The first task was to imagine two different working environments; one that was ideal and the other not so much. I personally have a preference for light airy spaces away from the humdrum of the busy world outside. Opposite to that I hate the idea of dark crowded places with no natural daylight.
Difficult writing spot:
She felt her body clench up as if attempting to mimic her surroundings. Piled high around the edges of the room were mounds of clutter overwhelming her mind with sensory input. Her eyes darted around from one trinket to the next as she tried to wrestle herself into a state of concentration. The window was small and mostly obscured making the room feel gloomy and oppressive. The desk where she worked was also covered with random bits of paper, stationary and odd little knick-knacks. She had a sudden urge to throw it all off with her arms to make space for her new project to grow. She placed her forehead onto the hard wooden surface and took slow breaths as she tried one last time to focus her mind.
Ideal writing spot:
She pinned another card to the wall and then stepped back to inspect her handiwork. Across the wall spanned a web of ideas and inspiration for her next book. She preferred to have the room to experiment during the early stages before trapping herself down one line of thought. Luckily she had been granted permission to convert the attic into her own writing room where she could work peacefully and privately. Perpendicular to the ideas wall was a large wooden desk lit up by natural daylight shining in from a window above. On one side sat a tidy pile of notebooks. She ran her finger gently across the spines; stopping on a blue one that protruded out slightly further than the others. She slid the book free and placed it open in the centre of the desk; ready for her imagination to spill freely onto the pages.
The next task was to use descriptive words in unusual places; a challenge that I found to be really fun and creative.
The auburn trees seemed to shift uncomfortably. The branches creaked in irritation as if trying to scratch the itch caused by the tickling breeze.
The water laid siege to the rocky bed as it crashed violently over the outcrop. The base seethed into a frothy white foam like enraged stallions bursting from the aftermath of the collision. A galloping roar erupted from the falls.
One piece of advice that I found particularly useful was to use ‘Emma said that’ and ‘I remember that’ to help start the writing process (to be removed afterwards.) I attempted this and was surprised at how quickly and easy I found writing compared to usual.
Emma said that – she would need more time to put her muddled thoughts together. She felt a strange sort of attachment to him, but it wasn’t love. Too much negativity had happened between them and she could no longer treat him like a normal human being. Unlike her other friends she wasn’t afraid of offending him; pushing him too hard or offering out criticism. ‘Better the devil you know,’ she thought, but she knew that this wasn’t an ideal foundation for a relationship. Still, the thought of letting him go scared her.
The final piece of writing I did was a short story of around 500 words. The course recommended putting on the radio and using the first thing mentioned as inspiration for the plot, for which I heard a news article about a bank robbery and a woman held at gun point. I also decided to take inspiration from the idea that women are often cited at being better at negotiating in these sorts of situations. I wanted her to appear small and fragile and yet be strong at the same time. I didn’t want the robber to be an outright bad guy either but to instead have conflicting emotions and a sensitive past. I’m not entirely happy with the ending (I’m terrible at fitting what I want to say into word limits), but I think we’ll be returning back to make improvements later on anyway.
All of her memories flooded before her eyes like gushing water. Her sisters loving smile, the warm embrace of her husband and the laughter of their children. As the river gradually ran dry all that was left was a dark quivering pool of fear. She was on the edge of a cliff looking into the abyss that was the barrel of a gun.
The straggly haired man shook before her. One of his hands tapped a rhythmic pattern on his leg while the other held the handgun firm in her direction. Just a moment ago he had slipped a note across to the bank assistant requesting a sum of money. The robbery was meant to go down without causing any undue alarm, but the woman on the other side of the counter had accidentally released a panicked squeal. She had given him no choice then but to resort to force. “Give me the money,” his shrill voice filled the bank. Everybody in the room suddenly froze and then all at once began to murmur and gasp.
“Quiet,” he looked around at each of their startled faces. They looked like a group of frightened lambs awaiting the unthinkable. His stomach lurched. For a fleeting moment his eyes glistened but then his face suddenly hardened into an angry grimace. They deserve it, he convinced himself. People are all selfish and full of pity. Earlier that day he had been stood in his bosses office; the man had tried to gently inform him that he was being laid off but all the while he looked down his wrinkled nose as if inspecting a wounded animal. The runt of the litter; abandoned. No longer useful.
“P..pl…please. Don’t hurt me,” a quiet little voice bought him out of his reverie. The woman trembled within his shadow. Entwined in that moment the face of his chosen victim became crystal clear. She had a slim visage, slight wrinkles around her green eyes and greying streaks in her auburn hair. That face was going to be burnt into his memory forever. Despite her obvious peril there was a strength that emanated from her tiny form that he couldn’t help but admire.
“My name is Helen,” she introduced herself, “w… what’s yours?” Helen waited patiently for the man to respond, trying her hardest to maintain a relaxed demeanour despite the thunderous rampage of her heart. She knew that if she was going to subdue the man she would have to remain calm. “Peter,” he said.
They talked for what felt like a very long time. Peter wove her a story about the misunderstood boy who had grown into the distressed adult. The one person who had shown him love and compassion had passed on and now his job had been taken from him too. He was all alone. She was surprised to find that growing beside the burning enmity she felt for him was a warm sympathetic glow.
The anxiety within seeped out like a gush of air escaping a balloon; carrying with it the burden of a thousand heartaches. Peter’s arm went limp and he fell to his knees, his cheeks were shiny. “I’m sorry,” Helen whispered. She then dived back into the thoughts of her own life; everything that she had almost lost, and a relieved smile spread across her lips.