Sunday, January 24, 2010

Where the Oak Meets

A busy week last week. Hubby took off for a few days of badly needed outdoor time, and we headed down to South Carolina's ACE Basin. I'll cover the whats and whys of that trip on my CT&T blog in the coming weeks, but I will say we were treated to the sight of numerous large, old oak trees drenched with long strands of gray moss. Our pictures, taken with the point-and-shoot because we haven't replaced the Nikon lens yet, didn't do them justice.

Notice the small building in the background beneath the trees. That was about the size of a utility shed. Amazing.

The day after returning from that trip, I attended a writer's workshop. When I asked the instructor to hold a class in the Triangle area, I had no intention of participating. Swearing off all expenditures writing, you know. But...interest in a workshop seemed high, but not high enough to actually show up, so I signed up both to justify the instructor's trip, and to support writing opportunities in this area. I'm glad I did.

We discussed several writing elements, and once again, I participated in writing exercises. As with the Myrtle Beach event, my first effort fell flat (there's a reason I'm not into flash fiction!) I wasn't in the mood for another bout of writer's block, so I ignored that fact. But as we went around the room discussing other examples, the instructor made a comment about showing reaction. That innocent little remark struck home, and in a brief flash, every Show/Active Writing/Concrete Nouns/Strong Verb/Art of Writing lesson I ever had suddenly made sense. During a subsequent exercise, a vivid image came to mind, in part because of that revelation, and in part, because the instructions involved an oak. I can't explain it beyond saying the tree was real to me, and I had to make the scene just as real. Following the exercise guidelines—a young boy going to his grandparents for his annual visit sees a deer run across the driveway near an old oak—I wrote the following:

The car turning right caught my attention, and I dropped the game into the seat between me and Brie. I'd of had to turn it off anyway; Granddad's Big Bass mailbox popped into view. Pushing myself up—sitting straight, as Mom called it—I pressed my nose into the glass, turning it up, pig style, as Dad drove down the long, dirt drive.

The yard looked the same as it did when we came last year. Nothing had changed. Same orange flowers growing around the bird bath I used to practice toss. Same bench sitting under the big tree, empty, just waiting for Brie. She'd spend hours there, reading one of her books, just like she did every year. I traced the limbs of the old tree on the window—up, down, touching the ground, and then swinging up again. I'd walk those limbs, climb up into the sky, hang upside down, and throw rocks at the squirrels standing on the branches. As Dad pulled to a stop in front of the house, my finger slid down the trunk and I saw the eyes. Big and round and staring at me. A deer. I peeked at Dad and then the deer. Run! I told it in my mind. Run before Granddad sees you!

When I read it, my instructor's brows rose. "Better", she said. It's a start.

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