Monday, November 2, 2009

Chapter Two: Writing Essentials

Word Count: 10,725/50,000
I'm a Type A person, so when I'm writing, I tend to prefer certain things over others and stick to those.
While I generally prefer writing on my laptop because it's faster and neater, I love to look at filled pages of handwriting, knowing that I just created that. Also, as I've unfortunately discovered more than once, things can go wrong with one's computer and entire documents can be deleted. When your creation is on paper, stuff like that rarely happens unless you've got Amy March as your little sister.
Putting Pen to Paper: When I'm writing in longhand, I used lined paper and a black pen. The ink must be black or I can't write. Red or sometimes purple are for corrections and blue is forbidden... I have a weird thing against blue ink. Blue pens included in packs of black and red are wasted on me. I tend to write in cursive because when I'm writing quickly, my printing becomes illegible, and though I tell myself I'll remember what it says later, I don't always and then I'm left turnin the paper every which way holding it at arm's length and squinting.
J'ai Faim: I wish I could say there was some kind of food or drink that was my writing food/beverage, but alas, I have none. Honestly, though I have a water bottle within arm's reach, I don't do a lot of eating or drinking while I'm writing because I don't type well with one hand and it decreases my speed. I did just polish off some delicious hot chocolate, though (I don't like coffee).
A Lightbulb Moment: When I'm writing, I like having good light. Perhaps I use the artificial light to make me feel like the one in my head is burning brightly, too, but I think it also makes me concentrate and focus on what I'm doing. I tend to stray when light is bad.
Burning the Midnight Oil: My best writing time is very very early in the morning. I am a night person, so it's not unusual for me to be up until two in the morning writing or doing whatever. My rule at school is that I must go to bed before 3 am, and so far, a year and two or so months into my college education, I have kept to that rule.
I also write well, um... during classes. Well, perhaps not well, but I do do a lot of writing during my classes in my notebooks. I know, I know, I should be paying attention to my expensive education, but sometimes the urge to write is just too strong.
Play it Again, Sam: As I think I mentioned yesterday, I like to listen to music when I write, but I rarely write to music with lyrics, as I tend to write the lyrics I hear rather than my story. My favorite go-to writing music is the Atonement soundtrack. Something about that typewriter noise integrated into the music...
So those are my writing essentials. Now I am going to take the plunge and give you a taste of Remembrance. This is part of the opening. I hope you'll enjoy.
London, England
September 1940
Ruthie Halpert jumped out of bed as soon as she heard the sirens wailing. A quick glance out her window told her that it was the dead of night. She tripped over her shoes as she raced out into the hallway and to another door. She pounded on it.
“Noah!” she called, hoping her brother had already been awakened by the noise. “Noah!” She pounded harder. To her relief, the door flew open and nine–year–old Noah stood there in his blue and white striped pajamas, hair tousled from sleep. He looked scared.
“What’s going on?” he asked, eyes wide.
“It’s all right,” Ruthie said, trying to sound braver than she felt. “I’m sure it’s just a drill. We need to find Mum and Dad.”
But there was no need, because at that moment, Maureen and Leonard Halpert’s bedroom door flew open and they hurried out, robes thrown haphazardly on over their pajamas.
“It’s all right,” soothed Ruthie’s mother even as she pushed her children toward the staircase. “Quickly, to the back garden.”
The family burst out of the house and ran across the damp grass. In the distance, Ruthie could see bursts of light as bombs fell on the city. A sound like distant thunder reached her ears. She didn’t realised she had stopped, transfixed, until her mother shouted to hurry.
Ruthie joined the rest of her family as they hurried across the garden. There, waiting in the dark, was the shelter Mr. Halpert had finished only days before. Being an engineer, it was more skillfully made than it might have been otherwise. He threw open the doors, which were laid into a small hill, and ushered his wife and children inside. Once he, too, had descended the short flight of stairs, he slammed the doors shut. All was darkness for a second as the family tried to catch their breath. Then a small light came on. Huddled on one of the beds with Noah, Ruthie saw her father’s half – lit face illuminated by the lantern.
“There’s a lantern on your right, Ruthie, if you want to turn that on, as well,” he said. Ruthie felt around carefully and located a table and on it, a lamp. She turned a small knob and a flame grew inside the globe, brightening the room further. She looked around, not having seen the shelter since its beginning stages. She and Noah were sitting on one of two narrow cots. Shelves were built along the back wall and held canned foods and blankets. Gas masks rested on a table against the wall. Ruthie had seen demonstrations of how to wear the masks at school, and she thought they made people look like aliens.
“I wish you could have seen the shelter finished before we actually had to use it. I assure you that we will be safe down here. I got the most comfortable cots I could so you two can still get some rest -”
“We have to sleep down here?!” Noah’s voice was high with fear. He clutched Ruthie tighter.
“We have to stay down here until we’re sure it’s safe,” Mrs. Halpert said soothingly. “We have blankets and pillows so it will be warm and comfortable. We’ll be all right.”
Noah eyed the gas masks. “Do we have to wear those?”
“Not tonight, honey,” their mother assured him. “Now how about we all try to get back to sleep?” She patted the bed on the other side of the small room. It took Noah only four steps to cross to it. Ruthie took down two blankets from the shelves, then hesitated.
“Where are you and Dad sleeping?” she asked. She and Noah might fit on one of the cots together, but the beds were far too narrow for two grown adults to share, or even one adult and one child.
Mrs. Halpert took one of the blankets from her daughter’s hands and unfolded it, spreading it over Noah’s cot. “Don’t worry about us, we’ll be fine. You and your brother have school tomorrow, so you need your rest.”
Ruthie arranged her own blanket on her bed and took one of the small, thin pillows from the shelf. She pulled back the scratchy wool blanket and crawled underneath it. It smelled strange, not like her quilt in her room. She turned on her side and watched her mother tucking an identical blanket around her brother.
Outside, there was the continuing thunder – like sound. Ruthie expected to have trouble falling asleep, but as soon as she closed her eyes, she was sound asleep.
Now I think it's time for me to get some sleep before school tomorrow. 'Night, everyone!

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