Practice #1: The Ocean Creaks
I am currently engaged in a study of two inspiring and practical guides for writers: “Steering the Craft: A 21st Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story” by Ursula Le Guin and “Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction” by Jeff Vandermeer. Each book includes a variety of writing exercises. I’ve added a personal challenge for each exercise – create an accompanying illustration.
From Steering the Craft: “Write a paragraph to a page of narrative that’s meant to be read aloud [using] any kind of sound effect you like – but NOT rhyme or meter.”
I say: “The ocean creaks. Deep, deep, rising. When it breaks free you can feel it in your soul. It hurts.”
You think to yourself that this is a fiction. A sea-tale I spin for your entertainment. You think to yourself that you know the sounds of the ocean. You know the shushing, slushing, hissing. You know the lapping and the chiming sounds of the small stones stirred in its wake. You know the pounding and the booming that come with the storms. You know the almost soundless silence that follows. But you do not know of any creaking. If you do not know it, you think to yourself, how can it be?
You plan to turn away. You think to yourself that you can imply a need for the gents and simply find another seat on the other side of the bar. You can see an empty barstool there. It will be easy.
“It creaks,” I hiss, whisper. A whisper that slithers into your ear and on into your mind. “I have heard it twice, like some ancient monster whose bones are breaking. And then it moans.”
Twice? You think to yourself, why say twice. Why not once? Or every time the winter is colder than memory? Or when the winds blow from the north in March? “Twice?” you say.
And now you have taken the hook and swallowed it deep and you are mine.
I signal for two beers. “On me,” I say. “This time.”