On my professional website and my business cards, I call myself an actor, writer and comedian. However, how much am I actually writing? I feel like in order to call oneself a writer, one has to at least make a concerted effort to write pretty regularly. I haven’t necessarily been doing that. Now, I’m by no means the guy who spends more time talking about being a writer than he spends actually writing anything; I have finished a stageplay (good concept, terribly written) and I’ve written a few film scripts, most recently a sci-fi parody, which I’ve finished twice already and will be doing a massive re-write of quite soon. However, to really become a good writer, I need to keep writing.
I’m not going to put myself on some strict writing schedule or try to write so-and-so-many words a day, because I’ve tried those kinds of projects in various forms, and they rarely work for me. Specifically for writing, I did about ten days of NaNoWriMo (write a book in a month) years ago. I’d love to do that again and finish this time, but next time I want to have an outline ready for it.
So what’ll I do? Read on to find out!
Generally, I need to get better at reminding myself to do things I want and love to do. Writing is one of them. So a week or so ago, I went on a random word generator and clicked it until something that sparked an interest in me showed up. The word was “Reciprocating”. So I started writing. I let it flow for a while and then took a break. I couldn’t get back into it for days, but I finally finished it just now. You can read it right here in this PDF file or at the end of the post. I will keep doing this, I think. I really enjoyed finding the characters and the situation, and I find that it’s helpful to try to write something that’s not a script. I seem to do pretty well with dialogue, which flows reasonably well, but my descriptions need a lot of work. I tend to forget even having them sometimes and when I do add them, they feel laboured and overwrought.
So that’s what I’m doing to become a better writer. I will post any future random shorts here. I might even use my shorts to kick off another round of Telling of Tales, my audiobook podcast, once I have enough to keep it going for a few weeks without needing outside stories. For now, I hope you enjoy “Reciprocity”, and I hope you’ll let me know what you think of it, whether it’s good or bad.
by Magnus S. Hoelvold
23. 01. 2013 – 05. 02. 2013
“How’d the date go, man?”
Chrissie was peering at me over a steaming mug of tea. No, sorry. Not tea. A herbal infusion, whatever the fuck that is. Apparently, it’s healthier or something. Anyway. So she was looking at me with an accusing look on her eye. I frowned.
“What do you mean, how’d it go?” I answered a bit testily.
“I mean how’d it go?”
“It was fine. He was fine. We were fine.” Okay, maybe the first ‘fine’ was enough.
“Yeah, and?” She prompted.
“I dunno, he didn’t seem that into me.”
“Right?” Chrissie slurped her tea – sorry – her infuuusion noisily in the manner of someone waving their hand at you to continue. I hate it when she does that.
“What did you do?”
“I didn’t do shit! I did everything right! We talked about random crap, I complimented him on his shirt, I told him he had a nice jaw line, w-” As she interjected, Chrissie rolled her eyes in a wide, overstated arch.
“Jesus, Graham! You always do this!”
“Always do what?!”
“You get all up in their shit in, like, two seconds!”
“I do not! That is a complete, stinking lie!”
“Of course you do – ” And then she started doing the dopey voice “uh uh uh, I your face is so pretty. Uh uh uh, you’re so smart! Uh uh uh, I look up to you, let’s adopt together! You always do that crap, you get all needy and desperate. What else did you say?”
“Nothing! The usual stuff.” I tried to wave her prodding questions off, but she just slurped her infusion while looking at me. It’s hard to avoid the gaze of someone whose eyes are the size of the mug she’s drinking from. When I finally caved, I mumbled the entire answer into my own cup of cappuccino.
“I asked him to come away with me to the cabin for the weekend.”
“Graham!” Chrissie shoved me hard enough in the shoulder that my cappuccino leaped onto my face. I put my cup down and sheepishly started dabbing at the milky coffee on my chin. Chrissie powered on.
“What have I told you?! You need to lay off that kind of shit for at least a few dates! If you want to go home with him that night, chill out and take it step by step.”
“But why?! I had a good feeling about him and I knew I was gonna be bored this weekend.” I said, knowing full well where this was leading.
“This is exactly why you never get laid, man!” Chrissie slammed her mug onto the table just hard enough to make the right amount of noise without spilling anything. I vaguely wondered if she practices that when I’m not around.
“Not this again.” This is always where it leads. In an unnecessarily dramatic flourish, Chrissie brought her index finger up in front of her.
“Rule number one for getting your ass laid: Don’t appear too interested! If you’re falling over yourself to please him and show how much you want to be with him, it’s like he’s a star and you’re a groupie! He’s going to reject you for being desperate, or he’s going to abuse his power over you.” She picked her mug up and then paused for a moment to add “Either way, you’re fucked.” Another pause “Or not, I guess.” At this point, I’d had enough. She was slurping her infusion for effect, content to have yet again put me in my place, when I retorted.
“What kind of a fucked up world are you living in?!” I spat. Chrissie choked on her infusion.
“I’m sorry?” she croaked as she attempted to dislodge.
“In what world is it right that I can’t tell a guy I like him without him thinking that he’s somehow better than me? I’m honest, okay? Honest and forthcoming. Aren’t those supposed to be good qualities?! He doesn’t like me because it’s too obvious that I like him?! How is that right?!”
“Well yeah, but-”
“No! This is my turn! Okay, so maybe I come on too strong, maybe I’m too open. Maybe I don’t know how to behave in order to get laid. Well, what if I don’t want to change who I am in order to attract someone. Because if the kind of world where I get laid is one where I have to bite back every positive comment and one where I can’t invite someone I just met to a weekend adventure, then I don’t want to get laid. I’m perfectly happy waiting for the person who will appreciate it and who will love me all the more for being open and honest about my feelings.” In the silence that followed, Chrissie stared at me with her mug in her hands and I leaned back in my chair, confident I had put her in her place. She gingerly put down her mug.
“Wow, Graham… You really need to get laid.” she said. I opened my mouth to respond and then closed it. I breathed heavily through my nose, lowered my head, cracked the knuckles on my right hand and looked up at her.
“Yeah. I really really do.”