(Or, Embarrassing My Writerly Self for the Sake of Critiquing)
Kat Brauer is taking a small break from her Crits for Water campaign for a special Freaky Friday Blogfest. She’s got prizes! And promises of jocularity! And Harry Potter! As Kat would say, for serious.
She posted one of her earliest, 500-word pieces of writing to be critiqued (for her, a fanfic Harry Potter spin-off written when she was a teen) on her blog. Pop over there and check it out. I did a line-by-line critique on it for extra credit.
Kat also posed this challenge: she wanted her readers to find some old piece of writing and post it for critiques on their own blogs. That’s right, she wants us all to open ourselves up to (*cue creepy music*) public feedback. This is slightly different from Miss Snark’s blog in that, well, it’s not at all anonymous on anyone’s part.
Naturally, since NOT AN EDITOR is all about critiquerly topics and such, I knew I had to participate, no matter how embarrassing it might be. Therefore, I found a piece of flash fiction that I did several years back. I’ve only been writing for shy-of-four years, and I started with short fiction.
Being a psychology major, I was drawn to characters with hard-core psychological diagnoses. Yes, I was more concerned about characters and their worlds than I was about plot* (oh, you mean there has to be a story, too?). See if you can tell what my character’s mental illness is.
Feel free to throw in some critiquing. I’m ready for the red pens (or, if you’re Marewolf, purple pens) to fly. Line edits or any other critiquerly advice is welcome.
Janice examines her purse for necessary items - a package of sani-wipes, keys, wallet, antibacterial lotion, tissue, gloves, and a white cloth. Was she sure she saw her keys? Yes, jingle, here they are.
A glance in the mirror to comb her hair reveals the worst: greasy. As she undresses to take another shower, she carefully re-folds her clothes. She is concerned that her pastel shirt might wrinkle and she finds a hanger.
She turns on the water, crisp and clean. The pressure didn't seem normal and she shuts it off. Turns it on and off. On. Much better.
As she steps out of the shower, she flexes her feet on the pristine rug. Left foot, right foot, left, right, left, right. She clearly cannot wear the clothes that she wore earlier; it wouldn't be right.
She has an idea and she packs an extra pair of sheer socks. Those nylon footies they offer in the shops bother her. The whole experience is a bother. Reviewing the faint quarter-inch scuff on her shoe's instep, she realizes that she must go. Her heart quickens.
Janice reviews her bag once more. Yes, everything was there, and now she has an extra pair of socks. She felt her keys jingle in her fingers. Perfect. What if she had left earlier with dirty hair and no extra pair of socks? And the beige shirt is much preferred over the light blue.
She readies herself as she flips the light switch off and on three times. Satisfaction gradually comes while sani-wiping the car seat and the steering wheel. And fastening, unfastening, fastening, unfastening, and fastening her safety belt. She takes a deep breath and presses her eyes closed. She turns the key without starting the car until three half turns back-and-forth are complete. The sound is fine, just fine, and she opens her eyes. She adjusts and re-adjusts her mirror.
Damnit! She says clapping her hands thrice, less than half a tank. She shivers.
I can do this, she says. People put gas in their cars every day. Every day, everyday. She slowly drives to a station and up to an empty pump, but is not close enough. She backs up and pulls forward several minutes until it feels right. I can do this.
She pulls out her gloves but wishes for more protection. She uses her pointer to press in between each of the gloves' fingers. Right and left. Each one twice more. It takes quite a few sani-wipes to sterilize the handle on the gas pump. Her nose squints as she cleans. Brown god-knows-what stains the disposable towels.
As the gas fills her tank, she wonders if she has to urinate. Yes, yes, she is pretty sure of it. She returns the nozzle, uses her white cloth to open her trunk, and disposes of her gloves in a plastic bag marked "dirty''. She takes a clean pair of gloves out of a Ziplock bag marked "clean'' and closes the trunk. Opens and closes, opens, closes. A sigh leaves her after the task is done. She sits down after sani-wiping the driver's seat, the steering wheel, her hands.
As she makes her way home for the safety of her own bathroom, she passes the shoe store. A half a tank wasn't enough, halfatank, h-a-l-f-a-t-a-n-k. Perhaps I'll go shopping tomorrow. She looks at the scuff on her left shoe in disgust. But she has to urinate. And she wouldn't feel proper afterwards without taking a shower.
That’s it. Critiques in the comments!
*Okay, I admit. I'm still this way. But I'm aware of it now. :)