Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Writing, Writing, Writing

I'm on my third full day of the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop and have been writing nonstop. My head is foggy from lack of sleep and I have about a million ideas jiggling around, but I'm loving it. This week is amazing because it gives me the opportunity to step away from everything in my life and just write. This isn't a workshop where you bring stuff you've already created, but one where we spend our days writing and sharing new work. When I leave on Saturday, I'll have a folder full of shorts stories, scenes and ideas. Material that will keep me writing for a long time after this ends.

I don't want to really talk a lot about the workshop, since I'm in the thick of things, but I'll share a piece that I wrote last year in one of my workshops...enjoy!

The four of us stayed inside our cabin; windows tight, screws not yet loosened to welcome in the first breaths of summer air. It is so quiet that you can hear our next door neighbors, the Sullivan’s, arguing about what movie to see in town that night. There were only two movies shown at the old theater, but the debate was heated, rising and falling in valleys.

My sister, brother, dad and I sat around the old oak table as our hands traced words in the wood, chronicling love affairs and hatreds, young and old, feeling forgotten in the past and some still carried, carved into the surface by fork prongs and ball point pens: Sara + Alex P Keaton = True Love Forever, Go Red Sox, Broccoli is the devil, My brother eats poop, Mom + Dad = Lovey Dovey, the last message covered and hidden by my sister’s hand. A trace line, angle of the letter "M" peeking out, the end of what followed covered.

We can see the rocky shore of the lake, full of families, through the hazy double windows behind us, it's panes stained by fall and winter, the months when we always left the house alone, and this year spring, the first time we didn't come to the cabin for the long stretch of spring break. Kids running backwards out of the water as it tickles their toes, mothers, endless mothers, waving bottles in their arms, trying to tell their children to come back to the bright colored beach towels for one more dose of sunscreen. And teenage girls shimmering in oil lying out on the dock suspended in the lake so you had to swim to it; a fortress to keep away unwanted visitors like parents and younger brothers. These are places the places we once ran to when we arrived at the cabin, dropping our bags in the living room, bathing suits under our clothes so all we need to do is run down the short path to dive into our lake.

Today, our suitcases sit on beds just visible in rooms past the kitchen, swimsuits, tank tops, flip flops still folded in neat piles. Our feet scrape against the cold smooth floor, usually rough and coarse from the grit of sand carried in from the beach.

The smell of the bleach from last year, its sterile twang similar to another we were too used to this year. Mom had splashed it all over the floors, shelves and counters declaring that we would not leave our cabin a pigsty, it's always nice to come back to a clean place after a full year away. We hadn't helped, we were busy holding onto one last day of the summer.

We sit gathered around this table, in this cabin, in this woods that we had all known so well. We sit gathered around a table where we now fit comfortably, four chairs instead of the five we had crammed together for over fourteen years when we called ourselves a family

Dad makes the move first, shifting his chair closer to my brother and then we are all moving our chairs together, close enough so that we were sitting shoulder to shoulder, bumping up against each other like the canoes tied up outside, empty and unstable on the unsettled waves of the lake.


Kristan said...

BEAUTIFUL work setting the scene. I could visualize this so well. I particularly loved the things carved on the table. :)

Rachele Alpine said...

Kristan...you're missing a great week! Tyler has a little baby now and we're starting our readings tonight. Guess who is the first one out of EVERYONE to read??? Me! I'm freaking, but I'm glad it will be done!

Okie said...

Great piece. I like it a lot. Thanks for sharing.

Emilia Plater said...

Wow. Your description is amazing - but what really hit me was the portrayal of the family, especially at the end. It's so real and so poignant. Great teaser <3

Christina Lee said...

THAT was SO VERY lovely! And I sooo want to be there with you right now!

Lisa Nowak said...

I'm glad you're having such a great time. I don't know how I'd cope with writing on demand like that. My mind tends to go blank when someone gives me a writing prompt.