And Writer In Motion is finally over. Two months ago when I saw Writer In Motion blowing up my Twitter feed, I was hesitant. As an introvert, I’m really not that outgoing on social media (July was the most I ever posted as part of the WIMGames), nor like to share my writing until it’s been refined quite a bit. But I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and decided to take a chance by signing up.
Now a month later, after turning my rough outline into a polished piece of work with the help of two CPs and editor I’m glad took the chance. In the past month I’ve met some great fellow writers, have improved my writing, and even got to work with an editor for the first time, and would definitely recommend if you’re on the fence about trying it.
While a lot of the other writers took a darker and twistier approach with their fantastic pieces, I’ve come to love my little fluff ball and Ray and Luce. Luce’s dialogue was really fun to write, while on a personal level I can relate more to Ray. So much of her anxiety and fears came from my own pero
The hardest parts were settling on an idea once the prompt went live and working through Carly’s suggestion. I jumped around between ideas at the beginning before settling on one. Carly’s critique was helpful, but involved some deep developmental edits at the beginning and ending.
My other gripe is dealing with WordPress. It formatted my paragraphs weird when I copied and pasted my piece in, forcing me to edit it by hand. I’ve also lost count of the times it’s told me I’m not allowed to edit my posts as I’m typing them in draft form. Thank goodness it gives me the option to restore automatically saved back-ups. There’s also the weird thing WordPress does when I add hyperlink to past posts by turning them into comments I have to approve.
I also may have put my WIP on the backburner for part of the month so I could focus on my WIM piece. But they’re all minor things when compared to the positive. Next year if possible, I’ll probably do it again.
The Magic Jar
“We’re lost, aren’t we? I can try Googling it on my phone.”
“Calm down Ray, we’re not lost. I’ve rode with my parents like a million times, I know where we’re going.”
“But Ray! Trust me, I’ve got this.”
“Alright,” she mumbled sinking down into her seat. “But if we go another thirty minutes and we’re still not there, I’m using Google.”
“You do that Ray. So you never did say, but how was your internship.”
“Boring. Did nothing but crunch data all day. Not as exciting as spending two months in Spain.”
“Yeah, except by the end of it I was dreaming in Spainish and English seemed like the foreign language.”
“Numbers aren’t much better. One day I was so frazzled by a project I spent ten minutes trying to text on my graphing calculator.”
“Nice. God, can you believe we’ll be seniors in college this year? One more year and we’ll have to be actual adults with jobs and stuff.”
“Don’t forget paying off those student loans.”
“Ugh, don’t remind me. Oh look the turn is ahead.”
“Behind the tree.”
“Luce, there’s a bunch of— oh, I see it now.”
With a jerk, the car turned left off the smooth asphalt and onto a narrow gravel road. It crunched beneaht the tires and sent clouds of white somke blowing up in front of the windshielf. The car continued to tear tdown the road, flying over the small hills like they weren’t even there.
“Geez Luce, there’s no need to go so fast.” Slightly afraid, Ray clutched her bag a little tighter to her chest. “Are you trying to kill us?”
“No, just trying to get there faster. You’re the one who was complaining about not getting an early enough start.”
The jolting of the car was a bit much for Ray, who closed her eyes. She couldn’t afford to get car sick when she was finally so closed to her goal. As Luce had said, they’d been running late all day. Summer was coming to an end as well, so Ray had to make this weekend count. Even if meant putting up with Luce’s Mr. Toad’s wild ride driving-style and swallowing every few seconds to keep the greasy hamburger from lunch down.
Relieved at the stillness, Ray opened her eyes and glanced out the window. Sleek, glass modern windows. Sturdy, thick log beams, appearing like they were cut yesterday. Two stories, with a balcony and wrap-around porch. A handcarved wooden ‘Welcome’ sign hanging over the entry.
“Where the hell are we?”
“What are you talkking about Ray? We’re at the cabin.”
“This is not a cabin… this is… this is the cover of one of those flashy magazines you see in the checkout lane of the grocery store filled with unrealistic homes you can never afford to live at.”
“That’s awfully specific… and do you mean the cabin from when we were kids? Luce, that place was barely standing then, and that was before the rossion got bad. Grandpoa tore it down and built the new one. I told you baout it, remember?”
“You just said he was building a new cabin, not that he was tearing down the old noe.”
“I thought it was implied. And what’s the deal? You said you wanted to spend a weekend together at the summer cabin. Who cares if it’s not the old one? The new one has a movie theater with a popcorn macahine and hot tub at back.”
“But it has to be the old one! That’s where we measured our heights on the back door, and left the beaded bracelet on the porch post, seeing if it fit year after year. And there was the firepit overlooking the back where we’d make hot dogs and s’mores, and…” Loosening her hold on the package close to her chest, Ray opened the flap and peered inside. In a quiet voice she said, “and catch magic bugs.”
Reaching over the gray center console, Luce plucked out the small item Ray had been clutching protectively. “You still have this old thing?”
“Be careful with that!” snapped Ray, taking the item back. “It’s magical.”
“Magical? Ray, it’s an old mason jar we drowned in glue, tissue paper, glitter and ribbons in to catch fireflies in. Pretty sure we were more covered in glitter than the jar. Our moms told us to wash off in the lake before we’d be allow back inside, and that night we caught more skeeters than magic bugs. Remember that?”
“Of course I remember. That’s why I wanted to come back.” Nestled safely back in her lap, a chaotic rainbow of mismatched shapes and colors looked like a minature stained glass window. The ribbons were fraying, close to losing the stolen Christmas bells tied to their ends. Glitter came away with each finger touch. Yet to Ray, their old Magic Jar was the more beatiful than a Faberige egg in all its glory.
“Rachel, what’s really going on? You’ve been on edge all day.”
“It’s just… we’ve barely spent any time together this summer, the last few summers actually. The last time we were here was like when, we were thirteen? Like you said, next year we’ll fully be actual adults… what if this is our last change to be together? To catch magic bugs?”
“Oh Ray…” Cold glass was replaced by a warm hand giving a gentle squeeze. “Do you remember what we’d do at the end of the night?”
“We’d release them.”
“Exactly! We’d release them because otherwise they’d die. But they always came back. The next night, the next year… they’d always come back. Just like we will. Trust me. How about we make a promise? Each summer we set aside one weekend for each other, no matter where we are. It doesn’t have to be at the cabin, it could be a city, the beach— they all have magic bugs we could catch. Promise?”
Ray stuck out her pinky finger in the crook of her friend’s. “Pinky promise.”
“Good. Now let’s get on inside, my butt is starting to stick to the seat and you have to try my new sangria recipe. We might be a little tipsy tonight when we catch us some magic bugs, but it’ll be fun. Just like the old days… but with alcohol. Adulthood does have some perks, some magic. You just got to find it.
“Yeah, I guess it does.”
The Magic Jar
“Put. It. Down.”
“Googling directions will only take a minute, Luce.”
“I’ve rode with my parents a million times Ray… don’t you trust me?”
Ray trusted her oldest friend with a lot of things, but riding wasn’t the same as driving. It’d been eight years since they last summered at the cabin, and Luce had visited a handful of times since. The two-hour trip had already ballooned into three and there still was no sign of the turn-off. At the rate things were going, they probably wouldn’t get to the cabin until late when they’d be too tired to—
“Hey, did you hear me?”
Owlishly, Ray blinked then mumbled, “Yeah, I heard you.” Arms squeezing her drawstring backpack tightly, Ray fidgeted in the tan faux-leather seat while her right hand clutched her phone. “But if we’re not there after thirty minutes, I’m using Google.”
“Stop being such a worrywart Ray. I’ve got this.”
The words did little to relax Ray’s grip on her phone or arms around her backpack. “So… how was your internship? You haven’t really talked about it.”
“There’s not much to say,” shrugged Ray. “Analyzing data all day wasn’t as exciting as spending two months in Spain.” While Ray had enjoyed listening to the details of Luce’s vacation, she would’ve preferred being in the same time zone or continent for the summer. Then she could’ve listened in real time.
“True, but job experience looks better on a job resume and couldn’t they hire you after graduation? Graduation… can you believe we’ll be actual adults with jobs and stuff next spring?” An uneasy knot began to form in the pit of Ray’s stomach, preventing her from answering. “Oh look, there’s the turn. See? No Google required.”
Despite Luce’s confidence, Ray’s thumb didn’t move from the screen. Just in case. With a jerk, the car turned off the smooth asphalt and onto gravel. Crunching the small rocks beneath its tires, the car tore down the narrow road sending clouds of white smoke billowing behind. Arms still around the backpack protectively, Ray closed her eyes to ignore the feeling of weightlessness as they bounced over small hills. “There’s no need to go so fast.”
“You were complaining about not getting an early enough start.”
Each bump in the road tightened the knot, encouraging the greasy hamburger from lunch to come back up. Getting car sick during their only free summer weekend was the last thing Ray wanted; it’d taken forever to coordinate their schedules before parting ways in the fall for college. She wasn’t going to let anything ruin it, even if she had to deal with Luce’s Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride driving.
The car came to a merciful stop and Ray allowed herself to glance outside. A two-story house with a balcony and wrap-around porch featuring sleek, modern windows and sturdy, wooden beams stood out against a familiar wooded background. A hand-carved ‘Welcome’ sign hung over the double entry doors.
The knot grew larger at the wrongness.
“Where are we?”
“At the cabin, duh.”
“That’s not the cabin,” gestured Ray wildly, “That’s the cover of some fancy home magazine.”
With a puzzled look, Luce tilted her head to the side. “You mean the cabin from when we were kids? That place was barely standing. Grandpa tore it down when he built the new one.”
“You just said he built a new cabin, not that the old one was gone.”
“I thought it was implied. You wanted to spend a weekend together at the summer cabin; who cares if it’s not the old one? The new one has a Jacuzzi, Ray. A Jacuzzi.”
“But… but…” The knot was now a giant tangled ball squeezing her chest; Ray hadn’t factored the possibility of the cabin no longer being around in her carefully crafted plan. “It has to be the old one! That’s where we measured our heights on the back door, made daisy chains, roasted s’mores, and…” Opening the backpack, she peered inside. “And caught magic bugs.”
Reaching over the center console, Luce plucked out a small item from the top of the bag. “You still have this old thing?”
“Be careful with that!” snapped Ray. “It’s magic.”
“Magic? It’s an old mason jar we drowned in glue, tissue paper and glitter for catching fireflies. We were so covered in glitter our moms told us to wash off in the lake before stepping inside. Remember?”
“Of course I remember, that’s why I wanted to come.” Snatching the jar back with her free hand, Ray frowned at Luce’s unimpressed reaction. Nestled safely in her lap was a chaotic rainbow of mismatched shapes and colors. Frayed ribbon ends, close to losing their stolen Christmas decoration bells, dangled off the sides. Gold and silver glitter half-flaked off. To Ray, it was as beautiful and wondrous as the day two little girls made it. Even if one of them could no longer see the magic.
Perching her sunglasses on top of her head, Luce’s voice took on a serious tone. “Rachel, what’s really going on? You’ve been on edge all day.”
She didn’t think she’d been that obvious, but she must’ve for Luce to be concerned enough to use her full name. Taking a deep breath, she pondered her response. Talking about feelings was always more of Luce’s thing. “It’s just… we barely hung out this summer, or the past year. Like you said, next spring we’ll be actual adults. What if this is our last chance to be together? To catch magic bugs?”
“Oh Ray… you’re not the only one worried about our future.” Cold glass was replaced by a warm hand giving a gentle squeeze. “But don’t you remember what we’d do after we caught them?”
Ray’s head bobbed up questioningly.
“We’d release them so they wouldn’t die. But they always came back. The next night, the next year… they always came back. Just like we will. How about we make a promise? Each summer we set aside one weekend to get together.” A promise to return. Hesitant— for promises could always be made with the best intentions, but broken later— Ray didn’t say anything. Luce continued, “It doesn’t have to be at the cabin. There’s the city, the beach— they all have magic bugs we can catch.” Extending her pinky finger she asked, “Pinky promise?”
Luce’s pinky wavered in the air. Promises could be broken, but they could be kept too. And hadn’t two little glitter-covered girls once made a promise to be friends forever? Ray’s phone fell softly with a thump onto her lap as she shook Luce’s pinky. “Pinky promise.”
“Good. Let’s go inside, my butt is starting to stick to the seat. Tonight will be just like the good old days, except we might be a little tipsy on my new sangria recipe when we catch us some magic bugs. Adulthood does have some perks and magic. Trust me.”
The tightly knotted lump in Ray’s chest went limp, unraveling at her friend’s earnest smile. Returning it with her own, she squeezed Luce’s hand. “Maybe being actual adults won’t be all bad. If the magic bugs can come back, we can too. We’ve got this.”
All Writer in Motion posts:
Writer in Motion Post #1: Initial Thoughts on Prompt Reveal
Writer in Motion Post #2: Insight to Writing Process and Outline
Writer in Motion Post #3: First Draft
Writer in Motion Post #4: Self-Edit
Writer in Motion Post #5: CP Edit
Writer in Motion Post #6: Editor Feedback and Final Version
Writer in Motion Post #7: Final Thoughts