Sunday, August 11, 2013

Scenes From a Mall - A Writing Exercise

Sometimes if I'm stuck on a piece of writing, I do a little writing exercise and try to describe my surroundings. Sometimes it makes its way into a story or turns into one, oftentimes not. It's a way to keep my writer brain working. Here's a sample of one I wrote while sitting at a Caribou in the Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota.

The Caribou there is a large kiosk in the middle of the main open area with tables spread around it. So this is just me sitting, drinking a coffee, looking around, observing, listening, and trying to get it down onto paper:

The mall -- so much background noise. There's Muzak over the main loudspeakers, and a different music out of the Caribou next to me. There's the constant hum of conversation -- but you can't make out any one conversation, just voices mingling in the background. Then there are the sounds of furnaces, the sounds of cleaning equipment -- vacuums, floor polishers. If everything was to shut off at once, I'm sure the space between now and silent would be vast.

Malls always have some sort of vehicle on display -- there's a nice boat parked nearby. I don't know my boats, but  looks like it could be a fishing boat.

Not a fishing boat
Lots of kiosks with bored-looking workers. People walk by in pairs or trios or solo. Some talk to each other, some search their purse, some swing their plastic bags of newly purchased goods. There's a cute blond woman twirling her hair in her fingers, her friend with brunette hair and brown leather knee-high boots. They get up from the table nearby and neatly push in their chairs.

Big metallic sculptures hang from the ceiling, cute girls talking at a table, a family in winter coats trudging toward the exit. Security personnel with yellow vests riding Segways. A woman pushing a stroller in front of her, the baby crowded in with bags of merchandise and a diaper bag. There are people looking over the balconies into the central court.

Big decorative, yet simple lights hang from the above, and tracks of smaller lights assist them. Store names and logos are prominently displayed. Rectangular tiles in beige and white, wastebaskets discreetly looking like giant vases up against columns. Store directory shares an obelisk of ads for clothing and shoes. Portable signs on the tables advertise mall gift cards.

And all the while, the constant thrum of noise is like a hand closing over the head and slowly pressing inward.

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