The wedding ring, Rain & Volcano (writing exercises)

by magda at {which translates to...}

Santorini island. Speaking of volcanoes…

 

Friends and readers,

I am running out of time. Again. Tomorrow I must wake up really early if I need to get rid of the ironing pile so I can go on with the translation I am working on and then go out to the post office and …and… But I do have something to share with you all.

Don’t worry. It’s not another poem. However I do have another poem but I will probably post it some other time.

I want to share the writing exercises I did during the “Start Writing Fiction” course at FutureLearn. Which translates to…. exposure. Unfortunately, I am really behind with the course and I don’t know if I can finish it. Maybe this is one of the reasons I wanted to post the most important exercises done so far.

The exercises are three. I have quickly given titles to each exercise while writing this post so you know what it’s about.

Feel free to comment. I won’t take it personally! :)

Magda

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BUILD A CHARACTER: THE WEDDING RING

This exercise started as a simple character description to which more details were added later. This is the last version.

“He was a tall guy. He had dark skin and big, intense eyes. His hair was partly grizzled specially right above his earlobes. He had a fresh haircut and looked imposing and sexy. He wore a basic dark coloured t-shirt and bermuda shorts. He was the athletic type, always busy and always getting calls from people and colleagues.

He was always looking at her while they were having coffee but there were some people eavesdropping at the next table so apparently there could have been things they wanted to talk about but never got round to. She felt unreal. The only real thing about the whole scene was that he was there. He was very charming. He didn’t seem to be ready to reveal any particular personal details to her. On the other hand, he seemed to desire to get closer to her. She wasn’t sure.

There was one detail she couldn’t take her mind off. A detail that shook her up and cause small spasms to her stomach. His wedding ring. He announced to her that he had eventually married his girlfriend. And of course, her comment was “Oh, I am happy for you”.

Happy for you? Who was she kidding?

As he was drinking his coffee, he had his legs crossed. He seemed eager, attentive yet absorbed into his own life’s deadlines and anxieties. He wasn’t afraid to stare at every inch of her face. Astonishingly, their conversation was somehow boring. It would seem he tried to talk to her through his eyes and between the lines.

Before they left the coffee shop he embraced her. There was something so loving and warm about that embrace. But she didn’t recall if she embraced him back. During their coffee date, she wasn’t saying what she was thinking. She forbid herself from doing so.”

 

DESCRIBE SOMETHING FAMILIAR WITH ORDINARY WORDS: RAIN

In this exercise, you need to describe something familiar with one or two ordinary words that you wouldn’t normally use in that context. I chose to describe “rain” and the words were “ravishing” and “empire”.

“Rain was no extraordinary event. That day however the raindrops provided a ravishing twist to her writing project. A new concept had emerged while writing and listening to the empire-like sound of the rain.”

 

THE FIRST THING THAT IS MENTIONED: VOLCANO

This is a story of about 500 words prompted by something you heard on the radio. Instead of the radio, I picked the first newspaper headline. It was the volcano eruption which occurred in Indonesia on 31st May 2014.

“She tried to remember what it was she was thinking about before she heard the news of the volcano’s eruption. Oh yes. The menu. Her train of happy thoughts about the romantic menu she would pick for Joshua’s birthday was disrupted when the announcer at the airport broke the news of a volcano eruption in Indonesia. The bad news was that she would have to stay stranded at Melbourne airport for – God knows – how many hours until the next available flight back home and to Joshua. She pictured him sitting in his much-loved cosy reading corner in the home she once used to live alone, reading books and soaking up the knowledge of the world, getting lost and found – yes, so immeasurably found between the lines of his books – was something that blew her away.

Was this guy real? A writer in her house? That was more than she could ask for. She kept recalling how reluctant she was to attend that book fair last year. She was lucky to have a friend like Katie who insisted that she went there. Katie was exactly the opposite of Eva. Katie was extrovert, playful, charming, seductive. Eva was always hiding in some corner behind a cup of coffee and a laptop. No wonder why Joshua found his perfect soul mate in Eva. Eva provided a sense of security that many girls lacked. It was to Joshua’s delight that Eva lived in the Netherlands. He was infatuated with Dutch painting and he longed to visit the country where Vermeer was born. But besides a passion for Vermeer and the Golden age of Dutch art, he longed to relocate. It all happened very fast. He left his Texan apartment and moved in with Eva almost about one month after they met at the book fair. For Joshua, Eva was his way of finding a mirror of himself without feeling the burden of anxiety and emotional insecurity that attention-seeking girls impart.

And then a volcano erupted and she found herself talking to an old lady at the airport. That woman was a bit bizarre but she apparently saw a lot of things in her life. You could tell there was something unsettling about her but Eva wanted to listen. She always paid attention to the unusual things that people ignored and passed by or even frowned upon. The words she spoke made her heart quiver.

“You hardly know this guy, Eva.”

Eva froze and looked at the wall clock. It struck 21.38.

As she approached the information desk, she saw the old lady go towards the corridor right where the coffee shops were. A few minutes later, there was no sign of her.

The girl at the desk said she had no news. Eva went back to her seat and opened her laptop. She checked her emails but she kept thinking of that lady. She wanted to go find her but she never came back.

Airports always gave her a sense of insecurity anyway. And then it struck her. “Avocados”. The menu. An avocado based salad for Joshua’s birthday.

She started googling “avocado recipes romantic dinner”. That was it. Everything was okay. Except being stranded at the airport of course.”