Monthly Archives: September 2014

Voice Week All Wrapped Up

Well, last week was a busy one. Life continues at home, and I’m away next week, so I’ve got a lot to get done, and yet last week was also full of Voice Week 2014. I’d written my own stories a little way in advance, but it’s been a popular year over at VW HQ, so I’m still reading through the final voices for everyone’s submissions.

As for mine, well the first four seemed to go down well. #5 hit a bit of a rut in a lack of shared culture – not many readers recognised Eric Wimp, the undercover version of Bananaman, who I envisioned grown up and wrestling with the fact that every time he ate a banana, he became a superhero. Still, I think it came off OK, and it was fun to move away from my normal writing style with him.

Other writers took “Voice” in a whole range of different ways and I enjoyed many if not all of their experiments. Like Friday Fiction, it’s the variety that make the group interesting for me … that and all the great comments I receive on my own writing.

Huge thanks to Stephanie of BeKindRewrite for hosting and organising us. Until next year…

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Voice Week 2014 – 5: Eric

Yesterday’s story from Lily took a character from my draft novel, Who Is Eric? She’s a nice person, but she’s a product of her times and her assumptions about race, together with the language she uses, don’t correspond to how most of us feel today.

On this last day of Voice Week, I thought I’d go somewhere different. This character is also called Eric but has nothing to do with the novel. He’s poached from elsewhere. If you don’t recognise him, click here after reading.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the week!

ERIC

Sometimes, you just want something sweet and tasty and brightly-coloured. It’s not an addiction, barely even a habit. I could stop at any time. How much difference can just one make?

Sometimes only a banana will do and never mind the consequences.

But of course, I do mind the consequences. The cost of replacing clothes I burst out of, for one thing. And lying to my wife. That’s why Clark and Lois never settled down. That, and the question of kids … too many unknowns there. Luckily, Fiona can’t have them. Kids, that is. It’s me who can’t touch bananas.

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Voice Week 2014 – 4: Lily

I hope you felt for Charlotte yesterday. I’ve been in her position many times whilst nursing and rocking Sebastian and my biggest challenge in writing her story was to convey the desperation of just-out-of-reach sustenance in 100 words punctuated with nursery rhymes. There’s an analogy in there somewhere 😉

We’re going somewhere else today, to a character from one of my draft novels, Who Is Eric. I haven’t wheeled Lily out of my mind for a while, but I’d love to know what you think about her. Please note, her story does come with a LANGUAGE WARNING.

LILY

Oh lovely, dear. Yes, I would like a banana. Keeps the joints healthy, you know? And very good for weight loss. You should try them. Are you dieting? I suppose you grew up on bananas though, back home.

Oh? Walthamstow, really? I just thought… Mind you, you never can tell these days. Our postman – black as the ace of spades, but when he talks, you’d think he grew up nextdoor. As a matter of fact, he did. We knew him when he was a boy. First gollywog in the school. Can’t call them that either these days, can you?

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Voice Week 2014 – 3: Charlotte

Friday Fiction will be back next week – in the meantime please enjoy Voice Week – a 100 word story each day this week.

Did you meet Brenda yesterday? Did you find her the same grumbling, middle-aged busybody, who discovered her neighbour in the trash a few weeks ago? Brenda was hard for me because I don’t know anyone quite like her in real life, but also because she is North American and I never manage to catch all the Britishisms in my writing. How did I do yesterday?

Today, it’s Charlotte’s turn and I feel like I’m on safer ground, but do le me know what you think about her.

CHARLOTTE

And she’s gone. If I can just shift her slightly off my… Shit. Shhh, shhh, twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are … That’s it, back to sleep, sweetheart, shh shh.

Ok. Now, what was I was doing? Ah, the banana. I put it within reach, so I can lean over … yes!

Now. To peel it, one-handed, without moving. No, no. Shh. Rock-a-bye baby, on the tree top. Mama put you up there so she could eat a banana. Or have a nap. Or … no, Charlotte, don’t even think about a toilet break or you’re doomed.

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Voice Week 2014 – 2: Brenda

Yesterday was the first day of Voice Week and you met Sebastian. If you haven’t read the story already, please feel free to drop by. If you have, I hope you met a lovely but conflicted toddler, whose Mama is genuinely trying to help but runs the risk in turns of going too far and not far enough in helping him eat his banana. Oh yes, and he loves apple pie.

Today is Brenda’s turn. Again, I’d love to know who you think she is and how well you think her voice is shown in this extract.

 

BRENDA

Oh, Roger. I knew I shouldn’t have asked him to buy groceries. Men can’t do it right. They think “bananas” means, “the first bunch you see”. But it doesn’t. It’s an art, picking bananas. And a science. Too green and they’ll never ripen; too yellow and they’re already past their best. But black? Honestly.

These are going to be vile. Not even suitable for making into banana bread. They’ve clearly been kicking about the store’s floor for a week. Black, bruised and … yes, they taste just as bad. Soft and over-sweet. How can something so good go so wrong?

 

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Voice Week 2014 – 1: Sebastian

Welcome! It’s Voice Week and my challenge for the week is to show you five different people, all eating a banana. I’m not sure exactly how that particular subject came about, but perhaps there’s a clue in the slice of life that is Voice 1.

Those of you who know me have a head start with this one, but the challenge for all 5 pieces is the same. How much can you tell about the character from 100 words centred on a banana? Are their voices distinct? I’ve delibately avoided description – do their thoughts alone tell you who they are? Because the characters in my head are pretty fixed, but only you can decide how well I’ve translated them onto the page. Leave me a comment today, or every day if you care to, and let me know. A brief explanation will appear the day after, on the next story.

 

SEBASTIAN

Bastian banana! Maaamaaaa! Banana!

Climb. Bastian chair. Mama chair. Mama sit.

Noooooo! Bastian banana!

Yum yum. Mama chair. Mama sit.

What colour banana? Red. No. Blue. No. <Giggles> Red. No. Yellow. Banana yellow. Yellow!

Banana. Mama open? Mama open?

Noooo! No open. Mama no open! Bastian do it.

Bastian eating.

Mama do it.

Noooo! Bastian banana! Nooo! Mama no open!

Banana broken! No banana! All done. Gone.

No wash! Down! Down!

Bastian banana. Yum yum. Mama open. Yum yum yum. Mama eat.

No! Bastian banana!

Bastian banana. Yum yum.

Nice. More banana. More. Yum yum.

Banana all gone. Apple pie?

 

Some banana-free time!

Some banana-free time!

 

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Friday Fiction – Buddha is Patient

This week’s picture (from Dawn Q Landau) is both haunting and inspiring. Eventually it brought to mind the incredible journey of Tibetan pilgrims who walk hundreds of miles through mountains and bitter weather to reach Lhasa, kowtowing at each step. That is to say, they raise head and hands to the sky, then lie prostrate on the floor, then walk three short steps before doing it again. For hundreds of miles. It is an act of humility, of faith and of determination. And thousands from this tiny community do it every year. Most are young and unmarried, but not all.

If you want more stories, take a pilgrimage of your own to FF hostess, Rochelle’s page. Bowing is optional.

c2a9tales_from_the_motherland

Buddha is Patient

“I leave at dawn. You need not wake.” She touched her son’s head as though he were a little boy; not a father himself.

“Journey will kill you,” he said, watching her gnarled fingers push a needle through the sheepskin lining of her apron and tie the final knot.

“Then I die in prostration.”

He shook his head silently. She would go anyway, and a rift now would serve neither.

“I die closer to enlightenment,” she added. “And if I do not reach Lhasa in this life, I get there in my next. Buddha is patient. I shall be too.”

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Voice Week is coming!

How many words would you need to describe your thoughts about eating a banana? One? Ten, maybe? Stop by every day next week to see five people for whom 100 words barely suffice. It’s Voice Week 2014, and I’m taking up the challenge via the curvy yellow fruit. There’s still time to join in: head over to the VW homepage  to find out how. I look forward to seeing you here … or there … next week!

Copyright Steve Hopson, www.stevehopson.com via Wikimedia Commons

Copyright Steve Hopson, http://www.stevehopson.com via Wikimedia Commons

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Friday Fiction – Through The Glass, Darkly

It’s an addiction, this FF thing, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I’m still battling with time and inspiration, but I can’t bring myself to miss a week or two and let things improve, so here I am. The prompt is from Janet Webb, whose commitment (or possibly addiction!) one of the central columns on which the Fictioneers fortress is built. I strongly suggest you stop reading now and head to either her page or Rochelle’s. You’ll find more thought-out prose (or poetry) there, I’m sure. My offering is below.

ff

Through The Glass, Darkly

“The Johnsons have put their trash out early again,” Brenda grumbled to herself as she wiped down her bathroom sink. She was sick of stepping around the piles of newspaper and cardboard the neighbours had started building every Monday night, long before the Friday collection.

Pulling on her coat a half hour later, she resolved to say something. It was early, but Maggie and Ian Johnson had some explaining to do.

The pile rustled as Brenda approached and she braced herself for a raccoon to emerge. Instead, a head appeared, wearing a dirty smile. “Morning, Brenda,” grunted the hobo.

“Ian?”

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The Time Before Time

Was there a time before Elmowrites? (For that matter, was there a time before this tantrum, Sebastian?)

According to WordPress, it’s only 3 years since I started this adventure in blogging. My anniversary passed on Saturday. My opening post was little more than an introduction, and I feel I’ve come a long way since then. I had a blog before, but it was a quiet one for family and friends; with Elmowrites I entered the wider blogosphere and the friends I’ve made, the critique I’ve received and the sense of community here has made that feel like a fantastic change.

We’ve come a long way in three years, and like most parents, I can hardly remember a time before this baby was born. But a couple of weeks ago I caught a rare glimpse when I visited some old lawyer colleagues at their new firm. For the first time in a long time, I thought about life before Sebastian, elmowrites and cats (roughly 2, 3 and 4 years respectively). It was nice to see my old friends, to catch up and see how they were getting on. Facebook (Twitter, Linked In…) has pros and cons – it keeps us in touch with people we might otherwise have lost, but it also makes it easy to neglect the effort required to make friendships real. The blogosphere has given me some lovely online friendships – friendships that have made this expat SAHM feel a lot less isolated by circumstances, but I’ll be honest here and say there’s nothing like sitting across a real table, talking with your voice not your fingers and having someone steal your chips.

Think about making real contact with a friend today – picking up the phone, sending a letter or email that isn’t posted on a wall for all to see … or, as my latest baby would say “Mama, Cuddle.”

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