Hello everyone. Been busy around these parts.
I’ve been taking a creative writing course online called ‘The Craft of Setting and Description’ on Coursera that I’ve been enjoying very much. These two elements have also been my Achilles’ heel so it has been quite a bit of work.
Fiction is hard.
That being said, I finally produced something that made me moderately proud, so I thought I’d share it here. It is hard to judge my work, so do please feel free to provide feedback 🙂
This is the beginning of a story (the title will not make sense just yet). The brief was to set it in either:
1. a hospital
2. a foreign country
3. a blackout
P.S. I began working on this before the Notre Dame fire, which I was quite sad to hear about. I intend to take up The Hunchback of Notre Dame as my next reading project, so stay tuned (currently reading Aatish Taseer’s The Temple-goers).
Paris in the Day
A soft twilight breeze ruffled my hair and tinkled through my large earrings. I pulled my modish beige coat a little tighter around my dress.
The Seine was bathed in the red and orange glows of sunset. I could see the Eiffel tower in the distance, roughly the size of a thimble or a tourist’s keychain.
I began to walk towards it.
As I drew closer, strains of a gentle acoustic melody wafted towards me on the wind, along with the scents of street food. A student busker was crooning softly to the twangs of an old guitar.
Suddenly I was a naïve fourteen again, standing under the massive arches of the Eiffel, tilting my head up as far as it would go. Thinking that one could get lost in the sheer size and hypnotic curves that looked almost like some optical illusion. Some strange man had come up to me and begun to jabber in French, proceeding to tie something around my wrist, which I had absent-mindedly allowed him to do, much to my mother’s consternation. Then also there had been this slight chill in the air. An immigrant was selling tiny Eiffel keychains and a busker was setting up on the lawn a few feet away.
In coming to Paris, I was escaping a certain melancholia. I had been trying, for two years, to write the magnificent novel that I could see so clearly in my head – unsuccessfully. I was convinced that I had something important to say, but after these years of what felt like wasted effort, I was spent.
Of course, I had also had my heart thoroughly broken.
I took off my heels and sat down on the lawn, lining them up precisely beside me and spreading my legs out in front of me. I smiled when the tower lit up, the lights chasing each other like frantic fireflies, blinking in and out, just like I remembered.
Why was I here?
Not wanting particularly to think, I let my mind go blank. Here I was, in one of the loveliest cities of the world, young, pretty and free. If I could just savour the feeling for a moment…
Strange that one could change so much in the space of a decade, I reflected. When I was last here, still a child, nothing could have tempered my joy. Now I feel joy, but it is tainted, every second of happiness accompanied by a small twinge, a pensive reminder that I have failed, in love and in life.
I shook my head. It was a morbid way to think.
I got up, restless now that the light show had ended. I started slowly on the long way back to my hostel, stopping every now and then to loiter at some spot that caught my fancy.
There are worse places in which to be afflicted with so romantic a sorrow as this, I thought, with a small smile. To not only have one’s heart broken but to be a struggling writer and to be both in Paris…
Then I grimaced. Suddenly I felt shallow and stupid.
My hostel room was neat but shabby and almost Spartan. I switched on the bedside lamp and stared dully at my latest draft. I had not touched it in the two weeks I’d been here.
Seized by a sudden rage, I picked up the manuscript and walked out onto the balcony. Then with all the force of my impotent frustration, I hurled it out onto the street.
I was immediately filled with regret. Pale and unsatisfying though they might have been, those pages were the culmination of years of dreams and work.
I sat down on the bed and buried my head in my hands.