Saturday, January 17, 2015

Steering The Craft: Exercise 1

A new year. 2014 was a mess with problems spilling over into the now, but I think I have finally reached a space from which I can get back into writing regularly and reach for that childhood dream/boon/curse, depending on how I feel like viewing writing. I tend to lean towards curse, but hey, let's not be negative.

Like I said, a new year, 2015, and things I are edging toward much, much better, which means, I might as well revive the writing blog - these figments certainly do die hard, don't they? *sigh*
I'd like to start this off with clear action. I've already finished 3 exercises from the current writing workshop book I'm reading through, and I'll go ahead post those here in separate posts, in case any readers surprise me and care to comment.
And as I finish future exercises, or revise and rewrite, I'll post them as well. The book is Ursula K Le Guin's Steering The Craft: Exercises and Discussion on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew. It's a workshop book meant to function for either solo writers or writing groups. It focuses on the exercises themselves; examples and concise consideration of the particular chapter's them is provided then it's straight into the exercise, with follow-up questions and suggestions given. In contrast to a book like Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (which I did find useful), which was had a lot of Stephen King's personal experiences and whatnot, I like how Steering The Craft keeps the focus on the exercises, with minimal autobiographical input (even though I am a big fan of Le Guin). Gives one a nice solid push of encouragement, but not the kind that leaves you wallowing, but instead kicks you up on your feet and lends the opportunity to stay on your feet if you put in the effort of following through and coming back to each exercise in turn.

So, with that, this post will end with my first draft of Exercise One from Steering The Craft, Chapter One: The Sound Of Your Writing.
Exercise One

Assignment: This first exercise is a warm-up, a playtime piece, to get you listening to the sound of your writing. Write a paragraph to a page (150-300 words) of a narrative that’s meant to be read aloud. Use onomatopoeia, alliteration, repetition, rhythmic effects, made-up words or names, dialect – any kind of sound effect you like – but NOT rhyme or meter.
Exercise One, First Draft:

The countless foreign birds cut through the frigid air. I pondered the threats and the trifles teased in the flying hawk cries, the swan croons, the purple warbles and the predatory peacock whistles. There was much clatter of soldiers and their gear around us, the clatter of tools to smack and block and define and hedge in, the ruckus made as we rode through the whisper-of-storm-blown ripples of ranging western grassfields in Imbeddia, the rise and swells of its hungry, lengthy land of shallow valleys of resting mud-scarred frogs and steep rock ranges of sharp flint-eating reptiles found between the civilized lands of the McInstai, the Michaeliddrin, the Frummev, the Vrumev, the Tethern and of course us Freenra, us Fire-eyed, us Beings of Heaven’s Vision, us lizard-rats overlooking the wastes. Me and Dad, that memory of me and Dad on a trek away with bodies from afar, strangers to me, something to him, companionable him, the politician in him, one of the swords to slice out a region for our tribes to dwell within the reach of rabble nations. That one morning with the birdcalls and with the howl and the hiss of the wind punching at our leathery tent brought danger with the hiss, the plop, the drizzle of piss. A grumbling laughter and a guffaw of afterthought: Oh, what a rank stink! And Dad’s snout sniffing furiously, and me prodding the stain with my curved fingernail. “Oh, what a rank stink!” Dad exclaimed, once he had burst out the bosom of our bedding and into the open. “Oh, what a rank stink indeed!” His snout snapping, his sniffing a means of tracking the culprit, his pressed-wide-and-glaring eyes a drawing of attention. The backs to us turned their fronts to us, me at the tent flap, rubbing the rough scalp of my head, flattening the other palm against my frosty cheek. “Mr. Jhansi,” a Captain acknowledged the activity. “Bugs buzzing from a lazy lizard’s teeth,” a bandit cackled. “Aye, the sharp one’s cut his tongue; he repeats,” a peasant joined in. “Hail the squat.” “Grind the pot.” “Mister sinister fire lizard.” And finally, the captain again, “Shut your traps you filth. What is all this? What is this, Mr. Jhansi, good sir?” “Not but nonsense poetics. It’s the rank and file, stink and brink of defile, that bandit there, the limp meat hanging between his thighs, what he emptied from it on the leather wall, speaks of his crude temper.” “Bandit?” “Aye.” “My son.” “That be so.” “Son?” And the bandit turned to the captain, the grin gross and grizzled with beard. The captain straightened his mustache and peered at the son. “You know they don’t belong - and you know none of us belong. Wipe it.”

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