Tag Archives: practice pages

Practice Pages – Peeling Fruit

I haven’t had much time to write lately and the lack of practice is an area I want to correct so I can maintain discipline. It was the focus of a recent blog post, Finding the Flaws in Your Writing. As I noted, I am a slow learner.

Therefore I gave myself 10 – 15 minutes to write a paragraph with no care of editing, purpose, structure. No other agenda except to explore an idea pulled from my note book.

I pulled the following idea from my notebook to form the starting point:

The peeling of a mandarin; the damage to the skin to eat the flesh inside.

In my hands I hold the mandarin you picked from the fruit bowl. I wasn’t particularly hungry but you were and wanted me to peel it for you. A child-like invocation of trust and acceptance. You are seated across from me, hands clasped together, waiting.

“Can I have some?” I asked.

A nod. Acquiescence to share.

The autumnal grace of peeling a mandarin, stripping the skin from the flesh and piling it on the table like a tree sheds its leaves, is undermined by the viciousness of its action. My thumb pushes in to the knobbed skin on top, an outward belly button you called it, breaks through and the spray of citric acid spits. It is caught in the summer afternoon light, hovers, reflects, dissipates. The freshness of the scent makes you rub your nose as if it tickled the very tip.

I catch you smiling and my eyes drop to the line of your singlet top. Your breasts move as you raise your hand to tuck a loose strand of hair behind your ear. 

There is a question, which, if asked, will change everything between us.

The skin forms a pile, broken pieces of a puzzle it would be impossible to solve. I could lay out the pieces, align them from where they came but without the flesh there is no substance to hold it. In the act of consuming I have destroyed.

You fidget, wanting to bite into the segments, held up by me until the entirety of the mandarin is peeled. I pull away a few segments for myself and hand the remainder over. As I pull away the fibrous strings, flensing the flesh even further, you rip two segments and bite into them. A stream of juice spouts onto the table as more dribbles down your chin. With the back of your hand you wipe your chin then the table smearing the juice further.

“I’ll clean it later,” you say with a mouth full of flesh before spitting the pips into your hand, reaching across the table and dumping them onto the torn skins as discarded bones. 

Our intimacy is bound in the question I want to ask for it will strip our skin like peeling a mandarin that we may eat the flesh inside.

Practice Pages – Music To Die By

This Practice Page was inspired by a line in a text I was reading (I wish I wrote down what it was – it may have been an article I was reading online). The line that sparked the thought forms the title, Music to Die By.

Oh, it’s all flaws and problems but I like the idea of simply throwing words down on paper to explore an idea; try to excise the cliches and boring prose with something different. I find the same phrases or half-sentences popping up in my writing like dandelions, spreading their seed when I fart and sowing a new crop of half-arsed sentences.

Therefore, the practice pages are a good way to expunge tired expressions from my writing and find new images and constructions. And, yes, this is all just practice and in no way should be considered ‘art.’

Music To Die By

The funeral march, never heard by your own ears, is a cadence of steps bearing the weight of the coffin with you inside it. The missed step and misstep, Perhaps the last thing you heard was the shufflely slap of slippers in the hallway, the click of the bathroom light and stop/start splash of urination.

You have a set list of songs you’d like played at your funeral; even one or two put on there as an ‘up yours’ to certain family members. But if there was one song to play, that best encapsulated who you are, and who you were, what would it be? The sentiment of a song, meaningless to everyone else but you, and you can’t hear it.

While mulling it over, there are playbacks of other songs: the frenetic two-beat of punk, a stuttering motorcycle of attempted rebellion until the motor smooths out and rebellion is understood as a revolution of the mind, not the clothing.

Or the rushed climax of lovers as the radio plays some innocuous pop song in the background, a soundtrack gouged in wax and on each subsequent listen the memory replaces the physical engagement until the only thing left is chemical memory and the desire of what it represented.

This then, is the purest music: the silence between heartbeats until at last, the needle of the record lifts, pauses, returns to the carriage and with the final click, the revolutions cease.

Practice Pages – The Disappearance of Noise

As drills are to an athlete, or scales to a musician, practice paragraphs are to a writer.
Here’s a little sample of an idea I foraged from my notebook.
Feel free to remix it in the comments section.

The Disappearance of Noise

All of the clocks of my childhood are silenced into obscurity:

– the bedside alarm clocks in my grandparents’ bedroom, wound at the back

– the grandfather clock in the hall where time always seemed to move slower as I watched the pendulum arc back and forth, slicing the moment, shaving it second by second. The inscription, tempus fugit, the first Latin I learned, and didn’t understand the irony until I stood thirty years in the future.

– the clock on the mantle in Nanna and Grandpa’s house was more hurried, urgent, pacing the time to meet appointments, chiming the quarter hour in mimicry of Big Ben.

All of these sounds, the midnight soundtrack to treading the hallway carpet barefoot, its texture a fresh cut lawn, skipping to the cold tiles of the bathroom. And back again.

Now I lie awake and listen, in between the passing of cars at two o’clock in the morning, for the ticking of my watch. I know it’s battery operated, no longer the wind up mechanism of the watch of my youth. Finding it wound down to silence, bringing it back to life, then placing it to my ear to hear the cogs pushing and pulling.

It was the mechanical rhythm, a lullaby of space. The tut-tutting of disapproval for wasted time, the snap of Lego connecting and the skipping of Nan’s knitting needles.

The digital age has created silence.