Friday, April 25, 2014

Drama

Well, some exciting news here (for me anyways). Earlier this month I was cast in a college production of And Then There Were None, an Agatha Christie play from the early 40s. 10 people are invited to stay at an island resort. When they arrive there, a voice comes out of nowhere and accuses each of them of killing someone specific. Then one drops dead from cyanide in his drink. They find that one of the little figures on the mantle-piece is smashed. I will be playing the part of General Mackenzie. He's the oldest in the cast, and as the play goes on, you start to wonder whether he's going senile. :) This should be fun.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Freewrite - April 19th


     Jimmy thought the man's nose was too big. He was wearing ratty clothes. He looked poor- he had dirt smeared on his face, and a tattered brown jacket that looked like it had barely survived World War I. He was talking too quickly. The man had come up and told him that he could get $100 on the spot. When he asked the man how? The man became very nervous. Now he was standing and blathering about something Jimmy didn't understand. He was only 11, but he didn't think anyone could understand what this man was trying to get at.
     People passed on the left and right. The man would glance at one of them every once in a while, but he would always look at the ground, especially when they looked back.
     "It's for my daughter, you see." Jimmy cocked his head.
"So you're a daddy?" The man's face lit up.
"Yes, yes, that's it, I'm a daddy!" You would have guessed that the man had just found out about her birth. "It's a girl!" echoed through the boy's mind.  The man looked like he had won the lottery.
"And now I need you to use this-" he pointed to what looked like a toy gun in his hand- "on me so that I can go and find my daughter."
     Jimmy scratched his head. He didn't know what those medical doctors or those doctors that work with the brain called crazy, but if he ever became one himself, he was pretty sure that this man was crazy. He looked from the man's pleading eyes to the object in his hand.
     It was one of those toys you'd expect to find in a toy store from the 1930s. A very small one, bright red, with a ridge sticking up all around, showing where the manufacturer joined the two halves together. And just like you'd see in those science fiction movies of the time, there were three prongs with little metal balls on them, coming off of the front of the gun. The barrel of the gun narrowed and then closed off altogether to a point.
      There's no point in making a gun if the front is closed off. How are the bullets going to come out of there?
     Suddenly the man was moving. Jimmy found that his hand was open. The man slapped the device into his hand, closed the boy's fingers around it, then took three large steps back.
     "SHOOT ME!" Jimmy stood, dumbfounded. He thought he should be embarrassed, but he was too interested in the man to to that. What did he want? The man's shoulders drooped, and it looked like he was going to give it up, to turn away.
     A body was flying at him. Without thinking Jimmy pulled his arm up and pulled the trigger. Reflex. Jimmy blinked twice at what he saw, not understanding.

     "Jimmy, let's go!" Mrs. Rogers came stepping up to the corner of the sidewalk, where she had left her son for a moment to run into the flower shop. But the boy wasn't standing on the corner. He was bent in half, peering under a bench which an older gentleman was sitting under.
     "Jimmy!" the boy looked up, and she motioned with the bag in her hand. "Come on, we can't be late."
"Mom, I'm looking for... looking for..."
"Looking for what? Hurry up, we've got to get home; I've got to get dinner on."
"But he was just here." She sighed, and ushered Jimmy away from the bench.
"Honey, you shouldn't bother that man. He's probably waiting for someone."
"No, not him mom. I wasn't talking about that man on the bench." She was already walking back to the corner.
"I'm sorry sweetie, but you'll have to tell me about it on the way home. Now come on." Despondent, Jimmy trudged after his mom, but not without several glances back to the street corner. The man was nowhere to be found. All he had to show for the experience was a toy gun.
    
     Jimmy couldn't get away from the dinner table quickly enough. He had to know more about it.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Abby

Have you ever had one of those moments where Microsoft Word thinks it's more intelligent than you? For example, when I'm working on my latest project, it tells me that I have an extra pronoun in the following sentence;
"Gael quickly made herself comfortable, settling directly across from Andrew."

Apparently the program thinks the word "herself" is unnecessary. But if we edit that out-

"Gael quickly made comfortable, settling directly across from Andrew."

we have something which is clearly not an intended sentence. But, the computer insists, claiming that "herself" refers to a third, unnamed person. That makes a little sense. Let's say 'herself' IS another person, and that this other person is named Abby. Now we put Abby in her place and see what we get;

"Gael quickly made Abby comfortable, settling directly across from Andrew."

OK, that solves our 'herself is someone' problem, but is the settling part of making Abby comfortable? Gael is 'settling' something or someone, she's taking an action. This action has something to do with Abby, our pronoun-turned-person. And if so, what business is it of Abby's where Gael sits?
There are just too many unanswered questions.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Novel project

Well, I've made some good progress.
     Since I started last Wednesday (November 27) I've got a bit more than 17 pages, and it's likely to grow in size again soon. Not including extra material, outlines, lists, etc. I'm up to 10,527 words! As a general outline, most sites will recommend that a novel of standard length is 60,000 to 100,000 words, though of course many books go beyond that. Anything shorter than that is considered a novella. Google is helpful with the definition here! :S  "A short novel or a long short story." In essence it's a short novel. Or something more than a short story, whichever you prefer.
     In any case, the development of this story has been interesting. As I start many projects, I began with an ordinary person and had something strange happen to them. After a page or two, it quickly became very strange. Then I said to myself Hey, you've got something there! But this needs a backstory... So I retitled what I had as "Chapter 2" and went on to write "Chapter 1", which was much more serious than I anticipated the project would be.
     I'm at that stage in the project where you just have to keep writing to get all your ideas on the table (no matter how much you/I cringe as I type them out.)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Next Project

I know that it's been a while since I've updated my site. This last month in particular, though, has been one where my interest in writing has been sparked again. I must say, as well, that I've come to a point where I'm telling myself; 'If you want to get serious about writing, you might as well start now and get a head-start on things.' That's why, in essence, I've decided to start work on my first novel. I'll have more updates soon.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Step Into the World of Poetry



As a word of explanation, this is a poem that I wrote for a creative writing class. I turned it in, thinking it was incomplete. The next time we met, a few days later, the teacher asked me if she could publish it in the school's writing magazine! I also entered it into the college's writing competition and received second place for it, meaning it will go on to the state level! Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until February to hear about those results. Until then I'd encourage you to comment, and I hope you will enjoy this.
 

  The Hunter

She sits, some would say, as quietly as a mouse,
But the mouse is in the sweep of her gaze.
Her spine is stiff, now she prepares
To suddenly leap upon her prey

Her tail whips back and forth again
She lies very still so as not to be seen
And while the mouse seems surely caught
It may not happen as it’s been deemed

For then a sound tickles her ear
The grass grows under her feet,
If only for a moment

Copyright Jackson Kerr, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Another Short Story


An Act of Kindness
            With only a spattering of people, it’s clearly not a busy day at the diner. An aged couple and what I guess was a grandkid sit to my right. The little boy looks to be about five or six, and is continually entertained with his grandfather’s antics. He makes a tent out of the napkins, talking about how Mr. Fork and Mrs. Spoon are going camping that weekend. The little boy plays along and the both laugh. The man’s smiling wife watches from beside him, face aglow.
In the corner booth there’s a woman sitting by herself. She’s not much to look at, but there is a sense of raw beauty about her that I can just feel; I don’t know how to put it. In the way she holds herself, just her very existence. She is calm, and yet on the brink of some kind of collapse.
As a regular customer, she takes the usual: a bacon cheeseburger without the mayo (“less fat” she tells herself). This was accompanied by a large fry and water. The waitress, Donna, a nice girl, asks her if that’ll be all? The woman says yes and is left to her thoughts.       
It’s clear that older man at the other table must have said something wrong. His wife gets up and stares out the window. The man is sobered at this, and with a word to the boy to stay quietly, goes to his wife’s side. I watch with interest. He doesn’t say much, but what he said must have made an impact.
She turns to look at him (a breakthrough in any angry girlfriend case of my knowledge) and they smile at each other. Anyone could tell that these two have weathered the years together. The smiles reflect not happiness, but joy; knowing it’s going to be all right.  They stuck with it because that’s what people did in their generation. He then politely and quietly escorts her back to the table, where the boy is amusing himself with the napkins and table settings.
            The fryers around me bubble and sizzle. The kitchen sings to me with unique noises and smells. That sounds odd (the grease and grime about the place would disgust some people) but it gives me a sense of freedom. It’s not quite home, but a place where you can be- you don’t have to think, just exist.
            I look back to the woman in the corner booth just as a man comes hurrying though the door. She doesn’t look surprised, but there in my gut I have a feeling of anticipation. I can feel the clouds gathering, and it looks like rain.
            Bobby calls to me about getting back to work, but it doesn’t register. The man is obviously excited about something. He doesn’t really greet her, but starts talking about what he just came from. I hear the phrase “new job” and the word “opportunity”. The word “travel" makes an impact on her.
            When you talk to someone, there are different levels of interest. I learned this stuff in a psychology class. If the person is interested, they’re looking at you, and they’ve got that look with the tilted head that tells you they’re not daydreaming. Then there’s the thing where, if you ask, they say ‘I’m listening’, but you know they’re not. Their eyes are roaming, their heads are up, but their eyes and thoughts are elsewhere.
            This is different. As he’s talking, her head is drooping more. At first I start wondering if she’s sick. He keeps talking, though, she started fidgeting less and less. It’s obvious that he’s thought this all through; he’s not asking her, he’s telling her. Her hands are left sitting in her lap; not clenched in anger, not twitching with anticipation, but limp with defeat.
            The minute hand on the clock has moved a couple degrees, and he finally notices something. He says something to her and reaches his hand out. She looks up with her eyes, but her head is still down. Her hands are still in her lap.
“Are you sure about this?” He tells her yes, and there’s something else. He reaches in his pocket for something. The dread in me, for whatever reason, begins to build. He stands up and walks to her side. He kneels. I don’t even have to tell you what he says next. It’s universal western body language: he’s proposing.
            Her head falls and I hear a sob. This catches the attention of the grandmother, who’s been talking with her husband. He looks, but they decide to attend to their own affairs.
            The young woman is now sobbing openly. Not knowing what to do the man just stands there. As I’m watching, a sort of loathing or disgust rises up in me. Tell her you love her, you dope! Say “It’s all right, I’m here for you.”
But then it hits me. He’s not there for her. He wants her to support him be there for his sake. As this is racing through my mind, he stumbles back. Without a further word he turns and exits the building.

            “Jeff, are you going to get back here or-” I don’t give Bobby a chance to finish. I load up a plate and step out of the kitchen.

            I don’t say anything. If I did I know I’d have made an idiot out of myself and only embarrassed her more. How do you approach a hurting person? Trying to step lightly with my oversized feet, I slide into the seat across from her and set the plate in front of her. She has composed herself a little now, and looks upward to make eye contact. I smile in what I hope is a reassuring manner and give a little nod.
             I know that, at this point, words are useless. She nods a thank-you and hesitantly takes from the plate, even though she’s not really hungry. I just hope that I can help by keeping her from being alone.

Copyright Jackson Kerr, 2012