The Look Challenge!

Van Gogh, Hospital Corridor at St. Remy (photo credit: Wikimedia)

Wonderful writer Julie, of the Reading Room, was kind enough to tag me in The Look Challenge: a fun and promotional prompt for writers with either a published book or a novel in progress.

Now, Julie and I have a bit of a history when comes to tagging! When I was only wet (read: soaking;)) behind the ears blogger, Julie tagged me into The Lucky 7 Meme! Alas, not only I did not know what to do with that, but I also realized the kind young lady has somehow arrived to conclusion that I am actually a writer who can, as it was the task, copy lines from 7 or 77 page of my ‘work in progress’! Oh my God!

At the time I was working very, (painfully), slowly on a short story, partially inspired by the true events. However, it was, in my eyes, rather raw and no good at all. But Julie was on to something … as I could never bring myself to disappoint the fellow blogger, I literary finalized that story because of the Julie’s tag!

Now it could be a farfetched fantasy of mine, but almost the same is happening now with The Look Challenge! Julie is on to me, and truth to be told – I can’t thank her enough!

You see, I am one of those unfortunate creatures that write and re-write, shape and re-shape, weave and re-weave … but only rarely something sees the light of the day … unless it is either written for the Lantern, or somebody shakes me awake from my trance, induced by the constant search for the perfect, most fitting words/sentences/scenes/cadences. And make no mistake I do not strive for the perfect, most fitting words because I believe myself capable of producing a masterpiece … I search for it because nothing ever fits right! It is my own, private hell.

But I digress! Let us see how The Look Challenge works:

The Look Challenge

Search your manuscript for the word “look” and copy the surrounding paragraphs into a post to let other bloggers read. Then you tag five blogger/authors.

I must say that I do not have either a published book or a novel in progress in a way that is conventionally understood. What I do, however, have is any number of poems, short stories and ‘that’ manuscript … all in progress at any given time. I know … rather dreadful -:)!

Now before to run for the hills as the saying goes, here is an excerpt from ‘that’, (under the working title: ‘Confession of Nina Novak’), manuscript.

It is raw, unpolished, unedited and has not been seen by anyone thus far. The basic outline (if it can be called that) is a story told by a narrator who, by  chance, first encounters, then comes into possession of  a confession  written by a woman in a mental institution before she committed suicide, or ‘crossed the river’ as she explained it. While reading the confession that has been written in a form of letters to woman’s own daughter, something happened to the narrator … something that changes everything forever.

Here is the short sample selected in accordance with the challenge rules:

Van Gogh, Hospital Corridor at St. Remy (photo credit: Wikimedia)

         from the beginning  –

It was on one of those dusty afternoons at the end of summer when I first came across Nina Novak. I did not meet Nina, like you meet people when introduced to them in a polite company, nor have I seen Nina, the way you see people when looking across the street, or through the window. No, it was none of that.

I came across Nina Novak, the way you suddenly come across a carcase splattered in the middle of the street in some respectable provincial town. You walk peacefully just a few blocks down to get coffee and paper on any nondescript Saturday morning, and suddenly; here it is, right in front (almost under) your right foot, splattered, grizzly, disfigured. You wince, you shudder, if of delicate disposition maybe even gag. In any case you walk around it as quickly as you can; you turn you head away from it, and do not look back. You wish to erase it from your memory at once.

It was on one such day.

I was racing down one of those inexplicably windy corridors public hospitals everywhere have been blessed with, hoping to find the right door inside what was rapidly becoming an elaborate maze of sharp turns and narrow enclaves, when loud contra-alto erupted behind me almost pinning me to the wall. Sharp, clear waterfall of words cascaded down rolling over the bleak hospital’s lino. I turned around and was suddenly short of oxygen. Clutching the window frame I steadied myself.

There, inside the corner formed by intersection of sterile hospital corridors, a woman was sitting on what looked like a low wooden stool, taking rapidly to an invisible audience. Her head was slightly titled to one side, like she was listening to somebody, responding to questions. Her whole body was in grip of attentiveness one only enters when both; the topic and the speaker are of the utmost importance. Every word came out with series of small, swift movements across her face and hands.

And I understood every word she said.

*******************************************************************************

         from the one of Nina’s letters  –

When I was a five years old, a skinny boy across the street threw stones at me and called me a bastard. I ran home crying. It is the first thing I remember. Later that day my grandmother crossed the street to teach the boy a lesson. The boy will remember that lesson for a long time to come.

The second thing I remember is a tall man shouting at the crying woman and hitting her with a leather slipper. I was lying in bed next to her. We were scared; me and the woman. I would later learn she was my mother. The man with a leather slipper was my father. And that I was too young to remember happening. 

When she returned home that day my grandmother wiped her hands on the apron and called me to her. She took my hand and walked with me behind the house where an old walnut tree was growing. There was a small stool under its branches where healing herbs were growing. Once she nestled me into her lap, she picked up small handful of herbs, spit on them and rubbed them inside the palms of her hands. The mixture will heal cuts on my face and chest from the boy’s stones. I did not like it much as it was the same concoction she always applied on my grazed knees.  And I had grazed knees almost daily. But I knew better than to protest. Besides, after those procedures she would always sing to me and I liked that very much. Her songs were slow and rich like embroideries she made for her bodices. They were songs from her youth, when she was a young girl in a village high up in a mountain range above the sea.

Only that day my grandmother did not sing to me. When she was satisfied with the look of green balm on me, she brushed my hair back and started to braid it. And told me a story about my mother and father and why no child is a bastard. Because to be a bastard you have to grow up first.

******************************************************************************

And now is my turn to tag five bloggers/writers:

  1. Things I Want to Tell My Mother,
  2. Jottings by Janet,
  3. Free Penny Press,
  4. The Cheeky Diva,
  5. The Writing Waters Blog.

Enjoy everyone! I hope you have as much fun with it as I did! And if you are not tagged but would like to show your sample, please do!

 

 

 

 

Author: Daniela

Reader, Writer, Mother, Freethinker, Habitual Day Dreamer, Blogger - Sharing Ideas, Poetry, Prose, and Conversations on the Lantern Post!

17 thoughts on “The Look Challenge!”

  1. Daniela, oh you can write my dear! if you were not all those things you describe yourself as, from the beginning would make a manuscript for a best seller.

    Please for all it’s worth, finish the damn book, I will read it!

    Like

    1. WOW … now you are making me blush something awful my friend -:)!
      I will do my best … I promise! And you will be amongst the first to receive the book if ever it sees the light of a day!
      Many, many thanks!
      Kind Regards,
      Daniela

      Like

  2. Stunning, as usual! Lots of novelists work in a non-linear way and write bits and pieces in no particular order before they pull it all together into a novel. There is so much potential in what you have already writtten. Now you have talked about ‘that’ out loud, you must keep going🙂

    And thank you, Daniela, for tagging me. Much apprecciated! I’ll respond to the challenge this evening.

    Like

      1. Dear Daniela, your skill doesn’t require kindness, it invites admiration, especially when I look at my attempts writing my first draft. So when will I be able to read your book?😉

        Like

      2. My dear Ahmrita … you make me blush now! I am not used to such words … !
        I will try my best, I will … this blog and wonderful, wonderful people I am meeting because of it, such as your good self, will make me do it!
        Thank you -:)!
        Take Care,
        Daniela

        Like

  3. I have just found your blog and just wanted to say: after reading this post I am sold.

    You are an amazing writer and would kindly want to ask you, if you have time, to pop over to my blog and give feedback on my short stories and flash fiction.

    Kind regards,

    Daan van den Bergh

    Like

    1. Hi Daan,

      Thank you very much and welcome to the Lantern -:)! Oh, you are very kind … I am honoured, thank you. And of course I will visit your blog and provide a feedback … just note that English is my second language, I only learned when I arrived to NZ. And of course any feedback you may have on my poetry or prose you find here on the Lantern is always welcome!
      Kind Regards,
      Daniela

      Like

  4. Oh, Daniela, tres jolie!!! You paint the most beautiful scenes. Nina had quite a visceral introduction there (compared to road kill, practically! a carcass when all you wanted was a coffee and paper!), and there’s the sandpaper with the boy and stones and harsh words and battery, but then you turn it all right around and paint such a sweet, homey portrait of the grandmother tending Nina’s wounds…the singing, and the homemade balm…I envy your literary visions.

    And that you have to be grown up in order to be a bastard! Simple but rich and precious wisdom😉

    Like

    1. My dear Julie,

      It is always such pleasure to find you visited the Lantern -:)!

      You always find a way to say such kind and encouraging things about my writings that I am even starting to think; well, maybe I can do this! You know Nina Novak was a very troubled woman but, at the end, she did manage to tell her story.

      Many thanks,
      Daniela

      Like

  5. Now we’re Cooking! Well Done! I am touched to see it finally coming together. I see and hear the journey just as if you are speaking to me. The “words” you love so much are finding you now..keep letting them.. Congradulations!

    Like

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