My first assignment in Creative writing was to write a Fiction Short story with a cover sheet. I had never heard of a cover sheet. She told us what she expected on the cover sheet and I must have created it correctly because there were no errors marked on that portion. The rest- not so much. I had several grammar errors. All I have corrected for this blog post. I mulled the idea of submitting for publication. I guess I am not that brave, yet. I know I will get there. Baby steps. The first step for me is posting to my blog, so here is the cover sheet first then my fiction short story- Catharsis.
I began my fiction short story by sitting quietly. I tried to block out all the noise around me, hard to do sometimes. For this very reason, I tend to write either at night or very early in the morning, when the house is quiet and my spirit is calm. This story deals with something I struggle with; writers block. As you recall, I used the same subject matter in last week’s post. For me, it’s a recurrent issue. It’s also something I feel I need to get a handle on, it only leads to procrastination if not dealt with promptly.
I wrote my story in the span of about an hour and a half. Then I let it rest and I did as well. When I got up the next morning I edit with a fresh, rested mind. My thought process is more focused when I am having that first cup of coffee. I had one draft and then I edited that draft. I print out my story and re-read. This particular story when I re-read it caused me to be emotional. This story came from my heart, roughly based on life events; hence the title, Catharsis. In the story the protagonist loses her mother to cancer. I still have my mother with me but I know that day will come.
The two biggest struggles I have in writing, especially with this piece, was beginning and my worries over grammar. Writing for me is like running; hard to make that first step but once you get going, momentum takes over. Once you silence the inner critics you can hear your true voice speaking to you. You have to listen to what the characters have to say, listen to them speaking to you. A writer is a person who can translate feelings and thoughts into words. This is my translation; Catharsis.
By: Arleen McCann
Suzanne knew her deadline was looming. She had worked so hard to get the attention of the editor of Open Seas Magazine. It had been a chance meeting that brought her and the editor together.
It took several conversations for the editor to say, “Suzanne, we are going to give you a shot. Turn in a travel piece. Something about this little Island off Martinique.”
So Suzanne packed her bags and headed to the island. The warm winds and white sands were just what she needed to help her begin again–a new career, a new life. She settled into the hotel. She went out to sample some of the local cuisine. She listened to a local band play just off the street at a café. This would give her piece interest. She thought, “I’ll write about all aspects of life in Les Anses d’Arlet.” After a leisurely walk on the beach to watch the sunset, she sat down in her room to begin writing.
Nothing came. No thoughts, no words, nothing. Her mind was a blank page. Writer’s block is such a horrible thing. You stare at the blank screen trying to force the words to materialize. Minutes become hours, hours become a day. She continued to stare at the blinking screen. She made coffee, had tea, and walked the beach again. Still nothing, so she turned on the TV and watched endless hours of shows selling gadgets and gizmos all guaranteed to make her life easier, faster, smarter. She thought, “If they could only make something that could cure writer’s block.”
What is writer’s block anyway? Is it the deepest part of your soul hanging on to the catharsis that the sweet release of words would convey? Is there an enchanted key that unlocks the secrets of your heart? She was drained, exhausted. So tired from the desire to create, yet, her psyche was void of passion. She did the only logical thing, she laid down. Maybe in her dreams she could write. She fell asleep and suddenly found herself sitting at her laptop. She looked down to see a USB cable attached to her chest, right below her heart. She plugged the cable into the slot on the laptop. Suddenly the screen pulsated with rainbow hues then returned back to a glistening pink. She looked down and noticed the cable was filling with this pink glow. Her soul came alive with this flickering, beautiful pink light. She could hear a voice say, “Write what you feel, don’t think, don’t judge, don’t criticize or doubt, just write.”
She closed her eyes and she could see with her heart. Her quiet mind released thoughts and feelings, hopes and yes, imaginings. She turned to see an angel sitting at the end of her bed. The angel was leaned back, arms crossed behind her head.
“Hello, who are you?” Suzanne asked.
“Well, it’s pretty obvious by the wings I must be an angel but, to be specific, my name is Jonae. I am your writing angel. Also a kind of angel of confidence. I only appear when you lack the assurance or well, in some cases, courage to write.”
“It’s nice to meet you. I feel like we have meet before,” Suzanne inquired.
“We have,” the angel replied, “many times. You see, some people are given a destiny to write. You were given a destiny to write and paint. You seem to have forgotten what it is you have to do. That is what writers block is; you have forgotten consciously what your subconscious never doubts. You are a writer, you are an artist. You see the world painted in light; you appreciate the pink hues of love, the blue notes of music, the passion of red, the majesty of purple and the sunsets of yellow and orange. You perceive emotions and feel color. Music stirs your soul like a warm pot of soup on a cold winter day. You feel pain more intensely than everyone else. You cry with those who suffer and laugh with the joy of a child. You have felt the darkness of death and the deepness of depression. You have been given every experience you need to write. Your experience is your life! Your life is your canvas; your words your palette.”
Silent tears streamed down her face as she remembered what it was she had been given; joy, pain, love—an empathic ability to connect with the world around her. She realized she had been given a gift to heal with a simple word from a pen and stroke from her brush. This overwhelmed her for a moment. It’s as if she caught her collective breath and suddenly she could breathe again. The fear slowly subsided.
“I remember” Suzanne said. “I remember when I was a little girl and I would pull the papers my mother wrote out of a weathered shoe box. They were brown with age. A lone staple- that had been placed there some 50 years ago- held them together. I read her words and something inside me wanted to be just like my mother. I wanted my words to be as spellbinding, to mesmerize. The admiration was overwhelming. I used to say, I am going to be a writer one day, just like my mother. I knew that as long as I had her words, I had her with me all the time. I needed her then and still do. I need her here with me.” Jonae leaned forward and placed her hand on Suzanne’s.
“As long as you have her words, her inner strength, you have her time immortal. She is with you always, in your heart, in your thoughts, and in your words. Just look and you will find her there. By the way, you will find yourself as well.”
Suzanne smiled. She now knew the source of her hesitance. She was missing that maternal connection she had felt so long ago. Her mother was her best friend. When she became ill, she tried to do the best she could to ease her pain. She felt ineffective and useless as the cancer spread. In the end, she was helpless to ease her suffering. The woman who once held her hand and soothed her tears, she now had to reassure that it would be okay. The roles had reversed. Suzanne remembered the last days of her Mother’s life. She couldn’t wrap her head around the fact she was physically here, but the smile, the love, the warm laugh was gone. The essence that filled the room with all her memories was so far away—somewhere, but where? She felt her here and then she wasn’t anymore.
She knew she had not been able to write since her mother had passed away. She had been unable to put into words the immense loss her whole being felt. The guilt she felt over wanting to live again when the sweetest part of her soul was no longer alive. She began to cry.
Jonae said, “Its ok, have a good cry and get back to spreading your soul on that canvas, Share your gift. Write the words that inspire. Give hope to others. It’s time to create again.” Tears flowed like they had not for several years, all the pain, all the hurt came pouring out. Suzanne looked up to find Jonae was gone.
The next morning she woke to the sound of birds outside and the sun shone through her window castings tropical rays of warmth. The smell of coffee filled the air as she got out of bed. This morning was different. She didn’t feel that awful sense of dread. She knew her deadline for the story was drawing close but she wasn’t empty. She felt optimistic, alive. Her mind whirled with words, so fast she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to capture them all. She felt passion for her craft. She felt like a writer again. She quickly poured a cup of coffee and made her way to the desk. She smiled. Beside the desk she found a note. It simply said, Believe. Next to the note was a singular white feather.