Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Photo Challenge: Ramshackle

An old friend of mine is a talented photographer. He posted a photo on Facebook a while back and it had me thinking about where a writer’s inspiration comes from. I've been stuck on my own writing. (stupid blogging lol) So, I decided to challenge myself and write a quick story for a random photo. I try to roll with my first impression and give myself a time limit, which is definately challenging to get it all out. These stories are not edited and rough, so keep that in mind. My goal is to get my brain working, not produce perfection. Thanks for looking.

Photograph by Cliff Bryce click here to see more 

Twenty-five years slipped away the minute Claire Davenport caught a glimpse of her childhood playhouse tucked in the far reaches of her family farm. Her feet rooted to the forest floor while her eyes surveyed the place she vowed to leave behind and never return. Despite the overgrowth and ramshackle appearance, it was as if she’d never left.
            “Do you want to go back?” her husband, Michael, asked.
            Claire clutched his hand without tearing her attention from the shack. “No, I want to do this.” She exhaled and forged a smile. “I can do this.”
            She may have wanted to push through her doubt, but her mind refused. Claire stood frozen, gripped by the memories of her sister and the last time they’d been in this very spot. A moderate breeze stirred the leaves in front of her, lifting them high in a circular dance.
            “She’s here.” Claire’s voice mingled with the sounds of the fluttering leaves. “I can feel her.”
            With one careful step after the next, she ambled forward. Michael lumbered behind, his heavy footfalls offering his wife reassurance and safety. The smell of time bit at her nose as she neared the door. Claire balled her fists and turned around to face Michael—she was ready.
            “Are you sure you want to go in there? There’s no telling what’s been living inside.”
            Claire nodded. “Help me up.”
            Michael hopped onto the porch and peered inside before offering her a hand up.
            He lifted her to the stoop and stepped to the side, allowing her full access into the playhouse. She rubbed her palms against the front of her jeans then held her breath as she pushed the door open. The hinges shouted their resistance with a piercing shriek, sending her heart racing, but it didn’t stop her curiosity.
            “Stay away from the center,” Michael said, “the flooring looks in bad shape.”
            Claire eyed the bowed floorboards and hugged the walls as she wandered through the room. She searched her memories to transform the dank interior into the cottage she remembered. It once was the envy of all the girls in town, if only they knew the real price of such a luxury. Claire crouched down and picked up a brittle fragment of the pink and red rose-filled wallpaper.
            “My mother and I picked this out,” she said, “Lizzy hated flowers, but my mother insisted a girl’s dollhouse needed frilly white curtains and tea-roses on the wall.”
            Michael leaned against the doorframe and smiled. “You’re still a girly-girl.”
            Claire looked down at her three inch heels and shrugged. “Lizzy and I used to play in here for hours every day—hiding mostly.” Her face grew solemn. “It’s smaller than I remembered.”
            “Are you sure you’re okay?”
Claire inhaled and nodded as she returned to a standing. “No, I’m . . .” She paused as her eyes found her reflection in the window on the opposite wall. She inched forward, stepping over branches and debris, until she stood directly in front of the window. She lifted her trembling hand to her cheek and titled her head. “Even with the same face, Lizzy and I were as different as petticoats and blue jeans.”
“Claire! You in there?” a man’s voice roared through the shack.
Claire whipped around, her eyes wide. “He’s here.”

What do you do to find inspiration? Do you have favorite writing exercises that challenge and get you back on track?


Tracy said...

That was very good...okay, now I need to know more; don't stop please!

I find my writing inspiration from a great deal of sources; music, my students, experiences of mine and others...THIS story!!!
I love the the visual you create and it's very captivating!

Kittie Howard said...

Nicely done! You had me from the first word. Don't've got something really good here!!

Tanya Reimer said...

What a fun way to challenge yourelf. I usually shop for an agent when I get stuck. Nothing gets me more motivated than that! LOl

Diana said...

Thanks for reading. It always feels a bit weird posting something that is seat of the pants stuff, but I'm trying desperately to get away from blogging and back to my w.i.p. my voices are slowly fading.

Heather said...

Diana this is really good! I can't wait to see where this goes!

Susan Kane said...

Oh, my. The photo and then your writing. I was grabbed immediately. Finish it, finish it! Susan

Jordan McCollum said...

Ah, you left us hanging!

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

Sooo awesome! You really did an amazing job. This is my favorite photo challenge piece so far. It gave me chills!

Catherine Lavoie said...

I really enjoyed reading your story and I hope you'll post the rest! :) I usually get inspired by music or a random conversation overheard in the subway. Great post!

Diana said...

Thanks. I really appreciate it.

The Queen of Swag said...

Thanks for particpating in my simple sundsys blog hop. Following you now on gfc.

Elaine AM Smith said...

The piece was great - full of veiled dread. I know what you mean about blogging. Finding balance is sooo hard.

Anonymous said...

lol Have to agree that was a very interesting story you had going. You should finish it. Might be your winning peice.

Julie Musil said...

Ooooh, good story! And that photo is amazing. "He" who? That's what we all want to know!

Lydia K said...

Good ending! I love that photo. What a great idea for a writing exercise.

Adina West said...

LOL. Love Tanya's suggestion. Do something more boring than writing (like agent research) and soon you'll be begging your manuscript to take you back...

Love your writing exercise above though. I've never been very motivated to do writing exercises as I have a hard enough time motivating myself for the other stuff! I'm sure I'm missing out though, lots of people seem to tap into great stuff when they do these exercises...

Witless Exposition said...

This was great! Even while doing something like describing the setting, you've managed to keep the scene dynamic. I'm really interested to find out what happened to the sister and who the "He" is in the last line. Hope you keep this going!