The Mail Truck

In my creative writing class today, I was given an assignment. Write a short short story using this sentence as my cue: The mail truck goes down the coast. Carrying a single letter.

I didn’t have a hard time with this, I love being given a cue. My problem was keeping it as a short short story. Here’s what I wrote:

The mail truck goes down the coast. Carrying a single letter. The last stop at the end of a long day for Hank, the letter he has seen has a postmark from California. It could mean that his secret love, Angela is leaving him to finally be married to her fiancé. Angela, he adores her and cherishes her from afar, they have known each other their whole lives but she is rich and well, he’s the postman. Angela with her long flowing auburn hair, her pale skin and full lips she is a natural beauty – Hank dreams of her every waking moment. His mind shifts from Angela back to the letter; he selfishly hopes the letter from her fiancé is a curt goodbye. Her love has found someone else and they are to be married soon. Hank knows this will hurt her, but she would heal with time. Maybe Hank could be the one to comfort her and console her. He rounds the final bend in the quiet coastal road and sees Angela’s home. She is working in her garden with a large floppy hat protecting her skin. She is gracefully cutting roses and placing the delicate buds in a basket she is carrying. She looks up as she hears the sound of the mail truck; she drops her basket and clippers and runs toward the mailbox. “Hi Hank, how’s it going today” Hank tips his hat and nods, “Why I am fine Miss Angela. You only have one letter today.” He places it in her hand, hoping she doesn’t notice his hand shaking. “See you next week Angela.” She mutters an okay; as she has already turned away and has begun tearing open the envelope. Hank turns the mail truck around and heads back down the lane. He watches in his rearview mirror and he sees Angela jumping up and down, waving her arms and running into the house. He rounds the bend and that is the last time he sees his love Angela.

Childhood Memories

Below is a submission for my creative writing class. It is supposed to be an essay about a childhood memory or my mother. And then I am supposed to find a web-site or blog to post on — what better place than my own blog…

Childhood is supposed to be a time of nurturing, growth and learning how to be an emotionally healthy person. It is supposed to be a time where the child has no cares, no worries, and is allowed to be a child through playtime, imagination, coloring or whatever suits the child’s fancy. I was number five in a family of seven. By the time my first little sister was born my mother was on her third husband, and he was no prize winner. I refer to my childhood as several stages, pre-step father years and the stepfather years. When my stepfather first appeared in my life I had thought him to be a nice grownup, I thought we were going to have a family. Prior to my stepfather, we had been a family of five. My mother’s second husband, my father, was in the Navy and at sea a lot. My mom was home with all of us kids. These years I was the baby, my brothers and sister my constant source of entertainment. I clearly remember trying to follow them around at age three, being taken home by one of my brothers. I watched them play with their bikes in the front yard. When they were at school I constantly asked my mom when the boys were coming home. All of this was yanked away when my brothers went to live with their father and my mother and father got divorced. It was then three of us, my mother, me and my sister. When mom went back to being a nurseI had to go to daycare; I was woken up before the sun came up, carried out to the car, still in my pajamas and then dropped off. The first daycare was an old couple. I think I was too much for them because I didn’t stay there too long; soon I was in a regular daycare facility. My mother got remarried and we moved from San Diego to Virginia. I was old enough for school now and entered pre-school well schooled in the ways of the class room.

This is when I realized that my stepfather was not who he had appeared to be. Gone was the nice man who would read a bedtime story to me. Gone was the man who would make me pancakes on Saturday morning and let me watch cartoons while I ate. He was replaced with an angry person, who would tell me my pictures were awful, my dress was ugly and I was stupid. Being only six, I would look at my pictures and redraw them over and over, I couldn’t do anything about my clothes, and well as far as stupid I wasn’t too sure about that. Soon we moved to Chicago and shortly after that to a Chicago suburb. The constant moving made it very hard for me to gain friendships and form bonds. I went to four elementary schools, two junior highs and four high schools. This coupled with the constant verbal and sometimes physical abuse I soon learned to become invisible, to not be noticed. In my little mind if I wasn’t noticed then nothing bad would happen to me.

During the summer months I would spend endless hours outdoors, creating make believe worlds for myself. The giant jungle gym became my deserted island and the climbing tree my club house. When I clamped my rusty metal skates over my shoes and skated down the side walk I was a world famous ice skater capable of doing jumps, spins and twirls. Balancing on the curb I was the Olympic gymnast Olga Korbut about to do my gold medal performance. I would lie in bed at night staring at the ceiling and dream of the large family I was supposed to be living with, my many horses and of course I had my own room. In the winter I would ice skate outdoors along with all the neighborhood kids. My ankles wobbled in my used skates. I had a jumbled mess of outer clothes on: mismatched mittens, a bright hand crocheted hat and of course the handed down coat that was at least 2 sizes too big. I never quite fit in. When I got tired of skating I would carve seats in the snow banks and create a little restaurant where I served pretend lunches to my pretend friends. I would dread going home, even though it was getting dark and my feet and nose were frozen. I knew when I got home I would be berated and yelled at.

My dreams and imagination both got me through many years of turmoil and kept my spirit from being defeated. It is this creative spirit within my soul that I have kept with me, it couldn’t be silenced. I think this may have made my step-father hate me even more. He could never break my spirit. When my children were young we played together with Legos, created miniature towns out of blocks and books, played with trucks and made big snow forts. We shared many close moments together, not because I sat with them and shared with them my words of wisdom, but because I would get down on their level and played, I let them be children. I taught them how to laugh when other people called them names. When my oldest son got his first pair of glasses (which happened to be bifocals) and he was made fun of, called four eyes for the first time his response back was, “No really I have 6 eyes”. I taught my kids how to use their imaginations. I taught them it was okay to make mistakes, learn from them and move forward. I praised them, loved them and let them eat pancakes while they watched cartoons.

I may not have had the happiest childhood, and may not have many fond memories…but I did create a wonderful world for myself to escape to, and that I wouldn’t change for the anything.

Creative Writing

Poetry, you either love it or hate it. I consider myself a creative writer, and nowhere near the status of a poet. After all, don’t poets have to suffer for their craft? Well, my first writing assignment for my creative writing class: POETRY! All I know about writing poetry is similar to: roses are red, violets are blue, my dog smells funny and so do you. I was both apprehensive and ashamed of myself. I could create a poem; somewhere inside of me I had it. Well, here is my first attempt. The assignment was to go to someplace outside, a natural surrounding and write what I saw. I couldn’t get anywhere “natural” this week, so I looked a photo I had taken of Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite. Here is what I came up with:

Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite
Snow is melting, water is falling
Down the face of the mountain
Rock shelves jut out
Mist in the air, my face is damp
Rocks tumbling and trees clinging
Water tumbling, churning
Sky brilliant blue, no clouds
Water icy cold
Boulders unmoving

Part B of the assignment was to take a famous poem and rewrite it in my own words (isn’t that sacrilegious). See if you can guess what the original poem was.

Two paths separated in the autumn hued forest
I was saddened because I had to choose one
Being alone, I stood for a long time
I looked down one road as far as I could see
It turned into the shrubs and flowers

The other path, just as pleasant as the first
And could be better than the other
It was grassy and asked for wear
Because of the traffic passing through
Each had been worn about the same

Both paths in the morning equally lay
No leaves and no steps had been made
I marked the first path to take another day
I knew which way it led
I wondered if I would come back

I should say this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages therefore
Two paths separated in the forest, and I
I took the one less used

Part C of the Assignment – write a poem on a current event. Having just watched Apollo Ono at the Olympics, short track speed skating was on my mind.

Oval Track
Round and round
On an oval track of ice
Each skater wearing a skin tight suit
Skates glisten under the lights
Muscles tighten
Elbows fly, hands push
10ths of a second matter
Small mistakes cost you a prize
Each skater trying to become first
Pacing and planning their move
Skating faster and faster
Gliding across the ice
Fingertips reaching down, balancing
Their eyes on the prize
A medal of Gold around their necks
Waving a flag, singing an anthem
All for their country

I am not claiming any of my poetry to be good – but it’s a start.

Solitude and Creativity

I spent most of this past weekend alone, unless you count the dogs. The weather was so beautiful, and my surroundings were so inspiring. I found the creativity to finish my children’s book, at least the first draft. The draft needs a little bit of tweaking, but my story finally came out — and it’s me. It’s a piece of my children too. I think with the beautiful photographs I have planned the book will be enjoyable for parents and children alike. I am sure the children who read it will have a connection with Andrew and Jack (the bear). Nothing would make me happier than having a parent reading this book to a child and they both feel something from it. Children have such amazing imaginations — adults seem to shut that world off as if it was no longer needed. Stay tuned for a preview of “Andrew and Jack the Bear”

Edit and Re-edit.

The deadline for my first short story submission has passed, and now I am anxiously awaiting the out come of the results. For my writer’s ego I hope that I at least score an honorable mention. It’s my first attempt, but, I put so much effort and heart into that one short story — I almost feel as if I sent off one of my children in a manila envelope. I promised myself I would not check my e-mail everyday and hope to see the e-mail address from the contest site. I would just pretend I have not entered a contest and am waiting for a slap on the back – letting me know I have done a good job. This said and done, I am working on my second story!

I have found a new method for editing. I would read my story over and over, make so many corrections to the first few paragraphs, and then maybe by the end of the story not be so focused, that I didn’t catch phrases and grammar that I should change. So, I start at the end of my story and work my way back. This method seems to get my creative juices flowing — I noticed this way I look at each sentence on it’s own merit, each thought seems to be separate and complete — voila — I have a short story.

Editing my novel seems like such a big project, I am almost putting it off. I have some time coming up free of distraction (no computer games, no books, no family) I plan to work as hard as I can on the novel and complete it.