Night Train to Bucharest – 1992 – Flash Memoir

FLASH MEMOIR

Photo on Foter.com

Photo on Foter.com

Squeezed onto a hard bunk, high up the compartment wall, she settled into the night journey. She would not see the countryside slip past the black window below. But she was alone, on a train, and headed to a far-off city that only three years earlier had been forbidden.

On Christmas Day, 1989, after crackers and pudding, she had gaped with others at the TV screen – BBC images of Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena, bullet-ridden.

Now she lay in the dark, the ceiling so close her breath circled back to her face; aware of the other women in the cabin – crinkling paper, digging about in baggage, whispering in an unknown tongue. The piercing whistle. The ka-chunk, ka-chink, ka-chunk, ka-chink. The shush. Shush. Shush. The steady rocking of the bunk – so began the long night.

She did not sleep but lay in adrenalin fueled alertness, absorbing every metal-on-metal screech, every curve in the track, the way her center of gravity shifted on the vinyl and pressed against the compartment wall.

Through the mesmerizing rhythm a new sound broke. Stomping, clapping, fiddling. Young men’s voices singing patriotic folk songs built to a crescendo as the train reached a station; the celebration fading into the distance as it moved further east.

Throughout the night the same pattern: mid-night celebrations, rising and falling, as new recruits set off to join the army in a changed world.

Worry About Words

Photo by Nick Kenrick. on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I’m supposed to be editing my novel for story. (This is only the second draft.) But I can’t help tinkering with the words and it’s causing me a great deal of anxiety. It seems that I need another 30 years of practice before I can hope to have sentences that are either lyrical or, at least, expressive and the proper tone for the piece – words that flow with the same rhythm and feeling as their intended meaning.  To improve I’m trying to deconstruct the flowing words of others. They say you should copy passages you love – and thereby absorb skills via osmosis. I still need to do this. Maybe it will help. In the meantime I see patterns of sentence construction that I use over and over in my attempts at fiction.

This is a code need to crack. It’s one I understand logically but I can’t seem to break through with my own writing.

Scenic artists are often tasked to apply visual or physical textures randomly – so that they appeared natural, not manmade. You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to keep from falling into a repeated pattern.

Property insurance adjusters can usually tell when wind or hail damage has been faked on a roof because the “damage” shows an evenly spaced pattern when looking at the entire field. Nature doesn’t do that. But humans fall into it no matter how hard we resist.

Back to words – this bent for repetition is embedded in my writing. I’m using the same syntax in nearly every sentence whether long or short. I have ProWritingAid software and the Sentence analysis shows I could do with more variation. So, this is my next step with words – copy words I love and do some structural analysis of my own.

I do believe fine writing can be learned. But I sometimes question why I would abandon 50 years of visual art experience in order to write. After all that painting, I could still do with another lifetime to conquer it.

How do I get up to speed with this new skill fast enough to create my stories before I die?