Because I write

From “Steering the Craft”, by Ursula K. Le Guin, a blogging (writing, really) idea I’m copying from my friend Aborigen.

Exercise 4, parts 1 and 2: Again and Again and Again

Part One: Write a paragraph of narrative (150 words) that includes at least three repetitions of a noun, verb or adjective (a noticeable word, not an invisible one like was, said, did).

Acid burnt his throat as food hopped back up his esophagus. She had fed him lobster from her fingertip just moments ago; before she snapped him up from the plate with angry fingers, and revealed to him that she knew. “I told you what would happen, little one. I warned you: no betrayals.” And then there was acid in her eyes too, corrosive pools of brown brimstone. The back of his throat filled with vomit that couldn’t escape terminal velocity as he made the circuit to her opening mouth. Just as well, he thought. It might make it difficult for her to end him with a merciful bite. But she didn’t. Of course she wouldn’t. He closed his eyes and didn’t bother screaming as his body slipped past her teeth. She kept him whole for the entire ride. Acid waited for him. Outside, tears hissed crystal paths down her cheeks.

Part Two: Structural Repetition. Write a short narrative (350-1000 words) in which something is said or done and then something is said or done that echoes or repeats it, perhaps in a different context, or by different people, or on a different scale.

From an idea originally jotted down on 10/11/05 1:42:05am

So much air, he thought, as it whipped past his ears, never reaching his lungs. As it rushed by, it whistled a tune that reminded him of long car rides with his dad when he was a child; during a time in his life where he could still hear the music, voices that sang wordlessly in that rushing wind that swirled into his hair and prickled at his face, the high-pitch of angels screaming for blood. 

I never loved her the way I love you, he had wanted to say. He never got the lies out, and that’s too bad, because they would have angered her enough to make it all end sooner. Funny thing, comfort. Even as she drew him closer he thought of those tears that ran like rivers down her face, and wished he had never started their flow.  It would have been a nice thing to say, but she would have only heard his admission of loving the other one. More or less? She didn’t care. She would have only heard that the other one had mattered enough. That she had mattered at all.

So he made the trek in style as she wrapped her fingers around his shape, turning them into long, oblong coffins. She made him attend his own funeral, those five digits the only pallbearers in the parlor of her palm. No speeches were said, no jokes were cracked, and no one pushed the button of a boom box so that the rest of them could hear “Wind Beneath My Wings” as applied to some departed hero. But he was no hero. He was only a man, and not very good at it.

As she drew him nearer, he tried to catch a glimpse of himself in the glossy shine of her teeth. At least he’d get a procession out of this, even if one that had already been there, waiting for him. He looked at them accusingly, as though they were silent witnesses to secret knowledge. As his sphincter loosened, his gray matter produced nonsensical last thoughts. Teeth, he called out with it, why didn’t you warn me? Why didn’t you tell me this would happen if I faltered?

That gleaming row of disdainful white might not have had anything to say during the course of their entire relationship, but her tongue had said plenty. It had proclaimed the truth left and right, front and back. “Hear ye, hear ye.” There had been no more honest town crier; none more straightforward. He should have known better.

Instead, he had lied, one fabrication after another falling from his lips into the basket of her understanding. He missed all the signals; he missed the abacus of her mind keeping tally of all inconsistencies until it added it all up, and offered up reality. All those words he had said through the years. Maybe he had meant some of them, maybe all. None of it made up for the damage. All of it had ever only been so much air.


6 thoughts on “Because I write

Add yours

  1. Well! My phone deleted my thought-provoking and heartfelt response! So let’s see if I can recreate a shred of it!

    I’m so excited you’re doing these exercises too, for very selfish reasons. It makes me feel like we’re in a writer’s group. But also, your creative mind is dazzling and I’m, yes, literally slavering in anticipation of what you’re going to produce.

    And I want to quickly note that someday we should challenge each other to write something upbeat. Mine was about abandonment, yours was about selfish infidelity. Heh, anyone’d think we have issues or something, which is of course ludicrous.

    But your story. Very strong, thematically. I envy that, I struggle with theme and atmosphere. You swim in it, apparently. Part Two has such a consistent feel, surfaced with the world-view of the tiny guy. Everything he experiences feeds into his analogy and perspective. It’s a little funny that’s he’s so wrapped up in his internal experience, even as he goes sliding into her internal workings. It’s sad that he’s only upset about the pain she’s in now (coupled closely with being caught) and has no remorse for the larger relationship he’s losing, no sympathy for her shattered dreams or the loss she herself has to effect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I keep telling you we ARE in a writer’s group. This is something you started. People follow your example, so I hope you see that, and see the scope of your influence in the size community. You do good stuff.

      Yeah… I agree. Upbeat. I’m going to concentrate on upbeat for the next few entries. Then I want to write something tragicomic.

      I tried to show that, his own self-interest throughout the entire process. It’s always all about him. That doesn’t make him a bad person, and he doesn’t deserve the ending he got, but… she did warn him. And he accepted her warning as a rule. So…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done. I like the idea of repetition, or what an old boss of mine used to call Peat and Repeat. It’s also good to circle back to an original thought or idea that provides recognition and sometimes a bit of fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It was a fun exercise. I’m looking forward to doing more of them from the book, which is something I’ve never experienced from similar books. It’s great!


  3. Just wanted to add – I’m reading a really good book, A Man Called Ove. Every official jerk Ove meets in his lifetime is wearing a white shirt. It’s very comical every time he meets a new ‘white shirt’, some bureaucrat telling him what he can and can’t do. Never a blue or green shirt, always white. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I looked it up and added it to my cart. Thank you for the recommendation! I now feel I’m in a writer’s group with you. Reading, doing book reviews, and practicing the craft. :)


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