Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Succeeding (or Failing) in public

So, this is the week where I am working to get back into the habit of writing. And my plan is to do it in public (at least, as public as this blog may be . . . not overly public, though technically it's totally public, but one must take into account one). 

It's not enough just to spit out something onto a screen, as it were, though that's apparently where I'm heading with this. I had a few ideas of what I could do:  write about something I'd recently read or maybe craft a scene or a setting just as an exercise; of course, I could be doing THE WORK -- revising one of my stories, or going through that novel manuscript on a final pass, or working on the synopsis I need for that (87,000 summed up in less than 200, please). Any of these would be good. 

But I also considered writing extemporaneously . . . like I'm doing right (write?) now. Annnnnnnnnd, I'm not feeling it (most especially because it just feels like an exercise in futility with nothing to gain, either for you the reader [singular for multiple reasons, hahaha!] or for me.  So, a scene or a setting. Let's see if I can do that. 

Cue music: 

And, let's begin.

Antoine opened his eyes. Darkness. 

He could feel a chill on the back of his neck, a soft breeze licking the skin just below his hairline, coming from . . . somewhere. Sitting in a wooden chair, his arms were pulled back; he tried to move his hands, found they were bound. Rope or wire or plastic cut into his wrists, he couldn't help but let out a tiny scream. Eyes pinched closed with the pain, Antoine took a breath, tried to fill his lungs with air, but found it impossible. 

On his left, a sound, something moving. He turned, looked. 

The darkness looked back. 

"Who's there?" Antoine's voice cracked, was weak. Questions tumbled through his mind, refused to congeal into anything coherent. He opened his mouth again:  "What do you want?" 


Antoine sucked at the air again, tried to regain some control of the situation. His breaths were quick, shallow, unfulfilled. He could feel himself panicking, worked to push that thought down, continued to grasp for oxygen and finally managed to calm down his lungs. He took three long, slow breaths, then opened his eyes wide. 

A slight glimmer on his right. An outline -- tall, square, a window(?), maybe. 

A thicker shadow to his left. Heavy. Solid. A piece of furniture -- a bookcase or a dresser. 

The chair he was in. Wood, with delicately carved decorations on its back (he could feel the empty spaces scattered across his shoulder blades, down the rest of his back; he could almost picture a similar chair from his childhood, in his grandmother's apartment). The legs were narrow, the seat solid. Antoine felt like he should be able to break it if he could get the right leverage to lift it from the floor and topple it over. Of course, this thought led to the discovery that his legs were bound as well, at the ankles and the knees. 


"What are doing?" 

A soft laugh, so low Antoine thought it might be his imagination. 

The female voice following it told him it was genuine. "Isn't it obvious?" the voice said. "We want to kill you. But first, we want to play." 

So, roughly 350 words. Not bad for a first draft. At least, I hope it's not too bad. I only had an image, of someone locked in a room, when I started. I didn't know it was pitch black until I began writing. In my mind, I wanted to write something that might elicit the anxiety one would experience if in this situation. I don't know that I succeeded in that regard. I would need to know what I'm doing in order to achieve that with a quick first draft. I'm not even sure if could achieve it on a third pass. But I feel like I may have crafted something that is, at the very least, interesting. And, given the opportunity to revise it and flesh out a larger narrative around it, I believe I could come up with something worthwhile. Maybe I'll try that someday. But, for now, I got a chance to flex the "fictive" muscles for the first time in a long time. 

I'll be back tomorrow with something else. Not sure what it'll be, but hopefully it will be engaging. 


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