I learned so through creative writing works-hopping I would love to share my 5 revisions for you to see how far I came. What I especially needed to work on at the beginning of the class was paragraphing and during the last class I had a student comment on how far I’ve come when it comes to paragraphing. All of the students grew to know each other so well. During my last piece they all told me, “this is something you would write”. They know my voice in my writing so well by now, and I’ve learned that I do have a very unique, sarcastic voice in mostly all of my stories.
In previous blog entries you can see all of my submissions. (Just so you know WordPress didn’t copy my everything in Word documents correctly, so because all of my work in double spaced, indents and spacing may look different.)
Submission A: My choice
I didn’t have a whole lot of criticisms for my first piece. Everyone really enjoyed the storyline. What I was told to work on the most was using MLA format, reviewing dialoge and paragraphing/proofreading. I still want to take out quite a few speech tags from this piece, but this was the revised copy that I turned in.
January 3, 2016
“I barely even know the woman! How would I know where she is?” I never thought in a million years I would be sitting in an interrogation room. Surprisingly, it looked exactly like those rooms you see on Criminal Minds. It was musky and dark with grey walls, one long white table, and an extremely bright, ever so annoying, yellow florescent light. I feel like they would get people to talk more if they decorated. Hell, even a fake plant might help. If it wasn’t bad enough that two uniformed officers showed up at my home at six this morning demanding to talk to me, now I’m sitting in this freezing cold dungeon being asked the same questions over and over. “Ben has already told us your history with Miranda, Shyla.” The older lady with the tight brown bun that went with her uptight personality smirked. I knew Miranda was missing, and frankly I didn’t care.
I’ve never liked Miranda, but I also catch spiders in my house and take them back outside to roam free. That doesn’t exactly fit the stereotype of vicious serial killer in my opinion. “Look, she was obsessed with my husband. They used to work together and went out one night for drinks with the whole company; afterwards she wouldn’t leave him alone. Maybe she finally got the hint and left town to go pursue someone else’s husband.” I sneered. “Or maybe you wanted to get rid of her because she was a threat to your marriage.” This woman was taking things way too far. I squinted at her nametag. “Rebecca, is it? First off, she wasn’t a threat to my marriage, and second, I’m not answering any more of your questions without a lawyer present” I replied. The man looked a bit more relaxed as he spoke. “Shyla, we aren’t accusing you of anything. We just want to know the last time you saw her and if you know anything about the relationship between her and Ben when they worked together.” My chest tightened as they stared at me waiting for an explanation. My focus reverted to the plain grey wall behind them.
Can anyone honestly say they are completely, one-hundred percent happy in their marriage? In the beginning, it’s all roses, kisses, and complements. They don’t call it the “honey-moon stage” for no reason. You put on an act for each other in fear that if you let a piece of the real you slip out they’ll pack their bags and run for the hills. You act like that perfect housewife that cooks and cleans because you love to please your husband, and in the beginning, you don’t mind because you love seeing the grin on his perfectly chiseled face when he walks through the door. He wraps you in his arms and asks how he got so lucky to find a woman as perfect and as beautiful as you. It’s true through; he believes he’s found the perfect wife to compliment his perfect 9 to 5 job. The best part of marriage you ask? Well that would have to be the inside jokes, those moments when you are out at a fancy dinner and all it takes is one image, or one word, and the two of you glance at each other and start laughing that deep belly laugh that makes your stomach hurt, but in a good way. I know all about it because I have been married to my husband Ben for three years. It’s been three whole years of commitment, and three years of sacrifice.
We’re told that in movies and books that once you find the perfect man you get married, have a family, and live happily ever after. What they don’t explain to you is how hard marriage is. They don’t tell you how much sacrifice and how many forced smiles go into being the perfect wife.
August 20th, 2012
“Hurry up Shyla!” Addie whined. In the whole 17 years that I’ve known Addie, patience has never been her specialty. I met Addie at the car and noticed immediately how my dirty blonde hair and grey eyes were dull compared to her bright blue eyes and golden locks. She was tall with the perfect body, and my body was somewhere in between try harder and why bother. It was my 24th birthday and Addie had insisted we go downtown and drink until we fall over. I’m not one that likes going out, but once Addie gets excited about something there’s no stopping her.
I tried my best to look good tonight. I must admit my makeup looked perfect and the sky-blue halter top that Addie bought me complemented my figure. “You look amazing!” Addie squealed as I approached her white jeep. “Are you ready for a night that’s going to go down in history?” I put on my best smile and may have stretched the truth as I rambled on about how much fun we were going to have. What seemed like 5 minutes later we were parked directly in front of a neon sign that read, “Moose Bar”. It was a Friday night so there were quite a bit of people already crowding by the entrance. I haven’t even taken a sip of alcohol and I already feel like I’m going to be sick. I have no problem with bars, but they are not a safe haven for introverts. If MTV gave out an award for most socially awkward, the award would surely go to me. “Relax Shyla. It’s going to be fun.”
We pushed past a large group of people smoking cigarettes trying not to bump into anyone causing them to spill their drink. We reached the bar stools and as always, Addie was her calm and social self. I’ll take whiskey and coke and give my friend here something extra strong. Tonight’s her birthday!” “Did I hear it was someone’s birthday?” I abruptly turned around at the sound of the unfamiliar voice and came face to face with the most handsome man I had ever seen. He was tall and fair with deep set eyes that were as blue as the ocean. In a confident voice, he looked directly in my eyes. “I’m Ben and who might you be?” He reached out to take my hand. I sensed there was something off by the look in his eye, but I was mesmerized. “Shyla Merely” I smiled and put my hand in his.
Submission B: Short Story
Everyone really loved my emotion in this piece. I got some great feedback on how I could shorten it up by giving less detail about the horse or access movements. Along with getting rid of extra description, I got rid of some speech tags as well. I took out 83 words which took my short story from 715 words to 632 words.
I walked into the house and the feeling that I needed to clean was overwhelming. The green drapes were contorted, the picture frames were off balance, and tiny specs formed solid white layers on the tops of all the wooden furniture. My OCD was only this bad when I was upset, and today it was unmanageable. A week ago my sister Emily and I had been assigned to clean out the remaining belongings in my grandparent’s ranch house. Cancer took my grandmother when I was only twelve, and a week ago the Lord decided that it was my grandfather’s time to join her. To say my papa was my best friend was an understatement.
“Hannah, why don’t you start with the bedroom? Sort through Papa’s clothes and decide what can be donated to charity.” I slid open the closet door and the smell of dust bunnies, musky cologne, and memories flooded my nose. I began sorting through my grandpa’s favorite flannel sweaters and faded western blue jeans. I was almost to the back of the closet when I spotted a yellow flannel shirt with navy blue stripes in the back corner and started reminiscing.
I was seven years old when papa had decided it was time to get me up on a horse. He was going to raise me to be a real “southern bell”. Grandma wasn’t having it. She was the protector of my small fragile self and knew papa like the back of her hand. After much pleading and reasoning, grandma finally gave in and we were on our way to the barn that musky August afternoon. “You’re just going to love this, Hannah banana” showing his with a tobacco grin. The ground was still wet from the rain the night before as approached the muddy stalls and papa started to lead our stallion Zippy out of his stall. Once papa got himself settled he pulled me up and set me in front of him. My anxiety turned into excitement.
There we were just Papa and I peacefully riding along when Zippy suddenly saw something in the bushes. Before we could catch glimpse of what he saw, Zippy took off through the field throwing both papa and I into a pile of mud. I turned and looked at papa with big blue eyes praying that he was okay. “Papa, are you all right? His yellow shirt now appeared brown. I was starting to get worried when papa started laughing so hard I thought he was going to pass out. A smile crossed my face and soon enough we were both lying on the ground, covered in mud, laughing so hard our faces were red. After we found Zippy we headed back to the stalls. “Papa what do you think grandma will do? “Oh you leave your grandma to me, kiddo.”
“Hannah, are you alright?” I snapped back to reality at the sound of my sister’s voice and realized I was crying hysterically. “I think that’s enough for today, go home to your husband.” I hugged Emily and stuffed the yellow flannel in my keepsake box. Once I got home I set the box on the bedroom dresser and my husband, Paul let me cry on his shoulder before I decided I was well enough to start dinner while he showered.
I spent 20 minutes setting the table so not one utensil was crooked or out of place. “Paul are you coming?” I yelled up the stairs. I continued to fiddle with the table cloth so it was perfectly centered when Paul said, “smells good, babe”. I turned around to find my husband in a yellow flannel shirt with navy blue stripes, papa’s shirt. A smile as wide as the horizon spread across my face and I couldn’t help but laugh.
Submission C: Poetry
I got the biggest reaction out of this piece, which was expected. It was a pretty morbid piece, but my theme was suicide awareness. The teacher really appreciated that I used a form: couplets. My teacher believed to really make this piece resonate, I needed to make it somewhat clear how and why the watcher did not live her life or appreciate it, or appreciate the others. I was told the twist at the end is going to mean more if the readers understand the overall weight of the poem. I still kept it realively short since poetry was harder for me.
The Girl in the Window
It’s Sunday morning as I peer out my window into the morning sky.
I sense that something is off as I see crowds of people pass me by.
A funeral is being held only miles away.
In the distance I see a casket where a lifeless body must lay.
Tear streaked faces gather awaiting the sound of the church bell.
This person was loved, that I can tell.
I see a glimpse of a girl who is made to look her best.
I realize this is the outfit she will forever wear as she’s being laid down to rest.
This person was loved, that I can tell.
People are telling countless stories that cause my eyes to start to swell.
Curiosity has the best of me and I start to feel brave.
No one seems to notice as I head towards her grave.
When I look into the grave I start to cry for now I can see.
I was loved but now it’s too late because the face that stares back belongs to me.
I realize now I just wanted a way out.
The first word spoken, I wanted to shout
The first sentence began, “Life was so tough”
I never felt like I was good enough.
Submission D: Creative Non-Fiction
This was the hardest genre for me to write on! I really struggled with this one for some reason. I definitely received the most feedback on this one as well. My story was very much like a tour with my plan for the life in the end. The readers wanted more imagery and less of a tour. They loved the scenes where I had memories because that made it more real for them. They suggested if the room I was talking about didn’t have a memory, to leave the room out of the story. Even though I found this to be the hardest piece, my teacher commented that this was her favorite piece of mine this year.
The Big Blue House
I was just out of kindergarten when my mom, sister, and I moved from the comfort of my grandparents’ house in the large city of Denver to the small town of Eaton, Colorado. I didn’t know what to expect and I honestly don’t remember much about how I felt about the move. The thing about kids is they’re adaptable. What I’m sure of now is that I was blind to the impact this house would forever have on my life.
The big blue house on 1st street is how I’ll always remember it. It was right across the street from my new elementary school, and let’s be honest, it looked ridiculously haunted. Not only was it an old Victorian house, but it was built in 1880 and Dr. Jefferson, the first doctor in Eaton, built the house with his wife where they raised 5 children. At only 6 years old I obviously didn’t understand the historical aspect of the house and went around for the next few years telling everyone that I lived in the house “Thomas Jefferson’s assistant” lived in.
Looking back the house was gorgeous. The front had a white picket fence with a very large front yard. Once you walked down the long path to the house you reached the big blue house with red shutters. You walked in to find the wooden stairs which led to my room full of yellow wallpaper and butterfly clips. The room was bright and cheerful in the morning, but come night time all I could see was the darkness around me as I hid from the howl of the wind that blew through the giant oak tree right outside the window. I’ll always remember the bathroom next to my room because it contained the smallest of crawl spaces that was filled with moths and dust. My guess is this door led to what used to be a rundown storage area or attic, but I wouldn’t be caught dead even leaving that little door unhatched in fear of what was lurking in the dark shadows. The main floor was beautiful. Long hallways swiveled throughout the house containing pictures of generations past. I often catch myself reminiscing over the kitchen and mud room where our endless family holiday traditions took place.
The inside of the house was beautiful and hirsotric, but the best part was when you went out to the back porch. There was the back patio, and the long winding gravel driveway that connected to garage where I would play basketball, along with the “shop” where my mom made worked on her stain glass for hours to escape the harsh realities of the world. There was a large brown picket gate where I spent my childhood summers picking wild raspberries as listened to the trickle of the large pond. There was nothing better than our large backyard when I was a child in the summers.
Looking back now this wasn’t just a house, this was the house that I grew up in. I loved living in such a small town where all the neighborhood kids would come over knocking on the door asking, “can Loren play?” and we would spend hours riding our bikes and scooters around the once small town. There were no cell phones, instead the sun indicated when it was time to finally go home. I lived in this house for 8 years before my grandpa moved in and his health started deteriorating. We purchased a larger house to accommodate his needs, but he passed away right before we moved in. My mom will tell you to this day that selling her house on first street was the biggest mistake she ever made. After that we moved around every 6 months, sometimes sooner. It was the one place I can look back on and say “that was home.” It was a home where I was comfortable and a place where I got to witness my mother’s happiness instead of the depression that continues to consume her life every day now. This house symbolized family, love, and most importantly stability. I now realize how important it is for children to grow up with not just a house, but a forever home where they can create their own memories just like I did in my big blue house.
Submission E: My choice
This piece was really random. I basically took a 3-minute fiction prmompt and ran with it. I didn’t expect the whole class to really look into this piece as much as they did. They were really trying to figure out which character they liked more and why the guy had the motives he did. They wanted me to give the guy a name, of course. They also wanted me to transition from the past to present more smoothly. That’s what I worked on doing in this last piece.
Three Little Words
It was cold outside and there was a fresh blanket of snow from earlier in the day. I had come outside to get away from the speakers which currently were spewing out Christmas past times that our boss insisted I put on to get everyone into the “holiday spirit”. I never expected you to walk outside and sit right next to me. I was calm and collected while you were bold and confident. We sat outside until my cheeks were chapped and my hands were numb from the cold. I never expected us to come so far.
Today marks three months that we have been together. I walk outside to find a small white envelope sitting on my porch swing. I sit down and gaze into the yard. The white covered branches of my oak tree have now been replaced with green leaves and blossoming flowers. I hold the letter in my hands. It smells of cinnamon with a hint of pine, just like you. I tear open the letter and begin to read:
Remember the night we pitched a tent in the backyard and camped out all night watching the sky? We talked about how the stars were just holes in the sky where a different species in a different universe was looking down on us? That was nice.
Remember out first fight? You told me to be honest about if I liked the dress you were wearing and I was. We had officially crossed our first milestone. Remember when we went to the 4th of July festival and we watched the fireworks explode into an array of bright colors? That night you told me in order to take our relationship to another level we had to say those three little words. You said them and told me I had to say them too.
I can picture our future now. We could adopt our first dog together and name it after a piece of food such as Muffin. I hear couples do that. Maybe one day we would even move to the suburbs and build our own house. We would have a garden and grow, I don’t know, vegetables if down the road if we were into that sort of thing. We’d have four kids and at least one of them would be good at sports. We could tuck them into bed each night and tell them the story of how we met. Um, well, maybe four is pushing it. One is more realistic and we’d hope for a boy who happens to be good at sports.
We could follow your dreams too. Maybe you’d rather live in the country in a wooden cabin and sing with the birds while I go out into the forest to cut down some wood for our old-school fireplace because you don’t believe in heat coming out of the walls and it would just be more economically friendly. You could quit your job like you always wanted since you tell me all the time about how boring and repetitive it is.
You were right though. In order to move this relationship to the next level I’d have to say those three little words. You would be the first person I said those words to with a different meaning behind them. I started this letter so sure of how I was feeling so, here goes nothing.
Let’s be friends.