I AM Writing … Really!

 

Haven’t posted.  I know – boring.  Didn’t succeed at NaNoWriMo.  Pathetic.  I’m too much of a perfectionist.  That book would have been crap.  Finished perhaps.  But no doubt – crap.  But I have been writing.  I am taking a little trinket of an online class to keep me motivated.  At least that was my intent.   On the one hand I’m glad it’s not too tough since that would only lead to more whining about having to work for a living and time … energy … blah blah blah.   The other arthritic hand slaps me in the face and says, “Tense and viewpoint exercises?!  Are you kidding me?!  Has someone changed your diaper lately?”

I guess that last one could be accurate in another twenty or thirty years.  I better not press my luck.  Anyway, there’s no shame in revisiting elements I haven’t given more than a subconscious thought to in over ten years.  And it just goes to show you what a cocky writer I am because I think I wrote the best stuff from the simple little descriptions our instructor provided.  Here – see for yourself what a ridiculously arrogant fool I am!

First scenario is a kid asking his dad for the keys to a brand new car.  Second scenario for work with tense is a kid who got left behind on a boy scout hike and tries to spear a fish.  I don’t remember ever using present tense before and discovered I enjoy it.   Admittedly I became somewhat bored with the second scenario, as is evident with my vengeful ending.  One of my favorite aspects of writing – I can destroy things or kill characters if I get irritated.

Third Person Omniscient VP:

Jay's '79 TD bunny

He tried, but he couldn’t keep his knee from bouncing up and down on the ball of his left foot.  Jimmy watched the clock over the kitchen door as his father hung his coat on its hook in the hall.  “Unbelievable,” grimaced Jimmy under his breath, as his father silently continued his after-work routine – planting his briefcase and setting his coveted keys in the entryway bowl.  “What are we, snails?” Jimmy thought, slapping his face into his elbow propped hands.

Howard knew his son was waiting.  He had anticipated this moment since two nights before, when he’d rolled into the drive with a brand new Toyota Camry with chrome upgrades and latest in dashboard computer contraptions.  He had expected the question from his straight-A boy, but not the very next evening at dinner.  He’d nearly choked down his mouthful of pizza last night when Jimmy had popped the question – “Dad, I’d like to take Sarah to the Symphony downtown tomorrow night.  How about loaning me the Camry so we don’t get stranded in the Rabbit?”

“The Symphony?  Since when is that your style?”

“It’s not.  But Sarah’s dream is to conduct one day and, well, I thought it would mean a lot to her so I scored tickets.  But y’know Dad, the VW kind of kills the romance of such a gesture.”

The futile attempt at a subject diversion hadn’t worked well for Howard.  And he wasn’t about to tell his son that he’d seen Sarah kissing Jimmy’s best friend at the Pizza Factory that very evening.

Third Person Limited VP:

Crashing through the door, Jimmy tossed his coat on the hallway bench and ran upstairs.  He threw his book bag into his room and began his chores.  He was a young man on a mission.  “If Dad wants to play hardball, I gotta’ make it difficult,” thought Jimmy, as he raced to get his household chores done before his Dad arrived from work.

The prior evening he had asked to borrow the car in order to treat his girlfriend Sarah to a special date.  He’d been planning for months and had saved up his pay from the part time job he held at the Pizza Factory.  Sarah had confided her dream to become a composer/conductor someday and, in an effort to show her how much he loved her, Jimmy had scored tickets to the Seattle Symphony.  Then he’d followed the advice of his coach and tried to visualize the date in his mind.  The single disappointing factor in the scenario had been the mere sight of the rundown Volkswagen Rabbit, the door rusting on its underside, the plastic seal on the busted out back window … it had ended the theatrical production in his head altogether.

His Dad, a single father since Jimmy had turned three, had always encouraged him with one caveat.  “Keep your grades up and maintain a part-time job.  With that, I can teach you what you need to become your own man.”  Howard had told his son this in a variety of ways since his tenth birthday.  Jimmy had done his part.  So he didn’t understand his Dad’s hesitancy when he’d asked for the car.  Sure, it was only a day old.  Sure, it had the latest “bells and whistles,” and Howard was proud of it.  But Jimmy knew his dad wouldn’t deny him this request without something else at play.

His chores done, he sat at the table and watched the clock over the kitchen door as he waited for Howard to arrive home.

Howard entered in his usual fashion.  He followed his typical routine – parking his briefcase, hanging his coat on its hook in the hall, and setting his coveted keys in the entryway bowl.

“Hi Dad,” Jimmy called from the dining room, the seat of all their man-to-man family discussions as a tradition.  “I’m in here.”

“Eh, let me just get settled a little son and we’ll talk.”

What was going on?  Why was his dad stalling when he knew he was surprising Sarah with this huge romantic gesture in less than three hours?  Jimmy couldn’t keep his knee from bouncing up and down on the ball of his left foot.  “Dad?”  He questioned as he rounded the corner to the living room, “What’s really going on?”

Jimmy caught what looked like a slight wince, as if his dad had stepped on a thumbtack, and thought it looked like he had suddenly deflated like the snowman decoration in the front yard. “Sit down, son.  We should talk.”

First Person VP:

I raced home (well, as fast as my crappy VW Rabbit would take me) and plowed through the front door.  Dad wasn’t home yet, so I had only an hour or less to get all my chores done before he arrived.  If he wanted to play hardball, I was gonna’ make it hard for him.  I was at his mercy, but everything in me wanted to pick Sarah up in the new Camry for our date and I just couldn’t bring myself to believe that Dad wouldn’t come through for me.

When I asked him yesterday, I could see the confusion in his face.  Almost thought he was gonna’ choke on the Pizza he’d picked up for us on his way home from work.

When Mom died when I was three, Dad had been there for me.  He’d loved me extra for the loss but hadn’t ever treated me like a baby.  In fact, he’d told me (over and over again) that if I kept my grades up and got a part time job, he would make sure I was ready for anything I wanted in life.  Dad’s word was golden … and he hadn’t said, “no.”  So I couldn’t understand why he was stalling.  He’d let me borrow the car before, well, not this one, but the minivan we’d had since losing Mom.  I guess a day-old Camry with chrome extras and all the latest in on-board satellite navigation was harder to hand over to your 17 year old son.

The trash was on the curb.  The dishes were put away.  The bathroom and kitchen was clean (I threw that last one in there in hopes it would score me more points).  When he came in and started his normal routine in the entryway hall (coat on it’s hook, keys in the bowl) I was on the edge of my seat in my usual seat for “family meetings” in the dining room.

“Hi Dad.  I’m in here.”

“Eh, let me just get settled a little son and we’ll talk.”

What was going on?  I had saved for months to take Sarah to the Symphony after she’d told me she wanted to compose or conduct one day.  It was going to be the most awesome romantic gesture I had ever attempted and I had to pick her up in less than three hours?  My knee wouldn’t stop bouncing as I waited to hear what he had to say.

“Son, there’s something you should know,” he said as he came in the room.

I caught what looked like a slight wince, as if he had stepped on a thumbtack, when he sat down.  There were no keys in his hands and I started to feel like the deflated snowman decoration in the front yard.

Tense Project – Present Tense:

My stomach is rumbling.  My body is stiff.  The tree kept me warm enough but being cramped in a little ball like that all night left me feeling like an old man.  Wish my Boy Scout troop had found me before breakfast.  Cheese grits with garlic salt and some bacon would taste so good right now.  I can almost smell it.

I leave the tree and stretch, glancing around for options.  I’m an Eagle Scout.  I’ve never actually had to survive in the woods like this, but I’m not feeling too worried right now.  Just real hungry.  My hand swipes a branch from the tree limb above that feels pretty straight.  I break it off and use the Swiss Army knife my Mom got me to whittle it down to a pointed end.  Time to spear a fish.

The water in the pond is cold.  Steam rises from it in the middle, so it must be warmer there.  I don’t bother taking off my boots.  They’re waterproof (or so the box they came in said when I opened it) so I’ll just stay on the edge and try not to fall in.  Where the heck is my troop leader?!

Splash!  Dang it!  I almost had that one.  Sizzling bacon is crackling in my head.  Rrrr!  Slippery darn fish!  Wish I hadn’t lost my whistle.  They better be close.  Even a crumby piece of toast would be good right now.  Some butter melted into little puddles in its surface?  Mmmm.  Okay, get over it, Sam.  Get this stupid fish.

Tense Project – Past Tense:

My stomach was rumbling.  My body was stiff.  The tree kept me warm enough but being cramped in a little ball like that all night had left me feeling like an old man.  If only my Boy Scout troop had found me before breakfast.  Cheese grits with garlic salt and some bacon were on my mind and I could smell the fire.

I left the tree and stretched, glancing around for options.  An Eagle Scout, I’d never actually had to survive in the woods, but I wasn’t worried.  Just real hungry.  I found a branch from the tree limb above that felt pretty straight and broke it off.  Using the Swiss Army knife my Mom had given me, I began to whittle it down to a pointed end.  “Lookout fish,” I mused, “Here I come.”

The water in the pond was cold.  Steam rose from it in the middle, but the bank was pretty clear.  I didn’t bother taking off my boots since they were waterproof.  I just had to be careful not to fall in.  My heart wasn’t really in the fish-spearing effort.  All I could think about was, “Where the heck is my troop leader?!”

After splashing around, aimlessly stabbing at one very crafty fish, I started day dreaming about sizzling bacon or even a piece of toast smothered in butter.  That led to some angry cussing at the fish.  “If only I hadn’t lost my whistle,” I complained to myself, “I would probably have been found by now.”   I reasoned that they must be close; it had been nearly 12 hours.

As I refocused on spearing that fish, I had no idea just how much I would struggle to survive in those woods, winter fast approaching, until my Scout Leader and troops (all except me and one other) would be discovered dead over a year later.

 

 

 

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