Thursday, February 23, 2017

Word Count Thursday

What am I working on?

I am working on editing my first chapter currently and journaling as per usual.

How do I like the process?

Getting to finally share my work in class yesterday was such a wonderful experience for me. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone and it was nice to get feedback. I am looking forward to editing it and making it even better.

What am I reading?

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

chapter 1

Marissa Adamski
Chapter 1

The last thing Celeste said to me was that she wanted to die. In the year we spent apart, she just as well may have. In the year that came after, I just as well may have too. I guess you could say Celeste enabled me. I mean to an extent she did. She was the one who would catch me crying before tears even had the time to stroll down my face and would suggest as if it were the most normal thing in the world, “Do we need to do a round of church and Katie?” Before you start guessing, no those aren’t teenage slang nicknames for drugs or maybe they are. It all depends on what the word “drug” means to you. It’s that way with everything; everybody’s interpretation is different. Katie means more to me than most people do and that’s all I’ll say of her for now. As far as Church goes; which I will tell you now is very far anexceptionally twisted; Celeste was an atheist and I attended our local Catholic church every Sunday with my family. I suppose what we were doing was essentially praying, if you really stretch that term, but again it all comes down to what your definition of “praying” is. I guarantee you though if we said that hopeless prayer of ours aloud in any church of any kind, we would have been kicked out real quick and probably had our mouths doused in holy water.
Celeste and I didn’t stop talking for any one reason. To be honest, today if you were to ask either one of us why we fell silent on each other during those lost months, we’d both probably tell you it had more to do with some cosmic shift in the universe than anything else. That was Celesteand I for you though. We put our faith in the craziest things. There were three elderly men in tracksuits-one gray, one navy, one black- that would walk along the road of our high school every morning. In our freshman English class, we had learned that in literature, groups of three often represent some sort of superstition. I couldn’t tell you where those old men were headed or why they wore the same velour tracksuits every day, but at some point I made up my mind that seeing these three men on my way to school meant my day was bound to be okay. I told Celesteof this mid-sophomore year at the blooming point of our friendship and she immediately adapted it into one of her own sacred beliefs. I remember when we initially stopped talking we tried countless times to discuss what was occurring between the two of us but for some reason it never got solved. She was too sad or I was too busy. We were full of excuses and confusion. We just didn’t seem to have room in our lives for each other anymore and I was certain we had outgrown our friendship for good. I won’t lie to you. The entirety of my senior year of high school consisted of me living a life that didn’t involve her and she one that didn’t involve me. I never thought I would see her again. She could have died in that time we spent apart and I could have too. Yes, that’s morbid but it’s true. On that note, make sure you tell your mother you love her on the way out the door this morning.
You can only imagine my surprise months later when I got a phone call from an unknown number and heard Celeste’s voice on the other end of the line. Picture this, a teenage girl two days after her catastrophic break up is crying into a bowl of mediocre chicken tortilla soup at one of America’s worst restaurant chains and her nearly dead ex-best friend calls her to discuss said break up.  I was so shocked I had to ask her three times who I was speaking to before I understood. She said she had heard about the break up from a friend of mine and that she wanted to meet up. Oh and get this; her boyfriend of two years had broken up with her just two days after mine. The universe, or God, or Santa, or whatever you believe in had aligned in such a special way that I didn’t hesitate for a second. I agreed to meet with her as I sipped on a spoonful of over salted broth and cursed myself for hanging out with people who enjoy mediocrity (my friends chose the restaurant that day). It seemed the universe had cosmically shifted again and had opened our hearts to each other after all that time. It was the day I learned that coincidences are rarely accidents, but instead gifts the universe sends you as a reminder that life doesn’t always suck. It just most of the time sucks. 
The next day, I arrived at her house to find her sobbing in the trunk of her white Volkswagen bug. Amongst the slew of yoga gear, old reusable water bottles, and her miscellaneous treasures was the crumpled form of what was at one time known as the very sturdy Celeste Devita. In the three years we had been best friends before our leave of absence, I had seen her cry but never like this. She wasn’t someone who was afraid to emote. She was not the girl whom you would see running to escape to a private bathroom stall in a frazzled blur because she didn’t want anyone to know she had been crying. I mean a lot of people are like that, but not Celeste. If Celeste was going to cry, the world around her was going to be aware of it and she wasn’t ashamed. I admired that about her, I think it’s a huge part of what allowed me to come to understand her at such a close focus. We did not speak, instead I approached her with open arms, climbed inside the cocoon she had created in her trunk, and as a reusable water bottle stabbed into the back of my thigh I hugged her in an attempt to scoop up all the fallen pieces. 
She lived in a community of mostly retired folks. It was commonplace to find a woman in an embroidered sweater walking a small dog down her street at all times. The neighbors passing by were just an audience to the two crying girls amongst all those trunk treasures. They must have imagined the wildest things. I know I would have but maybe that’s just how my mind works. Perhaps they imagined Celeste’s cat had just passed away, or that her Aunt had gone nuts and fed all of the fish in her fish tank to the birds, or that she had just received the news of her parents divorce. As they were just background noise in the main play of our lives, so were we to them. I didn’t know what was happening behind their closed doors either. Maybe a woman in an embroidered sweater was becoming a widow or maybe a group of elderly men and women were getting wasted at 11 a.m. watching old “I Love Lucy” reruns. It’s not fair to ever assume that we certainly know the truth. If they like to party then that’s none of my business, but I sure would like it to be. 
I just hugged her for what felt like ages, but probably only lasted about fifteen minutes. As my shoulder became increasingly damper with her woes, I thought of my grandmother. My Nana told the most phenomenal stories. Whether they were all true, only somewhat true, or complete bullshit didn’t really matter. She could always grab the attention of the room with one of her stories and that’s not something just anyone can do. At the age of 7 she told me of how she and her best friend, Loretta, used to go tanning at the cemetery. They worked some office job as underpaid secretaries in their twenties. Next to the building was a huge grassy cemetery. When their lunch hour would come, my Nana and Loretta would walk down to the graveyard and find a nice spot to roll out their beach towels. They would tan and create stories for the people whose graves they were laying next to. Loretta and my Nana stayed friends all of their lives, up until Loretta passed away early last year. Nana still goes and rolls out the towel to visit with Loretta every once in a while. She promised me I would have a friend as wonderful as Loretta some day anI knew as I was hugging Celeste that she was my Loretta. 
There are some friendships that you return to after a leave of absence and find that you just don’t fit together anymore. There are uncomfortable pauses in conversation, forced small talk, and it feels like work. People shouldn’t feel like work and if they do you should pack up your bags, say your goodbyes, and be on your way. It’s for the best. Then there are other friendships that you return to after a leave of absence and realize that time must have been a figment of your imagination. You reconnect instantly and you swear not a minute has passed since you last spoke. It’s natural and uplifting. I know I don’t have to tell you which type of friend Celeste is. If I do, stop reading this now, you won’t understand the rest. 
“Can we go for a drive?” she asked in a way that told me she was already certain I would say yes. 
I didn’t answer her; well not out loud that is. I handed her the keys and we closed the trunk with all of its’ treasures. We had a lot of explaining to do and I was hopeful that along the way we’d find three old men in velour tracksuits. Together, we hopped into the front of her car and both of us knew that somehow the world wasn’t going to end. 
“I don’t even know where to begin, what’s the last thing you remember talking about with me?” I fiddled with the radio as she pulled out of her neighborhood. We didn’t have a destination yet, but at the time neither of us cared. 
One, two, three-I counted three embroidered sweaters on the backs of elderly women as we drove away and named them in my head. Gayle, Gladys, and Gertrude. They would have to do for now, as far as superstition in the name of the number three goes. 
“Dying,” she laughed but only because she must have felt it sounded kind of wacky. I must admit it did. “But, I don’t want to talk about that now. That’s for later. I don’t really want to talk about me at all it gives me a headache. You know how it is. I just want to know what happened to you. I’ve heard the craziest things and I want to hear it all from your mouth before I believe a word anyone else says.”
I had learned by this point in our friendship that when Celeste said she didn’t want to talk about something, I shouldn’t push it. She was far more comfortable listening than she was speaking. I knew in time I would hear all about the highs and lows of the past year of her life, but for now I would wait. 
When I thought about where to begin, I became filled with the exhausting feeling that there was too much to say and absolutely no way to tell it all the way it really happened. It seemed a lifetime had passed in that year. I had shed my skin and I wondered if Celeste would recognize me at all at the end of the day. My brain replayed for me a film of moments I despised and survived upon. These moments were simultaneously life giving and a mental suicide mission. Everything was tinged in a different shade of orange; but just the same they were all in the orange spectrum. Some were much darker than others and some floated lightly behind my eyes and out onto the tips of my eyelashes. If an eyelash were to politely fall upon my cheek, I would relentlessly wish to return to an orange day of my choice. My wish hadn’t come true yet but I continued to wish just the same. I reluctantly accepted the fact that despite my best efforts my version of this story was tainted. It was like a coffee stain on a paperback book. I wanted to tell it completely truthfully, but my first lie would be to tell you that telling my own story fully honestly is possible. Bias and an admittedly tainted viewpoint is the first step in telling any personal story. This is my truth, but it’s not his truth, nor his mother’s, nor his father’s, nor my mother’s, nor my father’s. Truth is entirely subjective. I have to tell you that, because no one else ever will. 
As these thoughts were racing around my skull, we passed by our high school and then it hit me. I knew exactly how and more importantly who to start with. “Pull over, Celeste,” I half yelled at her. She didn’t question it, not for a second. She did not think, only reacted to my words. As she pulled into a parking spot with a view of the school band room, my belief that she was my Loretta was reaffirmed and I believe the planets must have been high fiving up there in cosmic happiness. 
“Hello school,” she said absentmindedly. She said hello to a lot of inanimate objects- retro cars, meaningful buildings, fresh flowers, dying flowers- just in case any of them did actually have the power to listen. If you think about it, that’s a pretty considerate thing to do. “Now, what are we doing here?” Celeste pressed lightly into my whir of thoughts.
“Did you ever meet Sally Johnson before you left school?” I asked.
“Once or twice, I didn’t know her too well, but she seemed nice,” Celeste shrugged her shoulders. 
“I brought you here because Sally caused this whole thing to happen and this is obviously where we first met. I know this may sound weird but I felt like if I took you to the place it all started, it would help you understand this all better and maybe it will help me tell the story best.”
“Sienna, I want to hear it all, every last word. We can sit here all day and all night if you need. Now let’s hear about this Sally girl.” Loretta had definitely been reincarnated into Celeste’s soul, I made note to call my Nana later and tell her of this.
The words tumbled out of my mouth quickly and for some reason I felt nervous. I never quite knew how people would react to it. Within moments it was like I could no longer hear the sound of my own voice or the gritty buzz of the car air conditioner. In my mind I was consumed by my own memory. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Experiment #1: Map Making

If this doesn't make sense yet, I apologize. This is just to help me plan out the world I am planning on creating for the chapter I will share in class. Hopefully, it will make more sense once I actually read you guys the chapter!

Side note: In each chapter, they are going to a new place and only remain there for the duration of that chapter.

-Orange Grove: This will be where the story starts off. The color should reflect the mood of the scenes that take place here. Additionally, this is where we first are introduced to our protagonist as well as another crucial character. This is a central location in relation to the rest of the locations.
-Katie's House: This will become a sort of safe haven for our protagonist, especially when things start to go bad (I know this is vague but I am typically a pantser, so this is the most planning I've done in a long time for any writing project). Also, this character and her home are symbolic of purity and truth.
-The Estate: we meet "the hostess." She hosts all the big parties for the people in this world. All of our main characters are friends of hers, but this doesn't mean they all like her. The first night of summer scene takes place here. This is a few streets away from Katie's house.
-The Tennis Courts: Lola's tennis courts are kind of tucked away from the rest if the locations. The scene that takes place here is set in the evening. Elliot spends the majority of his time here as well. Elliot and Lola are close friends, but nothing more. They play tennis all day long.
-The Movie Set: This is where we meet Richard. Everything is very "Hollywood" in a verging on obnoxious way. He's the type of character that will either make you laugh or you are going to want to slap him or both.
-Cassandra's car: Cassandra takes the two main characters on a ride in her car. She is a bit of a wild driver and distracted very easily. Haven't quite decided where she is going to take them yet. Her car will be as wacky as she is.
-The Mountain: we meet our final character on top of this mountain. It has a beautiful view but is very difficult to climb up. It takes a lot of skill and perseverance. He does not want to show the two main characters his face.
-Hayden's church: This will be the final scene and big reveal. Things get very dark here.

This is by no means the final map. I definitely will change things around as I go. This is just my starting point.

Word Count Friday? (Sorry I missed you Wednesday)

What am I working on?

Well ladies and gents, I was driving home from work this week and in a sudden moment of inspiration I decided I am going to entirely change my chapter around. In fact, I was so inspired that I decided I am going to rewrite the entire thing and make it almost completely different. This should be interesting. I am really hoping that I am able to take the images in my head and turn them into something readable on the page. Wish me luck!

How do I feel about the process?

This is one of those projects that is either going to come out totally awesome and be just like I saw it in my head or not at all. Fingers crossed that it's the former rather than the latter.

What am I currently reading?

My grandfather gave me an 800 page biography on Alexander Hamilton. He really wants to hear my opinion on it but it is very very dense and hard to get through. I'M TRYING!

Planning to head off to the bookstore today to find something that I can read when my brain isn't melting trying to understand that biography. Any book suggestions? I'm open to pretty much anything.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Word Count Wednesday (Finally on time! Yay!)

What am I working on?

I am currently seven pages deep in my first chapter! I am fairly certain this is a project I
will continue working on even after this class is over. Additionally, I just added "bread" to the grocery list on the fridge whiteboard at home (that counts as writing, right?).

How do I like the process?

Ladies and gentleman, I have finally broken the worst writer's block of my lifetime thus far. To celebrate, I bought myself a big pineapple coconut smoothie at lunch today and repeatedly told my friend (Hi Kayleigh) that it tasted like a tropical dream. Strongly recommend the Aloha Bra smoothie from natural cafe if you wanna feel like an island prince/princess. I am really enjoying writing my first chapter. I think I am on the path of finally proving to myself that I am capable of having an idea for a novel length work and sticking with it the whole way. One of the hardest things for me right now is coming up with names for all of my characters. I want the names to fit them perfectly and it's hard to find ones that fit just right.

What am I reading?

Still working through Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

As well as, fourth grader's essays on their thoughts on the Super Bowl (My mom is an elementary school teacher. Grading papers has become like a second unpaid job for me.)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Word Count Wednesday

What I'm Working On

I am starting to work on my first chapter rough draft for next week. Also, I am constantly journaling and writing lots of to-do lists because that's the only way I can operate when life gets chaotic.

How Do I Like the Process?

I am enjoying it but I'm also slightly terrified of it. The idea of other people reading my work is a bit nerve wracking to me but I am also looking forward to hearing what my peers think of my work. I usually only share my writing occasionally with my mother and best friend because it is so personal to me. This will allow me to step out of my comfort zone and I think it will be an important step for me as a developing writer.

What Am I Reading?

Brace New World by Aldous Huxley (I'm about half way through, just in case any of you were wondering)