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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Laura on March 2, 2010
"This is just an excerpt from a novel I attempted to write a couple months ago. Didn't finish... but I did a decent amount of character development before that point, and so this section is pertaining to the protagonist."


When a girl steps out on her own, finishes her obligations to the county high school grade patrol and proves herself sufficiently intelligent to continue with her life (not a difficult feat in the world of the ever-crumbling lowest common denominator), she becomes the recipient of much advice and many collective opinions and options as to which signpost she should follow - which path is the best for her to tread - which horizon line is perhaps most inviting and most in tune with her own goals, dreams and desires. The multitude of choices build up largely from peers, but occasionally also from teachers, coaches, counselors, parents, friends of parents, directors, assistant directors, and other people whose names have long graced the family Christmas card address list.

"What do you want to study?" they ask. "What do you want to do with that after you study it? What will keep you gainfully employed and happy for the rest of your life?" But more and more often, "What will buy you the house and car that your parents have, and which vocations will still be standing once your career is twenty years into its progression?"

They were only concerned about her welfare and happiness. They wanted her to be safe, secure, and able to keep up with her own peers as they also took to the skies in an attempt to fly out of the nest and catch the wind currents that had swirled above their heads for their entire lives. Some fell before they flew. Others stayed in the nest too long and never really got very far from it. Others soared. And that is what any parent really wanted for their child. They had spent all of their post-war years building up the layer of security that their parents had not always had, and now what more could their children want than to continue adding to that protective wall? They didn't know what it was like to have hardship, and perhaps this way they would never need to know. They could skip the depression, the failures, the poverty, and go straight to the enjoyment of what the previous generations had only hoped for. They were indeed a chosen generation, and yet faced bigger challenges than any that had come before them.

"You have incredible freedom of decisions," they told her. "When I was your age it was harder for women to get good jobs in the private sector, or to obtain management positions without discrimination." She could do what women never could have done one hundred years ago, and that was to fuel her sense of pride and accomplishment in her pursuits. She wasn't just making a statement, she was continuing one - coming alongside all those who had slaved for years to place this opportunity in her path, this potential within her view, this . . . obligation, in her lap. And there it was.

Was she simply ungrateful? She'd been in as many history classes as were necessary to develop an appreciation, if not a grand nostalgic sentimentality for the triumph of the human spirit, overcoming great obstacles in the face of nearly impenetrable odds, as calculated by others who also possessed human spirits. Was she merely dangling her feet in the dust at the back of the wagon, still wearing her tomboy clothes and not desiring quite yet to comb her hair into the mold of the new-found expectations which existed under the guise of freedom?

"Do what you want, whatever it is that makes you happy," they said. But they really meant what made them happy, because that was, of course, what they had already done. Angelica was happy. She had a roof over her head, and enough income to guarantee that said roof would soon be in her own name, if not her name alone, at least newly departed from the training wheels she thought she had already departed from. Lack of freedom was supposed to depress her, and so she had done her best to search for apartments, and formulate a preliminary time-line for re-departure from the nest. It was no longer the nest she knew, and whether she had since changed, or it, or both, it became clear that this place was only a temporary shelter, a launching pad into the big bad world once again. But had it ever been anything different?

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