Monday, March 7, 2011

Writing Exercise III: describe a room

The bedroom was on the second floor, a small room in an old house in Ohio, a doll's house painted white over red brick like all the others. Two long windows overlooked the front yard, and when it snowed the branches of the cherry tree that blossomed in spring went white. The bedroom had no lock--it wasn't allowed. The room was wallpapered with tiny pink flower bouquets that decorated the twin bedspread, the dust ruffle on the nightstand, and the white eyelet curtains that looked out. The only toys were a collection of little dolls from different lands. Each stared, unblinking, from a shelf, each held up by her own stand that pinched slightly at the waist. To sleep in that room was to imagine oneself among them.

I adapted the piece above for an assignment for my MFA Writing Workshop at University of San Francisco: Write a description of a room, no more than 150 words. A sample from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby was given, upon which the structure of my excerpt was loosely modeled.

My professor, Lowell Cohn, said "the bedroom had no lock--it wasn't allowed" was the 'operative phrase'. The room I describe is my aunt's childhood room, which remained largely unchanged in my grandparents' home for 60 or so years until the house was recently sold. The new owner called it a little doll house. Whether or not a lock was ever allowed, I'm not certain. But the door wouldn't fully shut.

My Nana required that I sleep in that room in the same bed it always had, then sagging, whenever I visited. The little dolls were always there, accompanied by an oppressive and foreign sense I felt in that house. The only things I kept were the Russian dolls, along with some of my Nana's clothes, including this eyelet hat.

Dear Reader: Try it! Write a description of a room with a unique perspective. Send it my way and I'll post it. (Look at the prior post and future posts for more exercises.)

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