Saturday, 6 March 2010

I always did have a soft spot for Miss Havisham.

It's a common problem for creative types that finding the motivation to get the idea down on paper can often be a bit of a struggle. With this in mind, my friend Scott and I decided to set each other writing assignments. The idea was that with a deadline, and an intended audience, we would be more likely to produce. It didn't last, but during that time, I did write a few things of which I'm actually rather proud. The first piece is the exercise below, in response to the prompt; "Describe an object of great importance to a character: a car, trophy, dress or ring, for example. First, write a paragraph using details that portray the object as sensuous, beautiful, and tempting. Then write a second paragraph in which the same object is described through details that make it seem repellent." Guess which is which.

1) The wedding cake drew gasps of admiration from the guests clustered around the table. Three feet high, mock Greek pillars separated the five thick slabs of alternating chocolate and fruit cake. Angels of white icing cavorted among sugar roses along the top tier, and a small plastic couple clasped hands beneath a delicate lattice arch. Iced scallops ran around the lower tiers. Dried fruits embedded in the icing looked like jewels waiting to be mined. Spun sugar draped across the layers to echo Magda's veil. It seemed a shame to cut this cake, but she had been waiting for this day for her whole life.

2) Magda sat by the table, gazing at the remains of the cake. Insects had long since burrowed into the soft innards, chewing out the chocolate and the dried fruit. Only the icing remained, hardened into an impenetrable shell. Dust clogged the scallops and the roses, and the angels lurched across the top tier. Some of their limbs had snapped off, and lay discarded among corpses of flies. One angel was even missing its wings. The spun sugar disintegrated years ago, replaced by soft cobwebs. Magda occasionally watched spiders scuttle across the icing, chasing those flies tempted by the last remaining crumbs of cake. The plastic couple lay shattered on the floor under the table, pieces of the pair scattered across the grimy parquet floor. Tears welled in her eyes, but at least she never had to cut the cake. She could never spoil anything so beautiful.

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