Monday, January 27, 2014

Short story workshop

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Beauty in the garden, but nothing to do with today's post

Last Friday I took a big step out of my comfort zone and attended a short story workshop and shared lunch with five other ladies. When the directions on the joining instructions read:

“Leave the town, go over the Roman bridge, turn right, drive through two hamlets, turn right at the crossroads, passing the chateau (which for your information was a proper turreted fairytale castle) and we are around the corner on the right.”

I just knew it was going to be a good day even if the hours drive to get there was misty, wet and miserable. As all good events do, it started with coffee and homemade biscuits before we set to finding out about the person next to us for the introductions. I am quite a shy person, will stay away from large gatherings (of expat women) and will admit I panicked a little when I first arrived. The prospect of having to share something I’d written without hiding behind my blog was quite scary. I needn’t have worried. Everything we created was written together in our group of three and shared together with the other group, creating a relationship, confidence and trust. There were undoubtedly better educated and more well read ladies around the table but it didn’t matter, we all had our own demons that kept the words in our heads from flowing onto the paper. I’m hoping we can continue to work together and support each other.

Working in a small group we formed a team and our ideas flowed, the hour we were given flew by and we were all pleased with the results. I have been given permission from Judy and Jenny (my team mates) to share our exercise with you. The instructions were to produce the first paragraph, the last paragraph and one other paragraph from a short story to be set in the winter, at midday, in a French village. It is not perfect, but I give you Ménage à Trois:

At 160cm, Jean-Jacques was tall for a Frenchman. He’d lived in Ville-dieu all his life. He and Claudette had always planned to travel but somehow the years had caught up with him and now the extent of his wanderings were his daily shuffle from home to the bar for Charlotte’s plat-du-jour. Despite her culinary deficiencies and her poor grasp of the French language, her short skirts, ample bosom and cheery soul were the only bright spots in his lonely days. Wheezing, he pushed the door open and the heat from the fire embraced him, causing the customary dewdrop to form on the end of his cold nose. Charlotte viewed it’s deposit when he bised (kissed) her as an occupational hazard.

On cue, Henri turned his back on the newcomer, plunged his hand into the pocket of his blues to retrieve his tobacco tin and rapped it on the bar to retain Charlotte’s attention.
“Un autre Henri?” Charlotte asked
“Oui, encore” he mumbled through the unlit cigarette screwed into the corner of his mouth. Four rheumy eyes watched her skirt ride up as she reached for the Ricard on the top shelf. At his usual table in the furthest corner of the bar Jean-Jacques coughed his presence and so began their daily tug of war.

Two identical plat-du-jours were duly delivered to each corner of the bar and were devoured in silence. Charlotte always thought it was sad that the two oldest, loneliest men in the village weren’t friends. Having mopped his plate with the last of his baguette Jean-Jacques threw a handful of coins onto the table, belched and left without a word. He hadn’t spoken to Henri since the war. 

Many thanks to Kate and Chris from Verteuil Verse for running the event, Jenny for hosting and along with Judy being a great team. Thanks also to Helen, Carol and Elizabeth for being good listeners. Until next time ladies.