Wednesday, November 18, 2009

a freewrite

Although I like to write fiction in my free time, I never wanted this blog to be a display of that writing.  I have another website I go to for self-publishing purposes.

image source: WAG Screen

Still, I wasn't planning on actually publishing this freewrite, created during a meeting of a local writing group. For any aspiring writers out there, freewrites are great exercises for spinning ideas.  All you do is set a timer for half an hour or 45 minutes and just write about anything that pops into your head until the timer stops.  Don't worry about extensive editing or whether something is good enough- that comes after you've read it aloud and decide whether or not you like your idea enough to develop it into something further.

Music is a huge inspiration to me in my fiction writing- if I am writing a comical scene I try to play some sort of music with funny lyrics, or at least ironic ones.  Natural settings seem to go best with Celtic music.  Jazz works perfectly for barroom scenes.  I think I wrote my fiction novel listening to almost nothing but Evanescence.  100,000 points if you can guess the topic of the novel.

When I do freewrites, I often just pick a song or a genre of music and try to let that music guide my writing.  It's odd, but I think it's worked rather well.

When I wrote this freewrite I just picked a song that had a lot of emotion: Emilie Autumn's "Shalott."  As I wrote, my aim was to capture the Lady's isolation in the tower.  Since I am also notoriously bad at writing descriptions, most of my writing in the past year or so has focused more on setting a scene, which is why this short story has more physical details than action.

Let me know what you think:

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven.

Eleven steps.  She paced the room, counting out the steps as she walked the length of the circular room.   A cool breeze blew in with the rain outside, caressing her skin.  She continued her slow, measured steps, trying to gather her thoughts.

One. Two. Three. Four.

Her bare feet fell upon the soft carpet of embroidered cloth on the stone floor.  She had made the carpet herself with her own hands, its purpose to keep out the cold which seeped in through the moist stone.  The colorful scenes of lovers in their bed, farmers gathering crops in the bright sunlight, a wedding celebration, fishermen upon the sea muffled the patter of her feet.

Five. Six. Seven.

Her feet fell upon an embroidered wood – oak, maple, willow, birch, rowan, alder- all created with care by her own hands.

Eight. Nine. Ten.

She lifted her hands to her eyes.  They had been smooth and graceful once.  Now they were tired, worn hands, not from age, but from hard work.  Her fingers were dotted with small puncture wounds from the slip of her grip on a needle, and thin, red lines from the twisting of thread about her fingers.


Her eyes rose to the stone wall in front of her.  A tapestry of a brilliant sunrise rose before her eyes.  She closed her eyes and touched the wall, as if trying to derive comfort from the coldness which permeated through the cloth.

She remained in that position for several moments, her lips pursed together, her hand tightening over the rose, gold and deep purple threads on which her hand rested.  A gust of wind blew around her, rattling the tapestry on its wooden rod and brushing her plain white linen skirt.

Her eyes sprang open as she pivoted on her heel. She began to cross the length of the room once more.

One. Two. Three. Four.

There lay the wool with which she spun her thread—various shades of black gray, white, and off-white speckled with brown.

Five. Six. Seven.

To the right stood a wooden loom.  There stood travelers on a road—merchants carrying their silks and spices to market, farmers leading oxen pulling wagons filled with carrots, leeks, turnips, and potatoes, horsemen back from long journeys over the mountains and through the valleys, all on their way back to the blessed city of the king.  The tapestry was nearly finished. 

Eight. Nine. Ten.

There stood her spinning wheel, the spindle already filled with the silvery grey thread of a knight’s armour.  Other spindles lay in a basket next to the wheel—scarlet and gold for the king’s standard, light straw yellow for the horses’ feed, shades of light and deep blue for the river which flowed to the great city.


She stopped, staring at not another tapestry, but at a large gilded mirror.  Her own pale face looked out—weak brown eyes which squinted at the reflected light from the window, long, brown hair bound loosely with a discarded piece of white thread, her mouth turned downward, her face expressionless, but bearing the signs of fatigue.  Behind her the rainy, overcast sky reflected itself clearly from the sky.  Beyond that a muddy road with deep puddles in the ruts created by hundreds of wagon wheels was abandoned except for a lone horseman, heading toward the stone wall guarding a village and a stone citadel on the heights.  She sighed. Taking a step backward, she sank into her little stool by the spinning wheel.

1 comment:

  1. I like this. The counting, her pacing, give it all a sense of urgency, while the detailed descriptions slow it back down and situate the reader in the scene. Sorta balances it.

    And I know what you mean about the description thing. I think every writer does. Actually, just earlier today I was reading online about MFA programs, because I'm sorta thinking I want to be able to teach, and there's SO much criticism of teaching creative writing: that there's no possible way to teach creativity, it's an intrinsic talent that can't be learned, MFA programs are wastes of time, etc.

    And I started to feel really bummed, but then I started thinking about some of the stories we get in collision and some I've written in the past--stories that tell instead of showing--and realized that those critics are wrong. You can't teach talent or creativity, but you can cultivate it, and bring it back from the dead--because I think that damn 5-paragraph essay, that high school ingrains in our heads, kills it. And results in pieces like those jokingly referred to "college admission essays" we got.

    Argh. Sorry, I know that this is probably not a totally blog-helpful comment, but it is just on my mind.