Wednesday Write-in #17


Welcome to the Wednesday Write-in!

CAKE.shortandsweet runs a write-in every week to writers to practise their skills, and get chatting to each other about their work. Everyone is welcome to join in, and the more people you tell, the more everyone will get out of it.

Christmas is coming, your notebook’s getting fat, take part in the write-in, wear your writing hat!

Alright, singing isn’t our strong point. We’ll put pen to paper instead (or finger to keyboard?)

 

Prompts

ancient history  ::  organised  ::  pickled  ::  sugar rush  ::  wardrobe

Guidelines

There are no hard and fast rules, but here are some brief guidelines:

  • You can use the prompts as inspiration or try to work them into your story somehow. Use as many as you want.
  • When your story is done, post it online (your blog/twitter/in a comment here), tag with #wednesdaywritein and comment with a link so we can read it. You can write as many stories as you like.
  • Please take the time to read and comment on as many other stories as you can.

Featured Story

We’ll feature our favourite story on the blog with a review of it and links to the author’s blog/twitter/facebook if relevant.

Posts will generally go up at 9am(ish) on Wednesday – stories are due by 10am Thursday (UK) to be considered for the featured story. You can keep posting your work after this, it just won’t be featured.

The winner will also be eligible to publish on our special CAKE.shortandsweet genre through Ether Books.

Rewards

We’ll keep track of who takes part in the write-ins, and you earn points for different things.

  • Take part in a write-in = 1 point.
  • Comment on other people’s stories = 1 point.
  • Share/reblog this post = 1 point.

When you reach ten points the editing team will give detailed feedback on a story of your choice. This only counts for separate sessions—so if you write five stories for one write-in, that counts as one, and if you share on both facebook and twitter, that’s one.

 

Please look for us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with the write-ins, or click the follow button to get blog updates!

Don’t forget to read our Previous Issues and check out the Submissions page if you’d like to be a CAKE.author!

 

Any questions? Otherwise, have fun writing!

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33 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-in #17

  1. Sheila surveyed the contents of her wardrobe with despair. Try as she might she couldn’t get organised. She knew the theory of course – hang clothes by colour or type, all the skirts together, then the tops, or all the blacks then the blues and so on. Or better still, have a capsule wardrobe which meant everything in one or two basic colours that all went together. How boring. She did have some black but most of Sheila’s clothes were a riot of colour and wild patterns, with mad oranges and lime greens next to pinks and canary yellows. Some looked as though they had been selected by a toddler with a sugar rush.
    But she would have to have a sort out. Some of these clothes had been in fashion for a second time round, and were back out again. She’d also read that you couldn’t do second time round successfully. Look about you in any crowd and see proof of that. Some might not even fit, but who knew, if she lost a stone or so?
    She’d make a start. She pulled out a pair of wide-legged pleated trousers from the sixties, almost like a long divided skirt. That was an antique and should be consigned to ancient history. But it might come in useful… She stuffed the hangar back on the sagging rail and closed the wardrobe door. Enough for today.
    Sheila’s spirits lifted as she walked into her pristine kitchen. Her counters were spotlessly clean and bare except for a toaster and a kettle. In her cutlery drawer the knives and forks were lined up with military precision. Packets and tins were arranged according to size and type in her immaculately tidy cupboards, with the jars of pickled onions by date at the end.
    Sheila smiled happily as she made herself a cup of coffee. She washed and dried the spoon and placed it carefully in its drawer before reaching for her magazine on good housekeeping. There was an article on organising your wardrobe at the front but she could skip that, she already knew all about it. But there was one that looked interesting further on about new storage systems. Perhaps there was space in the spare room for another wardrobe. That was the answer.

    • I felt sad for this woman, clinging onto all these worn out, out-of-fashion old clothes, but you turned that around completely in the second half and I loved that. She became fascinating, truly compartmentalised with parts of her life rigidly ordered and other parts a forgotten mess. I do wonder what’s the deal with the wardrobe. Is it nostalgia? Hoarding? Just not wanting to go along with fashion? Interesting!

    • This is a very interesting character. I would like to see some of the other rooms in her house! She is a curious mix and I would like to read more about her.

    • I liked the contrast between the contents of the wardrobe and her immaculate kitchen, keeps the reader interested and creates a believeable character. To try and give some constructive feedback, I can only find a minor suggestion; the phrase “toddler with a sugar rush” jarred slightly maybe the word ‘on’ would work better ?
      I also enjoyed her solution at the end. Well done.

  2. A general feeling of contentment with the status quo had settled like a downy quilt. Everyone was happy to play their roles except me. I was the fat girl. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin; the flabby heat made my trousers stick to my legs. I was used to it. That was my life. On a perpetual sugar rush, I had a different perception of reality than the flickering narcissism of my classmates.
    It was only when the bullying started that I forced myself to look in the mirror. Before that I was happy spending all of my pocket money on chocolate and only looking at myself naked with eyes closed. That first glimpse prompted the raw hysteria that follows knowledge, a black hole swirling in the pit of the stomach with an acrid taste.
    I made the mistake of sending a Valentine’s card to the boy I fancied. I should have known my place. The girls sneered and taunted. They gathered around me. Threatened by my interest, with a fist that thwacks his palm, the boy called me names and told me to stay away from him while spectators bray and jeer. My feet flew me away beyond breathing and left me gasping on a street corner.
    I ran the rest of the way home tearing through blackness, all his light absorbed. I went straight to my room and took it out on the contents of my wardrobe with a scissors. After that my approach was much more organised.
    I lied to my mother, told her I had dinner in a friend’s house and for the first time I skipped my dinner.
    My life became filled by the pungent fragrance I had come to recognize as anxiety. I entered a reversed vanity, consumed by ridiculous fixations I could no longer understand. Addicted to self-destruction, l lost control. I felt myself rise into the vacuum and become weightless. There is no distance of silence here giving you the gift of perspective. I mastered a disappearing act, a slight of body. I could melt away.
    In school, I hear them whisper about the narrowness of my wrists, the nothingness of my frame. Immune to their slithering, I am comforted by my perverse insulation inside me. I chew on the bitter taste of my pickled stomach shrivelled by its own juices. I feel safe steeped in myself, sealed off.
    I squeezed the length of the horizon between us until there is only old me and new me. My tendency to study every detail meant my clinical self-invasion had been ruthless in its destruction. Something shifted forever.
    Now I am so slight of frame, the wind blows straight through. I search every day for the old me but she is so buried in ancient history that when I reach to touch her fragile heart, it crumbles to dust in my hand with an awful permanence. Darkness blinds me with a kind of silence that bodes danger. A muteness yells at me.
    Trapped in despondency, I am no longer well enough to go to school. Completely separated I am an unconnected constellation floating. My bones lie uncomfortably in bed listening to the howling wind. It tears through the trees, reminding me of his careless and insidious words. The words I am still running from.

    • A haunting transformation, truly. There is some beautiful imagery here, like a wind tearing through trees, howling over a bed of bones.

      Careful when switching tenses–I noticed a few discrepancies.

      –AM

      • Thanks for the feedback. I spotted a few of those tense discrepecies when I read back over it thanks for that. I will have to go through it with my grammar glasses on !

    • I loved, loved this up until ‘sealed off’, after the pickled stomach (an amazing image, really striking), and then it lost me I’m afraid. I think the strength of your images and emotions in the first half are weakened slightly by this more abstract ending, and I think the last two lines were a bit careless. They seemed somehow to cheapen what she’s going through.

      This sounds far more negative than I meant it to! I think it’s really good piece about a difficult topic and the imagery is incredibly tangible.

      • Thanks for the feedback. I can see what you mean about the images becoming more abstract at the end and I can see how it might lose a reader. Thanks for pointing this out, it’s great, now I have something to work on. I can sharpen things up. There’s always room for improvement especially with something written so quickly for a prompt-it’s part of the urgency of the form!

  3. This is so moving, your description of an eating disorder has a terrible beauty. The line about the pickled stomach should be in the psych manuals! So sad that she will never have the strength to let go of his words and find anything of her old self. (And all the prompt words too!) Great piece.

  4. Pingback: Wednesday Write-in #17: Babushka’s Wardrobe (~750 words) | Pen Tight | Edit Straight

  5. #wednesdaywritein

    Rituals
    I loved my mum but I had never wanted to be her. She swathed herself in worry as if worry itself might ward off ill fate. Worry scored her face. She made her life a vigil. This proved confusing in my early years and annoying in my carefree teens. She could barely let my brother and I eat for fear we would choke. I never enjoyed a bath in the whole time I lived in my parents’ home. Her constant rapping at the door for fear I had drowned made baths an irritation. And if indoors was packed full of dangers, imagine her anxiety at the untamed outdoors. Too overwhelming, the management of this she gave over to God. The Going – Out – Ritual involved my brother and I being blessed, albeit fleetingly, on the forehead (and then later the back of the head) with holy water. This happened whenever we crossed over the door into the vastness of our community. Of course, the water was an expression of her faith and she believed in its divine, protective properties but for me it was the physical form of her fear, a fear that seemed disproportionate to my own life experience. I resented it.
    The anxiety that charged a two bed roomed flat had me seek soothing places in the corners of my imagination. Every second in her company made me impatient.
    I would be different ,my head shouted.
    But I caught myself red handed in the summer that swine flu made its appearance. When my kids stood at the front door, I anointed their hands with antibacterial gel before they made their journeys to and from school, football and other dangers. I denied at first that it was the same thing my mother had done since there really was an epidemic, and the liquid I was doling out really did protect (it said so on the tub: this was science!)
    However, I knew that I was gripped with the same anxieties and the same obsession for safekeeping that my mother had suffered from. And I wondered if our worry lines stretched into ancient history and perhaps etched themselves on the face of a Viking woman. And if her heart echoed the same skipped beats of her descendants as she watched her red cheeked Viking boy slip from shore on his first voyage on the long ships. Did she emasculate him with a glut of Thor’s hammer pendants that she had suspended from his neck while his shipmates roared with laughter?
    If any part of that were true, then those lines would stretch up and through and beyond- a neurosis relayed through generations.
    I needed to be different, my head shouted – for the sake of my kids.

      • I do n’t think they are treated differently as the brother receives the same blessing as his sister and the Viking boy has an embarrassment of pendants ( intended to protect him.) I suppose it depends on their reaction- unless of course the neurosis really is hereditary!

    • I like the idea of this, and the descriptions are lovely, but I feel like your protagonist is a little too self-aware for this to come off. I didn’t like the first line as it seemed to deliver the whole punch of the story before it even began, and the rest was a variation on a theme. I’d like to see a more subtle comparison between the two women, I think a little less overthinking on the main character’s part would be much more effective.

      But that’s just me! Your writing as ever is strong and perceptive.

      • Thanks. I am pleased you say the writing is strong. I, myself, am an over thinker (as was my mother!) so it is no surprise it is reflected in my writing. I’ll have to have a think about that!

    • I think that this is a very cleverly observed piece. I like the religious contextualisation of the modern holy water. My own mother was, in her own way, a woman of some faith, and I can see many parallels throughout my own childhood – it made me laugh at formerly cringeworthy memories.

    • My Granny showered us in handfuls of holy water when we were leaving her house! I love the idea of antibacterial gel being a modern version of holy water; great parallel. It’s a very intersesting idea that maternal worry might just be part of the human history and there’s no escaping it! If I am to make a suggestion for improvement, maybe you could have a look at the second and third sentence and the repetition of the word ‘worry’ three times.

      • Thanks for the great feedback. I enjoyed writing this so I will re visit it with your suggestion in mind.

  6. Pingback: The Grand Sugar Rush of ’99 « Rebecca Dudley – Collected Stories

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