Writing awkward fiction

The following is an excerpt from a book I’m writing. It’s my first “real” attempt at writing fiction. Although earlier attempts made while in college may have been “real,” they were made so only by the fact that they were writing assignments and were graded by a Writing Professor. If you, kind reader, would be so generous as to leave a comment of some sort, it would be greatly appreciated. I have always felt rather awkward writing fiction and I need your input on whether or not that awkwardness is present in my writing. Be as bold with your comment as you wish, but please, if you say something like “this stinks,” explain why you think so.  Or if you think it’s a “good start, but…” go ahead and tell me what you think would make it better.

(I like to “blame” my decision to start writing fiction on author LK Hunsaker, who listens to good acoustic music by Mandolin Whiskey.)

 

Lesley found high school boring, and none of her teachers had been able to pique her interest in any one particular subject. She discovered a hidden interest in emblems of Christianity when she made her confirmation into the Catholic Church, and had attended parochial school for two years. Probably the worst two years of her life, struggling to fit in with others her age who always shrugged or turned their heads when they saw her. The uniforms; she hated wearing those white tops and blue skirts, and for some reason got away with dressing however she pleased. Perhaps that was one of the reasons she never really fit in. There were other reasons too, plenty of them. Lesley was exceptionally beautiful, her long auburn hair flowed in soft waves down around her small petite shoulders. She never wore it up because she used it as a veil, purposely hiding her soft golden-green hazel eyes. Lesley’s eyes moved out from her gaze, her eyes could see beyond the outer appearance of a face, beyond the physical. Lesley’s eyes sometimes rested and lived within the eye sockets of those she looked at.

Tall, at just under 6 feet, Lesley was never comfortable around boys because most were shorter than she was. But it never bothered her, she was a loner anyway. She had no concerns about weight either, 125 pounds the last time she stepped on the scales. How long ago? It didn’t matter, weight didn’t mean anything when you could fly without being seen. Lesley was happiest when she was flying, nothing could match the feeling it gave her. She was free from all physical constraints, both bodily and earthly. Her essential being was transformed into a spirit-like form, as if she were air, or a gust of wind. Flying was nothing more than a thought process, simple and effortless, like walking or holding a pencil. Like dragging a weightless chain, like falling from Heaven, like falling from Hell.

~~

It formed while Lesley was still in her mother’s womb. Prompted by hours and hours of loud music – screaming guitar solos, bass riffs that shook the floor, drums beating and cymbals crashing; Lesley felt it all, and heard most of it, before arriving in the back seat of a 1967 Chevelle while her mother was passed out from too much moonshine. She never really knew her mother but sometimes had an odd sensation of her presence when she was flying. Alone since birth with her father, Lesley formed and shaped her own life, destined to find that outer ring where she knew others like her existed. No one mattered here, not even her father, who laugh-growled when he saw her fly. Who laugh-cried from behind the closed door of his bedroom. Lesley never cried. She never laughed.

Lesley sat staring at the paintings of crosses, nuns, chapels, monasteries, and one very large painting of Dante’s Inferno that hung directly above an old antique desk with old books stacked on it, and papers scattered everywhere.

“Ms. Lesley,” Professor Connor said, “Is He the Lord your God?”

Lesley was startled to hear her name, avoiding his eyes, she was afraid to answer. She knew of only one god: Terra, Roman goddess of the earth.

“And where is Terra’s bible?”

Professor Connor asked, walking to the back of the room. He placed a large Bible on Lesley’s desk.

“Is her’s similar to this one?”

He slammed his hand down on the Bible. Lesley didn’t flinch, she kept her eyes lowered and focused them on the back of his left hand. Small blisters began to form along the top of each knuckle. Professor Connor jerked his hand away, quickly tucking it inside his shirt before anyone noticed.

How did he know she was thinking about Terra? Lesley was more curious than concerned that he seemed to have the ability to read her mind. It made for a very interesting confrontation between her eyes and his knuckles. And she knew nothing could defeat her gaze. Professor Connor turned and started walking back to the front of the classroom but stopped halfway there. He was standing in the aisle, between two desks, a girl was at one, with her head resting on it, sleeping. At the other desk was Spider spinning a green web. Spider stopped spinning, and offered a strand of the web to Professor Connor, who took it and wrapped it around his blistered knuckles.

Lesley had her own ideas about God, or the Higher Power, or The Maker. She had heard so many different opinions about it that it became almost pointless to consider whether any such being even existed. She had hoped that taking a class on religion might help her decide if there really was a Maker, God, Higher Power, or Supreme Being. To her, it was much easier to believe in Terra, much easier to believe mythology, because Lesley knew of a myth that wasn’t a myth; human flight was possible, but only for one. Why was she chosen? And who chose her? Terra? God? Satan? Lesley didn’t care, she couldn’t care.

Professor Connor looked back at the desk to see if he had really gotten green web from a large spider. It was just another hallucination. He had gotten used to them and had even accepted them as part of his real world existence. An existence he had been a part of for thousands of years.

 

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8 Comments

  1. Nice start, TC! I never comment more on a first draft because I think you shouldn’t worry about other opinions or editing during a first draft. Go with your gut and have fun with it. The real work of writing comes later. 😉

      1. I can’t say it’s good or bad. Every writer is different. I tend to think it’s better to wait and get your own thoughts out first without worrying about style and such. I’m sure there are plenty of authors who would disagree and who feel the need for input through the first draft. I had a ton of work written before I started studying the craft and asking for advice, but that’s me and some would say I wasted a lot of time that way. I disagree with them. How do you “find” your own voice if you don’t let it out as it is first? I think there are a lot of writers who should focus less on how much time it takes and more on what they really need to say. The first draft is for you. The re-writes and edits are for your audience. Just my opinion. 😉

  2. After reading,the story sounds good. It reminds me of my early years at the former Our Lady Of Fatima School in Farrell, Pennsylvania. I am a former student of the school. The students had to wear uniforms: girls wore either a navy blue striped uniform dress, navy blue pants, and a light blue blouse (underneath the dress, or with a striped uniform skirt). Plus, we all had sweaters with the school’s emblem on top left-hand corner. The boys wore navy blue pants, light blue shirt and a navy tie. Every Wednesday, all the students had to go to Mass, held in the Worship Center inside the school. It was not a good experience for me, the Mother Superiors were mean, and some of the students treated me just like the character of your story, Lesley.

    1. I remember seeing Catholic school kids all dressed alike coming out of a big Catholic Church. That was many many years ago when I was a kid myself. We lived in the West End, a downtrodden section of Louisville, Kentucky. I can’t remember all the details from that experience of my childhood, but it must have made a lasting impression because I converted to Catholicism as an adult. I’ve heard that Catholic nuns were very strict teachers, unfortunately in your case that was a bad experience.

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