Fragments 4/10: The forest

I began a 10-day experiment on October 30th. For 10 days, I am:

  1. Setting a timer for 15 minutes
  2. Writing what I can during that time
  3. Stopping when the time is up
  4. Posting what is written without any final editing

For additional context, check out the first post in this series by clicking here.


START

He climbed to the top of the hill, trying to gain a vantage point. 

He was enveloped in overgrowth. Plants and trees crushed in on all sides, canopies of leaves and vines stretched overhead. The forest was trying to suffocate him. The air was still and thick like a wet towel, smearing his skin with sweat and grime. Even the insects, unseen but heard and felt, seemed to be harboring a lazy resentment towards him. 

As he turned to head down the hill, he noticed the tree branches: well within reach and surprisingly ladder-like. Reaching for the nearest one, he began to pull himself up. This was slippery work; the lichen was moist as though it had soaked in a light rain. The tree wore a thick coat of it, rendering the bark uneven and spongy. As he hoisted himself upwards he brought his feet to rest vertically on the trunk while he clung to the underside of a stout branch. Arching his head back, it was only now that he saw the white cords dangling below him, anchored to his back at one end while the other end terminated in a tattered, mar

STOP


This was a tough one. There were no magic moments here where the story really started flowing. I set the timer before I felt ‘ready’ to write so I just started with the first image that popped into my head: a guy in the middle of a forest. Sometimes these free-writes are fun and filled with spontaneous creativity but not this one. This felt like pure exercise where every word and sentence was being forced out like a series of push-ups.

In case you’re curious, the last sentence is describing a parachute. He had forgotten to take it off prior to climbing the tree. Why was he in the forest? How did he get there? What plane did he jump/fall out of? I don’t know. This likely would have developed into a wilderness survival story where the character is trying to figure out where he is and how to get in contact with his crew or some other branch of civilization.

This wasn’t a smooth writing experience but it comes with the territory of the activity. A free-write is supposed to be unrehearsed and on-the-spot. Sometimes this spontaneous labor is fruitful and sometimes its just labor. Either way its good practice.

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