Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Writing Exercise – Class Three

Writing Exercise – Class Three

• Picture a local landmark. You are a man proposing to his partner at this landmark. For five minutes describe this landmark through the eyes of love.
• For the last five minutes, picture the same landmark through the eyes of a man who had lost his son to the war.

* note: I didn’t do any of that. I had a long hard day at work and decided to write the start of my novel. It’s still loose and a concept, but check it out.

I looked around at the people and buildings far below. The world’s tallest free-standing structure, or at least it was. A tower with a peak.

“Trust you to put us in a giant penis,” Terry quipped. She hunched up her belt and sizeable jeans, looking me squarely in the eyes. “What exactly are we doing here again?”

“Gruff and to the point, I see. Shattering the lesbian stereotypes yet again…”

My response is met with a cold, dead glare. My acerbic wit is wasted on Terry.

“We’re here for charity, as you know,” I said, as if talking to a five year old child. A five year old lesbian child. In leather chaps.

“The Gay Wedding Show’s finale episode is here tonight! This is where the couple will come, walk towards each other, get married and everyone will clap and cheer. And then I’ll go home depressed and eat a tub of ice cream. This is our assignment for the Archives, anyway, to get the scoop. There has to be some benefit to being an event’s sponsor. Where is that waiter??”

Terry rolled her eyes and continued peering over the edge.

“It will all be over soon.”

How prophetic those words were to be!


- When writing you need a goal and to keep that goal in mind to push you to continue.

- Every story has already been written. It’s either:

1. A personal journey where the person changes at the end

2. Stranger comes to town

- It can help when you’re writing to think “Someone out there is going to love this. Someone needs this.”

- Write about the reader, not about the writer.

- Include things people can relate to in your story. For example, in class we had art tables covered in brown paper and were asked not to write or draw on the tables. I would let my mind wander and make one small mark, and be like “Oh, damn! They said not to draw! Crap!” My mind would wander and I’d force it back, thinking “Don’t write! Don’t colour!” When I left, the table was full, like a mural.

This class’ newspaper story:

Two mummified babies found in an abandoned trunk in the basement of a Los Angeles apartment building this past summer have been linked through DNA to a Scottish-born nurse who lived in the building and spent the last years of her life in the Vancouver area.

Investigators tracked down relatives of Janet M. Barrie in the Vancouver area and DNA samples collected from a niece helped determine the babies were Barrie's.

"The DNA was a match for familial ties. So, we're sure that both babies belonged to Ms. Barrie," said Los Angeles police Capt. Fabian Lizarraga in an email.

But how Barrie's babies -- each wrapped in 1930s newspapers -- died and why they ended up in a trunk remain a mystery in a case that has made headlines around the world.

Authorities conceded Monday they probably will never know the answers.

Ed Winter, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Coroner, said there were no obvious signs of trauma to either baby and toxicology tests could not determine causes of death.

"It's a big gap. You kind of wonder why," he said by phone.

Investigators have not been able to locate any relatives who have knowledge of the babies or even that Barrie was ever pregnant.

"Our investigation has run its course for now," Lizarraga said. "We probably will have no further developments for now, and for awhile."

Investigators initially described the infants as a female baby carried to full term and a fetus of unknown gender. A team of two pathologists and one forensic anthropologist have since determined that the fetus was also female, Winter said.

Their bodies were discovered Aug. 17 inside an abandoned steamer trunk while the basement of an apartment building was being cleaned out.

One was wrapped in a newspaper from 1933; the other from 1935. They were each stowed in leather doctor's satchels.

Clues inside the trunk -- including handwritten letters, Christmas cards and photographs -- led investigators to believe the trunk belonged to Barrie, who was also called "Jean."

Barrie moved to Vancouver in 1985 to live with her sister, Isobel Holmes, and died seven years later. The sister has also since died.

Winter declined to speculate Monday what may have happened to the babies.

Barrie was born in 1897 and immigrated to Canada with her family in 1910. In 1925, she moved to Los Angeles.

- Suspense could be created around what happened

- The baby was found in a doctor’s satchel and the woman was a nurse. Could the doctor have delivered and killed them?

- You can create suspense in other ways, with things like having the reader know there’s an intruder in the house but the woman inside doesn’t know.

- This story above could start with finding the babies in the trunk and then go back in time to reveal the people involved and how the babies got there.

- Why would someone store their dead babies in with old Christmas cards???

Write a few pages in which you reconstruct the world immediately outside your childhood home. Bring its objects to vivid life for the reader who hasn’t been there. Explore what different aspects of this world meant to you then or mean to you now.

I can only remember summer.

I’m sure we lived there for other seasons, but I can only remember the summer. We lived in a rented house in Scarborough, the top two floors, a man rented the basement. He had his own entrance and I don’t remember seeing him often. My mother was recently divorced and single and her distrust of men in general was a presence in the house so I don’t remember anything about him other than fear. I was always taught to fear men. Although a little part of me registers him as attractive, but I was only about six at the time.

Across from us was a house with a big year and a huge apple, or I think crab apple, tree. There was a little girl who lived there that I went to school with and I can remember playing in that yard of hers for hours, always coming home when the street lights came on.

In the spring especially the tree would bloom with these fragrant pink and white petals that you could smell all down the block. We would pick them, or likely as we were so small, pick them off the ground and put them in buckets to make perfume. I’m sure all the little boys in the neighbourhood were making perfume at that time.

I don’t remember ever actually getting any perfume. Did we squeeze the petals with something? Did we leave them in a big bucket over night and hope for the best? I don’t remember now.

I remember my babysitter lived just around the corner and that she had a poodle and a swimming pool that we were rarely allowed to use.

I remember riding my first bike in the driveway of this house. My uncle came to teach me and I was a wimp, always begging not to let go and being scared of falling over and hurting myself. I remember wanting training wheels. But I never had training wheels, and I never fell off and hurt myself so something must have worked out right.

I remember one day my mom came home eating hot cashews out of a paper bag and we sat down on the front step and she told me that we had to move, that the landlord was kicking us out, he wanted the house back.

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