Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snow day in Starbucks

I really must put in fifteen minutes or so trying to come up with something for my Sat. morning writing exercise. The parameters are pretty clear--the action is being observed by a group, the scene should start in the middle of the action, and there has to be a moment when the character is described by someone else. I wonder how many people will have her looking at herself in the mirror-maybe none, because she is supposed to be being watched by others. I already blew all of my suggestions by throwing them out to the class during our online meeting, so I can't use any of them. Retirement party, wedding, bachelorette party...Where else do people gather to do things? An AA meeting, that would be like the beginning of Fight Club. An AA meeting where she's not actually an alcoholic. A yoga class. The fat girl in the yoga class. A meditation group. An operating room and she's the  patient. One valuable piece of advice from the class is how when you're writing, you should just keep putting the words together. Subject verb direct object, over and over and over and trust the process. Weight Watchers meeting where I can use that line Liz heard once from a woman who was worried because she ate a lot of carrots. The guy leading the meeting said, "Honey, ain't nobody here because we ate too many carrots." A reading where someone is being disruptive. A classroom. The new teacher. Of course, my person would be a hot male teacher who all the girls get crushes on. The hot male teacher at an all girls boarding school.

The high school aged girls at St. Mary's Boarding School were all a-twitter. The new teacher was coming and he wasn't a prune faced nun or an elderly priest with deadly breath--he was a student teacher, still in college only--some of them counted on their fingers underneath the cafeteria table--- like, five years older than them. Nancy Woodrow, whose parents allowed her to smoke outside  of the house on Christmas breaks, reminded them how in the real world, the world outside of these stone walls of St. Mary's, if they were like twenty and he was 25, no one would even care if they dated. So, that meant it really wasn't that far-fetched to think that something could happen now, or at least the beginning of something.

Eight a.m. in the classroom and it smelled like...I don't know what because I don't know what a classroom smells like anymore and chalk doesn't smell like anything so I am not going to compare it to that.

Starbucks is perhaps not the best place to attempt to focus on one's writing as it is distracting and
there is a kid sitting next to me and then his friend and we will be hearing everything they have to say and they don't mind the close proximity because they are European (stereotype, I know), but I will mind because I do not have ear buds and then the girl on the other side of us is on the phone, talking quietly, but talking nonetheless. And a child to the other side of me, whose mother just threatened to take away her dessert and cocoa if she didn't start behaving. 

The French teacher was late. Again. Or "allots" as she would tell her students. She spoke with a slight accent, even though they knew that she was from Moscow, Idaho. She had spent two years in Paris, with a lover, that's the rumor anyway, an older married man. It didn't work out and so here she was back in the states, stuck with these high school students who she probably though were beneath her. This intelligence was according to Nancy Woodward, who seemed to know these things, she always knew when they were going to get out of class early or when on of the nuns was going to have a nervous breakdown.

You see, though, this is not the middle of things. The middle of things would be a spelling B. The spelling word the next student got was "diverticulitis." He cleared his throat, he was a slight boy with a beaky nose that his mother prayed he would grow into as his father had not. One could dream. They all had dreams.

Describe an event from a particular moment as it's happening. Describe the place. That means you have locate it somewhere in particular==a church, a swimming pool, ion the middle of a swim meet or a race of some kind. A library.  A coffee shop--what are some events that happen? How about a murder investigation? I feel like in the class I am falling into the category of a genre writer--someone who writes about gory things. Lots of books start with the weather, how about starting with a hair cut or a hair salon or a dog show? I don't know anything about what it's like to be at a dog show, but I suppose I am meant to just put one word in front of the other. An audition? Opening night of a play or the cast party afterwards when the girl who flubbed her lines walks in. (Aside: I find it annoying when people think that everything their children does is adorable). I guess I've never tried to write an opening to a murder investigation--it would need to be at a lovely home or a garden or a party, like something from an Agatha Christie novel. A barn, a man trying to milk the cows. (Are these guys fighting or are they just kidding around? I wonder if it's weird to be speaking English all the time with someone else, since this guy is Swedish and the other guy is French, but neither one maybe speaks French or Swedish.

The girl looked like she was sleeping until you noticed that her head was twisted funny and then you might see that the red pillow under her head was not a red pillow but a white one soppy with blood and then you might take into consideration a few other things-- that her blue eyes weren't quite closed, that she was fully dressed even though it was much past lights out, that her dorm room window was wide open, no wonder the room was chilly, Joe and Doug, the police officers called to the scene did what they could to keep the area secure, but the girls in the other dorm rooms kept popping their heads out of their own dorms--- the middle of the night, hair messy, eyes unfocused, and that's how they wanted it to stay until Margery got there. Margery did not like things to be messed with and she did not like hysteria, so there might be some harsh words spoken, especially to whomever it was who was keening from behind one of the closed doors.

The room itself was unremarkable if one had college age daughters, which Joe did and Doug did not. Posters on the walls, a bulletin board with postcards and photos, a calendar with days crossed off in red pen, now that might mean something, that's something that Margery would surely not miss, she rarely missed anything, though it had been some time since she'd been on a homicide.  Doug and Joe didn't speak about it but they both hoped she had calmed down. When Margery was not herself, no one was safe.

They heard her voice before they saw her.

Writing genre murder mystery cop stuff I know nothing about is more difficult than I thought it would be.

That is all for now.

No comments: