Thursday, March 30, 2017

Weekly Checkup

What am I working on?
I've been working on my narrative based on my Master Plots chapter. I am also working on a poem for the next experiment. I had an idea for a Villanelle, but was struggling for rhymes with "mama" so I might have to rethink things.

How do I feel about the process?
I've actually been getting a good amount of writing done in my car before my classes. I usually get to campus 15 to 20 minutes before class and I've been able to get three pages done in that down time so far this week.

What am I reading now?
I've been reading the short story "The Swimmer" by John Cheever for my other English class and 20 Master Plots.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Experiment 9: The Greenhouse

I was planning on recording a reading of this story, but the time I had alone was interrupted by the chainsaws and wood chipper of tree-trimmers on my street. Here's the text. I'll still get a recording done, but unfortunately not in time for today's class.

The Greenhouse

It was too hot. Not blazingly so, but decidedly uncomfortable, and enough to make a person sweat. Lieutenant Elliott DeWitt unzipped his flight suit down to the waist, slipped off the arms—tying them around his midriff to form makeshift olive green pants—leaving the rest of his body covered by a standard issue white tee shirt and field boots.

It was still too hot.

You would think that for a mission to one of the coldest planets in the solar system, the crew of six could have been put up in a slightly cooler hab. He looked around. The majority of his fellow crew members had followed suit in modifying their flight one-piece in an attempt to beat the pervasive heat.

Elliott took off his white boots and set them beside his station. They weren't going to be going anywhere soon, this was an observational operation, and besides, it was so cold on the surface of the planet that exposure to the atmosphere was hazardous even for a moment without proper protection. He was now left in his long white tube socks, and still uncomfortable and still hot.

Perhaps heat wasn't even the best word to describe how it felt. It was congested, the heat lay heavy on the stale air, like a smog on a windless day. Being inside didn't help things either. Even though the air was being circulated from room to room, it seemed as if it came back thicker each time it passed through the ventilation systems. The air felt dense and sleepy, deadening any energy or clarity of the crew. It was as if everyone had to walk around in an overly-warm haze.

“Hey Captain,” he swiveled around in his terminal chair, “How about we crack a window or something? I'm suffocating in here.”

Captain Ellen Fitzroy looked at Elliott.

“You know that's not possible.”

“Aw, c'mon it'll only instantly freeze us. At least we won't be hot anymore.”


“At least let us strip down to our skivvies.”

She had given up on the conversation and returned to what little work they had remaining at the outpost.

“DeWitt, you will be assigned the middle watch tonight. And put your shoes back on.”

Too far. Sometimes he could joke around with the Captain, but she always made sure to keep the crew focused on duties first. Middle watch was the worst. At least with first or last, you could just pretend that you were staying up late or waking up early, but with the middle—he finished re-lacing his boots—you were guaranteed to have to wake up right as you were hitting the good restful sleep.


Fisher, the second in command, woke him up to start his night's watch. Elliott hadn't slept well, he was always restless when it was too warm. Walking over to the window he pressed his hand against the inner glass. Not even cold here, he lamented, as the hab had been designed with large series of windows, allowing view out onto the planet's surface, but with enough insulation between the panes that the glass on the inside was the same detestable warmth that bled throughout the building.

Looking out over the alien landscape it didn't seem very cold outside. No real snow like on Earth, and it was all so still, so quiet. The first moon was just beginning to peak over the horizon, throwing long shadows across the rocky surface. The lunar light danced around the outside of the hab with a tantalizing crispness, as if mocking the stuffy glow produced by the bulbs around him.

The crew was asleep and he was alone now, alone with the stifling, muggy heat, looking out into the glittering night landscape. If only there was a way he could just get a little breath of that cold, revitalizing air; like when a child sticks only their nose and mouth out from under a heavy blanket to take a crisp inhale of the night. He looked around. Fitzroy's body rose and fell rhythmically as she breathed. The room felt droopy with heat, tired and motionless. It clung to him like a wrapping. He sat down, then quickly stood up again, but could not shake the warm, enveloping air which followed his every move. It filled every nook and cranny of the hab. He reached for his canteen and took a sip of water.


Try as he might, he could not escape the seditious atmosphere. His skin began to itch. He took off his pants and his shirt, but it did not help. He felt like he was too hot on the inside. He was bursting with warmth. It pulsed in his fingers and toes, he could feel it like static through his skin, itching to get out, get out. The heat drew around him, muffling his senses and squeezing him from all sides. Tighter, tighter it embraced him; he could not breathe, he needed fresh air. He scrambled about, looking for a window, a door, a hatch, anything to escape from the poisonous warmth of the hab. He had to get out before it was too late.

What was one little cracked window, just for a moment, just enough to let the cold in? He looked across to the crew, lifeless in their bunks. Carefully, silently, he moved past their beds toward the wall of glass observation windows. He placed his hands against the latches and his fingers throbbed, they ached for a cold release. Everyone was asleep, no one could stop him. He seized the handle to open the window. His flesh undulated with glee. It was so hot, there was nothing he could do, he had no other choice.


Warning sirens blared throughout the hab, as hot red lights flashed out across the cold, barren landscape.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Chugging Along

What am I working on?
I've been working on my story for experiment #7 which I mentioned in class. Unfortunately I don't have anything worth sharing yet, but eventually I will post that story here. I also got an idea for a story using the Descension plot.

How do I feel about the process?
I'm excited to continue working on my story, but it is slow goings as I have only been able to work in small chunks of time. I would like to sit down over the weekend and try to write until I run out of ideas and am forced to think of what happens next. Right now I feel like I know what will happen up to a point, I just haven't gotten it down on paper yet.

What am I reading now?
I've been rereading sections of Rod Serling's Night Gallery Reader which is a collection of short stories which Serling used for episodes of his show Night Gallery. Some of the stories are much better than others, but the good ones are exceptionally well done. I'm also watching the 1985 version of Death of a Salesman in my other English class.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What am I working on?
I spent the majority of my time this past week working on a research paper and other midterm projects. I did spend a bit of time before writing this post working on the outline for my story based off of the master plot "Sacrifice."

How do I feel about the process?
I'm going to try to write a little bit each day over spring break and then try to carry that momentum along when classes start up again.

What am I reading now?
I'm reading On Writing and I'm going to try to finish Don Quixote over the break.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What am I working on?
I was working on my short story for presentation for the latter half of last week. I should have finished the second segment of the story, but I got the idea for a sort of apocalyptic world in which trains are the main form of transportation and engineers are like pirate captains. A very bleak and desolate world, very dirty, oily, and dusty. I wrote down a bunch of character descriptions for the railroad titans, who hold great power and influence in their society. I also did some general world building and tossed around some scenarios to use as a jumping off point to start. I want to try and write this story as a pantser. My current idea is for the main character to find a young girl of five or six. He doesn't particularly want to raise her, so he tries to find a place to dump her off that is at least relatively safe.

How do I feel about the process?
I am really enjoying world building for this new story as it gives me an opportunity to use some of the more outlandish characters which I have had on my mind, but who never had a world to live in or a story attached to them. I also am excited to try writing without plotting as much.

What am I reading now?
I'm currently reading As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner and On Writing.