Friday, June 30, 2017

First Draft Friday: Milo

First Draft Friday

Trying out a new idea for a post series where every Friday I post a rough draft. In my mind, this will something similar to my NaNoWriMo post but maybe less intense and only one day a week. The purpose is the same though: to encourage other writers. More often than not, we only get to see a finished polished version of fiction writing and it's very easy to get discouraged by their quality, even though we know, logically, whatever we're reading has a horrible first draft too. In my first draft posts, I want to share my first drafts as they are written more or less out of my brain. I say more or less because if I wrote the first draft longhand, then I'm usually going to clean it up a little bit or make all new mistakes or bad decisions as I type it up.



Milo
first draft, incomplete, 1,424 words
By Stephanie Thompson

Milo Francis was a mild mannered,boring, administrative assistant type. He does nothing, goes no where, and talks to no one for the most part. In the morning, he eats his cold cereal while watching the local morning news, alone in his one bedroom garden level apartment. Then he drove his compact hatch-back through two hours of bumper to bumper traffic for a forty mile journey to his office. He doesn’t listen to music or talk radio. He was alone with his thoughts of which there were little.

He’d been told he was a simple man. Normally by girlfriends who seemed to like it at first but eventually they drifted away for something more complex.
At work he did his job quietly and diligently. He worked in the offices of an It management group. His title was administrative assistant. That’s just a fancy term for office clerk. Or gopher. He made copies and collated, he alphabetized files but didn’t actually file, he stamped and packaged out-going mail but he didn’t handle the incoming, he placed and collected the management provided lunches for the office every Friday. He found it hard to quantify what he did everyday. So he just didn’t talk about it. This solution worked as there wasn’t anyone for him to talk to at work and he had no friends.

Milo ate lunch alone everyday. He did this mainly by design.  He ate his lunches very early and took his break late in the afternoon. This is when the break room was the emptiest and he wasn’t surrounded by other peoples cooking smells or the sounds of the mouths masticating. He couldn’t stand the sound of other people eating

Technically he shared his office with a file clerk but she worked only part-time and spent most of that time in the file room. There was one receptionist who answered the phones and dealt with incoming mail and deliveries. She worked on the first floor and Milo rarely spoke to her, mostly because he received no calls, messages, or mail. Most of the rest of the workers were supervisors, technicians, and managers. They were too busy to make friends with the quiet man in a lonely small office at the end of the hall. They had more of a relationship with his inbox and email than they actually had with Milo himself.
Milo wasn’t much better at having friends in high school either. His mother hadn’t understood what they problem was, mostly because there was no real problem. Milo was great at making friends. Everyone liked talk to him. But when he had nothing to say back, they like the girlfriends, drifted to people of more substance.

After work, Milo ate dinner a sports bar not far from where he worked. When he first started working his office mates use to go to the bar for happy hour and invited Milo along. Eventually the bar changed their happy hour specials and people started going else where. But Milo liked their BBQ pulled pork and beef brisket as well as their crispy thick french fries. The tv’s blared sports broadcasts loud enough to cover the sounds of the other people. Milo had a couple of beers and waited for traffic to thin out. His commute home took less than an hour.
In the evening he was partial to tea. He drank several cups while watching prime time television. He didn’t have any one show he watched regularly, he flipped around finding episodes he might like. A lot of the time he ended up watching Food Network.

Not too early and not too late, he showered, put on pj’s and went to bed.

At this point, you might be asking why anyone would tell a story about Milo Francis who is so utterly unremarkable and dull that his everyday thoughts and moments would bore any other living person to tears. The answer? Because everything in his life is about to change.

One day, it doesn’t matter which, Milo’s phone rang. At the first ring he jumped a little in his chair. His office was silent, the door being shut against the outside office noise, that the brash telephone sound was like a bolt of lightening out of the clear blue sky. On the second ring he still wasn’t quite sure what was happening. There was no reason for anyone outside the office to call him, he didn’t even think his mother had his work number, and his colleagues would find it quicker to im or email him rather than pick-up the phone. He couldn’t think of another time anyone had ever call him.

He answered on the third ring. “Milo Francis,” he said. Even his greeting was bland.

From the other end came the sultry voice of a woman. If people could purr it would probably sound something like this stranger’s voice. “Do you dream of paradise?”

“Excuse me?” This was not at all what he expected.

“Paradise is waiting for you.”

 “Are you trying to reach someone?”

“Don’t be afraid to accept this extraordinary offer to a paradise like no place else on Earth.”

“Miss? Is this a sales call? I’m sorry I’m not interested in a vacation deal at this time.”

A not quite static-y silence emanated from the phone set.

“Hello?”
There was still silence.

Milo looked at the phone and held it to his ear again.

No breath sounds. No clicks. No barrage of noise from other telemarketers in the back ground.

Only silence.

He slowly hung the phone up. Then he just stared at it. He fully expected it to ring again. He’s hung up on telemarketers before and they always call back. More than that, he wanted her to call back. He wanted to hear that voice again. Listening to the disembodied voice was like being wrapped in warm silky chocolate. It may sound crazy but he had a sneaking suspicion that he wanted to listen to that voice for the rest of his life.

That night, after watching food network again and taking his routine shower, he lay in bed still thinking of that voice. He tried to envision what the person attached to the voice would look like but he was a man of little imagination so he couldn’t conjure an image. All he could picture was a phone.

The next day it would be fair to say the previous day’s phone call felt more like a dream than reality. The mundane steps of everyday life overwhelmed whatever fantasy he could muster and the mystery voice was just a vague memory.
Until the phone rang again. It was about the same times as the day before because he was just about to go on break again.

Could it be? Could the stranger calling to entice him to paradise again? He never received calls at all, so two days in a row, near the same time? It had to mean something, he decided. He answered the phone.

“Milo Francis.”

“Do you dream of paradise?”

He listened this time. Was it a computer? A telemarketer?

“Paradise is waiting for you.”

Again he listened. There was no background noise, no music or tropical breezes. There wasn’t even the sound of breathing.

“Don’t be afraid to accept this extraordinary offer to a paradise like no place else on Earth.”

“Ok,” he said at last.

Just like the day before there were no clicks, no hold music, no more questions or instructions or vacation offers. There was nothing. He spent his 30 minute break listening to silence on the telephone.
If during the day the even was at the back of his mind, during off hours, it was the only thing on his mind. While at the sports bar, over dinner, despite the beers, on the sommute home, whil watching Food Network, in the shower, and in bed.
What kind of call was that? Was it some kind of joke from the sales team? He didn’t very often have opinions about people, but the sales guys were kind of jerks. The very thing that made them good at sales, talkative and outgoing, made them generally mouthy and loud when they weren’t tyring to sell you something. More than once they’d made fun of his lack of love life. Admittedly the jokes stopped when Milo had no reaction to them. He neither fought back or joined in the laughter, he just was. Sometimes he would flatly respond, “Ha, Ha, guys.” But that was all. Would they do this?




Thanks for Reading!


Friday, June 16, 2017

First Draft Friday: Romance

First Draft Friday

Trying out a new idea for a post series where every Friday I post a rough draft. In my mind, this will something similar to my NaNoWriMo post but maybe less intense and only one day a week. The purpose is the same though: to encourage other writers. More often than not, we only get to see a finished polished version of fiction writing and it's very easy to get discouraged by their quality, even though we know, logically, whatever we're reading has a horrible first draft too. In my first draft posts, I want to share my first drafts as they are written more or less out of my brain. I say more or less because if I wrote the first draft longhand, then I'm usually going to clean it up a little bit or make all new mistakes or bad decisions as I type it up.



Romance
first draft, incomplete, 727 words
By Stephanie Thompson

That was all she wanted in life. What she's always wanted.
She knew it wasn't like aKethryn Heigel movie or a Meg Ryan movie or even an Audrey Hepburn flick. She wanted that Old School romances Wuthering Heights, Romeo and Juliet . . . something else. Where being in love was torturous, physically hurts, only short bursts of passion - whether sex or violence, then everyone dies in the end. Where love's drawn out will they won't they magic and both is impossible.That's what she wanted. So how did she put that in a profile blurb?
She'd date plenty but nobody just right. Nice people, funny people, dumb people but not magical people. Not violent, terrible love people.
And now she was in Starbucks at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, at whatever times moms were picking up kids these days and trying to muster one dazzle in he lifetime before closed up shop and resigned herself to being the single friend. Always avail; able for dinner, for movies and shows, wine weekends and plus ones. Which was fine of course. It was her life, she loved her friends but she needed. . .
Well if she knew what she needed then her dating profile would already full of  all the right words.

What am I looking for: Something Different

There was no reason she should notice this profile. Jack needed the date, it was his search, his computer. Plus she hated vague shit. So many guys said they were looking for something different and she was always like - If you can't define it, why the hell should I?

"So what do you think of this one?"
"What?"
"I mean, I could be something different, right?"
"Dude, what's this . . . whos' this chick?"
"Uh. . .Mister105 . . . I don't know there is no real info here."
"And the pic?"
"Just the one/"
"With her face half behind her hair looking the other way? I mean what'st he point?"
"Well you have to have the one picture at least. . . to have a profile, you know."
"So you're asking what I think about the girls who put up the bare minimum and can't even define what she wants?"
"This is balls." He pushed the laptop away from him , the screen facing her. "I mean I don't know. What did they do in older times, like when you were in the dating scene."
She  scoffed but was only half paying attention. Omly half paying attention because the woman in the laptop was staring at her.

She was still staring @ her later that night. After Jake closed the laptop and put on a movie and fell asleep half way on the couch.

Her silky brown hair half covered her face and she was turning away from the camera, the start of a smile on her face, a light in her eyes. Dylan HEather could already feel her hand on hers pulling her someplace secret, someplace magic.

Hello Mysterious, I could be something different. -H

The message from HEath312 was better by miles than any other she'd gotten. First Heth 312 got her screen name which no other man had. Second his message was more than just Hey, Hi, or a dick pic. finally, his screen name was Heath, like the stars of their tortured love were already aligning.

She hit reply.

It took her took weeks to write five words. To be fair it took her most of the time to decide to join the site then pick the picture then finally send the message. And most of 'sending
 the message involved writing/deleting and rewriting until five words were all she could manage.

Heather's heart pounded when she got the notification.

H- Different is as different does. What's the most interesting thing you've ever done? - Mysterious

She didn't want to respond right away - too worried she wouldn't say something clever, or interesting enough but she also didn't want to leave it too long and lose out on the flutter in her belly and the flush in her checks. Should she be naughty and ask 'clothed or naked/' Should she indicate her party level and ask 'drunk or sober?" Or should she just answer it plainly enough? But then what was the most interesting story she had to tell? She'd met Mitch Albom once at a book signing but that wasn't interesting per se, just a brush with fame event.


I definitely want to finish this one but the 'I don't know what is intersting/witty/clever enough' dilemma that Heather's facing is identical to my own writing dilemma. Thus the story is paused at the moment.

Thanks for reading!



Friday, June 9, 2017

First Draft Friday: Through the Spiderweb Door

First Draft Friday

Trying out a new idea for a post series where every Friday I post a rough draft. In my mind, this will something similar to my NaNoWriMo post but maybe less intense and only one day a week. The purpose is the same though: to encourage other writers. More often than not, we only get to see a finished polished version of fiction writing and it's very easy to get discouraged by their quality, even though we know, logically, whatever we're reading has a horrible first draft too. In my first draft posts, I want to share my first drafts as they are written more or less out of my brain. I say more or less because if I wrote the first draft longhand, then I'm usually going to clean it up a little bit or make all new mistakes or bad decisions as I type it up.

For my first, non-NaNoWriMo post, I'm submitting the first draft of "Through the Spiderweb Door". You may remember this title from a previous post where I shared a writing process video of me writing this story. Now, here's what I wrote that day, plus a little more.


Through the Spiderweb Door
first draft, incomplete, 1,734
By: Stephanie Thompson

The sun wasn’t even up yet and she was already suffocating in humidity and tortured by bug bites. Jocelyn was ready for summer to say goodbye. As it was she kept putting one foot in front of another.

“You still with me Jlyn?”
“She looked up to respond and caught her heavy booted foot on God knows what. She stumbled, bit her tongue, and fell face first into a spider web.
“Fuck,” she said, spitting blood onto the rocky path in front of her.

Jocelyn stood up. She wiped her dirt streaked and scratched up palms on her new khaki shorts. Then she looked ahead for Dean and his dog Bruce to answer his question and say she was fine though she was significantly less fine than she was a moment ago which already wasn’t that fine to begin with. Instead in the space we he should have been there was nothing - a blank space at the top of the hill where Dean and Bruce had been waiting on her an instant before.

Since the beginning of their hike both man and dog were consistently a few yards ahead of her but always in sight and she could hear Bruce’s heavy pant.  Now there was silence. No Bruce. No Dean with his hiking stick, smiling, happy like there was nothing better in the world. There was just Jocelyn, alone, wishing she’d never put ‘loves the outdoors’ on her dating profile.

The early morning light trickled through the trees. A dazzling spectacle of flickering light that made her dizzy. She spat more blood from her stinging, throbbing tongue. She wiped sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. She looked behind her and saw no familiar land marks. They had passed several on the way to their (her) current spot: a tumble down house, an open glen edged with thistle, and most recently a fork in the path. They’d gone down the right-hand path (Dean said it had less hills and made for an easier loop- great for beginners) with blue flags (blazes he called them). Jocelyn remembered because from their first date on Jocelyn associated blue, any shade of blue, with Dean’s eyes. ‘Blue like you,’ she thought though it made little sense outside her brain.
Just past the fork was a slight incline up into the trees. Dean and Bruce were at the top. She’d fallen at the bottom. But now behind her was none of that. There was a big open meadow of knee high grasses. Then behind that more tress. This wasn’t the same place they’d walk through. No fork. No blazes. No blue. No Bruce. No Dean. Jocelyn looked in front of her again in case it all was a trick of the dappled sunlight and they were waiting for her all along. He was not.

Should she turn back, fork or no fork? She should she go forward? Hope to catch up ? She knew she wasn’t where she was, where she should have been, but maybe she was wrong about that anyway. Maybe they’d walked further down the blue (like you) path further than she thought and Dean was just over the small hill in front of her, waiting. Or should she stay where she was, wait herself , for anyone to find her, the way all the safety guidelines said to do when you’re lost.

“What is it?”
“You mean, who is it?”
“It came through the door.”
“Through the secret door?”
“How did it find it?”
“It has the heart, obviously.”

“Hello?” Jocelyn asked the open air because while there was voices she couldn’t see anyone.

“It has a heart? Where?”

She looked around again, for the third or fourth time and still got nothing for her search. The voices continued.

“Stop asking me questions. We have to go get Dariham.”

“Wait, don’t leave. I need help,” she directed the plea all around her hoping to discover the source  of the voices and maybe get some actual help, like directions back to a reality without invisible voice or perhaps a drink of water.

“What kind of help?” asked voice 1.
“Don’t talk to it.” ordered voice 2.
“But shouldn’t we take it with us, to Dariham instead of leaving it here to be eaten? Drama will be pissed we bring him all the way out here and it’s gone.”
“I need water . . . or maybe soap. I could go with you. I just . . . I just. . .I can’t see you. I don’t know where you are.”

Sweat beaded on her arms, dripped over her brow, soaked into her shirt. Her stomach bubbled with unease. Her dizziness increased as she kept spinning around trying to find the source of conversation and look out for whatever it was that might eat her. The whole adventure was worn pretty thin even before she fell. Now, she was very much through with the whole ordeal. She wanted a place to site, a cool drink, and air conditioning. If she had to follow an invisible voice or two to that end then she was willing to do that. She was as sensible as the next woman.

There came no reply however.

Jocelyn sat on the ground, tired of going in circles. She sat right in the middle of the path careful to avoid the places she’d spat. Shelled the knot on her right boot, loosened the laces, and pushed the boot off with her left foot. She repeated the process on the left and peeled off her socks. They were damp and a relief to remove. Free of the weight of the boots, Jocelyn felt better. A strong warm wind rolled across her skin and while it was just as hot and humid as it had been, it felt like a sigh of relief to her. Somehow it made even her tongue throb less.

She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath and then blew it out through her pursed lips and whistled a bit as she exhaled. She needed to think of what to do next. Trouble was she didn’t know hot to begin. She was injured but not severely, only annoyingly. Yet if she didn’t wash the dirt from her scraped up palms, it could get worse, though it wasn’t likely. She wasn’t hungry. She was some kind of lost but not in a way she could explain and she didn’t full heartedly believe that any amount of directions could get her back to where she belonged. Then in the back of her mind lingered the  danger of being eaten by unseen creatures.

Jocelyn laughed out loud and lightly tapped her forehead. Of course, she was being ridiculous and this was just a dream she was having. She was laying unconscious in the back of Dean’s car probably. She must have hit her head when she fell - she wouldn’t know any difference being knocked out. That’s why everything was wrong and didn’t look the same. That’s why the voices.

She laughed again. She scooted off the path, until her back was against a tree. She was so much more at ease, having solved the puzzle.  Soon she’d wake up in the hospital, her family around her, maybe Dean if the entire thing didn’t scare him off.  For now she flexed and pointed her toes, stretching out her legs. She watched the grass of the meadow bend in the wind behind the trees, and watched the sun rise in the sky. Fuzzy sleepiness made her eyelids heavy. A few thoughts moved through her mind, slowly and lazily. She tried to imagine what kind of thing could possibly eat her. She questioned the sanity of waiting for invisible voices to come back for her and if she’d be waiting forever. She unwillingly thought of Waiting for Godot and really hoped her Wizard of Oz style coma dream wasn’t going to boil down to some post-modern existential bullshit. When her eyes closed she wondered if she should sleep in a dream caused by a concussion then she was asleep and wondered no more.

“I told you we should have taken it with us? Now it’s gone. Or dead. Dariham is going to hide us for making him come out here.”

Jocelyn hear the voices and pushed through the vestiges of sleep to talk to them before they scampered off again. Maybe she’d even see them this time too.
She opened her eyes. The sun was no longer over the field anymore but directly overhead burning down hot and strong through the leaves. The wind had stopped blowing and everything still and silent. She rubbed her eyes, yawned, and stretched out her arms like a cartoon princess. It struck her that waking up still in a dream instead of in a hospital probably meant something bad was happening in real life. Was she in a coma? Was her brain irreparably damaged? Was she dead?
But that seemed less when important when she caught sight of at last of the sources of the voices. There were three of them, including the oft-mentioned Dariham, presumably the one 10 feet behind the others since the other two were still talking about him. All three of them shimmered in the open sunny meadow like they wore silver iridescent body paint or glitter. Jocelyn shielded her eyes and squinted hoping they became clear, easier to see but there was no coup d’oeil. They shimmered and further the two up front were flying. Floating above the grass, their toes making trails in it as their large dragonfly wings brought them closer to her.

As if silver flying creatures weren’t hard enough to believe, none of them were taller than four feet tall. They didn’t look like children, per se. They looked like full-grown men. Like Greek statuettes come to life wearing just as many clothes too. It was nearly impossible to believe her own eyes.

“Now where did it get to?”
Jocelyn didn’t step out onto the path. She wasn’t hiding per se but she wasn’t as eager as before to be found or follow these creatures back to their lair. As angelic and magical as they appeared, an uneasy acid bubbled in in her stomach.
When the two approaching her got to the edge of the trees, they disappeared again. They flashed into existence



I don't know if I'm going to finish. It's one of those stories where sometimes I think I will and other times I think I won't. If there's more I will share it so you can find out what happens.  Thanks for reading!