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Responses to Naomi Rose's Challenge to Write Long(er) Sentences
Challenge to Write Long Entries : Response by Gwynn Scheltema

Challenge to Write Long: Response by Gwynn Scheltema

Trent River, Canada

Naomi Rose comments:
Very engaging, detailed, drawing you in. It shows me that if you slow down to write lengthy sentences about early memories, the memories tend to come back vividly. The ability to be present with them and paint them in a way that evokes an experience in the reader is a gift, even if not all of the material is intrinsically inspiring or healing (here, some is, the dog through a child's eyes is not).
Writer's process notes:
You asked what makes you feel differently after having written it than you usually do writing short, to-the-point, utilitarian (or PR) messages.

I work in a writing environment where facts are paramount and emotion is discouraged. Although my piece is loaded with "facts", they came from an emotional place — my childhood memory. I immersed myself in that memory and writing long sentences made me extend — slowed everything down to slow motion and forced me to really "look" for the tiny details. Even though this is short, I felt emotionally drained when it was finished.

Aunty Peg washed on Mondays, putting sheets and Uncle Frank's cotton shirts through the mangle and hanging them out to dry on the washing lines that ran between the rows of vegetables in the fenced off area at the back of the house. If I visited, she lifted me up on the edge of the kitchen counter where I couldn't get in the way of the zinc tubs she had in the center of the kitchen floor, and to which she periodically added more boiled water as the levels dropped. If I were good, I had the honour of unwrapping the small cube of washing blue, crumbling it between my fingers as if it were a magical gift, and swishing it into the rinse water, watching the blue tendrils strike out like runner beans and then collect in jagged circles as I swirled the water, until they disappeared into the inkyness of the solution, and I pulled my hand out and held it up to the light, the faint blue hue on my skin making my hand almost ghostlike, expecting at any moment to see the bones against the window pane like an x-ray. There was always the sickly smell of boiling starch on the stove, and of tripe cooking for the dog: a huge growth-covered beast called Jake, with loose black jowls that hung inside out and were connected to the floor with strings of drool. Jake growled in continual menacing undertones and I kept a wide berth, knowing that only his extreme age and excess weight prevented him from making good on his threats. •

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4/25/11