Saturday, August 20, 2011

Citrusy Treat

Last week I started a writers workshop, a six week course. I enrolled with the goal of improving my writing craft, as I believe everyone who enrolled did (accept for the gal from the Philippines who's trying to improve her English ~ awesome for her!)

This was the assignment given yesterday. 

Find a candle, set it in a safe place near your computer, and light it.

Write a one-paragraph only description of the lighted candle. Show us your candle so we can experience it with you. Be honest. Use specific words and sensory details as a way to focus rather than trying to aim for universal truths. The truths come on their own if you are accurate and honest. Feel free to let ideas emerge from your description. Emotion may also play a part. That's fine. Explore the power of description.

I'd skip obvious comparisons like "dancer" and "soldier." I'd push yourself to consider your own unique impressions and experience in this moment.

I like this exercise because it helps you practice focusing outwardly—experiencing what's going on with a burning candle—while you also focus inwardly—listening to your mind coming up with the words to describe your burning candle.

Take a few risks and let illogical words creep in if you like. You're only practicing, so feel free to write poorly. This is how you will learn. Try a first draft while writing freely, then revise, building on what you've written. Reread, rethink, and rewrite a bit.

Enjoy the paradox of trying to be interesting to your readers while you also struggle to be accurate.

And this is what I wrote : 

Citrusy Treat

My candle is almost at the end of its life. Having been used all summer there is only a small amount of honey golden wax left in the bottom of the jar. Reminding me of a jelly jar, it has a small rectangular shape, its upper corners replaced with plump curves. There are thin remnants of wax that cling inside empty walls softening the flames glow.  The wick is long; reminding me I should have given it a trim before lighting. The flame doesn’t mind. It wraps itself around the twine just the same. It’s deceiving, that flame, giving the illusion of a golden ball hovering above the twine when I know how tightly it clings to it. The wax slowly softens releasing its scent, filling my nose with a warm citrusy bouquet and the slightest hint of spice, perfect for summer. As its honey golden firmness transforms to a syrup, it pools deep at the wick shallowing toward the walls of the jar. Through the syrup I can see its clean fresh wick sprouting from a hidden place like a cats-tail in a pond. But soon this citrusy treat will be gone. And I will be eager to replace it with new scents of cinnamon and pine for winter warmth. I will not miss it. Not right away. But when the white crisp snow is replaced with the sadness of gritty gray slush I will wish for it, remembering its summery perfume.