Jan 29, 2010

Creative Writing: Flat On My Back

In keeping with my goal of publication within the next year, I will be posting something (or really anything) in an attempt to work on my written proficiency, but to garner a little creative criticism from friends and family.

So, feel free to dissect and put some criticism out there. I welcome it. I may not like it, but lets have it anyway.

One thing of note: this is completely unedited. I haven't gone through and re-read, because I didn't want to feel like I needed to make changes here and there. In the future, though, I will make editing more of a priority.

So, without further ado, I present my first creative writing piece:

Flat On My Back

I had come home in this fashion roughly 1547 times. It’s amazing how many times a guy can come home from work in an eight year span. And nearly every time, it’s the same routine. I come through the back gate in the alley. As I do, the stubborn motion detector (that has never worked quite right) either turns on the light or it doesn’t. I wish I could say the odds were 50/50, but that would really be an optimistic guess at the rate of success and brilliant light versus the rate of darkness that generally prevails on nights like tonight. So I entered the side yard in total darkness.

It had been raining off and on all day, and although the light was not recognizing my presence, I was comforted by the fact it was not currently raining and I actually had a chance to grill the steaks D and I were planning on eating for dinner. I’ve tried to BBQ in the rain. It’s not very fun. In fact it’s the complete opposite, its miserable. It’s tough to get the coals ready. It’s difficult to get the grill up to temperature. It’s nearly impossible to maintain a stable cooking environment. It’s a nightmare. And I was not going to subjugate myself to such a masochistic ritual as trying to BBQ in the rain.

I entered the house, where there no lights were on. I have exited and entered this same door more times than I could even attempt to count. I could walk from the entryway to the bedroom with my eyes closed. It’s not a treacherous walk, but there are plenty of obstacles that could impede my trek from the entryway to the bedroom. The terrarium for Kaboobie, our little box turtle, is immediately inside the door. While the terrarium is not technically in the way, it is there and an object inside our home. The first obstacle is out of the way.

But the light is on, and Kaboobie is out and looking for food. Her terrarium light lights the path for me to move safely on to the next area. I moved into the area between the refrigerator and the bookshelf. And while this area isn’t exactly treacherous, it is a smaller space. Well, narrow, anyway. And since the earthquake it always makes me wonder what it would take to topple these monolithic shelves packed with volumes and volumes of books D has read. It is impressive, really; she has read and completed more books than I have started and abandoned; there are easily a couple of hundred books there. Up above one of the bookshelves, near the entryway to the bedrooms, is my hanging pot rack: one of my greatest accomplishments in the goal to save as much space as I can in the kitchen. But again the earthquake comes to mind. In the best of circumstances, it makes a horrible racket with the slightest disturbance. I can only imagine what an earthquake rated at a 6.5 magnitude would cause.

I enter the bedroom from there, and continue with normal ritual. With my work clothes shed and some comfortable nighttime-type clothes on I decide to wash the dishes. The biggest problem with the dishes is I don’t like doing them. The other problem is, they won’t do themselves. So I set about the task of doing the dishes. It’s really an easy task. It doesn’t even take that long. It’s a matter of mind over matter. Before I really know it, the dishes are done. The multitude of coffee cups I own are on the counter drying, along the hurricane glass.

The other night we got together with a friendly couple and watched American Idol on Tuesday night. Its become a weekly ritual. We gather, we eat, and we watch the show and decide who should really get through and who shouldn’t. it’s amazing how serious we take this whole thing. It’s quite the event. So Amy makes drinks, and for whatever reason, when all is said and done, there is one hurricane glass that still needed washing. So I wash it and set it out to dry. About fifteen minutes later I am putting these various cups and glasses away and last is the hurricane glass.

The hurricane glasses are kept above the bed, in the cupboards in our bed room. I grab the glass and head in there. I hop up on the bed and open the cupboard. The glass goes in and the cupboard is shut. All I have to do is get off the bed and make my way into the living room and relax.

So I move to the edge of the bed and put my hand down and look to support myself as I hop off the bed. Somewhere in this process I missed the edge of the bed and my hand slipped. I quickly turned and landed on my back. I have to thank all my training in defensive tactics, and the training in falling for what happened next. I landed on back and bounced off the bed like a trampoline. In the air I managed to flip over. I could see the ceiling fan slowly turning as I flew through the air.

Then there was impact. I landed flat on my back, the small of back hitting a split second before the rest of me. As I hit the ground I crashed into the closet doors. I remember at the time, aside from thinking, “What in the hell just happened?” I also thought, “We are going to need new closet doors.”

It took me a few moments to actually realize what had just happened. As I lay on the floor, flat on my back, my first action was to take account of my extremities and to make sure I could still move them. Fingers moved, toes moved, and amazingly enough nothing really hurt; at least, not yet.

Standing up I looked around, trying to figure out exactly how I landed flat on my back, I decided to check on the condition of my closet doors. With a little bit of moving them around I found them to actually be workable. And with a little force exacted at just the right place they popped right back into place.

It was a few hours later when I realized my back and neck was a little sore, and stiff, but otherwise I came out of the whole incident with nothing more than a rather large bruise on my rear end.

And with that in mind, I went and made dinner.

Jan 26, 2010

Creative Writing

With my recent goal of actually writing something worth publication, I started doing some simple creative writing projects.  Well, actually, just one project for right now.

My first goal is to simply start writing things.  So I am taking simple, everyday events (or some that are unique) and putting them to written word.  At first I thought this would be an easy task.  After all, I am one of the wordiest people around when it comes to rambling on and on and on and on.  I even believe I have a pretty good grasp of the English language and grammar.  So, again, I thought going into this exercise I would find it easy.

As it turns out, I was wrong.  Here is the hang up I have discovered.  First, allow me to deviate just a little and give a little background note.  I work in an environment that generates a lot of paperwork.  And a lot of said paperwork is generated by me and my co-workers as a direct result of the actions of those who are in our charge.  To put it in layman's terms, we write a whole slew of reports in this place.

The basic tenet of a report written here is what we all learned in grade school when it comes to writing any sort of composition.  Who, what, where, when, why, and how.  And how, indeed.  These are the most basic of principles when it comes to written composition.

In my field of employment, we write so many reports it becomes complete commonplace to write a narrative to be as concise as can be.  Bigger incidents require longer narratives, obviously.  But the end result is the same: you write it with as many details as possible but in a clear and concise manner.

For example:  If John Doe (forgive the law enforcement standard issue anonymous name) were to go to the store and purchase a gallon of milk, it would read something like this....

At about 0700 hours John Doe left his home and went to the Safeway grocery store near his home.  There, in the dairy section, he purchased a gallon of 2% milk.  The milk cost $2.89, which he paid for in cash.After making his purchase, he returned home without incident.  The milk was then stored ion his refrigerator. 

In my profession, this would be an accurate and sufficient report.  In any other realm there are a lot of questions one might have.  What route did he take?  How was the weather?  Was the school he passes on the way to work crowded because of the time of day?  I could go on and on with a question of details.  In a report I would write at work, most of those details would be incidental, and completely useless in the written report.

But my goal isn't to write a report.  Its to write a story.  And this is where I am having some amount of difficulty. I had a small incident at home the other night, which after the initial shock was really quite funny.  So I have decided to make this small incident into my first attempt at a little creative writing.  Obviously, its no fictional piece.  It is, though, something I am trying to make understandable to the reader.  An event they could see in their minds and understand exactly what I was thinking at the time. 

I'll be working on this through the week.  Right now I intend to have something worth showing off to someone at least once a week.  I think, even if the it isn't a finished product I will be posting something on Saturdays.

Stay tuned for for more on this subject.

Jan 24, 2010

Grand Design and Goal

So, lately I have had a complete inability to actually put any sort of thoughts to written words. For example, my draft folder is, as of this moment, full of half written and completely abandoned attempts to actually update my forsaken blog.

Why, then, the sudden urge to post something? I have set myself a few goals. Actually, I have set one goal (because I have found in the recent past I am not good at accomplishing multiple goals).

First, a little seemingly useless information. But, in the end, I promise you it make a little more sense.

Borders Book Stores. In California alone, there are 91 Borders Book Stores. 91!! Now, in New York, there are only 36. So, lets go ahead and average that out, giving an extremely rough average of 64 stores per state. Now, please keep in mind this is exactly what I said, a very rough average. With that average, if we multiple the average by 50 (because there are 50 states, right?) we get another rough number of 3200. This I believed to be an extremely wrong number. Clearly, the number of stores in California is defined in statistical terms as an “Outlier.” In Statistics, an Outlier is a number that is not used in figuring averages because it is so far skewed in the overall picture.

As it turns out, with a little more investigation, as of 2009, there were 517 Borders retail stores in the United States. On top of that, there are another 466 Waldenbooks stores (remember those little stores in the mall that slowly disappeared? Borders bought them). So, in total, there were (remember, we are in 2010 now), 983 Borders-type bookstores in the US. That’s an average of 19.66 stores per state. Obviously, the number of stores in California is an Outlier to the extreme.

Ok, a small detour in statistics complete, we can safely say there are a lot of bookstores out there. If one were to go into a bookstore, the selection reading material is quite large. So how does this pan out for the author? Obviously, the author makes a percentage based off of the amount of books bought by a particular vendor, but with nearly a thousand stores out there, and we are talking Borders only, we haven’t even included B&N, or the many smaller mom and pop type stores in all of our smaller towns and various old-town shopping centers. And there are hundreds and hundreds of authors out there. Many I have never even heard of and more.

So what does that tell me? It tells me with a little work and a little patience, anyone can get published. Ah, now we get to the meat of the subject. Publication. I have been publishing myself for the past few years. But I don’t believe that really counts.

You may be asking yourself, “What really is your goal here?” And that, my friends, is what I am finally getting around too.

I want to be published.

I have been putting a lot of thought into this idea. I’ve looked around, on line, for various ways and means to accomplish this goal, and this is what I have come up with:

I’m going to get a short story published before the end of the year. That’s almost a full year for me to accomplish my goal, extremely realistic and attainable.

As it stands right now, I have already begun working on this goal of mine. It’s going to be a bit of a lengthy process. There is going to be brainstorming, note taking, trial and error, revisions and more revisions.

And in the end, I am setting myself up for something I have never really experienced before: Criticism from an outside source who doesn’t feel the need to be supportive.

And that, my friends, sets up a continuing saga of blog posts detailing my up coming travails.

This time, when I say stay tuned for more, I really mean it.

Jan 6, 2010

Here's Wool in your Arse!

Once again I have found myself starting eleventy-billion posts and finishing none of them.  I have come to a certain realization about my particular blogging:  I am completely directionless.  I have no focus.  and it bothers me.  I can't really say why, over all.  But in the end, it still bothers me.

But oh well.  What are is a guy to do?  I could continue to fight it, and remain stagnant.  Or, I could simply accept it and move on and actually come up with something to post.

So, acceptance.  And now a post.

Lets talk about the petting zoo.  A large group of fairly domesticated, and docile, animals.  Sheep, goats, and the like.  But in the end, one must remember, they are still animals, and they will do what comes naturally.  That is why the call it "Animal Instinct," right?

So we are approaching the petting zoo.  A place we have been to probably a hundred times over.  Its a familiar place, and a place we like to visit.  As we are coming around the corner, we see a woman who is obviously a Zoo Employee cleaning the ground of the animal pen.  Just as she bends over to rake some poop in to a large dust pan a sheep charges and rams hier head into the woman's rear end, sending her sprawling. 

Now, I don't claim to be an animal expert, but the poor sheep simply saw a target and went for it.   It wasn't the sheep's fault.  She was simply doping something that is completely natural.  However, by the way this woman reacted, you have thought the sheep had taken the woman's only child and disemboweled the poor kid over a flaming sacrificial alter.

I know, I know, that is a pretty extreme way to describe the poor woman's reaction.  But it was indeed a blood curdling scream.  Was this woman, whose sole purpose of employment is to know these animals and tend to their needs, completely unaware of the behavior of sheep?  Did this woman not realize that her upturned rump might prove to me more than simply her arse, but the very embodiment of what a sheep would call a challenge?

The screaming was so horrific it scared poor Ben away from the petting zoo, one of his favorite places.  I can't say I totally minded, really.  I have been to the petting zoo far more times than I care to count and quite frankly, I get more enjpyment out of petting the cats than I do some strange sheep. 

Now to the part I am ashamed to admit:  This whole sequence of events was insanely funny to me.  This woman was afraid for her life.  And judging by the decible level of her screaming, she was afraid of radion poisoning, being swarmed by killer bees, being attacked by a rogue group of terrorists, and somehow she connected all these events into the fact that a sheep rammed his head into her arse.   Was it funny?  As an outside observer, oh yes!  It was a sheep.  Not much bigger than my dog, who is not that big to begin with.

It was a classic case of a total over reaction.  And I had to do my best to stifle my laughter because I was not wanting to set a bad example for my poor kid who was traumatized by the woman's screaming. 

Why do kids have to ruin all the fun we adults want to have?
Related Posts with Thumbnails