Writers Studio Group Sydney : Forum : Violet Summers

Violet Summers

1 Year Ago

Violet Summers sat mesmerised at her desk, watching a gigantic cruise ship fill all the wooden windows of the communal office where she worked. A view normally filled with the glistening blue water views of Miller’s Point.  This new scene created an illusion of warped size and distance and for a second she welcomed the disorientation, the feeling of a ship moving closer to her. She willed it to bump into the crumbling sandstone walls of her work place, jolting her out of her Herman Miller chair that still needed adjusting. Mostly she wanted a life saving device, but she’d even make do with a plastic whistle, anything to distract her and thus save her from the inevitable battle that was mounting around her. Violet was the only woman in the small team of four, and once again, she was the only one left adrift in the sea of silent testosterone fuelled politics. Her secretive male co-workers huddled in another meeting arrogantly only metres from her desk, backs blocking her view.  She knew that everything was going to be a fight now. A fight to belong, a fight to be heard, a fight to even put up a fight. Violet knew she was a strong woman. Her strength was drilled into her DNA after a childhood of endless illness. It was not her illness, but that of her siblings, and now father, and she fought all she could to ward off the ominous disease that seeped into the minds of those around her. She had lived it, she had tried to understand it, and she had used all her might to try to help, to find a solution, to sacrifice her own life so that things didn’t seem so bad in comparison. She hadn’t expected to bring out the heavy armour at work. In fact it had caught her quite off guard. ‘A simple place’, she had thought as she walked into the strange shaped heritage listed building for her interview; everyone so quiet, docile, boring in fact. Somehow they seem to all be blending into the space, an extension of the flaking wooden beams and grey squares of carpet. She wondered if it was just her, or were the daily coffee runs with the girls in the admin team painfully dull? She sometimes played a game to see who would talk first. It was always Violet. Filling in the awkward thick silence with questions, comments anything to give a sense of normality or spirit to a daily ritual. ‘Talk god damn you’, she shouted in her mind through her smile, drinking her flat white too quickly. And then regretting the rush, silence filling her empty keep cup. She had thought that this office, this job with the soulless edits was the best place for a paid cover. She would tell her body that this was her job – working, getting things done, finding banter amongst the awkwardness, walking her feet to the door from the bus stop that was just a bit too far away, listening to people speak in marketing jargon until nothing made sense except her desire to tell them to tone it down. But she didn’t, as this was not her main gig. She was here to make money and get by, so she could focus her attention elsewhere. The priorities were set. And career was not at the top. Family again, had crept to the top three. She faced another battle. One that had been brewing as her career grew overseas in London. Now, back in Sydney, she fitted back into a role she had run from.  The family carer, the calmer, like a happy go lucky mood ring – always a vibrant bright blue, calm and happy but now recently scratched with a permanence that was jarring. This family issue was the latest, greatest and most heart breaking challenge of her life.

Hello All - I revisisted a character from the course that I liked and wrote up some ideas for another element to her story.  My thoughts are to possibly extent it into a short story. I feel like I'm getting back into writings so it was nice to have this deadline to write something. I welcome any feedback, in particular whether this makes sense, if there's too much jam packed in or your thoughts on structure. I feel like I am still on a journey of learning. Thanks so much x Marianne

Re: Violet Summers

1 Year Ago

Hi Marianne
There are so many wonderful elements in this piece- I would definitely persist in turning it into a short story.
I love how you open the story with the ship heading towards her- her sense of doom, wanting something to happen, to shatter her unhappy life. It's a very powerful image.
"A fight to belong, a fight to be heard, a fight to even put up a fight." really summarized to me what she faces in her male dominated work space. I also really love how you describe coffee with the girls. "‘Talk god damn you’, she shouted in her mind through her smile, drinking her flat white too quickly." Her frustration is really palpable.
I am intrigued to know more about her siblings and father's illness. That she had to return from London to Sydney to be the carer suggests to me it is something  that occupies all her time.
Not sure where you are at with the structure but if you haven't already, I would ask yourself what she wants and  how she needs to change to get what she wants. I am sensing she feels very trapped and wants to be free:"...always a vibrant bright blue, calm and happy but now recently scratched with a permanence that was jarring". This line is very powerful and revealing. I would keep going and dig deep.

Looking forward to read what you write next!

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