I’ve just finished the course materials for module one of the the course I am taking through the Sydney Writer’s Centre and finished my first writing assignment. I’m quite curious to read what kind of feedback I might receive.
We were asked to think of a place we knew well, picture how it looks, sounds and smells, then insert a person who is not like us into the picture and within a single paragraph grab the reader with a hint of what may be coming. What I ended up writing was quite removed from what I had originally begun thinking about.
Originally, this exercise made me think of the one place I know better than anyone else in the entire world – my home. I began to think about what a person who doesn’t know me or my husband might think of this place. We’ve often joked about it, actually. If you walked into this house without knowing us, you would assume I don’t actually exist. We have little furniture, although what we do have is well made and expensive, we just don’t have a lot of space nor the will to actually decorate. We’ve got nothing that makes our house look ‘home-ish’, no family pictures, no little ‘woman’s touches’, nothing. It probably doesn’t help that I’m a terrible housekeeper. Our living room is filled with gaming consoles and a ridiculous stack of DVDs, mostly sci-fi television series, the back room houses two hardcore gaming computers with 24inch monitors, ten guitars, a keyboard and a violin and the front room is filled with bookcases containing masses of books in every possible genre topped with sports trophies and a baby cot. The hall cupboard is filled with snowboarding gear, motocross gear and skates. There is nothing in this house, beyond my underwear drawer and a few posh frocks, that indicates a woman lives here. It’s a distinctly masculine house. The thing is though – the house is very distinctly ‘me’. The sports gear is all mine, as are the sports trophies. My husband despises sport in any shape or form, and I live for extreme sports. The books are all mine, as he doesn’t read (the only part of him I dislike), but the instruments are all his, as are any scattered bits of car paraphernalia.
I decided in the end however, that writing someone who wasn’t me into my own home was not really the best of ideas since it would mean I’m likely missing or dead, neither of which I’m really keen on.
Instead, I chose to write about a place that was very important to me as a teenager. We called it ‘The Youthful Fountain’. Nothing mystical or magical about it of course, but when my friends and I were in about year 8 or 9, one day for whatever reason, we decided that we would follow the creek that ran through the bottom of the park we played in as far upstream as we could. We followed it for what seemed like forever as it ran past the backs of houses, until we reached the suburb limits and it started heading into the mountains. We kept following the creek and eventually we found a small waterfall running into an almost perfectly circular swimming hole that was quite deep. It became our secret retreat, we imagined ourselves as overlords of our own little paradise and invented a whole story-world behind it.
So I wrote about it from the point of view of a brother trying to piece together the life of a sister he doesn’t know very well. It was only a paragraph long so I haven’t decided whether the sister is missing, dead or just plain creepy, but it gave me another bloody idea for a short story! Sheesh!