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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Write on Wednesdays - The Walk

It's time for some fiction writing for Write on Wednesdays with InkPaperPen.

This week, the prompt behind WoW is to 'take a walk', ie go for a walk and write about it.

To be honest, I was struggling with the prompt this week.

As my story is a continuing one (you can read the story so far from HERE if you wish), I wanted to continue on from last week when we left Kate heading to work after her coffee with Cassie.

Anyway, I started writing about the buildings she observed on the way to work, that sort of thing. And you know what? It was shite. Terrible!

So, I chose to view this prompt a slightly different way.

Walking, for me, is not always about observing what's around me. Walking is the perfect way for me to clear my mind and think about the stuff I can't think about when I'm surrounded by three noisy boys, a barking dog and a husband asking me where his black socks are.

And so, I chose to use my walk for this week's prompt as a way for Kate - my main character - to do some thinking of her own.

Fortunately, we were encouraged this week to forgo the five minute time limit, so I didn't feel guilty for breaking the rules. Bonus!

Here's this week's contribution. (Oh, and I'm very open to suggestions and constructive criticism - go for it! I'm here to learn, people. Thank you!)

*     *     *     *     *

Kate headed north along Pitt Street. She knew she should hurry along – it was already after eighty-thirty – but her shoes wouldn’t allow it. With each step, they seemed to squeeze her toes even tighter together, and she momentarily wondered if she could get away with wearing her runners in the office for the rest of the day? She sighed. Probably not.

Besides, she wanted some time to herself to think before reaching the office (where she would have no time to think about anything other than work), and walking had always allowed her to clear her mind and focus on anything that concerned her.

Her thoughts turned to Cassie and Dan as she walked slowly along the busy street, carefully tracing her steps around the damaged pathway. Kate knew Cassie well, and she wasn’t someone who normally made a lot of space in her life for relationships with men. Dan had no doubt struck a chord with her (six dates already!) and Kate could only assume she was particularly serious about him. How serious, though? Kate hastily shook the image out of her mind of Cassie and Dan walking down the aisle of a church - Cassie dressed in head-to-toe ivory lace - mentally chiding herself for getting carried away.

Kate had known Cassie since high school. Kate smiled recalling the day they had met at The Lower North Shore School for Girls, both just fifteen-year-olds at the time.

It was mid-year, 1988. Cassie had just arrived from Melbourne – her father’s work the reason for their move to Sydney – and she’d walked in to class on her first day with her hair bleached blonder and cut shorter than she wore it today, and bright red lipstick covering her pouty lips. Even dressed in her school uniform, Cassie looked the epitome of eighties chic, and Kate couldn’t help but instantly liken her to Madonna. (Who was, not surprisingly, Cassie’s favourite singer at the time.)

Kate had self-consciously smoothed down her own long, low, untouched pigtails her mother had tied for her that morning. She watched Cassie walk confidently down the middle aisle of the classroom – seemingly unaware of all the eyes upon her - before taking the seat next to Kate’s.

“Kate,” Mrs Wilkinson, her science teacher had directed at her, “seeing that Cassie is obviously unfamiliar with our school grounds, perhaps you wouldn’t mind showing her around at recess?” Cassie had looked at Kate and smiled warmly at her.

“Yes, miss,” Kate had replied, returning a quick, shy smile to Cassie before returning to her work.

Later, as she left science class, she had felt someone gently grab her arm. She’d looked down to find short, delicate fingers with red, brightly painted fingernails wrapped around her upper arm. And then suddenly, Cassie’s smiling face had appeared before her. “Kate, isn’t it?” she’d asked, but without waiting for an answer had continued with, “So, where do we eat? I’m starving!” She had talked non-stop the whole way to the school canteen and throughout recess, only pausing occasionally to take large, hungry bites of the Mars Bar she had purchased, which she had downed eagerly with a can of Coke. Kate had munched slowly on her Granny Smith apple (brought from home), completely awestruck as she listened to her new found, glamorous, interstate friend.

From that day on – although obvious to all they were chalk and cheese – she and Cassie were inseparable, and their friendship had barely faltered since. It remained strong even after spending two years apart on opposite sides of the world whilst Cassie traveled through Europe, then lived in London. Even when Cassie had returned and wanted to go out during the week to nightclubs, pubs or the movies - and Kate wanted to stay home and study - their friendship hadn’t suffered. They’d simply made more time for each other on weekends. Later, when Kate started her first job out of uni, and was equally as focused, they began their Friday early morning breakfast ritual before work to see more of each other.

When Cassie met Paul, Kate was convinced it would be the catalyst for change in their relationship. It wasn’t. Cassie still included Kate in her weekends plans, and they remained as close as ever.

Until, that is, Kate started seeing Nick.

Kate pushed the memory of that time aside. She didn’t want to think about that right now. Instead, she assured herself that she wouldn’t lose Cassie to Dan, just as she hadn’t to Paul. She was being silly and insecure.

As Kate rounded the corner and entered Bond Street – across the road from her office building – a text message sounded on her phone. It was from David. Where r you? Need to talk to you first thing this morn. Come see me asap. D.

Even though her feet pained her to do so, Kate quickened her step as she crossed the road and headed towards the revolving doors of the building. I wonder what that’s about? she thought to herself, but dismissed it as David's usual last minute stress before leaving the country on business. 

After entering the lift and punching the button for level twenty-nine, she replied to her boss' text message. On my way.

*     *     *     *     *

If you'd like to join in on WoW, or read some other great entries, head over to InkPaperPen.



Jaimee Hunter said...

I have a friendship like that and she is totally like Cassie. I was sitting here this morning trying to remember exactly when I started being Kate and MySarah became Cassie. Way to draw in the reader, lady! Can't wait to read more!!!

Kim H said...

Ohhhhhhh no, please keep going? What does her boss want? What's the go with Nick? You've got me!!! Can't wait to read more x

Megan Blandford said...

Oh, this is great, J! I love that you took the chance to develop your characters even more, and I'm loving learning more and more about them. It's true - very rarely do I look around thinking about what I'm seeing as I walk, instead taking the time to really think.

Sheri Bomb said...

I could relate to this so so well...also made me realise I may be neglecting some friendships a little! Great writing and thanks for the wake up call!

Stephanie said...

I love the deep friendship both of these women share with eachother!
Interested in finding out what happens when Nick becomes more involved with Kate.
Lovely writing!!

Zanni said...

Very intriguing...looking forward to the next installment. And I liked how you put a spin on the exercise. :)

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Sif said...

Jodie, this is a good distilling piece, it feels like a pivotal point in the story where you are summing up what what gone before, the premise of the story and setting the reader up for the announcement of the great challenge!

As you asked for some feedback on the writing itself, I paid closer attention to the structure and what not and have just a couple of suggestions - hope that's okay.

The para where you describe why Kate needs to walk is probably a little more detailed than it needs to be and draws the readers attention from the story itself to the mechanics of story telling, if that makes sense. It is probably enough to say Kate decides to walk because needs time to think and she won't be able to do that at work. Explaining that walking helps her sort out her thoughts is not really necessary.

Also, the para where you travel back in time to Kate and Cassie's first meeting has a lot of "had"s in it. Can these be reduced or worked around in some way that they become less visible?

I'm just loving this story so much! The chalk and cheese of Kate and Cassie's personalities is such an effective way to explore and contrast their characters!

Jodie Ansted said...

Thanks all - and thanks so much Sif for this feedback. I did wonder about how to write when recalling the past. I'll look more in to this so I can get it right. I'll no doubt be heading back again to explain more about Nick & Kate's relationship! xxx

Naomi said...

Great Jodie! I love it, and (as you know) having a friendship that has lasted the test of time and distance, I loved the description & detail of when the girls first met.

Kimberlee said...

Terrific post. I love the unfolding of the relationships. And I have never heard "chalk and cheese" so I loved that too. :D Excited to read more.

Miss Pink said...

I got a bit lost this week. May be because I've been pretty busy this evening so my mind isn't really focusing.

I did find that the ending of this chapter had me thirsty for the next. Like it was closed off well and left you knowing that you would be finding out with the next chapter if Kate would be losing Cassie to Dan.

Andy @ Words and Pen said...

I was here yesterday but decided not to comment yet because I realized I misunderstood the rules at WOW.lols..So now I have to read it again to make sure I understand your piece properly. As I said before, I just can't help myself but keep on reading your work. You know your way through the labyrinth of twisting the story. I'll leave the constructive criticism to others for I know I need them as well.lols

Have a great day Jodie!



InkPaperPen said...

I found this so easy to read, I am in an internet cafe right now and there is lots going on but I wasn't distracted from your piece once. Cassie sounds like a very good friend, it seems that it is her personality that has held the two girls together. Kate seems so insecure about everything, I'd really like to hear more about what happened with her and Nick, next week, Jodie! Did she ditch Cassie for him??

Excellent advice from Sif above. The only thing I would add (and this may be personal opinion rather than criticism) is that I find Cassie much more likeable and interesting as a main character. But it seems that Kate will be the focus of your story? We don't always have to like the main character though I guess...I hope that makes sense - I think we need something more from Kate as a character?