The exercise on page 19 asks that, following the reading of Ernest Hemingway’s 1000 word short story ‘A Day’s Wait‘ (you can read it here) you “use the inspiration (…) to start a new piece. Allow your ideas to grow via any motif in his stories (such as the shooting of the ducks in A Day’s Wait.) You could also use any theme you note, for instance a story of a day’s sickness, or the relationship between father and son…(…) try to remain in the moment of illumination; don’t add irrelevances about general life.”
And although I didn’t really find the story inspirational as such – even though I read it three or four times – what it did was reveal to me features of Hemingway’s writing that I’ve never adopted in my own (because we have different voices and we’re different people). And so I found an ‘instance’ from my chequered history that involved MASSIVE amounts of emotion – on my part, at least – and set about writing it down in more of an anecdotal/report way rather than involving deep and lengthy descriptions on thoughts and feeling and utilising backstory – which is how I find I write generally – trying to stuff as much into a story as possible.
Once I’d hit 1000 words (I went beyond, but only by 40 words or so) I started to pare it back even more. I was already using ‘I said,’ ‘she said’ instead of more effusive descriptions of speech delivery (there’s a word for that but I can’t remember what it is) but I also wanted to cut out any extraneous flowery stuff. The result is spare, succinct and devoid of too much tension or drama, even though the actual situation would usually warrant plenty of both.
I’m pleased with the result and I’m glad I gave it a bash, but I’m not sure the voice is really ‘me’. This is the opening paragraph and I’ve linked to the rest if you want to read on.
My Husband’s Lover
She was the last person I expected to be there. She stood on the mat outside our front door and lifted her scrubbed-clean face to me in greeting, looking nothing like the archetypal home-wrecker. Her glossy copper hair shone healthily in the midday sun and I stood back to let her in, catching a familiar musky scent as she passed me.
Here’s the rest: My Husband’s Lover