#amwriting: Scene Sketch

#amwriting: Starting Anew

Starting Anew

The horses plodded along on the asphalt of the highway leading southward to the high prairies of eastern Colorado with the wagon of the family’s belongings trailing after them. The bodies sat in a row on the seat: father, child, and mother; each with a hat on to ward off the blazing sun.

It would have been wonderful if Mr. Marshall could have afforded one of those new Model T Fords to make this trip but, as it was, he was lucky his father would part with the two horses and the wagon. His father did not want him leaving in the first place and let him know it, warning about severe consequences. Yet his wife would not stay in Nebraska to see through another winter. She wanted to get out from under the influence of her in-laws.

The bickering had gotten to the point where it was a daily occurrence. Mrs. Marshall had tried to be amicable but the aunt and the sister of her husband wanted her to change in such ways she could not avow. It was not that the aunt and sister were so wrong. It was their general attitude towards her that sent the young mother into a tizzy.

Sure, she was half Sioux but the other half was English and Scottish just like they were. She did not have a say about who her mother was. Besides, being Sioux does not mean the person is bad. At least, that was the way she perceived it.

The child, a small girl of maybe three years old, began to fuss. The mother took the youngling in her arms, cradled her, and prepared to give the toddler some of her sweet milk. The father watched in reverence as he loosely held the reins in front of him.

A Model A rolled by, carrying two men with brimmed hats. They honked and waved at the family, upsetting the child to the point where she was screaming and flinging her arms and legs. The mother yelled at the men but it did not do any good. The sound of the engine drowned out most of what she said. The father waved back as they drove on, knowing they did not mean any harm.

As the sun began its journey in the western sky of blue, the horses were trotting up a gentle incline on a well-worn dirt road. The highway had vanished at the state line. The chunks of prairie grass fluttered softly in the stiff breeze. They could see patches of purple thistle roughly circled by clusters of weeds and peat as if these other plants were trying to protect their beauty.

It was not until the daylight commenced to fading that they, at long last, came to Sterling, Colorado. The family found lodging just off Main Street, on Third Avenue. The toddler was beside herself with protests as she was handled back and forth between the couple while they tried to secure their load for the night.

Looking out of the window in the room they had obtained, they strained to see far to the west. The Rockies could not be viewed yet. Mrs. Marshall pulled down the shade.

Maybe tomorrow would be a better day.

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I purposely wrote this without any dialogue, trying to strengthen my skill with a narrative description. I would appreciate any feedback.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

#weekendcoffeeshare: New Momentum Tactics

#weekendcoffeeshare: I have Lost my Impulse
Image provided by Dave White
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrdestructicity/

The Daily Post sponsors the #weekendcoffeeshare. If this is something you’d like to do, whether it be weekly like it’s supposed to be or the way I do it, once a month. You can get the lowdown about it at the link above.

[Your dialogue is in purple.]

[My dialogue is in teal.]

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If we were to have coffee…

We are back at The Sisters’ Diner. Although Starbuck’s was great fun, the price of a cup of coffee there is a little steep. The diner does have flavored creamers, plus they have tea too. Yes, I have switched over to tea.

After the waitress takes our orders, you ask, “Why did you order tea? I thought you were a die-hard fan of coffee.”

New Momentum Tactics“As you know, I have been fighting digestive issues for some time now. I read an article about the benefits of tea, and especially of green tea, although regular tea is supposed to help too. That is what got me going on the tea kick. As it turns out, I like the effect of the caffeine in tea better than the caffeine in coffee. I still have a little trouble with my digestion but it is nothing like it was before”

You give me a look of disbelief.

Once our orders are in front of us, you doctor your coffee with the French vanilla creamer while I butter a small sourdough roll.

“Was it one of those articles on the internet?” you ask.

I shrug my shoulders. “Yes, but it was at the site WebMD so I figured I could trust what I was reading. Sure, the caffeine is stronger but it also does not make me irritable like coffee sometimes does.” You cock your head slightly sideways as you eat a buttered croissant. “Besides, tea has become one of my new momentum tactics.”

“Tactics for what?”

“I decided I need to make more of an effort to do more of the preliminary work for writing a novel. In other words, I am making a full-blown attempt at being a plotter.” You roll your eyes at me. “Yes, I know, again. Nonetheless, I am determined to write a novel all the way through to that final draft–that is, before sending it off to an editor.”

“So you think you are going to make it all the way through this time, uh?” I grin at you. “And what makes this time different?”

I really cannot blame you for your skepticism. I have one finished first draft and three unfinished ones in addition to the one I am tackling. “For one thing, one of my tactics is to do a better job on the profiles of the main characters. I am using two questionnaires per character, plus I am writing out each profile in prose. I will be doing a questionnaire and a prose for each scene too. The whole idea is to know the story pretty much completely before I even write it.” I take a couple of gulps of my tea. “On top of this, I have strapped a pillow to the back of my swivel chair so I sit more upright when I type. This way I should be able to be at the keyboard a little longer per session.”

“Maybe it will work. Especially the idea about the pillow. You do sound eager anyway.” You sit across from me with your cup close to your lips as if you are going to take a sip at any moment.

“I have already done a lot of research too. Oh, and I am going into a genre that is, in point, foreign to me–historical/paranormal.” I look at you straight on waiting to get your react.

You look out into the middle of the room with your eyes not seeming to be fixed on anything in particular. Finally, you take that sip of coffee and face me. “And what is the point of changing genre?”

“I think I am bored with what I have been writing so I changed it up.” I am happy with this choice I have made. I want you to be pleased with it too but only if you truly believe it is right for me.

You give me a noncommittal smile.

The rest of our chat revolved around hushed judgments about the other customers in the diner. We make remarks about how a man is dressed, how a woman drinks her cup of whatever it is, and how a child is being so unruly. We do not know any of them and, of course, we would not say these things to these people. They are just little bits of perception that we share.

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Quick note: I have a Facebook Page now. If you are so inclined, stop by and click on ‘like’.

“Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.” ― Shannon L. Alder

 

Just a Note for a Monday

I am still writing blog posts once a week to be published on Thursdays. However, I am ecstatic about a small accomplishment I have made that I want to share with my readers here at my blog.

The blog, Word Bank, Writing & Editing is owned by Jeri Walker, who I have known for several years now. She accepted an article I wrote that has been published on her blog today. Yes, today!

I hope you can find the time to read it.

#WriteTip: The Paradox of Perfectionism in Writing

Word Bank
Writing & Editing

#thepersonalside: The Serenity Pill

I am appropriating my second post of the month to the hashtag, #thepersonalside. I checked Twitter to see if the hashtag has been used at all. Curiously, it has not, even without ‘the’ at the beginning.

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image by Michael Nutt https://www.flickr.com/photos/nutt/
image by Michael Nutt
https://www.flickr.com/photos/nutt/

The Serenity Pill

General Anxiety Disorder [GAD] is a permanent sideshow in my life, brought on by the stroke I had and intensified by the change of life that growing older brings. Do not get me wrong. I do not mind growing old. The GAD is just a hurdle for me to contend with is all.

My grandparents gave me an affirmative attitude about the later years of life by example. They were grateful for all they had and made light of the disappointments, aggravations, and pain they endured. In addition, none of them seem to be afraid of death. They looked at all of their existences as being part of life.

Anxiety can impoverish that forward-looking attitude to the point where one can only worry about what is coming next, what can befall him/her, the unknown, and even aspects that are trivial. It can do it without the person being aware, causing dreadful tension, atrocious headaches, and sometimes nausea. That is General Anxiety Disorder.

Some people have trouble functioning at all when this disorder hits. I am sure my husband might have liked it better, although not by much if I had reacted by hiding out in the bedroom not participating in life. With me, irritation, oversensitivity, and provocation set into my head. I was not a happy person and I was making my husband’s life wretched. Why did he stay with me? I cannot figure out why. He told me he knew something was wrong and we just had to find a way to deal with it. My opinion is he is a soul who is always duty-bound and I am grateful for this.

The doctor prescribed one antidepressant after another when I finally decided I needed more that just dairy products to keep me calm. I had gotten to the point where I did not like the taste of milk anymore. The thought of having the same reaction to ice cream was appalling to me. Whenever I feel the need for an attitude pick-me-up or want to give myself a special treat, I head over to Dairy Queen for a small Blizzard. There was not any way I wanted to give that up.

Eventually, the doctor found the medication that I, now, call my Serenity Pill. Lexapro is in the category of antidepressants but is used more for anxiety than most of the other ones. It acts on the brain chemicals serotonin and norephinephrine[1] to balance what is out of whack. It allows me to feel sad, anger, annoyance, and even minor depression but without that feeling of forebodingness that cause my mood to be so desperate.

Lexapro is not a cure-all. I still worry about those things I don’t have control over but it is in perspective now. These things are not haunting me daily anymore. Only when I read something, see something, or hear something pertaining to these matters, I will worry. I adjust my thinking using cognitive techniques[2] to put myself in that calm frame of mind again.

Brain injuries, such as the stroke, can play havoc with emotions. I can only be thankful that I live in a time when there are medications to help me deal with this adversity.

[1] Treating Generalized Anxiety

[2] Stress Management – Ways to Relieve Stress

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“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.” ― Anaïs Nin

 

#writingcraft: Was It Too Simple?

As the post of the first week of the month, I’m ascribing the Twitter hashtag, #writingcraft from here on out.

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Was It Too Simple?
image by Gordon Wrigley
https://www.flickr.com/photos/tolomea/

Two months I wrote about the possibility of getting worse at the craft of writing. I thought my solution was to take a basic grammar class. I do believe I deluded myself. The course started out with the elementary aspects. I thought it would rush along to topics of a naive writer, like what words are more appropriate than others in certain content. Contradictory to my assumption, it stayed focused on the fundamentals. It wasn’t at all what I was looking for. Maybe I just need to open my style book more often.

After discovering the frivolousness of that course, I took another look at some of the unfinished stories I had tucked away in my cloud. My presumption about these works was I was overwhelmed about how to proceed with each of these stories. I thought I had so many ways to go I had gotten totally perturbed and rattled.

Now, my hunch is swaying me completely the other way and even onto a different path. Maybe what I was experiencing wasn’t overpowering dumbfoundedness from complexity. Maybe it was aversion for the stories themselves to the point where my reluctance to go on with them was what was overwhelming. Concededly, there were a few twists in these stories, however, they didn’t take the main character off the beaten track. It was more of a case of move that branch or throw that rock out of the way. Boring stuff.

Sometimes understanding why I have an emotion is more baffling than the emotion itself. I’ve come to know the feeling of being overwhelmed quite well. My thoughts become muddled. I start having problems deciding about unrelated issues as well as the ones pertaining to the matter at hand. I know I must just stop what I’m doing and try to make my mind a blank. I must step away from whatever it is that is causing the feeling of spoil to surge through my veins.

I can’t even peek at those stories anymore, at least for a long while. I went back to reading my classics, Jane Austin and Charles Dickens. I was hoping to get inspiration from these two authors. Believe it or not, it is helping.

A few of weeks ago, February ninth, I posted an article about changing what or where I write. It was after writing that post I went to Amazon to find some more classics to read. So many of they are completely free there if I get the eBook version. There isn’t any shipping or handling fee either.

Reading about history in a fictitious form has me brainstorming about an idea for a story where the setting is in the past someplace. The concepts I’m coming up with are arduous and elaborate for the characters. Well, so far they seem to be, anyway. They’re more mixed than anything I’ve written before.

Who would have envisioned me going for something more entangled, more involved? Certainly not me. Yet, it just seems to be the appropriate path to take right now.

Have you ever gone for the path covered with debris, sharp turns, and detours?

“Good writing is good writing. In many ways, it’s the audience and their expectations that define a genre. A reader of literary fiction expects the writing to illuminate the human condition, some aspect of our world and our role in it. A reader of genre fiction likes that, too, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the story.” ― Rosemary Clement-Moore