Archive for the ‘Character Studies’ Category
Posted on October 23, 2011 - by Gary Applegary
Clark Dagey wasn’t afraid to start something. Finishing things, however, petrified him. As an aspiring writer, this phobia was quite an impediment. Oh, he could finish sentences; in fact, he would finish your sentences. But just the prospect of finishing his stories, fleshing them out clear to “The End,” telling the whole tale, made Clark very, very afraid.
It wasn’t that he didn’t have ideas; he had scores of them. Plots upon plots, with unexpected twists and O. Henryian endings, scrawled on Post-It notes and pages torn from notebooks. He had characters, too; names similarly scrawled on Post-Its – Max Thrift, Walter Falkenberry, Abby Greenthal. He had titles: Thirsty on Wednesday, Lunges Before Breakfast, Rust To Rust. And sentences. He had sentences. “The cat watched lazily from the window as the man mowing outside slowly criss-crossed an argyle pattern into the lawn.”
Clark Dagey just needed to put it all together. Pull himself together, pull all the elements together, and he’d have a story. But when it came time to take out the brush, paint broad strokes, and fill in the details of the story, Clark just couldn’t pull the trigger. He laughed. As if one could pull a trigger on a paintbrush. Really! Now he was just being silly, he told himself. Sit down and write! Finish the story! But… a twinge of paralyzing fear. What if it turned out that it just wasn’t a good story? What if people read it and didn’t like it? What if they dismissed it as clever claptrap? What if they called it senseless drivel? And what if they were right? “They” scared Clark. Mostly, though, Clark scared Clark. His stories were all so perfect, so readable, so laudable and awe-inspiring – in his head. What if they lost their luster and meaning and glory as he tried to translate them into written word? What if it turned out that he was a failure as a writer? Clark laughed at himself once more; it dawned on him that failing to actually write made him a failed writer.
Clark reflected on all he had heard at the motivational courses he had taken, those breakthrough conferences he’d attended. Risk vs. reward. Reach out for your dreams. Make it happen. Overcome your fears. What’s the worst that could happen? He knew the words, the rhetoric, the clichés by heart. His fear should have been banished long ago to a place so far away he’d be unable to hear it mocking him. Nothing should be stopping him from fully realizing his potential. Gut-check time. Time for truth. The only thing stopping Clark Dagey from writing was Clark Dagey.
“I have nothing to fear but myself,” he said aloud. Now was the time to do it. Finally. Time to finish at least one story, then move on to the next. Clark took off his glasses, and headed to the spare bedroom for a nap.
Posted on March 31, 2011 - by Gary Applegary
Recently while visiting Florida, I saw the following news snippet from the St. Petersburg Times:
Being on vacation (and unemployed), I thought I’d give it a try. I did some research and scrawled some notes…
I know, I know, kinda sloppy and muddled. So, many many edits later, this is what I came up with:
Shorty and the Citrus Squeeze
“Here to see Mr. McMillian,” I says.
“And you are?” says the freckled secretary, crackin’ her Juicy Fruit, which I didn’t even think was possible.
“Shorty…” I started – “Sewell Ford.” Been goin’ into character a lot these days. Comes of bein’ 70, Lillian tells me. Thirty-some years ago I celebrated Mr. Twain’s birthday with him, and he was sharp as ever. Now I’m wanderin’ off track; must also come of bein’ 70.
Another gumshot. Crack! “Go on in, Mr. Ford,” says Freckles.
McMillian had hisself a tiny potted orange tree right smack in the middle of his mahogany desk. One leaf’s got a conspicuous white spot, facing my chair. Now I’m spectin’ I’m gonna hear a dissertation ‘bout blight, cottony cushion scale, scurvy, or the like.
Five and twenty minutes later, ridin’ in our Plymouth Roadking, I’m tellin’ Lillian how wrong I was ‘bout that.
Old bloated McMillian had had quite the sales pitch for me.
I got the winders down and radio on. “If practice makes perfect, let’s have that kiss again,” croons that siren Billie.
“Ain’t gonna do it,” says I. “I ain’t no journalist no more, and besides, what the old shyster wants ain’t even journalism. Turn up the road here.”
The orange trees are blossomin’. I’m reminded of Mother’s sweet-smellin’ Sunday mornin’ perfume. There are orange groves far as the eye can see; out my narrow winder’ is a peripheral white garden. McMillian would rather see subdivisions here; wants shoppes, and a six-lane highway. Six lanes!
Past Lillian I see the crowd takin’ pitchers of the majestic Kapok tree. McMillian gonna chop that down too? Emergent buildings over emergent trees, eh? The toad. Spectin’ me to sell his cockamamie ideal to the Clearwater folks. “Write it, Sewell, sell em’ the dream,” says he. Naw, I’m gonna keep my dream.
McMillian didn’t even want his tree. “My gift to you,” he’d blustered. It’s in my lap. I flick the white scale off the leaf and out the open winder. “Enjoy yer new home,” I says. “It’s here to stay.”
350 words go quick, don’t they? At any rate, I got back word from Mr. Grinnell regarding the contest results… Drum roll, please….
THIRD PLACE! HOORAY! Hope you enjoyed!
P.S. To learn more about Max Grinnell and the writing contest, please follow this link: http://www.theurbanologist.com/?p=1105
Posted on August 7, 2010 - by Gary Applegary
Today we interviewed Cecil C. Serpent.
GAK: Today we’re visiting with Cecil, the Sea Serpent…
CSS: The winged sea serpent.
GAK: Ah, and you speak italic, as well.
GAK: So, as a winged sea serpent, you’re very rare, no?
CWSS: Well, there’s a few of us, so I would say medium rare.
GAK: Well done! Well done.
GAK: Moving on…. The Drac! Is he a relative of yours?
CWSS: The Drac is a MYTH.
GAK: I’m sorry… So is SHE related to you?
CWSS: The Drac does not exist. It is a contradiction to itself, described as an invisible shape-shifter that takes the form of a winged sea serpent. How does anybody know that, if it’s invisible?
GAK: Great point, Cecil. It would seem that if you were invisible, shape-shifting would lose its impact as well. I’m an invisible spider! Wait, now I’m an invisible piece of tiramisu! Don’t eat me! Look! Well, you can’t look, but I just turned into an invisible semicolon!
GAK: Moving on… So, you’re a sea serpent, a winged sea serpent, that is to say… Do you live in the sea?
CWSS: No, as you know, I live in your basement.
GAK: Yes, I sea. Well, I hear you’re quite the music buff. Have you a favorite genre?
CWSS: Oh yes, I love the oldies!
GAK: Ahhh, like Dominique Vellard, or Hildegard von Bingen?
CWSS: Medieval music? No. I am not a dragon, I am a…
GAK: Winged sea serpent, yes. Quite sorry. So what sort of oldies might we find Cecil enjoying?
CWSS: I prefer 50′s music; Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis, and such.
GAK: I bet you like “Great Balls of Fire!” Right? See, cause you breathe fire…
CWSS: Again, THAT would be a dragon, which I am not.
GAK: Yes, we’ve certainly established that you are one winged sea serpent, indeed. So… Favorite song?
CWSS: “Chantilly Lace!” This is the Big Bopper speaking…
GAK: Ahhh, well thank you for that mini-performance. You know, Mayan mythology features a winged serpent. Are you Mayan?
CWSS: Of course I’m yours! That’s why I live in your basement.
GAK: Well, we’ve about covered the essence that is you, Cecil. Any last quotes for us today?
CWSS: A wop bom a loo wop, a wop bam boom!
GAK: THANK YOU, Cecil!