Memoir.

Now that the semester is over, I’d love for us to keep our blog going! In my creative writing class this semester we did not get much opportunity to get feedback from our peers, so I’d like to post a memoir I wrote for class. I’d appreciate if you guys read it and could give me some constructive criticism. And I’d love to see anything you guys wrote, too!!

I haven’t really come up with a title for it yet…not sure if I ever will, lol. But…here it is!

I was a sophomore in high school when I fell in love with Nick. After a growth spurt that left me at about 105 pounds and just five feet tall, I was still trying to find myself. My dark brown hair was of medium length, slightly frizzy and just barely brushing against my thin shoulders. My eyebrows were too thin from plucking them myself and I wore the same deep red lipstick every day. I practically lived in a pair of light blue jogging pants my mother had bought me from Aeropostale and the only perfume I wore was the crisp and overbearing scent of Tommy Girl. Five days a week I would sit in Ms. Rothchild’s Spanish class, aimlessly staring at shiny posters full of words I couldn’t understand that covered the tan concrete walls. Five days a week I would look over to my right, to the back corner of the classroom where kids go when they don’t plan on learning a damn thing. That corner was occupied by one boy. All I ever saw was long locks of curly brown hair, surely attached to a face that was constantly buried in the perfect crease of one lanky arm, the other hanging loosely against an equally lanky torso, all leading to a pair of long, thin legs that were usually covered by a pair of dark blue sweatpants. Sometimes I would stare at this strange figure as I played with the tan cloth headband I wore almost every day that year. I stared, but when I looked away, my mind would wander right back to the confusing world of feminine and masculine verbs and wondering why the hell the Spanish language deemed objects as boys or girls.
After class each day I would silently make my way down the dingy hallways of my high school, always being greeted by a chubby young boy in khaki pants and some t-shirt depicting a cartoon character unrecognizable to most. Although automatically despising each other as awkward twelve year olds in junior high school, Eric and I became very close our sophomore year. While he would still deem it necessary to say at least one thing each day that would almost bring me to tears, he was a good friend, full of laughter that lit up his pale round face and painted his cheeks a vibrant red. A few days a week, Eric and his grandmother would pick me up after school and we would go to The Cyber Lab, a local LAN center. Every time I would climb into his grandmother’s van I was greeted by the crooked smiles of at least four tall, thin teenage boys excitedly discussing the latest videogames. Those lazy afternoons were spent in a small building lined with computers and kids wearing headsets who thought it was cool to use their anger as an excuse to yell profanities at their screens. I was usually the quiet one, until Eric brought Nick. Nick and Eric were best friends, but although we went to the same school, I kept to myself too much to realize this. During one of those careless afternoons, three chairs down from me sat that same lanky boy, his long locks of curly brown hair covering the part of his headset that sat on top of his head, his face clearly visible now and looking better than I had imagined it would, on those days that I would stare at him within the walls of our dreadful Spanish class. Thick eyebrows sat above brown almond-shaped eyes, a large, wide nose, and a small, but thick-lipped mouth. To me, he was beautiful. Something inside of me broke through my inhibitions and started thinking for me, lifting me from my chair and moving me towards him, never considering the consequences of my actions or what he might think of me, but only that I wanted him, and that I was going to get what I wanted.
On our first date, I wore that same tan headband and my favorite black boots with thick rubber heels, what I thought to be the equivalent of sexy. Nick’s stepfather drove us to the movies and we sat staring childishly at each other in the backseat, the passing headlights of oncoming cars letting him catch a glimpse at the large smile I tried desperately to hide, not wanting to be obvious about the love I had already felt for him the moment I saw his ungraceful features set in motion. My heart swelled as he gently grabbed my hand in the middle of the dark theater, and the way our fingers interlocked and he held my small hand in his large one told me he was mine. I still have the ticket from that night. It sits in a drawer of my desk, the paper thin now and creased from years of being held and displayed in different places throughout my bedroom, The Secret Window just barely visible, along with the date: April 4, 2004. I spent the next few weeks scribbling our names on every sheet of paper made available to me, each time writing “4.4.04” underneath. Although Eric had a crush on me, he gave Nick permission to make me his girlfriend that night, wishing us the best of luck.
The next three and a half years were spent in each other’s arms, laughing and growing, making mistakes and learning from one another. He was my safe haven, and there was comfort wrapped in the sweet scent of clean that lingered on the clothes he wore. I would close my eyes and breathe in the familiar innocence, leaning my face against the perfect dip in his chest. He was a whole foot taller than me, and the way he towered over me made me feel protected. In those moments, we promised to never give up on each other. That awkward teenage boy who had tried to go unnoticed in the corner of a bland classroom but had caught my eye in the hours of an afternoon in spring, had grown now into a strong young man with the same curls that brushed against my cheeks as we kissed.
As high school ended, tears were shed and arms were thrown around those we whispered about above the sounds of metal being opened and closed, combinations being spun into small plastic dials. Outside of those walls, our innocence was no longer protected and things began to change for Nick and me. Naïve and curious about life outside of such a perfect world, I ended our relationship in the hallway between my living room and kitchen, the plastic receiver catching the tears that swam down my left cheek. The thought of us in my car just weeks later still lingers with me, the radio playing softly in the background as I watched him plead with me, that protective aura stripped away and just a vulnerable young boy standing before me, begging me to love him. I am still shocked at how cold I could have been, telling him I couldn’t do it, although my eyes were burning with the last three and a half years of sweet discovery. Months later, after having satisfied my curiosity, it was my turn to do the pleading. We stood outside of my open car door as I rested my face in that same perfect dip in his chest, long, black streaks staining his white shirt as I begged him to be mine again. Broken and defeated, I tried desperately to heal.
In the early hours of January 15th, 2008, in a small apartment at Stockton University, Eric took his own life. I was the first to find out before Nick, and the first to dial his number with shaking fingers, listening in disbelief to his calm attitude towards the news, and sitting in a red vinyl booth at the back of the restaurant where I worked waiting for his call to confirm my discovery. Anything that had happened between us did not matter now, just that we were there for each other. A call back from his mother left me lying on the black-and-white tile of a small bathroom floor as I listened to the uncontrollable wails of a boy who had a piece of his heart stolen.
For months after that day, I held Nick as he cried in the middle of the night, waking from a deep sleep and being hit over and over with the loss of his best friend. It was he who now buried his face in my chest, clenching the blankets in his fists, begging to see Eric between long, hard wails, as I rocked him back and forth as a mother would comfort her child. I wanted nothing more than to take care of him, and the time we spent together in the early hours of the morning as I kissed his eyes and promised him the world, briefly reignited a promise that will never die but will remain, unacknowledged, beneath the imperfect smiles of a boy and a girl who taught each other how to love.

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Having trouble finding a prompt?

Many times I have been given free rein to write about whatever i want to write about. The trouble I have sometimes is just picking one. Other times i have the problem where I can not think of ANYTHING to write about. I’m talking about serious writer’s block. Sometimes wheni get stuck I visit websites that provide random prompts, or I go to sites that give you picture prompts. These sites are really great if you’re stuck. They are also really helpful if you keep a creative writing journal.

Here are just a few places you can try out:

inspired to journal

Story Starter

Writer’s Digest

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A Fun Little Writing Assignment

In one of my classes we were assigned a writing assignment called Four Voices. We had to pick a situation or a scene and write four section of four different voices. I say voices and not people because the voices could be of people, animals or inanimate objects. As long as these voices are involved, watching, or around the situation they can be part of the piece.

 The focus of this assignment was to develop four distinct voices. In all forms of creative writing you want your characters to have a distinct voice, a voice that is their own and no one else. Another part of this assignment was to see how well you can weave the story line together among the four different characters. Have the characters interact with one another in some way. By doing this it becomes a very creative piece and a very enjoyable piece to read. This assignment gave truth to the statement “there’s always two sides to a story.”

This exercise is extremely fun. You have freedom to choose who your characters are and what situation they may find themselves in. For example, I chose the scene from a grocery store check out lane. I wrote from the perspective of the girl cashier. I wrote from the viewpoint of an old lady that is purchasing her groceries in the young cashiers lane. I wrote from the viewpoint of the bag boy that has a crush on the cashier girl. Lastly, I wrote as the People Magazine that sat on a shelf and watched everyone come through the lane.

Give it a try! It really is a funny exercise!

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Creating a Pantoum

In my Creative Writing class we tried to create Pantoums. Pantoums are very similar to the format of a Villanelle. There’s a lot of repetition and they are really fun and easy to create. Because they are easy I would recommend beginning poets to try it out. In a Pantoum the lines are grouped in four lines or stanzas called quatrains. The first and last line must be the same in a Pantoum. In a Pantoum all lines are said twice. For all quatrains except the first, the first line of the current quatrain repeats the second line of the preceeding quatrain and the third line of the current quatrain repeats the fourth line of the preceeding quatrain. In addition, for the final quatrain, the second line repeats the third line in the first quatrain and its last line repeats the first line of the fisrt quatrain.

Here is an example of a Pantoum that I created in class. It was fun and simple and here it is:

1. Beaten by the sun at an afternoon meal
2. Glasses perspire with cold droplets
3. Bees hunt for aromatic treats
4. Good friends erupt with delight
 
2. Glasses perspire with cold droplets
5. Appetizers shrink away
4. Good friends erupt with delight
6. Eyes squint to protect from light
 
5. Appetizers shrink away
7. Turkey, Burgers, Nachos passed around
6. Eyes squint to protect from light
8. Teasing desserts tempt our growing stomachs
 
7. Turkey, Burgers, Nachos passed around
3. Bees hunt for aromatic treats
8. Teasing desserts tempt our growing stomachs
1. Beaten by the sun at an afternoon meal
 
 

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“Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa

Here is a video of Yusef Komunyakaa reciting his poem, Facing It, which is about the Vietnam Memorial. I think that this is such a powerful poem.

 

My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn’t,
dammit: No tears.
I’m stone. I’m flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way–the stone lets me go.
I turn that way–I’m inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap’s white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman’s blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird’s
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet’s image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I’m a window.
He’s lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman’s trying to erase names:
No, she’s brushing a boy’s hair.

I am extremely impressed with the imagery in this poem. The author does an exceptional job of creating the dark and painful mood that a veteran might feel when facing the wall. I love the image of the main character turning in different directions as the wall appears to release him and take him back in. It is a fantastic metaphor about the character never truly being able to escape the war. I must also praise the image of the names written on a woman’s blouse, but when she walks away they remain on the wall. This could signify many things, but I like to think of it as the person that the woman lost to the war remains as close to her as her own shirt, but when it comes down to it, he is still dead, just a name on a wall forever– a person lost to an infinitely long, dark cause.

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Billy Collins, My Favorite Poet

Billy Collins is the former U.S. Poet Laureate and one of my absolute favorite poets. I enjoy his poetry very much because i feel like he doesn’t take himself or his work too seriously. In addition, I find most of his poems to be a bit comical. To find out more about Billy Collins and his work you can go to this site or you can go to YouTube and type his name. Listen to some of his stuff and let me know how you like it.

Below is a Video of Billy Collins doing a reading of one of his more comical poems “Litany.” Not only do I like the poem, but I like how he came about this poem. He took the first two lines of another writer’s poem and made it the first two lines of his poem “Litany.” Watch the video and then give this technique a try!

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One of my own poems

Hello everyone, since this is a creative writing blog I figured I was obligated to share at least one of my own pieces. The following is a poem I wrote for my creative writing class last year in response to the prompt, “Write a poem charactarizing a human as an animal.” I would love for you to read it and let me know what you think!

Venom 

Your slim curvaceous body
is sheathed in stunning skin.
With captivating eyes, you lure your prey.
But inside of you, your blood
runs icy through your veins
And when you shed your outer shell,
I see it’s one big flake.
 
You speak with a forked tongue,
but your velvet, coaxing hiss
Entices us to listen to your lies.
Your rumors; your venom,
you see the pain you cause
It appears to fuel your power—
I see that as a guise.
 
You bite the hand that feeds you;
attack even those who follow you
Feed on weaker targets, who won’t put up a fight.
But deep within your heart,
you know you’re not the strongest
You are a mere con artist
with a paralyzing bite.
 
Once I watched your eyes
as you slithered through a field
They locked in upon a harmless, tiny mole.
Your next victim grew larger
in those black, reflective slits
And before she even noticed you,
you swallowed her up whole.
 
Insidious creature, vain and proud,
you claim to have it all,
Yet few others yearn to seize your throne,
For while you slither on the ground
you will never stand tall.
Aside from fleeting followers
you will always hunt alone.
 

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