15 October 2012

One Million Bones

This is happening, November 12, UNCC campus. 
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02 October 2012

Exercise from Magical Words Blog

Ok, so I've decided this is never actually going to get done, so I'm posting it now as an unfinished...thing.  Enjoy.

Magical Words is an excellent writing blog which I skim fairly often.  This post showed up a couple days ago (probably more by the time you read this***) and I thought it was an interesting idea.  I have started the fall semester and this week has been a bit busy, so doing the exercise could also be a good way for me to remember to write instead of just freaking out about school.  Prompts are also a good thing for me.  For some reason I tend to be much more creative when I have a jumping off point rather than starting from scratch (a trait that has served me well in academics, but something that I find worrisome when thinking about the future).

Here's the basic idea from Magical Words' Catie Murphy: 
Here’s the rule: first, before you go any further in reading this entry, right-click on “leave a comment/# of comments” and open it in a new tab or window. This is really important for this exercise. The entire point here is that you should absolutely *not* read what other people have written until you’ve done yours. Please, please follow this rule.
I am going to present you with an extremely generic story point. I want you to rewrite the material I have provided the way *you* would tell it, and then keep going for a little while. Five or ten minutes, a couple hundred words, something like that. No more; this isn’t a long writing assignment.
Post your retelling of the story. Then, and only then, may you read what other people have written. Again, I ask you to please, please follow these rules, because doing otherwise will defeat the point.
Here’s your story:
Robin ran up the stairs in the tower to the locked door. A wooden bird was beside it. Robin’s heart pounded, chest tight with needing air. Robin poured water on the bird’s head and it sang, making the door open. On the door’s other side was a beautiful princess.
I won't be commenting on the actual post on Magical Words, because to the best of my memory I don't have a WordPress account and I don't want to mess with registering (you can't post a comment unless you have).  But, here is my version of the exercise:

               The tower was swaying with the weight of so many birds.  Robin would never have guessed that creatures as small as her animal namesake could shake a structure made of stone, but it wasn't their mere physical burden that disturbed the balance of each stone on stone beneath; it was that the enclosed air in the narrow neck of the tower had begun to slosh with their chaotic, ever-present movement, like water in a tidal pool.  Arms upraised in instinctual terror of losing her eyesight, Robin leaned against the wall and began crawling up the stairs, resting on the balls of her feet and bracing her shins on the step above.  cracks and fissures in the walls joined the intentional gashing slits of archery windows to stab the dusty, seething air with blades of light.  Twice before she reached the cracked wooden door at the top of the stairs Robin was dashed by a maddened bird, and each time she nearly fell, each collision left her with fresh blood - on her scalp, in her hair, across her cheek.  Finally reaching the door was as unexpected as a No Trespassing sign in a dream where running is eternal and the monsters behind are only ever just out of sight.
                 A nook in the wall beside the door was just above Robin's head.  Slowly, pressing her hands against the door without minding the splinters that caught and dragged and came away in her skin, Robin unfolded.  The nook was shaped like a fancy window, with a horizontal bottom that Robin could see now was actually some kind of well with water rippling strangely, and sides that were vertical for about a foot and then tapered sharply to a point six inches above that.  At the point where the taper began, there was a shelf, and on that shelf sat a wooden bird.  It was so plain it might just have been a lump of wood, but Robin knew better. 
                 The sudden, hot prickle swept across Robin's upper back, and she twitched spasmodically.
                 Water trickled in the fountain, but was voiceless in the vortex of swishing wings.  Or maybe the two sounds were so similar that they just bled into each other.  The thought of touching that dark, swirling mass made Robin's stomach clench, and she couldn't say why.  When she finally dipped her fingers in, breathing so fast and so shallow her vision was beginning to spot, the water was sickeningly warm - why had she thought it would be cold?  She dribbled the clinging droplets over the wooden bird's back and head.
                    It wasn't that the bird moved, or even became more lifelike, but suddenly new shadows appeared, outlining curves and depressions in the wood that described the essence of life; maybe it was just that it was more like the way a tree is alive, instead of the way birds and other animals live.  The maelstrom behind her cut off jaggedly.  Robin, desperate not to turn around and look, sent every muscle rigid.
                    And then the wooden bird sang.

***See follow-up post here - have I really messed around with this for two whole weeks??  I need to get going so I can go read the other entries.