11. Turning Up the Heat

2018.07.29  Sunday.  Have I really been at Oxford for a week?  The time is flying by. Too fast. And we have just learned that the capstone paper for each of our two courses is due at the beginning of our last week here. That means a week from tomorrow. And in the meantime we have smaller assignments due every day.  So the heat is on!

Back to Hillsong.  First things first.  No question in my mind today about whether or not to go to church.  Once again, I knew I needed to be there, and as always, to my continuing amazement, the message was exactly what I needed to hear, exactly when I needed to hear it.  And of course, the same was surely true for everyone else in the auditorium.  The topic was the challenge of letting go of anything that is holding you back from experiencing all the grace and blessings that God has for us. The biggie is anger and resentment – toward yourself or anyone else.  That one is hard – can anybody say Amen?  But, said Pastor Tony, holding a grudge is like swallowing poison and thinking it will make someone else sick.  Hmmmmm.

Tea in the Bar and Wine in the Coffee Lounge.  Since I had so much homework this weekend I wanted a really cool place to do it.  My room works pretty well, but it was time for  a change of scenery.  Directly across the street from Exeter College is the Turl Street Kitchen.  Simply lovely with large windows, comfortable spaces and a nice light menu..  An ideal place to spend the day working.  I started the day in the downstairs bar with a pot of Earl Grey and a sausage biscuit. And eventually wound up in the coffee lounge with  a cheese board and a glass of merlot.  In the interim, lots of reading and writing was done.

Turl Street Kitchen          Turl Street bar               Turl Street desk

Turl Street Kitchen            Downstairs Bar                       My Spot in the Coffee Lounge

Creative Writing Imperative:  Don’t Tell!  SHOW!  Here’s an example of one of the concepts we’ve been working on. Most beginning writers, myself included, are concerned primarily with coming up with a good story.  But we are being taught that the story line itself is actually secondary.  It’s how you tell it that counts.  And one way to tell it well is to replace straight narrative with a scene and/or dialogue. That allows the reader to “watch” the scene and come to his or her own conclusion, which is more interesting and fun.  So which of the following is more fun to read?

Author Tells:

Jessie wasn’t very athletic and as a result, she disliked team sports. When teams were chosen, she usually got picked last, and  was scared of having to make a play.  She caught  a softball in the outfield once, but was so excited she missed a chance at a double play and her team lost the game.

Author Shows:  

Jessie heard a sharp crack as the bat struck the ball.  She occupied her usual spot in right field, the position where most captains tend to place their weakest player.  Nevertheless, she shoved a stray lock of unruly hair away from her eyes and behind her ear, adjusted her hated goggle-like glasses and focused on the ball as it soared upward against the sky. The score was tied at 4 in the bottom of ninth. One out with a runner on first.

The high fly ball completed its arc and to Jessie’s surprise and acute dismay, it appeared to be heading straight toward her perpetually outstretched glove. Fly balls weren’t supposed to come anywhere near her. But the ball continued its path, lazily it seemed, and Jessie’s heart raced as she realized she might actually have a chance to catch it.

And catch it she did! The ball fell squarely into her grasp and she clutched it tightly against her chest for safekeeping. And for savoring.  She closed her eyes and indulged in a solitary celebration.  Giving herself a virtual hug, she envisioned fireworks overhead exploding into cascades of festive red, white, and blue sparks. And heard a cork pop. And felt the spray of chilled champagne.

Jessie was snatched from her victory party by the jumbled shouts of her teammates.  She struggled to make out their words.

“Jessie,” they seemed to be saying, “congrats on your first!”

Or was it, “You’ve broken the curse!”

Or maybe, “Bet you’re so proud you could burst!”

Then to her horror she understood.

“DOUBLE PLAY AT FIRST!”

“JESSIE, THROW THE DAMN BALL TO FIRST!”

The first base runner, who had taken off toward second just as the ball was hit, was now sprinting back to safety. Jessie’s spirits sank to her knees as she realized it was too late to tag the runner or make the throw but in a panic, she hurled the ball anyway.  Her throw was wide by two yards. By the time the ball was recovered, the runner had pivoted and advanced safely to third base.   The next batter hit a game-winning single.

# # #

If you didn’t pick version #2, I had better pack up right now and come home.

And this is a true story, by the way.  Care to guess who Jessie is?

2 thoughts on “11. Turning Up the Heat

  1. Jessie… er… I mean, Kathy: WOW! I’m going to learn from what you are learning. Great demonstration of the difference between author tell and author show! Thanks. Now I need to figure out how to apply to non-fiction writing to entice reporters, editors and decision-makers (such as those choosing speakers/presenters among the gillions submitted).

    Liked by 1 person

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