Focusing on my fiction class has kept me away from blogging. Strangely, despite not having posted for more than a week, my stats went crazy a couple of days ago. Ok, they tripled, which, considering my usual stats, isn’t really that crazy. But it makes me wonder if you people are encouraging me NOT to post? Hmmm…Ignoring that for now.
For my grand return to blogging after my longest absence yet, I will share an exercise from my writing class. The point was to establish a vivid setting and introduce a character who interacts with it in some way. Feedback appreciated:
The cabins lay just beyond a battered sign: “Transformation Revival Campground.” Skittish around the trappings of organized religion, Addie paused, but only for a moment. She couldn’t resist the draw of new terrain, so she followed a path between two of the twenty cabins circling a sparsely wooded clearing.
Addie loved hiking these woods. They calmed her, as though her troubles couldn’t follow her among the trees. She hated to see the sun hanging near the peaks of the distant North Georgia mountains, telling her she ought to go home. But if she returned home after dark her father might not let her visit her mother tomorrow. Still, she told herself, I have time.
No congregations had gathered here for years. Several of the cabins’ roofs had sunk inside the spaces they’d once sheltered. A few random walls tipped to one side.
Addie continued into the clearing past an abandoned child’s sneaker and a few gaunt trees. A few spindly branches hovered over the cabins, too high and frail for any child to climb. A white band of paint, four or five feet thick, enclosed the bottom of each trunk, clamping them to the ground, it seemed. She shivered.
After a few moments, Addie reached a kind of pavilion, rows of benches and an altar beneath a sagging wooden roof. That must be where the preacher captivated the faithful. With no witnesses but the derelict cabins, she dropped onto a bench, leaned her head back and allowed herself a few moments of self-pity.
She couldn’t change her mother’s condition. Convincing her father she didn’t need to move in with him and his bitchy young girlfriend, Delia, seemed impossible. Her helplessness felt like a weight pinning her to the bench.
Mindful of the time, Addie dragged herself to her feet and trudged back the way she came. The crunch of dry leaves disintegrating underfoot scratched at her nerves.
Before she reached the path, a strip of darkness in a cabin doorway caught her eye. The door was slightly open.
When a curiosity diverts us from our worries, it can be near impossible to ignore. Addie plowed through the weeds veiling the bottom half of the door and peered into the opening, trying to trace a shape in the darkness. Just when she decided to leave, the darkness shifted. She retreated a step, and then, ashamed of her skittishness, pushed at the door.
Scraping against the cabin floor, the door let her inside, where she nearly lost her balance on canted floorboards. Her hand held the wall but she still felt unsteady, a familiar feeling since her mother’s accident. Without her mother, nothing felt solid or safe.
Feeling the familiar constriction in her chest, she made herself go slack, slipping through its grasp, keeping grief at bay. She brought herself back to this place, her hand on the splintered wood, her eyes searching the darkness.