allowing oneself to be inhibited by a view.

Writing 101, Day Two: Choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could — and tell us the backstory.


“Would you look at that? Ain’t that something?” I asked Alvin, rhetorically. As anticipated, he peered through the small excuse of a window panel to this left. I surveyed his face and was oddly pleased to see him overwhelmed by complete and utter awe. His mouth was slightly agape, as though he was halfway through an incredulous gasp. His eyes were brightly lit by wonderment. “All my life, and I have never seen such a vision back home,” I commented, snapping him out of his reverie.

“Yeah, this is like the mother of all skies!” he said. Not a very eloquent descriptor for this vista, I suppose. But yeah, I could see where he was coming from. “Holy shit, you can actually see the moon as well!” he further exclaimed. I shifted my gaze back towards the tiny glass window to my right.

Sure enough, I noticed the gibbous moon basking in the last light. I contemplated our current predicament. We had been cooped up in this armoured vehicle for the past hour or so. There was barely any leg room for either of us as we were seated, knee to knee, across from each other. There was a considerable sized radio-signal set between us and another pair of poor souls. In the front compartment, the driver was sprawled in his seat awaiting his next instructions. Abreast him, was the most morose one of us all. He has been in a ‘stand to’ position with half his body out through the top hatch of the vehicle and hands steadily gripping onto the machine gun. It was last light. The point right between darkness and light. And at that very moment, the sky was just the epitome of that.

“Screw it guys, let’s get out. I want to bring home photos of myself in this back-drop,” I called out.

“But Sarge, it’s last light. We’re not allowed to leave this fucking vehicle!” Alvin responded, indignantly.

“Come on, we’ve been through hell today and you guys need a break. Besides, all of you are my charges and this is a direct order!”

In unison, they swiftly yelled “Yes Sergeant,” knowing full well that I had to issue that order to protect them from the plausible culpability. We then clambered out of our cage, overcome with relief and joy from stretching our limbs to their full extent. Following which, six camera enabled cellphones were immediately extricated from the various pockets.

After numerous shots of ourselves and the scenery in all sorts of photographic angles. We put away our handheld distractions to immerse ourselves in the scene that was unfolding before our eyes -or at least I was. I looked for the perfect spot among the lavish, dehydrated long grass that had turned brown; or was this just their natural colour in this part of the world? The grass back home were green and nothing but green. I tried my best to flatten some dried thistle and weed to allow myself to comfortably lay down on the grass.

It felt as though I was living in two realities. On one hand, there was a beautiful sunset that has guised part of the sky in a striking hue of yellow and orange. But when I pivoted my head about 100 degrees to the right, the night sky was a few shades darker, littered with red-tinged clouds and dotted by the moon. To visually capture the dichotomy between night and day in one frame was truly astounding.

I scanned my surroundings to notice my men, who were silently appreciating the New Zealand view of a lifetime. The serenity that came with it was palpable. We were all at ease, especially after a tough day in hell. Just hours before, we had been mercilessly trudging up a hill putting out a fire that had alighted hectares of the ‘Waitangi’ grounds. But all was forgotten then, because that sliver of un-torched land symbolized tranquility. It held the key to free our minds from our hardship as soldiers in training; our longing to be home with our loved ones; our yearning for proper meals, shower and bed. At that very moment in time, I was just a regular Joe who was lost in himself as he watched the split sky converge into darkness.

And then,

I had to be Seargeant again.

Putting out the fire that had set the Waitangi grounds ablaze

 

Photoset of the New Zealand sky without any filters

Photoset of the New Zealand sky without any filters

 

 

 

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37 thoughts on “allowing oneself to be inhibited by a view.

  1. OK, it’s clear that you have some army experience, the post reads like fiction but at the same time it reads like real life. Are you in the army as a profession or do you have mandatory military service where you live? (Sorry about my curiosity!)

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  2. This is an amazing account of an experience I could never live except though someone else’s words. It may sound strange, but it was an eloquent journey through hell. Thanks for connecting and I look forward to reading more.

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  3. I thought like Mara… it read like fiction and it read like a real-life account. I love that. Brilliant imagery. I was able to see the sky in my mind. Beautiful pics at the end.

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  4. Thanks for your comment on my post. I really liked this take on a View. Something like that gets missed by those of us who never have our freedoms restricted. Plus, a very poignant description of the very special relationships that develop particularly in the military. You’re obviously a good writer.

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  5. Gosh you sound like a professional writer! I do hope to be able to write as well as this with such words one day. Very nice! Love the pictures and enjoyed the post! Felt as though I was reading an excerpt from a book. Good job

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      • Nice post; neat pictures. I imagine there are plenty of us who have written something, somehow. Check out this link:

        publish on amazon

        If you write 3 or 4 pages a day, keeping the same story in mind with descriptions, settings, and a background plot, it would not be too hard to write your first novel.

        See where I have my first book for sell I published two weeks ago on my about page here: about page at the bottom… 🙂

        or here or here:

        paperback

        e-book, kindle

        I think you have what it takes; there are many many independent authors out there. There are many books out there on writing better.

        try out writers digest

        I am currently reading Thomas S. Kane’s book on prose:

        “The Oxford Essential Guide to Writing”, isbn978-0-425-17640-5, found at hastings, or http://www.penguin.com.

        Happy blogging :). – jcm3

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  6. Love it ! Your use of vocabulary is amazing. I find it incredible that you actually wrote an entire short story out of today’s assignment. Good job!

    Only thing is once in a while you did get a bit wordy. For ex: “following which, six camera enabled…” This sentence is a little too wordy and confused me at first.

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    • Thank you. And I agree. I’ve always had the propensity to write with long sentences that might come across as clunky at times. I’ll keep this in mind for following assignments!

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  7. The beginning of your story reads very hectic and rushed but slows down nicely toward the end. I live in Texas so I’m not familiar with a couple of words you used as descriptors. The suggestions I have are; proofread for tense, spelling, and grammar, when you write think about your audience: are they children, teens, young adults, middle aged, or seniors?, consider the educational level of your audience, and finally is your writing too wordy or flowery? Are there words or phrases you can combine to make the work more succinct but not so much that it becomes cryptic. Again these are suggestions. I saw that you are going back to school. I just completed my Bachelors degree in May. Theses things were some things my technical writing professors mentioned to me when I went back to school after being away 15 years. It was a fun energetic strory to read! Good luck!

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  8. mirimoore says:

    This is really beautiful. I love how you described the sky and I could see everything in your story so perfectly. Like the others said, it was like reading an excerpt from a book. You’re a very good writer.

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  9. I liked it, I couldn’t tell that it wasn’t your account of things. The pictures add a lot, but I would have had the pictures of the sunset inserted right after you talk about taking the pictures, and the picture of putting out fires right after you talk about that also. Otherwise, great story!

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  10. I liked it, I couldn’t tell that it wasn’t your account of things. The pictures add a lot, but I would have had the pictures of the sunset inserted right after you talk about taking the pictures, and the picture of putting out fires right after you talk about that also. Otherwise, great story!

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    • Thank you! I actually did position the pictures directly after each time I talked about it at first. But ultimately decided against it because I was hoping that the reader would create an imagery independent of the photos. And then come to compare what they saw in the heads with the pictures at the end of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. A brilliant account. At first I was jumping for joy, and was going to comment with, “you cheated and wrote fiction too!” but then everything got so real, so accurate that I realised it was autobiographical after all. As others have said, the language is rather clunky (favourite word of one of my creative writing tutors) and I’d recommend you took out the unnecessary embellishment words. One sentence that read awkwardly for me was:

    I contemplated our current predicament. We have been cooped up in this confining armoured vehicle for the past hour or so.

    Sometimes, prose can be more effective if it’s simple. Maybe “I considered the position we were in. We have been cooped up in this truck for the past hour or so.” Just an example. (Also, that sentence contains two tenses. Should probably read “had”.) Shorter words allow the prose to flow easier, and while embellishments are perfectly placed when you’re describing the sky, normal, mundane things can normally be told using much simpler language with the same effect.

    But, at the end of the day, make sure you keep writing with your voice. I’m a very straightforward, blunt writer and rarely embellish anything unless needed, but that doesn’t mean you have to be. 🙂

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  12. You definitely conveyed the feelings of the men in regards to the physical and mental aspects of the situation. Very good. You’re dialogue when used was not monotonous and you made clear the difference in characters personalities and even probably their education levels.

    It took me a bit to get the visual part, but that could be me. Using gibbous moon was somewhat poetic and shows the intellect of the Sergeant but the average reader may not get that word, but part of writing is to also push the reader slightly. I don’t think it takes away from the story.

    The only part for me that was missing slightly was the sensory feel after coming out of the cramped confines. Was the air refreshing, was there a breeze, was the rising sun with heat? Things like that. Was there a scent that brought back a memory like an early morning can do sometimes no matter the part of the world you’re in?

    The grass description was great! I really got that part. The description of the sky once outside was perfect as well.

    Overall a great piece. I think this is something you should revisit when you have the time and you could submit it somewhere, I don’t know where :), but somewhere.

    Oh, and I kind of knew it wasn’t completely fiction. You described the confines of the space too well. You’ve been there.

    Much Respect
    Ronovan (The I totally dislike picking another writer’s work apart.)

    Thank you for viewing mine and commenting. It was much appreciated.

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    • This is really great constructive critique, and I thank you for that. It sort of gave me an invaluable glimpse of your train of thought as you read my piece.

      This is an invitation for nitpicking of my future assignments. Thanks again!

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  13. I really enjoyed it. You have great detail when explaining things, a few grammatical errors but that’s okay. I enjoy how at the beginning you kind of made the reader fish for what the over all idea of the story was. I would say to use less big words so that it can flow a bit better, you don’t have to that’s just me but I really enjoyed this piece! 🙂

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  14. I’ve seen some comments on your vocabulary, and I just wanted to put in my two cents. Ordinarily, I don’t like seeing “big words” in a casually written piece–it’s jarring. In this particular case, I thought it might have been intentional, a deliberate contrast between the sergeant and Alvin. Dare I say I thought it was cute, in this part here: “Yeah, this is like the mother of all skies!” he said. Not a very eloquent descriptor for this vista, I suppose. But yeah, I could see where he was coming from. It’s as if the sergeant concedes to the lesser education of his subordinate and steps briefly down from his lofty pedestal, from “eloquent descriptor for this vista” down to “yeah, I could see…” etc.

    So. Be careful with the big words, but if you are intentional about how you use them, I think you can get away with it. Especially here, if you maintain the “intelligent” voice throughout. It’ll take some very meticulous editing to pull it off completely, though.

    I liked your almost-concluding sentence: At that very moment in time, I was just a regular Joe who was lost in himself as he watched the split sky converge into darkness. In fact, I liked it so much I almost think it could have been the last sentence. The jury’s still out on that one, though.

    A little rough around the edges, but at its heart, it’s a beautiful piece accompanied by some gorgeous pictures. Nicely done.

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    • Thank you for this. You have some really insightful critique!

      Yes, the contrast was intentional. I was sort of trying to portray the sergeant’s intellect and arrogance. But yeah, I should work on my consistency.

      Now that you mentioned it, actually it seems like a nice concluding sentence.

      Thanks again! 🙂

      Like

  15. G’day KR,

    Here again you have painted visual images with your words, highlighting your ability to use your eyes not only to see but to comprehend and relay, very pleasing to read

    Like

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