On Writing & Storytelling: Today Was a Good Day to Write!

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com
I took this “selfie” back in November of 2020.

I woke up early this morning – earlier, honestly, than I’d have liked, circa 5:30 -not quite tired, but not quite pumped with adrenaline and full of ideas for today’s writing workday. It was still dark when I got out of bed, and, not wanting to wake anyone up with noises from the kitchen as I prepared my breakfast, I waited till 7 AM to leave my room and go brew up a couple of cups of coffee to drink with my morning meal.

I honestly thought today would not be as productive as yesterday; I knew where and when (within the narrative) I wanted to start the new scene in Chapter Seven, but I had no idea how to begin the action, which is set in a high school cafeteria during the “first lunch period.” I didn’t want to waste any time waiting for inspiration to strike; I hoped to start early so I could finish well before nightfall and I could go watch TV or listen to music out in the family room.

(I also had to resist the lure of playing any of my PC games, regardless of whether it was a war game or one of the few “sexy” adults-only visual novels that I’ve purchased from Steam over the past few years. Happily, my desire to write was stronger than the one to play games. It wasn’t even a close contest; I’m really digging the story, and I want to complete it ASAP so I can publish it by mid-summer, or even earlier.)

If this were an adults-only blog, I’d post some of the hotter screenshots I have saved. This one from “Being a DIK”, though, is hot enough.

I must admit, though, that it took me four hours – from 8 AM to noon – to get my shit together and start writing. I can’t be sure, but maybe if I’d written a quick blog post in the morning, it’s likely (but not guaranteed) that I might have felt more relaxed about working on The New Story after a mental warmup session. You know, because all of my little gray cells would have been fired up, and my sole focus would have been on Microsoft Word and the second scene of Chapter Seven.

But I didn’t have any topic (besides Writing & Storytelling) in mind, and I didn’t want to get distracted by the process of deciding what to write about for A Certain Point of View, Too. Blogging is hard enough – if you’re conscientious about the writing part and the quality of your posts, at any rate – when you know what you want to write about. It’s harder, though, when you have to dig deep inside your mind and go on a treasure hunt for topics, especially after you wake up before sunrise and aren’t exactly feeling at your best.

While I was disciplined and didn’t boot up Being a DIK or Regiments, I didn’t start writing until just before noon. I put on a digital-only album (Mantovani and His Orchestra – Great Concerts) around 11:45 AM, hoping that the music would wake up my Muse or pull me into the world of The New Story with its melodious magic.

Well, it took a while – it wasn’t till Amazon Music and Mantovani played a few tracks, including a lush arrangement of Forgotten Dreams by Leroy Anderson, that I hit the right notes (haha) and found my opening line for the new scene in Chapter Seven of The New Story, part of which I am sharing here tonight. (Look, it’s down below this graf!)

A Parley at Lunchtime

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

12:20 PM, Near the End of First Lunch

“You did what now?” Mark Prieto’s expression was a mix of thunderstruck surprise and wry amusement as I finished telling him about my upcoming solo in the 1981 Winter Concert, which was less than one week away.

We were seated at our usual table in the school cafeteria – a round table normally seated five or six people at a time – a short distance from the teachers’ lounge and the main corridor leading to the school’s first floor. As usual, the room was filled with a cacophony of sounds as several hundred adolescents sat in clusters at the other tables, gossiping, joking, bitching about how much homework Mr. or Mrs. X handed out daily, guessing about mid-year exams and grades, or even arguing about the Miami Dolphins’ waning season. There were even spats between teenage lovers, usually based on rumors that one half of the couple was cheating on the other. And, of course, the murmurs and laughs and occasional yells were accompanied by the thudding of plastic trays on wooden tabletops, the rustle of cold-weather clothes, the clatter of girls’ heeled shoes, and the softer pad-pad-pad sounds of sneakered feet upon the tiled floor of the cafeteria, and, from speakers overhead,  the tinny-sounding music – provided by WSMH, the school’s internal radio station – and occasional announcements by Dr. Burke, our principal, or peppy commentary from student DJ Mike “Stone” Estromboli about the songs (including Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical”) currently on the rotation. It was an acoustic Bedlam, but after a year and a half of attendance, my ears had gotten used to it, and I’d learned to tune most of the noise out and hold a conversation in the cafeteria without having to shout or say, “What was that? I didn’t hear you.”

I took a swig from my half-pint carton of chocolate milk – a rare holdover of my childhood since I had never got a taste for plain “moo juice” – and waited till I’d swallowed before answering.

“I must have been out of my mind or something,” I said with a sigh as I placed the now-empty brown and white McArthur’s Dairy carton in its niche on the canary yellow plastic lunch tray, which now only contained the last traces of mashed potatoes, too-salty canned green beans, and bits and pieces of Salisbury steak with gravy, which was one of the few entrees on the school lunch menu that were halfway enjoyable. Dessert – now just a recent memory – was fine, though; a small wedge of spicy pumpkin pie topped with a dollop of Cool-Whip.

“I can’t believe it, Jim. A solo. Wow. And ‘Jingle Bell Rock,’ at that.” Mark shook his head and grinned. “I would have thought a slow and sentimental song like ‘White Christmas’ is more your style, not a fast and upbeat one like ‘Jingle Bell Rock’.”

“Hey,” I said, raising my hand in protest. “It wasn’t my idea. It was Mrs. Quincy’s.”

Mark snorted. “You could have said ‘No.’” He leaned closer and lowered his voice. “Or did she use her Jedi mind tricks on you?”

“Maybe, if it had been a one-on-one conversation in her office,” I said nervously, glancing around to see if anyone was listening. “But she asked me in front of the entire class.” Mark’s expression softened and he put a hand on my shoulder. “Yeah, I can see why it would have been tough to turn Mrs. Q. down. Especially now that you’re in mixed chorus – with all those cuties in the same group as you.” He paused for a moment, as if he were trying to remember something, something important. Then, as realization struck, Mark’s eyes went almost as wide as the lunch tray before him. He snapped his fingers and said, “Wait a minute – she’s in your third-period class….”


Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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