End of summer last year, I decided to get my creative juices flowing again, after being rather stale for years, and took some online classes at Coursera. One was a series of Fundamentals of Graphic Design to get some more basics, especially, since I want to take my card creations a little further. The other was a selection of writing classes.
The creative writing classes all had different themes to it, I started with the Craft of Style and then took Craft of Setting and Description. The first class was a superb kickstarter to get back into writing and find my groove again. Each week, there would be assignments and exercises through which I believe I found my way back to my own style. I used to write a lot when I was younger and also am the proud owner of quite a selection of my own poems (some of them of course juvenile, but oh when you thought you were in love). When writing, it used to be more of a conversational style, as you can probably tell by my blog posts. It feels like I am talking to a person and I like it a lot.
However challenging the assignments were each week, they were brilliant in helping me hone my writing skills, learn new words (Thank you Thesaurus) and learn to get to the point without using fluffy language. It was hard, but fun!
So without further ado, here is a story about a habitual ritual written in the second person, the “you” voice, with as many details in 500 to 750 words:
Get ready! You’re going to the beach in 5 minutes. You have to drop everything. You have to do as she says, otherwise she’ll get impatient and annoyed and you’ll have to listen to it the entire way to the beach. Jump! Be quick! What are you waiting for? It doesn’t matter that you’re in the middle of something. Why would it? You’re going to the beach. The most important thing to happen today since yesterday’s return from the sand, sun and sea.
You spring up from your chair and frantically start looking around to gauge how much time you really have until it’s go-time. Your mother could still be finishing off a million things. You never really know, but then again, you do know. Usually, this is a 5 minute warning. She uses her time wisely.
You have practised this exact situation many times over. The shock, the running around and preparation has become engrained. You scan your blueprint in your head. Bikini in your room, a water bottle on the kitchen counter. You left your book on the terrace last night and your sunscreen is in the woven beach bag. You don’t remember where your sunglasses are. The turquoise leather case lays on the oak table, empty.
You pant whilst taking two stairs at once. You drop your laptop on your bed and grab your beach dress from the foot end. The bikini is waiting on top of the suitcase to the left of the bed. With your beach dress and bikini in hand, you speed to the toilet. The rush of adrenaline calls for a mini pee break paired efficiently with getting changed into the beach outfit. Everything off, weeing, bikini and dress on. You throw the other clothes on the wicker chair in the bathroom for later. Your checklist shrank. You have two minutes left. You run another flight of stairs up to collect your book with your right hand and back down the lot, taking the water bottle with your left to your final destination. You made it in less than five minutes. Your achievement, however, goes unnoticed. You hear a humming sound outside the door and open it. Your mother sits in the car, motor running.
Outside the season, Sundays are great to go to the beach. You can park next to the wooden barriers that hide the path to the beach. At the end of the pebble trail, you balance your weight on rocks, climbing towards the sea holding on to your book, water and parasol with both arms and hands. Your mother is of course a trained expert, having gotten to know the rocks all season. She waits for you at the bottom whilst you calculate the likelihood of slipping with your sandals and getting your right foot stuck between two stones.
The beach towel is an old bed sheet big enough for a family of five. The size demands careful consideration of any new beach goer daring to lay close to you. You also need to factor in the beach umbrella capable of covering the entire sheet. Your mother doesn’t need protection. The sun comes from the left and will turn over the course of the afternoon. You position the umbrella a metre away from the upper left corner of the sheet. As you lay down on your towel and feel the the sun-warmed sand, you remember where you left your yellow sunglasses. In your leather handbag. In your room. You close your eyes and take a deep breath.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Am rather curious to know what your reactions were reading this.