I’ve just got home from week 3 of my creative writing course so it’s time to share last week’s homework. If you can’t remember what that was, here’s a recap…
Go on an ‘Artist’s Date’ with yourself, a notepad, and a pen. Write down a conversation you overhear, describe someone you find interesting to look at, write about somewhere you like or love to spend time in.
I took myself to a local pub, my aim was to write about people so I chose a pub that I knew would be filled with human interaction on a Sunday lunchtime. Granted, it wasn’t the most glamorous location, but t did the job. Here’s what I wrote:
The large flatscreen TV mounted on the wall was showing the news. I paid it little attention, but the muted images provided some sort of visual distraction from my immediate environment.
It was lunchtime, and the pub was rapidly filling up with people looking for a cheap Sunday roast. I’d eaten here before and the prospect of sliced cardboard, microwaved veg and deep fried roast potatoes didn’t entice me.
Cradling my chilled pint of Guinness, I drifted into a state of self reflection. The past week’s events had taken their toll. Work was Hell, the usual eight hour day was becoming a regular ten hour marathon of correcting the mistakes of others and being blamed instead of thanked. At home, my wife of fifteen years seemed distant, constantly stressed about things that I couldn’t quite figure out, and our daughter was, according to the Headmistress, “an uncontrollable terror in all her classes.”
It was at times like this, sat alone in a chain pub, that I could relax. It was also at times like this, that my sense of self realisation kicked in.
What was I doing here? Surrounded by ageing couples and young twenty somethings that hadn’t realised you don’t need four pints to have a good time. The inane conversations around me were a drone. Someone’s mother had recently signed up to Facebook and commented on someone else’s photo. Shock, Horror! Young Andrea down the road had just had her baby, a darling little girl called Cherry Blossom. It made me sick. But was I any better?
What had I achieved in my life? A thinning head of greying hair, saggy jowls and eyes so sunken you’d mistake me for The Grim Reaper if I carried a scythe.
Who was I to judge? The folk around me may not be having a deep philosophical debate, but at least they had someone to converse with, and they were smiling. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d properly smiled.
I turned my gaze back to my pint glass, an inch of black liquid remained at the bottom. I couldn’t even remember drinking it.
“Is everything OK?”
The chirpy voice emanating from a waitress at a nearby table brought me out of my trance. The question wasn’t directed at me, but I heard the answer float across my grey matter.
No. Everything is not OK. I’m in a dead end job, my marriage is failing, and I’m a bad parent.
I needed to do something about it all. That simple question had prompted me with the clarity I needed. I stood up, poured the dregs of my pint down my throat, placed the empty glass on the bar, and ordered another.
This story originated from a guy I spied sat alone at a table. It’s all entirely fabricated, the chap didn’t look like he was suffering any of the problems described in this depressing little tale, taking cues from things I saw/heard, the words just sort of appeared. I can’t help thinking that some aspects of what is written is subconsciously autobiographical, which I find interesting. Today’s session was very autobiographical and I really struggled with it. But that’s a story to be told in a few days time.
Until next time, let me know what you think in the comments, and have a crack at this week’s homework before next Wednesday:
Have a look around you, find something thrown away, write a story based on whatever you find.