Thoughts on First Scene
First Note: You can follow along with the creation of this short story by following the “Short Story 1” tag.
So I finished my first “page” or “chapter” or whatever. First scene? I’m not consistent with this naming scheme already. I’m trying to not care about the structure too much yet. It’s a short story! My aim is less than 10,000 words. Let’s start and finish something and polish it and call it. But after every page/chapter/scene, I want to write my thoughts about it, because maybe that’ll help propel me.
So how do I feel about this scene so far? I’m going to do bullet points as I read over the scene.
Short Story 1
- It didn’t come out as I thought. The scene changed as I was writing it. I’m sort of happy with that. Isn’t that one of the great joys of writing? To see that strange magic where the tory comes out of you and your brain but isn’t 100% your plan?
- I am happy with “subscription” as an adjective for “wine.”
- Maybe the second part needs to have our narrator looking at dating sites a little, since I threw that nugget in there.
- I’m developing this theme where our narrator cares more about other people’s stories. They’re almost a voyeur. Maybe they can barrage someone on a dating app with too many q’s.
- “I’m not sure what happened, but things faded” is about as vague a sentence as I can write. Maybe I should punch that up. It’s about friendships. I don’t have to be coy.
- “If I skipped the ads, I could get through most of a podcast” is probably the most heel thing I’ve had my narrator do so far , just to show where the floor is.
- When describing the woman, I was trying to convey comfort levels. In doing that, I neglected to mention at all what she looked like. There’s no sense of her physical body at all in the paragraph, other than her posture.
- When describing the man, I was aiming for alluring qualities.
- I could make the ending of this stronger.
- I took two weeks between writing it and taking these notes. I wanted to give the writing some separation. And…I don’t hate it? That’s a start, right?
New Short Story - First Page
First Note: You can follow along with the creation of this short story by following the “Short Story 1” tag.
I was once again finishing a bottle of cab merlot blend while my parents seemed concerned about my mental health. The subscription wine in my glass didn’t smell like anything, even after reading the tasting notes from the brochure. I’m cold. I should have put some slippers on before the call, and now we were half an hour into a story they’d told before. I excused myself for a second to find them. They were by the couch in the living room, where I’d left them last night. There, I told them. I’m definitely fine. I’m wearing slippers. That was not what they meant.
My computer is distracting. I can keep my parents in a window and have six other windows open, vying for my attention. At some point during the call, I opened my articles list and began reading this photography blog. I skimmed the words while keeping up my end of the conversation. It’s easy. It’s just a matter of practice. You can absolutely do two things at once. After a few moments though, I could feel the energy in their words dissipate. It’s inevitable with video calls. If you don’t volley back just as hard, it feels like there’s nobody there at all.
So I shifted my attention back to my parents, giving them as much as I could for updates. No, I wasn’t seeing anyone yet. No, I wasn’t looking, not really. Was I on the dating sites, as they called them? Only a little. I didn’t like them. Did anyone like them, I asked? Is anyone happy with this? Is it harder for people like you, my mother asked. At first, I didn’t know what she meant. I’d forgot. Why would it be harder? She didn’t want to say it. She dragged out a “you know…” for a while. I did clue in. Oh. Right. I told her “I guess?” It wasn’t something I thought about much anymore.
Being nonbinary just isn’t that interesting. I’m just not that into myself. I’d much rather hear stories about other people. I read a lot. I like to listen. Maybe I got that from my parents, whose phone calls sometimes sound like job interviews. How do you talk to someone without barraging them with questions? I just wanted to know more.
I was warm. The wine was emptier. I was lonely. Thanks mom and dad.
The call ended the same way it always does. They don’t ever actually want to get off the video, so I have to wait until the conversation dies off and they feel they have to leave. My dad made some excuse about having to make dinner, as if they weren’t going to order from the same Italian place down the road from their house. “Well, we don’t want to keep you,” my mom says after 45 minutes. But, they weren’t keeping me from anything. I wouldn’t even change chairs, just tabs. After getting off the call, I did some shopping, some reading. I checked the shipping number for my next wine box. I didn’t send messages to any of my friends.
I’m not sure what happened, but things faded. Maybe I wasn’t interesting enough for people to keep up with. Maybe we didn’t actually have enough in common, and when you took entropy and proximity out of it, it didn’t make sense to keep it up. It’s not my fault. It’s not their fault. I know I could change it with the smallest bit of effort.
My apartment was quiet. I didn’t own any pets. I did own a white noise machine. In the middle of the night, I woke up every night at three am for six weeks before I figured out it was a garbage truck making its rounds, so now there’s a white noise machine on my nightstand. I would forget to turn it on before bed, so I bought a little plug that connected to the internet so I could put it on a timer. If you have a problem, you can sometimes solve that problem with money and plastic. Sometimes, I’m still in my living room at eleven, and I’ll begin to hear this whir from the bedroom. It’s the sound of duct tape covering a leak.
I walk through my apartment. It’s not much to walk through. It’s a living room and a bedroom, a small kitchen, a small balcony. A bathroom, a hallway with a small closet. Everything is somewhat modern and designed, but after living here for a few years it just feels cramped. I can’t buy anything without throwing something away first. It’s not a bad way to live, but it isn’t very interesting. I can’t add to the space.
Sometimes I think, I’m not worth designing something like this. Who is? Who is this for? Someone spent time and money and part of their life to build such a thoughtful, tight space, only for its occupant to be a ghost.
I could buy a neighbor’s apartment. I hate to admit how often I’ve thought about it. It’s the only way to get more without starting over. I go out to my small balcony sometimes. I place my elbows on my tiny railing and peer over at my neighbor’s identical setup. There’s enough room for two chairs and a tiny table. I haven’t done that but they have. If their balcony was mine, I’d buy chairs just like that.
I went to crack a beer but found myself nearly out. What the hell, it’s only seven. I could say I did something tonight by going out. I could walk. The microbrewery wasn’t far. I asked my phone what the weather was like. I put my headphones in. The microbrewery was fifteen minutes away by walk. If I skipped the ads, I could get through most of a podcast.
My elevator doesn’t have that trick where, if you hold down the “close door” button, it’ll just keep going to the lobby, skipping all the floors where people have hit the button. I’d heard about this trick on a podcast. I’ve always wanted it to work, but it never does, not in any elevator I’ve tried. A few floors down, someone always joins me. The experiment fails. Before the door fully opens, I pause my podcast. My headphones stay in.
Today, it’s a girl. She’s shrunken. Not small, just trying to not take up space. She’s defensive, worried. She isn’t looking at her phone or listening to anything. She’s looking at herself in the floor-length mirror on the left side of the elevator. I’m on the right, looking at her only a little bit, mostly with my peripherals. She’s wearing a pretty dark red dress, stockings and heels. The heels look a bit chunky and comfortable. She crosses her arms for a moment but then uncrosses them. She checks her hair in the mirror. She’s nervous and maybe cold. I’d be cold. How could you not be cold? You’d be cold in a warm room wearing just that dress.
We reached the lobby and she got out ahead of me. She gave me a polite smile as she left. We were hitting the same exit, so I stayed back and checked my phone to give her distance. It isn’t a race. As I put it away, having looked at nothing but the time that I’d then immediately forgotten, I saw her turning around and heading back into an elevator. Maybe she forgot something, but she looked upset.
I left the building and turned. I smelled cigarette smoke. There was a man leaning near the entranceway. He was lanky and took up space, relaxed, like he owned it. He was the opposite demeanor of that girl. He was looking at his phone, slowly swiping at whatever. As I walked by him, I drank in his features. He was taller than me. His hair was long but tucked behind his ears. He was that sort of tall, dark mysterious sort of thing, a big chin for his features, and strong cheekbones. He looked like he could be a model or an actor, that sort of stupid handsome you can’t buy. The hand that held the phone equipped several rings, all different shades of silver. I could see the hint of a tattoo on his neck, the rest disappearing beneath his jacket collar roll. He caught my attention. How could he not?
His other hand, which held the cigarette, came up to his mouth, and he took a drag. His eyes met mine for a brief moment, likely sensing that I was walking a little too slowly by him, that he was being drunk in. His eyes didn’t communicate annoyance, but recognition. Sure, they told me. Go ahead. I don’t blame you. His eyebrow arched just the smallest amount. I kept it and finally looked away.
Short Story 1
Photo Management 2020
I still take photos with my iphone and camera, and those automatically upload into a Onedrive folder using the Onedrive iPhone app. Once a month, I cull it. I delete photos that aren’t great, and I either delete or move screenshots. You’d be surprised how many things end up in your camera roll just from using your phone normally. That usually leaves me with a small batch of photos for each month. Those photos go into a folder named after the month, and that folder goes into another folder for the year. This lives in Onedrive, and on an external hard drive.
Sometimes I think I’m behind on backups, but I almost never am. I’ve been doing this routine for over ten years and it works. I set a reminder for the first of the month, and I take the hour.
I don’t exactly remember where I picked up the habit and I don’t know exactly when I began, but I have month folders going back to 2008. It’s not unlike this video — How to Remember Your Life - YouTube. That’s actually a much more professional and poetic look at the process.
But once I’ve taken and then culled and organized the photos, what the hell do I do with them? Up until recently, I didn’t have a great answer for this. Onedrive and/or the Windows Photos app is only okay at holding optional metadata, like faces and captions. And Onedrive has an “on this day” feature, but I found it super random and not well programmed. It would lift photos from anywhere in my onedrive, which includes all sorts of image styles from work projects. Not terribly useful.
Essentially, photo sharing happens through apps, which means it happens through my iPhone. Instagram still doesn’t super work on Windows (hacks abound, though), so the phone still has to be the place where a photo you own becomes a photo someone else can see.
iCloud and the built-in Photos app should probably be where my photos are. But I don’t want to just keep my photos on my iPhone. Enter iCloud Drive for Windows. It now has the same year/month folder setup Onedrive has. It acts as a third backup point, but more importantly, it fills the Photo app and populates it with actionable stuff. It’ll show me featured photos, auto-create events, and let me search by person.
So now, once a month, I delete the unorganized photos from iCloud Drive, then add back in the month folder. This does two things: keep organizational parity everywhere, and eliminate “live” photos, which are okay for when you take them but somewhat useless years later.
If you have an iPhone and haven’t used a widget yet, try out the Photos widget. Once an hour or so, it’ll show you a new photo. It doesn’t feel like a big deal but it is. It was one of the nicest things about a Windows Phone and now it’s one of the nicest parts of an iPhone.
Cura, November 3, 2020
Note: The playlist embedded above will always be the most recent playlist and might not match the list below.
Cura is my weekly-ish mixtape. You can listen to it and subscribe here. If you like to listen to music with ads, Youtube is your friend. I keep it as one playlist so it’s easy to subscribe to. I update it fairly frequently, but I also keep an archive playlist on Spotify so you don’t have to miss a thing.
I hope you like it. I made it for you.
Here’s this week’s lyric poem:
I put a spell on you, Because you’re mine. So, shush, shut your mouth. I’m not listening anyhow. I can’t make this house a home. I don’t want to make you hate me. Isn’t it so funny, How beautiful you are When you’re walking out the door. I befriended all my enemies. They had my back against the wall. And loving is hard, it don’t always work. You just try your best not to get hurt. And how could I ever think that it was meant to be. And how could I ever think that anything was made for me? Keep it slow. Oh, I know, know, know, know. Let me go. But never let me go. Spinning through the town, Sooner or later, the fever ends.