Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wednesday Writing: Week One

So, I've decided to do a thirty day writing challenge, because the vast majority of my writing is in my journal. Which is all well and good, but it's not exactly formal and it's obviously very personal. I'd like to improve with some other styles, and so I gathered some short prompts and dove in. It's been fun. It's been challenging (fiction, why do you mock me so!), but I look forward to writing something each night.

The prompts so far:
1) Write something inspired by the last song you listened to
2) Write a 15 step how-to guide
3) Write something in the style of the last book you read
4) Write a short story about calling a wrong number
5) Write a poem about something you want

The following is what I wrote on Day Three. I had just finished Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr, which was INCREDIBLE. Five stars. I recommend it to everybody. He spends a lot of time describing daily things, and I tried to emulate that. It's shorter than I'd like, but I felt like it's better to write something too short than too long. 

One of the things I most love about summer is how the sun lingers, like an old friend at a dinner party, long bright shards stretching across the lazy lawns of the neighborhood hours after it ought to have left. It is a welcome gift, one that will be sorely missed when the planet has continued its orbit and the earth has grown cold. Winter sunshine is an oxymoron. The sun may be out, but to me it is not sunshine. A memory surfaces: my father explaining to me how the rays of light hit the earth at a sharper angle in the winter. Winter sun brought light, but not warmth, like an insincere smile that doesn’t reach the eyes.

The air on an August afternoon is hot and heavy, but not oppressive. Not once out of doors, anyway. In my bedroom upstairs it is sweltering. There is an air vent, which I occasionally huddle over like a homeless man to a flame, relishing every drop of cold air against my body. The whine of the air conditioning kicking on is a delirious joy. In my bedroom it is a struggle to move, and torture to stay still. Sweat collects on my neck as I sprawl on my mattress, blankets long ago kicked to the side, silently begging for any sort of relief, be it a breeze, sleep, or death. My nightly ritual is to trek downstairs, open the fridge, and press my forehead against the chill of the water bottle waiting there. It brings refreshment even before I twist off the lid.

The lecture of a former college professor comes to mind. He told us that all of summer should be spent in preparation for winter. It is a fleeting moment preceding the long sleep. Generations of farmers know that if one is not prepared that sleep will quickly morph into death; to mock the dark power of winter through careless indulgences is folly indeed. But today the creeping tendrils of ice and snow are far away in my mind; I will not be disturbed by this inescapable equation of nature. I feast on popsicles and stroll barefoot through the grass. The hum of crickets and other insects anxiously engaged in the business of survival is the constant accompaniment of August. They will be dead when the snow comes. I wonder if they have some idea of this. Their instincts tell them to perpetuate their numbers, but they have no crops to gather, and nature takes no prisoners.

Each year schoolchildren impatiently number the days until the doors of academia open and they will be released to the world, a crashing flood of youth and vitality brimming with hopeful tomorrows. Free for the summer! How many numbered days have been anxiously checked off by the child feeling trapped behind a desk? The same countdown is buried in the adult heart, though we are chained by the manacles of routine. Summer is a sweet wine beckoning us with intoxication; we long to run rampant across the country, to acquire a new lover, to bare our soul to the world and declare, “I am here. Witness me.” 

The compulsion will fade with the shortening of the days; autumn invites solemnity of spirit. Perhaps the way we tenaciously cling to summer is derived from the certainty it will not stay. Summer is nature’s euphoria with an expiration date; it is a reminder that another year has passed and we are growing older, older like the earth and the sun and the trees outside my window. The earth is beautifully ancient, and my youth casts flickering shadows ahead like a quick burning candle.

“Everything sweet is sweet because it is finite.” -Anthony Doerr

The view from my hammock

1 comment:

  1. That was amazing. I approve of this personal challenge and this post and summertime.