Head scratching and frustrations galore!!
My continuing series on Fridays where I share excerpts of writing that I’ve done in the past through writing prompts, random stream of consciousness, parts of larger works, or as part of my 100-200 daily word exercises.
The point being to attempt to examine what I’ve done for clarity sake and whether or not I can make sense of it…not only to those who read it but to myself as well. Or I highlight something else that I’m interested in that week and want to speak at length about. Vomiting out words if you will.
I’ve failed my writing contest submission goal for the month of July. I had plans and dreams of constructing a 750 word story for a flash fiction short story contest……but the running theme around here tends to be that ‘Life Happens.’ If there’s one thing that I try to be honest about (there’s more than one thing but for the sake of this post, stay with me) it’s the fact that I sometimes don’t accomplish exactly what I set out to do; and honestly sometimes it’s needed.
I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, working more hours at work and becoming busier in my off time. Could it have been possible to squeeze in plotting and planning for the contest? Maybe with more effective organizing of my schedule. Should I have done that? I’m not sure. Sometimes breaks are needed and it’s easy to become overwhelmed and burned out if you’re not careful. Which is why, for better or for worse, it didn’t happen.
But I did want to get some practice in the realm of doing a short story with a beginning, middle, and end that didn’t end up going into the 10,000 word count. As such I attempted a 1,000-1,500 word count prompt for a short story. The only stipulation was attempting to keep it within a certain genre. The choice I was given was a Western.
I’ve never written a western story in my life.
Needless to say I was incredibly nervous at the idea and currently still don’t know how I’ll finish it. I have the following:
“It was hotter than the Devil out in that June heat. The air was dry and could easily crack your throat without something to parch your thirst. Our supplies were running low and our carriage had been damaged badly on the rocky Oregon trail but my faith in our Lord up above remained strong.
Coming along the path, I steered our horses a little wide of the bend to give the caboose a wide enough berth to not overturn along the steep road. I didn’t see the jagged encroachment until it had torn into the wood on the bottom. Stopped us dead with nowhere to go. We were still some weeks away from California and the promise of a better life from our small community in Virginia but now I wasn’t so sure. Lilly had been caught with the fever and I was no doctor. My daughter Elizabeth, bless her heart did all she could for my wife inside the warm shade of the carriage while I took hammer and nail to our broken axle with my son Matthew. He was coming of age and would need to learn how to be a man all his own.
I had him hold my rifle while I hunched over, sweating through my shirt and overalls and into my beard. I hoped to teach him how to shoot when we reached California so that he could aide in the hunting; and by God how I would never want to have to point and fire at another human being, times were a’changing in this country. The rush for gold made people act out and prey on the weak. If I had to defend my family I would do what I’d have to.
“Can it be fixed Pa?” Matthew asked me. Sometimes I felt like I didn’t deserve the steady faith he put in me at all times.
“I need a couple more nails to pin the mechanism in place. We’ll have to move slower but I can fix it.” My days as a carpenter in our small town back east had not been lost on me. But I was no doctor and I knew that without proper medicine, Lilly would succumb to the worst. But we had been traveling through the middle of nowhere for days now and I feared we wouldn’t see a glimpse of another man or woman for another week.
That’s when I heard the clopping of horses from the rear.”
That’s around 300 or so words in and I’m not liking what I have so far. It’s simply exposition on a family (more so on the Puritan religious side) moving from Virginia to California during the era of the Gold Rush in America. But I fail to capture a specific ‘feeling.’ This is something that I can probably hit on in a later post but certain writers capture that mood and transport you to their world.
I’m definitely not there yet. Especially not in the realm of westerns, with my examples being the Lone Ranger and other more stereotypical spaghetti western shows that came on WGN (when that channel was a thing) back when I was a child. Research is normally done for something like this and I don’t think that I’ll be any exception. Especially if I want to actually do a decent job.
So much to learn as always. Here’s hoping I have more good news for this as the weeks transpire.
Until next time.