14 September, 2011
This week’s Write on Wednesday is an interesting one, choose your favourite book, take the first paragraph and then write your own content into the paragraph, keeping the structure, tone, language etc.
When I read this exercise I was struck with horror – I was about to be found out! My deep, dark secret was to be revealed…I don’t have a ‘favourite’ book. Gasp!
I know, it seems highly improbable. I am a writer and I don’t have a favourite book. Judge me if you will but I enjoy books and reading so much that it is hard to pick a favourite. Even if I could pick one I know it would change because different books impact me differently depending on how I’m feeling and what’s going on in my life at the time.
So I didn’t choose a favourite, but in order to challenge myself I wanted to choose a bit of a ‘classic’. I looked at a couple but when I saw this one, my brain immediately started firing with the possibilities. So I chose, Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver.
His two girls are curled together like animals whose habit it is to sleep underground, in the smallest space possible. Cosima knows she’s the older, even when she’s unconscious: one of her arms lies over Halimeda’s shoulder as if she intends to protect them both from their bad dreams. Dr. Homer Noline holds his breath, trying to see movement there in the darkness, the way he’s watched pregnant women close their eyes and listen inside themselves trying to feel life.
Their two girls are pressed together like runts of the litter whose habit it is to go unnoticed, taking up the smallest space possible. Lily marvels at her older sister’s protectiveness, even when she’s asleep: her right arm draped across her back as if she intends to shield her from an explosion. Lily holds her breath, trying to be the perfect daughter asleep in the dark, the way she saw the puppy breathing lightly with its eyes closed and trying to look cute getting tummy rubs.
As soon as I read the paragraph I immediately thought of my older sister and the way she has always helped me and protected me so I knew I would have a lot of experience and inspiration to draw from.
I actually quite enjoyed this exercise and found it really interesting to try and get out of my own personal style and emulate the style of someone else. It certainly was a challenge and I feel perhaps my rewrite may be a little awkward, or perhaps it is just the foreign style that makes me feel this way?