January 20, 2013
So we totaled three posts for the first Write With Me challenge. But I know some other people were thinking of submitting so have no fear, I shall challenge thee again. I’ve got some topics stored up.
Here are the three posts. Two by Emily, one by me. Emily of course wins the little handmade something. (Emily, send my your address please!) Although I’m not sure what I’ll send, I’m sure I’ll think of something soon.
If you enjoyed reading the entries or the challenge in general, please do leave a comment. Writers love feedback.
The thought entered my head as I drew a line through the description of Poirot. I had struggled to put every word on the page. And once a word was there, all I wanted to do was to cross it out again. I wished I could dash Poirot’s egg-shaped head against the floor. The image was so strong I could feel the slick slime of the albumen on my hands. But it wasn’t Poirot I was angry at. It was her. It was him. The images that filled my head made me retch. I hated feeling this way. If only I could put lines through the story of my own life. If only I could re-write myself. And then I thought, why not? Why not be someone else? Someone stronger. I closed my eyes and started crossing out things. My birth. My marriage. My daughter. My career. All crossed out. My habits. My shames. My fears. My wants. All gone. I felt myself disappear line by line. I looked down at my hands. They would have to go, too. I crossed out my feet, my legs, my hips, my womb, my hair, my eyes. I started to feel like there was not enough left of anyone to hold the pen. I thought about going further. I could just not be. I didn’t have to be anyone else. No, I was either too strong or too weak to do anything but begin writing again. When I had finished, I looked into the mirror and admired the new curve of my eyebrow and the sharper lines of my face. I typed a note to my secretary, not trusting my new hands to write. Then I left before anyone found a strange woman in the study that belonged to someone I once was.
Her hands shook as she closed the last clasp on the old trunk. It was battered after dozens of trips (like that time they went to South Africa) and years of lugging her favourite books around (can’t you get rid of a few I mean how many times can you read them). She closed her eyes, and breathed and pushed the clasp into place, with just the slightest tremor.
She turned around and sat down on her trunk, it’s familiarity comforting under her sharp bones. They would be here soon (to take her away from here) to drive her to the hotel. And when she arrived she would retreat (the darkness, the darkness would hold her) and she would finally be able to close her door, close out the outside world, with all its noise, it’s pure silliness, all those people who pretended to understand her books. And she could be just her, with them, her favourites, her family (my loves) and she will do what she always does when she is just this husk of herself. She will consume the books, lovingly devouring their pages and will feel her strength rush back.
To mix some metaphors, red herrings are my bread and butter.
I’m pretty good at them; making the innocent look guilty and the guilty look innocent. Putting in so many characters with a reason to murder someone that you may as well be looking for a particular grain of sand on the beach. Making it the one person it cannot possibly be. Or the person you first suspect, because every reader knows it can’t be the person who obviously did it.
I enjoy weaving the red herrings through my work and spotting them in other authors writings. It is a delicate art to put enough of a false clue for the reader to follow the scent without laying it on too heavily and showing your hand (to mix some more metaphors).
But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised that no-one saw through the red herring that was the mystery of my disappearance – with my name emblazoned on every newspaper front paper and the many inches of column pondering where I was and what foul deed might have happened. And the later stories of whether it was something I planned to embarrass my philandering husband or to rack up book sales also worked to fool the masses.
The stories of the death of a known fraudster who had swindled many an old lady out of her money (choked on a chicken bone) and the death of a man who had three wives who had also died in suspicious circumstances (falling down the stairs) were relegated to a couple of lines on page 8 of the newspaper. The blackmailer who lost his livelihood and collection of photographs of young women caught in compromising positions didn’t even make the paper – probably to his many victims’ relief.
Well, they do say you should write what you know.
January 6, 2013
If you enjoy writing regardless if you do it regularly or just dream of doing it, this writing challenge will be a spot of fun.
Just for fun, really. But I will send the author of the submission I like the most a wee handmade something-or-other. (Hopefully a little incentive means I won’t be the only poster!)
Your submission is due to me by midnight January 19th, via the comments on this post (either directly or post a link to wherever you’ve published yourself).
Your challenge if you choose to accept it, is to write between 200 and 300 words of fiction describing what you think happened in the 11 days that Agatha Christie went missing in 1926.
For background to get your creative juices flowing, here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:
In late 1926, Christie’s husband Archie revealed that he was in love with Nancy Neele, and wanted a divorce. On 3 December 1926 the couple quarrelled, and Archie left their house Styles in Sunningdale, to spend the weekend with his mistress. That same evening Agatha disappeared from her home, leaving behind a letter saying that she was going to Yorkshire. Her disappearance caused an outcry from the public, many of whom were admirers of her novels. Despite a massive manhunt, she was not found for 11 days.
On 14 December 1926 Agatha Christie was identified as a guest at the Swan Hydropathic Hotel (now the Old Swan Hotel) in Harrogate, Yorkshire, where she was registered as ‘Mrs Teresa Neele’ from Cape Town.
Christie never accounted for her disappearance.
* For the Whovians out there, I’m imagining saying ‘Write with me’ in the same kinda voice as Dr. Who when he said ‘Burn with me’ in episode ’42’ from the third Dr. Who series.