Writing 101: The Red Maple Tree

Good evening!

I’ve decided this evening to work on yesterday’s writing 101 assignment which I didn’t get a chance to look at yesterday. The assignment today was to write a particular scene (more on that in a moment) and the twist was to write it from three different perspectives. An idea for how the scene would play out jumped to mind immediately, but I wasn’t sure if I should write it. And then, once I decided to write it, I wasn’t sure if I should post it. You see, the scene I’ve written is in a much more serious tone than my stories typically are. It was a different type of story for me. I thought about figuring out a way to change my idea of the scene to write it in the light, humorous manner I’m more comfortable in, but where is the challenge in that? So I went ahead with it.

I’m not going to post a blog concluding paragraph at the end, so I’ll ask for some feedback up front. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’d love to hear what you think about my more serious approach to the topic. Did I convince you? Did I take too long to get to the main points? Or did you like the pacing? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

 

The Red Maple Tree

The Scene: Three people in a park. A young man and a young woman walk down the path. An old woman sits on a bench knitting a small red sweater.

***

The Old Woman:

It was one of those beautiful autumn days that she could never stay inside for. Just warm enough that you could sit outside and enjoy the day, just cool enough to require a sweater and slacks. Oh, how her daughters laughed when she called them slacks. Never out loud, mind you, but she could see it in their eyes. She could always see it in her babies eyes. Even all grown up babies with babies of their own. The maple she sat under had already begun to turn the fiery red of the season. The same red as the sweater she worked on for her oldest grand-baby’s birthday. Oh how little Talia’s eyes would light up when she saw her gift – the colour of the maple tree in autumn. How that baby loved this season. Just like her old Gammy. She’d have to call her daughter and have her bring Talia over for the afternoon tomorrow – she’d love to play in the shade under the fire tree. Maybe they’d bring a picnic and have a tea party… Yes, she’d call her daughter that evening to arrange it.

***

The Young Woman:

It was a perfect autumn day. The kind that made you think of apples and blue jeans; sweaters and tea. The kind of day that told you to forget all your troubles and come out and play. And so they’d come out to… play? Not likely. They hadn’t “played” in weeks. Not since…

She was amazed he’d come out to walk at all. She’d never expected him to actually meet her at the door. One O’Clock she’d said. I’m going for a walk in the park at One O’Clock and I’d like you to come. And he had. Jeans, Sweater and runners he was there. For a moment she’d been afraid she’d start to cry when she saw him standing there. And that would have ruined everything. But she’d kept it together. Not all that surprising, really, she hadn’t cried in days. Couldn’t. It was better that way. One of them had to have it together. Someone had to bring back normalcy. The boys needed it. They needed to know that life could go on. Needed to know that the sun could still shine. That they would be okay. That Mommy and Daddy would be okay. After all, at three years old they didn’t fully understand…

How could they understand? She didn’t even understand. The questions were just different. The boys asked “when?” and “where?” Over and over again. She just asked “why?”… But look at her. This walk was supposed to bring a sliver of sunshine. After all, Cheyenne would have loved this day. She would have run ahead on the path towards the tree in her little jeans and tee-shirt and that red sweater we could never get her out of. She loved that tree. Would have especially loved it today… in the process of turning fiery red. No, she wouldn’t let her thoughts stray again. She would enjoy this perfect autumn day for her precious Cheyenne.

***

The Young Man:

He didn’t know why he’d come. It was the kind of day his wife would describe as perfect. She’d always loved the autumn. Loved going on walks with him to enjoy the changing leaves. He’d proposed on a day like today, in this very park. He’d been happy then… but that was a lifetime ago. Now he couldn’t even bring himself to take the hand of the woman beside him. Why had he even come?

It was better inside. Inside where he could almost convince himself that everything was the same, that nothing had changed. The same. He didn’t know why he kept telling himself that lie. Why he kept believing it. Nothing was the same. He’d never hidden away in his office before; never insisted the door stay closed. Never shut out his family so completely before. But that was…Before… He never should have come out today.

But there’d been something in his wife’s voice that had pulled him out. Something that had made him slip into his jeans and a clean sweater. Somehow, at five minutes to one he’d found himself tying his shoelaces. He glanced over at her now. And then snapped his eyes away. He couldn’t look at her. Couldn’t bear to look into her eyes. He needed to find somewhere else to look. Something else to focus on. Anything.

A flash of red… there under the old maple tree that Chey…under the old maple tree. What did that old woman have in her hands? No. It couldn’t be. He staggered. Stopped.

A small red sweater. Fiery red. Just like the leaves of the old maple tree. Just like the one… just like the one that his baby girl used to wear. His Princess… His Cheyenne… Cheyenne…

For the first time since that day he felt a tear fall down his face. And then another. For the first time since that day he didn’t try to stop it. He felt his wife slip her hand into his and then wrap her arms around him. And for the first time since that day, he didn’t pull away.

***

The Young Woman:

She didn’t know what made him stop. Didn’t know what changed. She heard her baby girls name on his lips. Their baby girl. Their Cheyenne.

She turned and saw tears running down his face. She didn’t know what had happened. Didn’t know what had changed. But she knew he hadn’t resisted when she’d grabbed hold of his hand. Hadn’t pulled back when she’d reached up to hold him. And as they stood there, in the shade of the old maple tree, she knew they’d be okay.

A forget all your troubles kind of day? Not a chance. They would never forget. But somehow, someday, Mommy and Daddy would be okay.

The End.

Megra12

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I met this girl the other day

I can’t tell you when I first saw her. I can’t tell you where our paths crossed. All I know is I’ve gradually become aware of her presence. She begs to be acknowledged. She silently, but persistently, pleads for me to listen to her story; to tell her story.

If you saw her on the street you might not notice her; at least not at first. She’s medium height, medium build, average weight (whatever that means). Her feature’s are delicate and pretty, but she’s not the type of pretty you would describe as stunning. Her long hair is brown. Just brown. Not quite deep chocolate but not quite mousey either. Generally she keeps it pulled to the side in a loose braid hanging over her shoulder. Her mouth, like the rest of her face, is small and delicate.

If this was all you saw as you passed on the street you probably wouldn’t notice her. You definitely wouldn’t remember her. But if, by chance, you glanced at her just as she glanced at you… If you met the eyes of this ordinary stranger, your perception of her would almost certainly change. Because those eyes! Those eyes that are the most vivid and lively of greens. Those eyes that seem to enchant with a single gaze. They shine with purpose, and passion, and life and laughter. They are young and mischievous, and open and daring. They’ll beg you to speak; to ask the question; to engage…

She looked at me the other day, and smiled a little smile. She knew I wouldn’t turn away. She knew I couldn’t turn away. I need to know her story. I have to know her name. You see, I’ve noticed her lurking. I’ve heard her whispering. She’s there on the edges when I’m working, dreaming, sleeping, eating.

How is this possible? How can this be?

She is a character developing. She’s in my head. She is not “real”… You can’t pass her on the sidewalk. You can’t see her in the shop. But I can.  And I’ve decided to stop and ask her name. And maybe, when I’ve learned her story and the reason for the shine in her eyes, I’ll introduce her to you.

Maybe, just maybe…

 

Keep Smiling!

Megra12

Free writing and my Favourite Songs

Hello my lovely readers!

It is day 3 of Writing 101 and so far I haven’t missed a single assignment. Yay! Celebrate the small victories. Today’s assignment was to use 3 of your favourite songs as inspiration for the post. The twist was to set a time and write without stopping for that whole time. The goal is to get yourself into the habit of writing for a set amount of time each day. That is how you create habit. Below is what came out of my 15 minute free writing session. I will get the hang of free writing… I will get the hang of free writing… I will…

Write about your 3 favourite songs. And do it without stopping or correcting anything at the keyboard. Keep your fingers moving. I have to admit. I’ve already failed that step. I’ve gone back and deleted things. I’ve gone back and corrected spelling. I can’t help it. I haven’t stopped my fingers from moving but I have used the back space. Does that count? The goal is to use your three songs as inspiration and then, to get into the habit of writing for a set period of time everyday, set yourself a time (they recommend 15 minutes) and don’t stop writing until you’ve hit that time.

How do I pick three songs? I listen to music so much, and have my entire life. How do I pick just three songs? Maybe I can narrow it down? Maybe I’ll pick songs that represent me, at this moment? Okay, a blank. Now I’m panicking. I won’t be able to think up enough songs… now I can’t think of any songs at all. Okay. Relax. Step back and let them just come to you. I know, what about movie songs? I love soundtracks and film music. That’s what I’ll do. So, out of the many, many, songs I could choose, I decided to think of my favourite film music. Now, I’ve picked three songs and I’m not even sure these could be classified as my favourites within the genre, but they are representative of various things in my life so they are going to have to do.

1. Jurassic Park (John Williams)

This one falls on the list, because when I think of film music that has been influential to me, it is the first song that comes to mind. The song itself is beautiful and evokes a myriad of emotions as you listen to it. There is none of the terror of the movies. None of the fear of the Dinos that have escaped their cages and are threatening the survival of the visitors. There is only the beauty of that first and last site of the island. The beauty of large, majestic, flying dinosaurs soaring over a serene and beautiful scene. The song is enchanting. It was also one of my first introductions to the film music of John Williams. Now, I had heard his music before (Indiana Jones, Star Wars to name a couple) but had never connected the composer with his music. Until Jurassic park. The easy version of which is one of the first pieces I remember loving to play when I learned flute.

(oops, I stopped typing and almost went back to read over what I’d already written. Moving on… resist the urge…)

2. Hedwigs Theme (John Williams).

This second piece is also by John Williams. I was thinking of picking pieces by three different film composers (and I easily could) but this one just seemed fitting. And John Williams is my favourite. This pick is both for the song itself (beautiful and magical and iconic) but also for what it represents. I resisted entering the world of Harry Potter when it first became popular. I was determined not to fall under the spell. I was determined that I wouldn’t like it. That I didn’t like what it represented. And then I caved. I don’t remember what came first. I think I actually watched a bit of the first movie with my friends and then decided I would give it a try. I honestly don’t remember right now. Maybe I caved to the pressure of arguments that said I couldn’t really argue against a book that I hadn’t read. Either way, once I started, I didn’t stop. And I’m glad I didn’t. There is so much that is good in those books. I’ve had so many conversations about character development and plot line and themes of good and evil and that place someplace in between. Where it is grey. Where the world is not divided into good people and Death Eaters. Hedwig’s Theme represents all of this and more.

3. Lord of the Rings: Concerning Hobbits (Howard Shore)

This pick is about both the beauty of the score (all of it, not just this particular song) and the talent of the composer who had to add and remove pieces and rework the score for such a long and involved film series. It is also about what it represents. I read The Lord of the Rings before I read Harry Potter. I had the Hobbit read to me by my dad when I was young and then when the first movie was announced I was determined to finish the entire series before I saw the first movie. I have read the series many times since that first time. I have talked about and thought about the characters and the plot and the theme of friendship and sacrifice and never underestimating a person or a people group. Everyone underestimated or forgot about the hobbits and yet hobbits were the group that would save the world from the evil that had befallen it. There are many books that are influential in my life and the Lord of the Rings trilogy will always be somewhere on that list. The lines from the hobbits theme conjure up an image of another world where it is simple and yet complicated and threatened.

Well, I’ve used up my fifteen minutes (and gone a bit beyond). I think I will go back and edit for typos and spelling. But I won’t edit for flow or style. I will leave my stream of consciousness thoughts as they are. I will embrace the idea of the exercise to just get the creativity unleashed. Creativity is stifled when you start to think too hard about what you want to say before you try to say it.

 

Hope you all enjoyed my ramblings about music. Do you enjoy film music? What are some of your favourites? If I were to edit this post into a more “polished” post, what changes would you suggest?

Keep Smiling!

Megra12

And then I opened my eyes

One moment a small antique shop. The next moment… hurtling through space. Unbelievable? I know. And then I landed. Abruptly. Hard ground. Musty air. Tight space. Close air. I haven’t opened my eyes yet. I haven’t dared. But I have to know…

Eyes open. Darkness. Anticlimactic. But wait. A doorknob. I reach out. Hesitate. Turn the knob. Hold my breath. And push…

Wide open sky on fire. Blue, orange, red, yellow. Small dark wisps of smoky purple. Magnificence. Tall majestic giants surround me. Birch? Maple? Oak? White bark. Red leaves. Orange leaves. Yellow. A hint of green. Natural Splendor. Autumn finery. Light dims. Green grass turning jade. The horizon glistens. Waves lap. Softly. Gently. Melodically. There is only the slightest breeze. The lake is… inviting. Calling. Laughing. Singing. Whispering it’s magic. Asking me to play.

One step. Two Step. Three Step. The lake grows closer, closer, and closer still. But wait. Just there. On the left. Something moves in the gathering dusk. It’s coming towards me. It’s seeking me out. Nonsense. Foolishness. Move forward. One step. Two step… A quick glance left. It’s still approaching. But what… peer into the night descending. Stillness. Coolness. The creature approaches. A dog? No.  A Cat! A big Cat! Long sleek body. Full caramel mane. A lion.

Danger! Panic! Run! Frozen. Don’t move. Don’t blink. Don’t breath. Perhaps in this moment I can cease to exist. This must be a dream. Eyes closed. Wake up, wake up, wake up! Pinched arm.

Warm breath on my face. Shaking, crying, praying. “Don’t cry daughter of Eve. No harm will come to you.” Kind voice. Calming Voice. But wait? Daughter of Eve? Thoughts swirl. Pieces fall. Could it be? Hope blossoms.

Eyes open. Eyes meet. Searching. Asking. Hoping. Longing. Knowing.

Aslan. Narnia. Home.

 

And there you have the result from Writing 101 Day 2. You can read about the assignment, which focused on setting, here. Let me know what you think. Did you feel and believe the setting? What about the style? If not, what made it fall flat for you?

Keep Smiling,

Megra12

Writing 101 and Free Writing

Hello my lovely readers. Long time no see!

The last few months have been incredibly busy with work and a wedding (my sister’s not mine) and other general life busyness. As a side effect to that my blog (and all writing) has been sadly neglected. But the itching in my fingers (and where ever else the longing to write something… anything… comes from) has reached an alarming level and I am planning on acting on it. The problem, as I have discovered over the past week or so, is that though the mind is willing the muscles are weak… the writing muscles that is. You see, just like regular muscles that need to be used regularly to remain fully functional and not seize up, writing muscles also need to be used regularly to remain in top form.

I found that neglecting any form of writing for the past few months has resulted in muscles that have become used to laziness. I now get to listen to their groans of protest as I stretch them out and put them through their paces (you would not believe the protests I had to overcome while I worked on my Wedding speech.) I am determined, however, to push through and whip my writing muscles back into shape. To motivate me and hopefully help me develop a better blogging habit I have decided to join Writing 101 (a writing challenge run by WordPress’ The Daily Post that you can read more about here.) The challenge/workshop runs all through June and while I may not post the product of the writing assignment each day I am going to try to post many of them and, at the very least, use them as personal prompts to get into the habit of daily writing.

The first writing assignment was posted today and it was based on free writing. As such, it didn’t produce a nice, polished, post for you all to read and so I debated not sharing it. Each assignment, however, comes with a twist. The twist today was to actually post the end product of the free writing. My first thoughts were: “um… everyone reading my completely unedited stream-of-consciousness-writing? No thank you” but then I thought about it some more and decided that there’s really no reason not to post it. So here it is. Please keep in mind that no editing (or at least very little… I couldn’t help the little edits that I did along the way…) went into this post.

Let me know what you think! What are you thoughts on free writing? Do you ever use it to “get the juices flowing”? What other writing methods do you use to stretch writing muscles and keep them healthy?

Keep Smiling!

Megra12

I am sitting here at my computer, listening to the wind that will most likely bring a thunderstorm, and drinking a tasty, slushy drink, and trying to figure out what I should write about for this first Blogging U assignment. Yes, that is right, I am sitting here trying to figure out what to write about for a free writing assignment. The type of writing that should, by definition, have little forethought put into it. But that is the way I have apparently programmed myself to write. First, you get an idea or think up a topic. After that, you think about the topic for a bit and decide what type of angle you are going to take. And then, only then, do you begin to start writing.

This method, however, is not necessarily conducive to that spur of the moment inspiration and creativity that comes from setting aside thought and engaging the peripheral vision of the mind. I find it is in those moments when I’m not really thinking about creativity, or ideas or writing that I manage to see the ideas that are lurking in the shadows of my mind. It’s like those times when you can just see something in your peripheral vision but when you turn your head you can’t figure out what it was you were seeing.

I have a love hate relationship with free writing. Sometimes I find it an amazing release and a great method to “get the juices flowing.” It’s great for those moments when you’re working on a project (or history assignment) and you find that you’re stuck so bad you’re not even sure you know how to write anymore. The options available at that point seem to be quit everything (because, if you can’t write anymore there’s really no hope for that story, project or history degree); engage in some heavy procrastination that will most likely not free up the mental block (stressed out because you can’t get the ideas flowing, the sure way to fix it is to ensure that you ensure you have less time to complete the project… because that won’t add any stress on…) or just write. Wow that last sentence sure was a beast… Free writing can also be a dear friend when I have a lot on my mind and am stressed or upset for some reason but can’t really organize my thoughts. My writing starts out as an unorganized mess and quite often filters into something that, while not necessarily coherent or readable to anyone but myself, has at least managed to sort my thoughts into something I can understand a bit better.

Sometimes, though, I find free writing intimidating. I love the idea of it when you’re trying to come up with a story idea or flesh out a character but I find it difficult to actually sit down and follow through with the idea. What if, by putting those ideas down on paper, they somehow “break.” What if writing down my ideas spoils them somehow and I realize that out of the safety of my mind the characters and storylines are weak and unfocused. What if my ideas are better enjoyed alone and not in the company of a crowd (though there is no reason why my free writing would need to be viewed by anyone other than myself).

And now I’m stuck. I have no more ideas. But I just looked at my phone (thinking that I had maybe made it to half way through the allotted 20 minutes) only discover that I have only 2 minutes left. It took me 18 minutes to get to the point where my initial flow of ideas slowed down a bit. But I am realizing that even though I feel my “free thoughts” starting to change and slow down, I feel warmed up. I feel like I could now sit down and begin to write a post, or a story or an essay. Hmm… now there’s a thought… warm up before you start to write for the day… fascinating.

If you’ve made it this far thanks for reading!

Megra12