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.