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 WEEKLY WRITING CHALLENGE: 2/26 - 3/3, challenge: the reluctant 'i'
XANDER
 Posted: Feb 26 2016, 10:49 AM
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local advice god
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AYYYOOO IT BACK

so 2015 did creep to a close with my FALLING OFF THE WRITING CHALLENGE WAGON, but thanks to this book i am infinitely more determined to actually achieve this even if i am working 50 hours a week!! how am i going to do nano if i can't do this shit???

SO WHAT'S UP YA'LL

what? a weekly writing challenge
who? you, me, your friends, everyone
why? to challenge yourself randomly

do i have to participate every week? nope! participate as you feel.

how does it work? every week i will post a new writing challenge! writing challenges are lifted from this site. from friday to thursday, post your submission to the corresponding thread. after that, the we will enter the 'critique phase', and the next challenge will be posted.

THIS WEEK'S PROMPT:
QUOTE
Write a first-person story in which you use the first person pronoun (“I” or “me” or “my”) only two times—but keep the “I” somehow important to the narrative you’re constructing.  The point of this exercise is to imagine a narrator who is less interested in himself or herself than in what he or she is observing.  You can make your narrator someone who sees a very interesting event in which she is not necessarily a participant.  Or you can make him self-effacing yet a major participant in the events related.  The people we tend to like most are those who are much more interested in other people than in themselves, selfless and caring, whose conversation is not a stream of self-involved remarks (like the guy who, after speaking about himself to a woman at a party for half an hour, says, “Enough about me, what do you think of me?”).  Another lesson you might learn from this exercise is how important it is to let things and events speak for themselves, beyond the ego of the narration.  It is very important in this exercise to make sure your reader is not surprised, forty or fifty words into the piece, to realize that this is a first person narration.  Show us quickly who is observing the scene.


here's more about pronouns.

NOTES: no word limit, but minimum of 500!

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XANDER
 Posted: Mar 3 2016, 02:14 AM
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local advice god
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jeez this was flippin' hard

* * * * *

Paris did not throw him a parade upon his arrival, and the sun did not burst into a smile behind the clouds. Citizens passing on the sidewalk did not lift their eyes with warmth and compassion. The waiters did not sense this visit imperiled Ariel, and so they did not ease up on their legendary Parisian snootiness. Here was a world that had never heard his name, and thus could not pay him the deference he felt he should be afforded. He was here on a vital reconnaissance mission -- vital! -- and the fates should have instructed the necessary parties to behave in a more encouraging fashion.

I have told Ariel on several occasions -- including this one -- that perhaps the universe is in true, deep communion with him on his struggle, and that the real issue is that he is not particularly interested in listening to it. How much did he really need to suffer, chasing one particular person across land and sea, before he could admit the terrific nonsense of it? Worse than being purely geographical, his pursuit was spiritual, an attempt to relocate himself onto a different plane of existence, one he could share with his beloved. Paris was her physical location, but it was just a metaphor, a portal: where Iris herself was, Ariel was less certain.

Winter lingered through the chilly afternoons and the colder nights. Ariel sat up by the fire and talked, sometimes only to himself. The years have brought him an understanding that often someone speaks only to hear themselves, and that it is within the speaker's ability to solve their own problems simply by vocalizing them. The pleasure of his company is most deeply felt in marking his progress, such as parents feel for their young children: only Ariel has gotten it into his head that he must grow into something else, some sort of quasi-hero. His ability to be content with life as it was lived was compromised early in life, with all his books and his fantasies. Iris played into his fairy tales a little too well - between the two of them, they were enormously predisposed to living inside their own delicately crafted script, a storybook, a series of adventures penned with heavy down quills. Iris had left for Paris when she decided Ariel served her better as her antagonist, and not her side character. He was threatening to take over her story.

Following him those days, wandering behind him at a distance, listening to him question this or that poet, society woman, or town gossip - there was heartbreak in it, a reliving of the first terrible months when he would arrive at the house house in a tizzy, shouting, throwing things, making wild accusations, and then collapsing on the floor, or a couch, or a bed, unable to stand the world or himself. That heartbreak was explosive and vindictive; this one was sadder, withered, and uglier. His passionate tragedy threatened to become a cheap, miserly obsession: pedantic romanticism. It was unclear whether Iris was his perfect ideal, or his unresolved footnote.

In the end, I couldn't decide. The evening was filled with soft snowfall when Ariel found the alley, the bridge, the perfect vantage point, and he looked, and he looked, and he looked, and he sighed, and he left. He couldn't decide; no judgment could be passed on his decision. Paris was abandoned with a merciless shrug, a chattering of the teeth, and a grayness around the edges.
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knox
 Posted: Mar 4 2016, 08:05 AM
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basically a ghost
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didn't have time to post this yesterday because rl is a demanding mistress.

i present to you a vignette in the spirit of the guy who, after speaking about himself to a woman at a party for half an hour, says, “Enough about me, what do you think of me?”

~

She walked into The Owl Farm, left, shimmied back in, skirted by the door. Finally she sat at the bar, using her wallet to flag down the runner.

One martini. Please.

After that she started up a conversation with the bartender with such ease and at so welcome a volume that she invited the entire bar (all eight Thursday evening drinkers) to overhear.

She’d been involved with three different men in the past six months. A low-life tattoo buff, a contractor who painted houses but really wanted to be an artist, and most recently, a corporate CEO who owned a 20 lb pit bull mix. The last one was almost twenty years her senior. A relationship type. One of those guys who felt an impending need to take the romance a level up by his next birthday lest he shrivel up and turn into a pumpkin by the stroke of his forty fifth birthday.

She hadn’t even made it to girlfriend, she laughed. They only went out together three times, although they’d fucked twice. She made a point of telling the bar, while jabbing the toothpick and olive of her gin martini at me in particular, that there was a difference between making love, having sex, and fucking, and that what she had done with him was most definitely fucking.

Fucking! She spat out the word like having said it dirtied her mouth, but on the surface she looked undaunted. Oh well, she said, eating the olive. She didn’t want to get married anyway. Besides, she knew it wasn’t going to work out. It was the 10 year difference. It was because she made 5 bucks an hour as a server and he was a CEO. If not that, it was because she started crying when he unbuttoned her blouse on the third date. That was the kicker. The deal breaker.

She’d only cried, she told the bartender, because she knew he wasn’t going to want to be serious with her, and because, she added, laughing in the back of her throat, he wasn’t even that good of a fuck.

And you know what he told her? She said, leaning over the counter and into the light where her white, frightened face could be seen clearly, her hair falling over her shoulder in one perfect, fluid block, like the coif that belonged to so many heroines in Saturday morning cartoons. He told her that he liked her a lot, but it was too far of a stretch.

He had more or less used the “age thing” as a cover up. She scoffed and started swirling the toothpick at the bottom of martini number two.

That wasn’t the least of it. The painter had also been older than her. This one by fourteen years, but that wasn’t the trouble. See, she had said, she met him online. She told all her friends she met him at a crafts group. Which was almost as bad, if not worse than the truth. She told them he caught her eye during pottery making, that he held her hands to the clay wheel or something, sounding like some dumb movie reference to Ghost. Really, they hadn’t met until much later at a bus stop on W 23rd street. In August and not in July. And his eyes had been piercing and blue, not brown. Another lie.

The last time she saw him, they were good-bye grey. She was dropping him off on the corner by the train station. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon. There was a fair going on down the road. Colorful flags and sweet smells beckoned and became bygones. They walked down the street arm in arm. When she kissed him he said, “See you soon.”

She knew right then and there she was never going to see him again. That’s what the other one had said, too. The Corporate Steve with the dog, the double bathroom shelf all full of gel and hair smoother, the silver cocktail tray, and the row of cacti on his kitchen window sill.

Did she mention the condom drawer in his bedside table? She snorted. Well, now you know. There was no place for her in the world of a man who fathered cacti and big dogs and medicine cabinets filled with moulding crème and $270 aftershave.

She didn’t know where she’d fit in his life. She didn’t know where she fit in hers.

She tapped her empty glass against the counter as the bartender swept by.

“Another.”

She began to drain her third martini. In the middle of it she tilted her head back and cackled. The first one had known enough not to say “see you soon.”

A first of many firsts, she said. The first one in a long line of ones. With that one she felt she knew a little too well where she belonged. In such a way that it scared her.

So she goes out, she told the bartender, with her palms facing the liquefied amber aura of the bar, and does this.

She leaned her head into the counter and put her hand around an untouched glass of water. Her fingers were slender and white. She shook them out like plumes of swan feathers.

Talk to strangers, she went on. Try to figure out if we’re all the same age.

There was a hiccup of silence.

It made her think of that dumb Fleetwood Mac song.

"But, like. Whatever.”

She got up then. No, she started to float, rise out of her seat. She sailed up from the barstool. It teetered. Then I saw that she was not actually floating, she was just shaking, trying to pass it off as finesse. She dipped one of those white, feathered hands into her pants pocket and pulled out a change purse. She tipped well and then her hands fluttered about to close it, like two nesting doves.
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