of duking it out, fists battering each others’ faces, like a scene out of a movie about white trash bar fights. The camera lens pauses, lingers in anger, over its lack of control. Under someone else’s command, the camera lens focuses on plants, bugs, animals with the smell of burnt tires on pavement. It refuses to cooperate, staying out of focus. The photographer growls in frustration at the lens, blaming old age and rusty interchanging parts as the cause of fuzzy photos, streaking colors across keyboards and cats running across the room. The camera lens celebrates its victory over the dictator photographer who insists on shooting the happy moments in people’s lives. How rude. The one wish in the camera lens’ eye is to see others crush in submission to its mean ways. Children will cry and run away in fear. Women will weep. Men will comfort their women, wrap a protective arm around the women’s shoulders, and attempt to lead them away from the funeral crematorium. The lens aches to capture the moments of people at their miserable worst: the owner sobbing over having to euthanize her pet; the dizzying loss of the athlete to another by mere milliseconds; the public pain of a fifteen year-hold high school student by her bullies. The lens imagines frights and rises in proud anger at its imagined magnificence. The photographer gingerly handles the lens, as if it were on fire, and puts it away into the cold, dark bag, where it sits and waits, biding its time, for the next moment when light and air will shine on the lens and fan the flames of its hatred for humanity, for life. Crisp memories of burning fingertips fill the dreams of the camera lens. The exhilaration of a consuming hating desire.