Joe De Matteo

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Writing Fun, Games & Review
by Joseph De Matteo

 
There is an exercise in John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction, he directs you to write a description of a barn seen through the eyes of a man who’s son just died in a war.  You cannot mention the son, his death or the war.  You are supposed to create the mood.  Here goes:

 The Barn

The barn was old and inadequate.  It wouldn’t last much longer.  It had to be replaced. 

           These were his thoughts as he stood there, ten feet inside the barn.  The strong mid-day sun came in through the three sets of open doors¾the great doors in the front, the lesser doors in the rear and the smaller side access-door, which opened to the carport.  It poured in through the windows, spreading out over a good seventy percent of the old barn.  But today no amount of sunlight brightened the place; it seemed old and tired.

 

His gaze caught an odd shape that didn’t belong.  He walked to the sidewall to examine the large mud tunnel.  “Shit, termites.”  The tunnel was in the corner where the buck frame of the door met the outside wall.  The wood of the frame crumbled under his probing knife.  Looking up he saw that the widening tunnel rose all the way up to the ceiling.  He shook his head in resignation, slowly got upright again, and walked a few paces away from the wall.  The years had changed farming and the barn was built for an era past.  Besides the fact that it was physically in bad shape, it was obsolete. 

Remembering what the mud tunnel had distracted him from, he turned his attention back to the wall beside the great doors.  He had to move some things to get to it, but there it was.  He had been a very young boy; his father had taken him into the new barn and scratched a line on the wall, above his head.  After he’d moved away, his father carved the line deeply into the wallboard and carved his name and the date.  There above the original mark, was a succession of lines and dates.  He remembered himself as a boy, a teen, a young man.  Then he looked around and saw shadows of his father, who had seemed to become old overnight.  He was gone, gone these many years.  As was the boy, he himself had been.

In his mind he saw the animals and tractors, the tools and cars, the many pets, which had been in this barn; They were all long gone, hardly even memories.

A noise behind him made him turn.  But no one was there. 

He was alone.

 

Your Turn
           
Okay, now it’s your turn, you do the exercise, then go to the  and submit it (
Submissions) we may publish it.
            The exercise from John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction:
Write a description of a barn seen through the eyes of a man who’s son just died in a war.  You cannot mention the son, his death or the war.  You are supposed to create the mood.  Keep it to around 5 paragraphs, certainly under 500 words.
 (Submissions)

Joe De Matteo

Copyright 2002, 2007 Joseph De Matteo all rights reserved.

Joseph De Matteo

Joseph De Matteo

 

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