Chewing Up Scenery

   Sorry for two blog entries in such a short period of time, but my writers block is down and I need to take advantage of it while I can. Plus, I realize most of my blogs have been about me moaning about the trials of being a writer and while some of you can relate, the rest of you may not. After-all this blog is about writing right? I should post some more writing. But this leads me to a dilemma.

   As any of you who’ve read my writing know, I like to keep my secrets. I love the surprise endings, so in posting this next piece of writing, or any further writing from Appetites, I will be revealing the secrets. A spoiler if you will. So at the bottom of this post is a new snippet, an assignment from Ruth Walkers class. Please don’t read it if you want to discover the surprises and hints on your own.

   Writing Is supposed to be a lonely art, and it is to a certain extent. Doing the actual writing part is lonely, but the research and the feedback are also intrigal parts of writing. I have the rare pleasure of have several groups to keep me on track. They read and supply feedback. My Novel Approach group, my family and friends and even an online group, the Wild Bunch. All from different points of view, as writers, editors and teachers, and the most important one, avid readers. And of course you who follow my blog. After-all why do we write? For me it’s the joy I get when the reader, that’s you, ‘gets it’; when they are surprised, or shocked, or scared silly. And while I revel in the kudos, I’m uncomfortable receiving them. I don’t know what to say back.

   So, after taking the long and rambling way here, we’re finally to the written part. This next bit was our fourth assignment. It’s about setting and scenery, about specific details and tight focus. Essentially, setting and scenery can have as much impact to the story as the characters themselves. In fact, it can become, itself, a character.

   In my last assignment, the road was a character. I’m experimenting with description. My style/voice is less is more. I described it to my sister as the ‘trigger effect’. I write a word or a series of words that trigger the picture I want in the reader’s mind. Their picture will be much more vivid and personal than what I could describe. This assignment is more about hitting the target than pulling the trigger. I found it difficult, but then that’s why I took the course to begin with. To stretch my ability.

   Let me know what you think. Is it too much? Is it not enough? Please bear in mind this is the truncated version of this scene. The accent has to be fixed to match the character and there are parts I will expand on. In fact, Sue pointed out on area she’d like to read more about that I hadn’t considered.

Playing With Words: Assignment #4 “Chewing up Scenery”
(500 Words)
By Dale Long.

In my travels up the east coast I stayed a while with the Mi’kmaq on the Kespek peninsula. A land of craggy drops to the sea and stretches of flat sodden grass plateaus. Shores where the ocean had bitten chunks out of the abutting towering rock faces leaving behind teeth marks and slabs of limestone jutting out of the water like the prows of some ancient vessels. An ocean community of dirty white wigwams and friendly people who called me Metis. I was happy there until the beast in me reared its ugly head and instead of staying in the woods, killed one of the tribe during the harvest moon. But did they hunt me? Try to kill me? No, the Indians have a respect for the animal spirits in all of us. They said in me it was particularly strong and that I had to seek balance, embrace my spirit guide or it will consume me as well. They told me of a blind healer woman in a Cree settlement on Lake Nemiscau. I trekked north.

Along the way I found work in logging companies, in the icy shadows of the towering pines, where a name wasn’t required, just a strong back. Prior to each full moon, I left each company. I moved from one to another this way, working my way ever north until I finally found the settlement.  

While the scenery around Lake Nemiscau was similar to Gaspe, rocky and water-bound, it lacked the stark quality that comes with being neighbours to the sea. Instead an air of serenity hushed the wind and opened the sky wide. It arched above, gigantic and blue, balanced precariously on the tips of the pine trees and the curved edges of the lake.

These Cree weren’t Mi’kmaq. There were no open-armed welcomes, just a cautious quiet and a barely suppressed disdain. So it was with great reluctance, even backed by the word of the Mi’kmaq, that they led me to their healer. She had raven hair and milky white eyes. Not just plain white, her eyes had faint darker spots and the more I looked into them the more I felt I was looking at the moon and it studied me back. In the tent that night, shrouded in sweet smoke and sweat, their whiteness enveloped me and the wolf and I became one. When I woke, I was drenched in blood, the witch’s eyes in my hand. Can’t keep the moon trapped inside, sooner or later it will want out.

I walked naked to the water’s edge and threw them in a high arc where the moon’s reflection reclaimed them up with barely a ripple. It was an honourable death. She gave her life to make me whole. I howled long and loud, the sound bouncing off trees, tumbling through the stones and skipping over the water. And soon it was answered.

Imagine the joy of finding out you aren’t alone in the world, that there were others like you.

About Dale Long

Writing ambushed me from the shadows. At first I pushed it aside as nonsense, but luckily my wife and two girls saw the potential. Since then I have had an article published by Metroland, placed as runner-up and in the top ten in humour writing contests and various other contests. The icing on the cake was placing as runner-up in the WCDR's Wicked Words contest (130 entries) and having my entry published in the contests anthology of the same name. My entry was an exerpt from my upcoming novel, Echoes.
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2 Responses to Chewing Up Scenery

  1. Dave says:

    Great description. Rocks rising outta the ocean like the prows of ships… ggod one.

    Love the pace of the story line and nice even flow. Only one question… What if eating Indian food doesn’t agree with the creature? Would he get diarrhea? : )

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