I am three very happy days into the Northwest Arkansas Writers Institute, and I must tell you, dearest readers, that I have missed that creative writing spark desperately.
At first, I really struggled with finding my stride, or as writers call it my voice. Everything felt extremely forced, probably because it had been too long since I had picked up a pen to write just for myself. We all know that writers who write well write will because they give themselves loads of time to practice. After a day of crappy writing, I was wary of the second day.
But then, I did something amazing that the presenter’s helped me into with their fantastic demonstrations. I wrote like the Southern woman that I am. I channeled my inner Scout Finch and wrote what I knew. I thought I might share some samples with you all.
The first is a response to this painting by Norman Rockwell.
As soon as they called me in I started talking. I said, “I know what you’re thinkin’, sir, but I didn’t do nothin that didn’t have to get done. She was talkin’ stuff ’bout my family and I aint standin’ for that.” He looked at me with straight eyes over the tops of his glasses and said, “Fighting is not tolerable at our school, no matter the reason behind it. We are civilized people and I expect you to behave as a civilized person.” I quick responded “It aint fair how you’re not even trying to hear my side of the story. Don’t you even care what that ol’ hag said?” I practically shouted this at him, but he wasn’t hearing any of it. “Mama, you care, don’t ya?” I said. “Go sit out in the hallway. I’ll be out there in just a bit.” When she said this, she winked at me behind the principal’s back, and I knew I was going to be okay.
The second thing that I wrote was to be in the voice of Red Chief in the short story “The Ransom of Red Chief ” by O. Henry. If you haven’t read this story, I highly recommend it. I also recommend that you read it aloud. The voices in this story almost had me rolling on the floor in hysterics. Here is what I wrote when I was in the voice of Red Chief:
“Getty Up!” I cried as my hoss was slowin’ down. I kicked him in the sides just like I see those old westerners do,but it wasn’t workin’. “Get goin!!” I shouted in my hoss’s ear, but he wasn’t havin’ any of it. “Say, you quit kicking me or I’ll get up and warm you good” he said. I quit kickin’ and he marched calmly on to the stockade.
At the end of the long ride, my legs was tired, but I did my duty and gave my hoss some oats. The ungrateful brute didn’t like them or something, he kept spittin’ ’em out, but I was sure he was just bein’ difficult. I made him eat them alI before we could go home. I started spurrin’ my hoss on in the direction of the cave, but he didn’t much care for it, I think, and my hoss reared onto it’s hind legs, but then kept rearin’. “Wooooo!!” I cried tryin’ to calm him, but my hoss was not a hoss anymore. He picked me up by the neck of my clothes like he’s going to take me somewhere. I fought and kicked and yelled. Then, he pointed me to’ards home, and I said I ain’t goin’. So he kicked me.
I ain’t goin’ home, I said to myself, so I acted like I was goin’ home and when he wasn’t lookin’ I followed him close as I could without gettin’ caught. I stayed back enough that he didn’t see me, but ol’ Snake Eyes did when we got back to camp.
I hope you enjoyed these little experiments in voice. I know I did. And if you didn’t read that story, go read it!
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