Daily Writing Exercise, Donatella Versace

Donatella Versace in writing

Donatella Versace in writing

My daily writing exercises can be strange sometimes, because I have no idea where the images and words come from. All I know is they are on paper before I know it. This is what I found in my notebook today:

In La Maison Bizzare, I walk up the curved wooden steps bathed in sunlight, run my hands on framed paintings on glass walls, turn to a grey carved door with a golden, V-shaped handle, find a room of white sofas, grey cushions which move and roll. On the ornate gold table are two tall candles that flicker, burn, drop off, and burn again.

I walk on wooden floors through corridors of grey-black, opening to white windows and a balcony that overlooks a stagnant pool of green water.

The air is heavy with the smell of moss and rotting logs, of disinfectants and decay, and amid it all, the unmistakable hints of Versace Woman, the smell of my mother. The smell that haunts our house, for it is no longer a home, that haunts our house ever since she left us to run away to bigger, and hopefully, better things.

At the corner of the balcony in shadow light sits a woman of blond-white-grey hair, on a gilded chair, swollen lips, drawn out cheeks and popping eyes, a woman of no eyebrows, and a nose that looks like it would burst, because surely it cannot be wider. I flinch.

Don’t be scared, she says, it is me, Donatella Versace. What happened to you, I ask.

I went painting, she says, by the river in the rain, I could not stand this pool any more, and the rain washed away my make-up.

I walk near her, because I can’t hear her very well. She did say Donatella Versace though, and in her bloated face and muscular body, I see that she just might be speaking the truth. Cover this woman in make-up and a glittering gown, and who knows what might happen?
I know why I can’t hear her, because what surrounds me is not silence. There it is, a stereo speaker next to her, blasting out “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me.”

Writing exercises, fish, blood spatter

Fish blood spatter, dream writing, daily writing exercises

Fish blood spatter, dream writing, daily writing exercises

It is raining in rivers this morning. In my neighbourhood, the usually sedate metalled roads are playing host to frothing streams, and that is just fine by me.

My daily writing exercises are making my work flow, too, and that isn’t bad. Most of them yesterday, and the day before, were about rain. This is because I’m writing a short story where it rains throughout, in the past, in the present, and even in the imaginary future.

So maybe I was calling to the rain, and when I sit down for my writing exercise today (rather like the daily back and leg stretches I do), I only need look out of the window to find the right words, and hopefully some of them will find their way to the finalised pages of my story.

They would also possibly wash away the memory of my dreams, which have now gone back to one I had described a long time ago, one full of blood, and blood spatter.

Somehow, I prefer fish swimming around in my head, than have it attacked by spatters of blood.

Writing about fish

For as long as I have had my aquarium….(A glass box with an open top, a little taller than my knees, longer than my arm, and as wide as my elbow to my wrist. A small community affair with a few small fish, lots of plants, some stones and a lone driftwood, lots of moss and grass. )….my dreams have consisted of fish swimming around in varied waters.

In my dream(s), the fish keep trying to escape and I desperately try to put them back in. Sometimes they go flippity- flop on a tiled floor, sometimes they just escape and swim around in air, bright flecks of multicolored light, guppies and angels and goldfish and tetras, and I try to convince them it is better for them to swim in water, air is no place for fish. At others, there’s a flood from somewhere and big fish swim into small aquariums, and I’m scrambling to find bigger aquariums to put them in….or my fish find ways to swim out and escape into a stream, bright, happy, remote, untouchable.

Last night I dreamt of fish again…only this time they were dying fish…fish all around me, just melting, their skin soft, no scales, breaking into tiny pink-white- salmon fillets, and I tried to put them back together.

I have talked about lucid dreaming, and this was one of those…I was so convinced these were my fish dying and melting as I watched. Another part of me was awake, was telling me this was just a movie, that all of it was make-believe, that neither these fish nor I was real.

And then I made myself wake up, and totter to the aquarium to take a look at all my tiny fish, frozen little shadows, deep in blessed slumber.

Indigo left a comment mentioning she did not know I had an aquarium. And maybe I did not want to blog about it because of the strange, repeated dreams I have each night, dreams that probably say something to me. Or may be stuff about me. I dunno.

All I know is that the new ferny floaty plants I got last week make my aquarium look like a tiny patch of fairyland, that my two tiny blue male dwarf gouramis have called ceasefire over disputed territories and seem to be getting along at last, my golden tetras have stopped dying, the last four seem to be eating well. My rummy nose tetras have bright and lively red mouths, and my pretty blue-red cardinals are playful this morning. The lone white angel is curious and hungry, just the way I like him.

All seems to be well with the world. For now. Or at least till I go to bed tonight, and slip into a dream.

Writing about learning from a bad book

I read a terribly written book yesterday, all evening. It was so atrocious that I had to keep reading, to see how bad it could get. Pretty bad, as I found out before I went to bed in a huff.

I’ll not mention the title, as reviewing the book, or ranting about it, is not what this post is about.

Instead it is all about learning what not to do when writing a story: mounds of flat description, stilted dialog, adverbs and passivities strewn all over the place, zero conflict, almost no story.

I wondered for a moment how it got published at all. It looked like the very first draft of the very first story I’d ever written. Some agents and editors, I thought. They’ll publish anything.

And then came the sobering reminder: I’m not into writing solely to get published, never mind the quality. I don’t think I’d be able to stand the shame of putting my name to something so utterly without any redeeming qualities, lols.

Better learn from others’ mistakes and move on. That way, while my own stories may not be faultless, at least they’ll be much improved. So, back with my nose to the writing grindstone, and hopefully, to some good reading later.

But I do recommend reading a dreadful book now and then, reminds you very clearly of all the things you ought not to do while writing.

Writing about a sentence spatter

I was about to set off on my daily writing exercise, when I came upon this (log) sentence while randomly browsing the internet:

Muddiness is not merely a disturber of prose, it is also a destroyer of life, or hope: death on the highway caused by a badly worded road sign, heart-break amongst lovers caused by a misplaced phrase in a well-intentioned letter, anguish of a traveler expecting to be met at a railroad station and not being met because of a slipshod telegram.— The Elements of Style

Writing about curtained reality

For the last few nights, I haven’t been sleeping well.

I’ve been dreaming lucid, mostly. I’ve  been dreaming I got up and did things, or walked somewhere with people I am sure I knew but could not recognise. I wake up after a dream, most of the time.

In an effort to sleep better, and to perhaps find out what ails me, I did what I usually do when I am puzzling with a writing (plot/scene/character) problem. I put a notebook beside my bed, and made a note every time I woke up.

This is what I found scribbled on my notepad this morning:

“Let  your soul flow in a torrent that would not whisper nor deny the truth of your existence.

Do not make a travesty of that which is not, nor lean into what is not to be.

Let fear take you, but only occasionally.Take on fear instead.

Be open to all, whether good or evil, because it is thus you would realise your true worth.

Let not the winds blow over you, catch some of them and sail.

Your breath is a gift, do not waste it on anything but prayer.”

I have often read that a dream is curtained reality. But I do not know how to take the words of wisdom I have scribbled to myself.  Tonight I’m going to try and remember to describe my dreams in my book, not just pen down cryptic one-liners.

Writing, angels, death…hah

When I got my aquarium, I had determined I would buy small fish by the dozens. Small, pretty much indistinguishable from each other. Never big fish, nothing ever that will be missed straightaway.

I stuck to my guns to more than a year, and then gave in.

I just had to have some angels, and the day before I got two pairs of them, all silver and pearl and snow, swimming around like quaint little fairies. Since they’re usually picky eaters, I was not unduly worried when only one of them made for the multi-colred flakes when I fed them at night.

I had an excellent writing session while sitting across the room watching them play about yesterday.Today morning, I fished out two of them, lying still and white on their sides in the corner of the aquarium. No disease, no nothing. Just dead. Perhaps it was the stress of water change, wrong temperature, I’ll never know. A third seems to be gulping too much. I’m resigned–if it survives tonight, it’ll be a miracle.

So I’ll be left with one lone white angel (if that).

Maybe that is all I deserve. One angel per person sounds about right. Not.