You know how it’s cool to have a space to just do your own thing? Well, on some Saturday afternoon’s, I attend a creative writing workshop to do just that. This is one of the pieces of work from one of the workshops. Not every piece of work in this category will be complete, although I might feel compelled to carry it on after the workshop. Hell, they might not even be good, but in the interests of showing a vague creative process and its product, well it’ll go up on here anyhow. And for good measure, I’ll try and explain the exercises that led to the work (and at this point, I’m starting to know a thing or two about those).
This short is from the most recent workshop I attended, on Hopes and Fears. It’s hard not to look a little insularly about these things because they’re inherently so personal, but then that’s part of the creative process, isn’t it, to look beyond. The first exercise was to write down words we associated with fear. For reference, here’s what I came up with: anxiety, chaos, consequence, obstacle, unknowing, risk, loss, gain, experience, compulsion, drive, calm and confidence. Yeah, analyse that. Through sharing what we had all come up with, it was clear there was certainly overlap, though that’s not too surprising. The next task was to write about a character that had a fear, explaining what it was. This led into a follow-up piece where we had to put our character in a situation that forced them to address the fear.
Below then are the two parts, the first about the character and their fear, the second them facing it. It’s worth pointing out as well that thee style we were to write in, in both cases, wasn’t specified, so you get to see my character from two perspectives. Unlike the last short from these workshops I put up, there was no substantial content added “in post”, just the odd addition here and there and some grammatical clean-up. So, here’s a short about a man and his shoes.
I really hate shoes. It’s not that they make me feel uncomfortable…well they do, just not physically. Ever since I was little I hated socks. Bear with me here. I just wanted to see my toes wiggling. When you put socks on, you can’t do that. I mean, you know they’re there and hell, you can see’em, but they’re restrained. So I don’t wear socks. And that’s fine! Well, most of the time. But shoes, you kinda need to wear shoes. Can’t go on the underground without shoes or you’ll have no toes left! Because the thing is with shoes is that you know your toes are trapped. They can’t escape their leather prison. You can wriggle them, but you can’t see’em. If you lift them up they’ll touch the roof, but it’s not that high.
So, I buy oversized shoes that don’t fit me. They’re uncomfortable. Sure I take them off as soon as I can, but it’s not fun in the meantime. I walk around oddly, like I have a problem with my feet. And I do, it’s that they’re being covered by a trap that won’t set them free. And what if when you take them off you hurt your toes too, huh? It’s happened, I’ve heard stories!
Jimmy looked down at his feet, all free and full of life, his toes wiggling without impunity. Alas, the time had come. His phone informed him that it was once again 5.28pm. Work was at an end, but the journey before him was about to begin. The cold autumn night prevented the use of sandals, a minor miracle of modern footwear, and combined with the evening’s festivities of Daniel’s birthday drinks, he knew that a busy bar would be the location. He rationaled his reluctance by going through this same thought process, whilst his reluctant muscle memory guided his hands to his left shoe, sat patiently and terrifyingly motionless next to its sibling, in anticipation of wrapping it around his foot. A moment of respite, it wasn’t the pair of boots his girlfriend had bought him that he promised “Oh yeah, I’ll wear them more often, I’m sure they’re as roomy as you say!”
He looked around, hoping he had wasted enough time in his ongoing daily conflict, but it was alarmingly still 5.28pm. He cursed his quick thinking as his knee raised and connected with the bottom of his desk and his foot remained poised, as if it was the one that bore responsibility for his emotional reaction in this scenario. As the foot increased velocity and the toes, still wriggling, entered the event horizon of the shoe’s black hole, Jimmy started choking. Mercifully, it required all his attention and for a brief moment he contemplated hasty death and the freedom from shoe wearing that would provide.
Unfortunately the choking quickly suspended and a shoeless peace was not to happen. A glance at the phone revealed the passing of time. A sigh at it now being 5.29. He ever-reluctantly repeated the process, his foot and shoe ready to duel once more. The foot entered the shoe and slid on with relative ease, but the wriggling had stopped. “Oh god,” he thought as surely this time he’d cut his toes. He pulled out his foot immediately and ducked his head under the desk. There his toes were, limp from lack of movement and the knowledge that they had stopped wriggling because he had stopped them. The shoe went back on with unease, but constant wriggling was enough assurance that the toes were indeed still there, this time…
The problematic situation had reached its half-way point, but the calls from those around that it was time to get a move-on didn’t help matters. “They don’t understand,” Jimmy thought. “They’d probably be happy if they lost all their toes!” The right shoe was now in focus. It stood defiantly, like a horizontal monolith. There was nothing inviting about it. Still, there was no loose liquid in his throat to choke on and he really did have to get a move on.
It was do-or-die and with extreme malice, his foot rose aggressively at the same time his shoe was locked into position. They met in mid-air, but Jimmy was determined to win the conflict. With force his foot was shoved in, quickly dispelling and displacing the air in the shoe. He wriggled his toes defiantly. “Ha, screw you!” His colleagues looked bemused, but less so from the first time this had happened, many times before. Ready to go, Jimmy shuffled towards the group. This battle was a narrow victory, but it was just one in the eternal struggle.