Writing Excuses 10.7 — another character

show-your-work-cover1 Showing my work again…thanks Austin Kleon!
Aaand the Writing Excuses assignments keep on coming! In this exercise we were supposed to take one of the characters from Exercise 10.5, find a secondary character in that character’s scene, and rewrite the same scene from the secondary character’s point of view. I chose the musician who appeared during Angela’s dead drop mission.
As Leif scrolled to the next song on his iPad, he glanced at the top of the screen. Already 12:48. If the courier was going to appear today, it better be soon. The next busker was supposed to start playing at 1. He could put his guitar away last, leaving its case open for a last-minute delivery, but that would be unnatural. A pain in the ass, really. He’d wait a bit longer. He mopped his sweating forehead, shoved his bandana into his back pocket, and strummed the opening to “Margaritaville.” The majority of Saturday shoppers paid him no attention at all. He played on one side of the market’s central aisle. Folding chairs for listeners were arranged on the opposite side. It was a shitty setup. The only people in the audience area were those who really needed to sit—old people, some using walkers or canes, the occasional heavily pregnant woman. That was his audience, pretending to listen because it was polite. They were loving the Jimmy Buffett, though. Since most of the audience seemed to be at least 50, he played a lot of oldies. It was the least he could do. None of his original stuff, of course. This suburban French market just wasn’t the place for it. Besides, what if they hated it, started walking away, pushing their walkers as fast as they could? He got enough rejection from the serious venues he tried to book; he didn’t need it from people who were only killing time. Some of the more able-bodied market-goers looked apologetic as they interrupted the sight lines between him and his “audience,” but that didn’t stop them from passing. “Margaritaville” was over. He should pack up, but he couldn’t leave until he was sure he’d given the courier every opportunity to make the drop. He started shilling, surveying the crowd as he did so. That’s when he saw a small Latina. Her left arm was scrolled in shades of pink, gold, and green from wrist to shoulder. The intricate leaf-and-branch design incorporated rosebuds and butterflies. The right side of her neck sported a beautiful pink lotus blossom. Karen had said the courier would easily spot him because of his long-regretted, self-inflicted tattoo. She hadn’t given a reason, but it was obvious. The arriving woman knew ink. What she didn’t seem to know was that his guitar case was her intended target. Her eyes were red and she wore a dazed look, due either to drugs or a lot of crying. Now that he got a good look at her, she seemed barely functional. Her steps dragged, as if she had to remind herself to walk. If only he could ask her for the package, but Karen had been clear. He couldn’t talk to the courier at all. He could play, though, and sing. Let her know she was in the right place. If he knew her favorite song, he’d play that. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a mind-reader. He only had one shot, an old Mexican standard. “Bésame Mucho.” He hadn’t played it for a while, but he used to do a kick-ass version of it. It might confuse the pasty-white market patrons, but it was just one song. They’d get over it. He plucked the intro. The tattooed Latina stopped in her tracks and looked straight at him. Karen might flip, but he winked—the smallest wink he could manage. She took it the wrong way, shrinking even further into her own skin. Had he blown it? Oh, well, he was committed now. He pushed her apparent revulsion from his thoughts and began to sing. As always, the music filled him. His eyes drifted closed. He felt a presence and opened his eyes in time to see her drop a folded bill into his open guitar case. He tried to give the nod every busker knew, the subtle thanks for a donation, but she was already retreating the way she had come. He skipped the instrumental bridge and repeat, fading out to create a quick ending. It was 12:55, anyway. Time to stop before his replacement complained to the market manager. He scooped coins and bills out of the guitar case, cramming them into his front hip pockets. Damn, his jeans were tight. His belly flapped over his belt. He looked like hell. No wonder the woman had flinched at his song choice. Any decent-looking female would be creeped out if someone like him seemed to be coming on to her. Screw it. If she’d brought what Karen promised, Leif would soon be swimming in women. He trundled his guitar, CDs, and extra mic stand to his truck and loaded up. Before climbing in, he emptied his pockets onto the driver seat and found the dollar bill he was looking for, the only one that was taped closed. Using the small blade of his Swiss army knife, he cut the tape. Inside, he found a long yellow post-it note covered with grouped letters that formed no recognizable words, interrupted in a few spots by numbers. The numbers would let him know which pages of The Magic Mountain would unlock his coded message to reveal its actual meaning.

Where we are in the 2015 Journey

Last Friday was our third Shakespeare Reader’s Theatre event of this spring (thanks to the Naperville Public Library for providing us with rooms for two of the events). What is Shakespeare Reader’s Theatre? It’s an opportunity for writers/participants to stretch themselves out of their comfort zones, experience the words of the Bard first hand, and read/act out a Shakespeare play. Last Friday we did Romeo and Juliet, which featured some exciting fight scenes, romantic exchanges and humor amidst the drama. Here we have Brian as Romeo dueling with Barry’s Tybalt while Katherine relaxes in the background since Juliet is not in this particular scene ;-).

We are almost into May; the Journey’s activities primarily are concentrated in January through June and then in September. This has been a fairly active year for the Journey, with the following Paths in addition to three Shakespeare Reader’s Theatre events that Catherine and I organized:

  • Katherine’s Editing Path to help the novelists edit their novels
  • Ed’s Japanesey™ and Asian Paths, which have involved meals at great restaurants as well as exposure to cultural elements in the Chicago area (such as Japanese bakeries and markets). Ed has regaled attendees with entertaining stories and interesting facts on each outing.
  • Sarah’s monthly MiniWriMo challenges, offering little glow in the dark dinosaurs as prizes for writing 10K words in one week
  • The Horror Anthology of short stories, flash fiction and poems, which is currently in progress
  • Steven and Catherine’s Writing Excuses Path, which follows the terrific free Master Class by the Writing Excuses podcasters
  • Dan’s Path for freelance writers (this is new and just beginning)
  • my music Jam Path (also new and just beginning)

We’ve had two workshops at each of our monthly meetings, covering editing (Katherine Lato), critiquing, the Writing Excuses Path with exercises (Catherine Brennan and Steve White), some Story Walls, and Marketing for authors (Willow Sanders), POV/Perspective (Stephanie White).

Missing thus far from previous years are Paths such as the Accountability Path, the Spirit Path, and the Archery Path (though that may yet occur this summer).

Writing Excuses Assignment 10.5 — Part Deux

As in the previous post, a character I created is walking through a marketplace to perform a dead drop. This character is different from the character in my last post, but see if you can figure out the job, hobby, and emotional state.
Canvas-shaded stalls faced each other across an asphalt central aisle. Varied items, from baked goods and produce to jewelry and cutlery were on display. Mary Patrick strolled into this pedestrian thoroughfare, trying to look like any other Saturday shopper, with limited success. She drew many second glances and some smiles and nods. There were even a few guilty looks, with some people drawing aside as she passed. At least no one was openly disrespectful. That might have earned them what the kids called, “The Look.” She would resist that impulse. She mentally recited a “Glory Be” on one long breath. A display of handmade paper drew her attention. Seeds and tiny dried shreds of petals flecked pebbled sheets or pale grey or ivory. She would have loved to dream up a project to use the paper on, but that wasn’t why she came. She finally saw it—the stall Karen mentioned. Purses, pouches, eyeglass cases, and checkbook covers in light brown leather covered a display table or hung from racks. All were tooled in curling scrollwork. She discovered the wallets and flipped through them, bypassing bird, flower, and leaf designs. Finally she found the one she wanted. Less attractive than the others, it was covered mostly in a design of crudely drawn flames, except for the one corner that held a curling capital B. An elderly man approached the leather dealer and began reminiscing about the leather work his father used to do. There would be no better time. Mary Patrick opened the monogrammed wallet and took the sealed silvery plastic sleeve from her pocket. A tube, flattened, and with a rolled edge, sat inside the plastic. It insinuated itself against her too-sensitive fingers and she shoved the packet into the wallet’s credit card section as fast as she could. She buried the wallet under a few others and turned away, walking fast. She passed at least three vendors before she  remembered she was supposed to be shopping, not chasing down someone to punish. She slowed to pass the last few stalls, but still nothing registered past the reddish haze that limned her vision.