Treasures on the Cutting Room Floor

treasureSometimes part of keeping your imagination alive is taking time out of your huge projects and interjecting yourself into worlds that you relate to but may not necessarily feel passionate about. I like to think it pushes your mind to expand and create. You learn to reach a broader perspective by allowing yourself to write (communicate, chat, experience, understand, CONNECT) in a way that aligns with other people, not just yourself. It’s easy and indulgent to lose yourself to that which draws you. However, you cannot learn what you do not know if you stay in realms you have lived in your entire life.

I have always been a dreamy person. When this reality becomes disappointing, or boring, I allow myself to roam with the strange and fantastic. I am comfortable there. But as a writer, I have also manifested the challenge of bringing what is “strange” to what is “real” and in such a way that allows the reader to wonder which is which. So, to prepare myself for my novels where I create this marriage, I wrote some pieces that were anchored in current and popular realities. For motivation I gave myself purpose and a deadline by deciding to enter some of my work into a short story contest. I had a hard time deciding where to start so I went to my Google search engine and looked from some writing prompts. I picked ten that interested me and allowed myself to write on each prompt for 60 seconds. From there, I sent them to my best friend (who is Taurean through and through, my grounding sister who keeps me anchored in this world) to pick which three sounded most interesting to her. After that I gave myself ten minutes to free write her top picks. The trick here is not to question what surfaces as you go. The purpose is to expand your creativity and you cannot do that by trying to control it right at the start. The editing process will take care of what does not serve the plot. She picked her favorite of the three and I spent a few days expanding and polishing it in preparation for the contest.

I was surprised at what I had come up with and proud that I kept true to my goals. It would have been easy to take each idea into fantasy. Everything is possible there. Instead I granted myself to better understand the struggles and confinements that many people face every day. Struggles that make characters relatable and real. I allowed myself to have fun, to create for the sake of  creating. And because I went into the process without expectations, I learned many things and expanded my ability to connect with others. With that said, I’d like to share the prompts that didn’t make the final cut. They have become small treasures that may harbor life in them yet.

Remember to try new things, allow yourself to expand without judgement. Observe simply to observe. It is amazing what things will come to you when you allow them the space to approach.

Photo credit: Unknown

“Frauds” 10 minute free write

My heels were soaked and my hair had been destroyed. I sunk into the taxi without hope. I was never going to be what he wanted. Right now, or ever. The night had gone worse than I could have ever imagined, but that was my life. We drove through the weather and I tried to rally my outlook. Perhaps being independent wasn’t so horrible.

“Do you mind if we pick this one up too?” the driver mumbled over his shoulder.

“I don’t,” I said, squinting through the mist of turning tires. She probably got dumped on Valentine’s Day too.

She fell into the seat opposite me, drenched.

“93rd and Glower,” she chirped, laughing at the mess the rain had made of her.

My throat tightened. Of all the taxis in the city she had to jump into mine.

She couldn’t have recognized me, and I only knew her because I had an addiction to stalking people on social media. I looked at her both in hatred and pity. She had no idea that she wasn’t the only one. I wanted to tell her the truth. I wanted to tell her what kind of man was scrambling to meet her for a date. But I couldn’t. He had picked her, not me. Her cotton dress clung against her long legs and even her hair looked imperfectly beautiful after being rained on. I had spent hours straightening the mess that was starting to frizz around my face. She smiled at me in genial companionship and said nothing before turning her attention to her phone, her pretty pink nails clicking softly against the key pad. I’m sure she was texting him. She looked out the window, almost admiring the storm that had ruined her leather jacket. The cell phone buzzed in her lap.

“Hey,” she breathed sensuously, “I got caught in the rain, and I’m running a few minutes late. Can you wait?”

She smiled and laughed at whatever my ex-boyfriend had just said to her. He never made me laugh that way. I hated her. I wanted to ruin her day, I wanted to wipe that smug grin off her face and shock her the way he had shocked me. I wanted to tell her how she had ruined my life with her natural highlights and blue eyes. She probably wasted her life in a gym and threw up carbs. Her giant boobs probably kept him interested. Or all her beautiful photos of all the beautiful places she had traveled doing her amazing job. Her Twitter was saturated with positive quotes and sexy selfies. All of which were liked by my boyfriend. My throat tightened and I tried not to stare. I didn’t want her to see it on my face, didn’t want her to know that I knew. I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of knowing she’d won over me. Who was I kidding? She probably didn’t even know I existed. He probably never mentioned me, and I certainly wouldn’t have been a threat to her anyway. The taxi slowed and my heart jumped in my throat. I was missing my opportunity at revenge. I slumped against the window, defeated. How predictable of me to not say a thing. She opened the door and got out. I wanted to throw up. Her angelic head of hair slipped back in to grab her purse.

“Hang in there, Jessica,” she chirped.

I was in shock.

“I know about him too and his world is about to crash. I have a broad network on the web, and in a few hours every woman in this city will know what he’s done. Eat some ice cream, get into some sweats and stop being sad over this asshole. You’re too beautiful for him anyway. I’m Robin Holser. Find me on Twitter, we should have lunch and laugh about all of this next week, yeah?”

She closed the taxi door and I closed my open mouth. The shock of her confession carried me in silence all the way home.

She was right. I needed to stop hating her and hating myself and realize that I had wasted my precious time on a human that didn’t deserve it. I crawled the stairs to my apartment, shivering from the rain. I had squeezed myself into this dress to compete with her. I had straightened my hair to compete with her. I needed to stop fitting myself into another woman’s social media highlight reel. I had become a fraud. Just like him.

“Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” 10 minute free write

I cradled the envelope as I walked back inside from the mailbox. The iridescent paper revealed the decadence I wouldn’t get to experience. I knew the event was approaching and I knew she’d be invited. She was a darling of Hollywood. We might have been indentical twins, but Angelica was the only one allowed to mingle amongst the rich and famous. I figured it was a difference in wardrobe. She worshipped our ungodly curves and I hid them under sweatshirts and yoga pants.

“It’s here,” I whispered into her ear as I passed through the living room.

Angelica squealed and leapt from her movie with whatever actor was hanging from her gold chained tongue. I had stopped being jealous years ago. We may have been mirror images of each other, but we were completely opposite. Someone had to manage the money she magically made. Her arms rested into mine as we stood at the kitchen bar. A graceful finger slipped under the seal to break it open. Every young somebody would be at this party. Producers and film makers were notorious for discovering the next big thing on nights like this. Despite my general lack of interest in my sister’s scene I couldn’t help but wish I could attend; a fly on the wall watching the glitter sparkle under the moonlight.

Identical twins had a strange bond and we were no exception. Angelica slipped her arm through mine and tugged me closer as we stared at the event announcement. I worked hard to hide my wishes before she could sense it. But I was always a little bit lazier than her.

“You know, Claire,” she muttered deviously, “the club has a huge room for coat storage.”

“And you need help picking out which coat will be best. You need me to try them on so you can see all the angles,” I rolled my eyes.

“No. I could sneak you in through a side door and slip you into the room. Borrow one of my dresses, sneak into the room, wait a few minutes, then come out as me. No one would know the difference.”

I laughed openly. I loved Angelica’s flare for drama and her empathetic nature. She was always looking out for me, even if she was eccentric about it. She belonged with the rest of the artists. I belonged behind a computer editing the words they recited. We didn’t mingle.

“Come on Claire Belle, this is the biggest event I’ll ever be invited to and if I get discovered I wouldn’t want anyone else there.”

I wasn’t a scandalous person, but I would have given my left arm to get into the party. I didn’t think we could pull it off.

“I don’t know Ang. What if you get caught?”

She smiled.

“Do you think I’m the only one who will be sneaking guests in?”

My heart skipped a beat. I couldn’t believe I was finally giving in to her grand schemes. I nodded once. She shrieked with pleasure and kissed me on the cheek.

“I swear Claire, it will be so easy, no need to be nervous. I have a feeling about this night.”

What Angelica didn’t understand was that her feeling had nothing to do with being discovered. It had everything to do with what happened the minute after I decided to shrug on a stranger’s coat.

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