7 or 8 Things

Whenever I write a new story, I take a tip from Michael Ondaatje, one of my favorites, and write out my own version of his short piece 7 or 8 Things I Know About Her  as a character study.  It always brings out curious, things un-thought of previously…I’m not sure why.  Here’s one.  This is a fiction piece.

               The Father

She waited every day for her father to return.  He’ll be home, probably tomorrow, her mom would lie.  She didn’t know it was a lie.  She’d listen for the Camaro’s engine every night until she fell asleep:  it was always quite loud when it came up the drive. 

              The Music

She loved the rock band’s songs.  When her mother took her to what everyone called the club, she thought of the tree house Sandy down the road had in her back yard and the ‘club’ the two of them created.  They played music on Sandy’s tape recorder.  They threw their supply of fist-sized stones at the boys who tried to climb up the ladder.  They played “I Love Rock and Roll” by Joan Jett and the Black Hearts and sang at the top of their lungs.

              One Dog

They adopted a dog with three legs that had been hobbling around the neighborhood.  He was old and raggedy but her mother patiently gave him a bath.  He slept on the rug by the kitchen door.  She took him out before school.  He hobbled off one day and never came back.  Mr. Pierce, who owned the bakery down town, said the dog was living with him for three weeks.  His name was fluffy.  She had called him Scruff.

              First Criticism

She is five years old and her parents are screaming at each other.  She sits and watches Sesame Street with her hands over her ears.  Look at that silly, stupid girl, her father yells.  She doesn’t know whom he is talking about.   She covers her ears tighter.

             Listening In

Over hear her in the bathroom of the dorm:  “You could have started over, you could have started over, you could have started over.”


“I don’t like to feel sorry for myself but I always do.  Why do I always wear these same clothes?  Why don’t I get the highest grade, even when it’s an A?   Why do I have to wait to get picked every time?   I wait patiently for my time to come, because my mother says it will.  But when?


To be picked as the lead singer of the famous rock band.  Her father says she’s got the chops.  She is given the spot without even trying out.   Everyone loves her.   She becomes more famous than her father.  He sits in the audience every night and claps for her.


At Sandy’s old house in the neighborhood, they tore down the tree house.  It had been up there for over twenty years.  She imagines she can hear that old Joan Jet song again as she drives by in the custom tour bus that is painted black and silver with her name emblazoned on the side in gold.  When the bus stops at the drive way a crowd of people she doesn’t know are there to greet her.  Her mother and father stand on the stoop smiling.

4 Responses to “7 or 8 Things”

  1. This is really a great idea – I appreciate your sharing an example from your writing. What all do you write Jenn? Although I have not as yet published anything, I write too. I think this exercise would be helpful 2 me…. Thx, Lis


  2. Jennifer Rains Says:

    Oh Lisa,
    The question is what don’t I write…sometimes I get bogged down with all the ideas, all the started, uh, stuff, that I leave unfinished and then, well, you know, nothing gets done!! Anyway…I am currently working on a second draft of a teen fantasy novel. Today I’ve totally lost it…feel like chucking it in the can (but of course I won’t). I tend toward the strange stories, unusual, scary, not quite horror, just peculiar. Have one written with a character that resembles Theresa. I couldn’t help it. It’s nice to hear from someone who writes also. I haven’t published either, but am looking toward it with all hope. Your note has given me courage at the end of this sort of lost day…perhaps we can keep each other encouraged. What do you like to write?
    Also, I’ve tries my hand at the Theresa portrait, using your idea with the tiles, but it wasn’t working so well for me. I did draw her though…for the first time…it was like a spiritual journey or something or not….I’ll post it in near future Perhaps next week.

    Thanks for always stopping in…by the way, still hooked on Rescue Me.


  3. Hey Jenn,

    I’m glad my note came at a good time and I certainly could use some encouragment too, as sending out work is really not for the faint of heart! I write general fiction and also poetry. I have a poetry website called Word-For-ward, linked on Just Under the Surface. From the type of writing you described, there is an author here in Detroit whose website you might want to check out, Kathe Koja -www.kathekoja.com/ She started out in adult speculative fiction and now writes for young adults. I met her once and she’s very nice. I liked her novel called, “Kink”. She has quite a unique style of writing. I look forward to your portrait of Theresa! Lis

    Oh yeah and whose side R you on Janet’s or Sheila’s?!


  4. Jennifer Rains Says:

    I’m on the new girl’s side…we’ll see what happens…I think she’s been added to spice it up even more, if that’s possible. Like that actress, don’t know her name, but she’s from ER from a few years back when I used to watch it.

    I’ll be checking on the writer you mentioned and Word-For-Word shortly. Thanks!



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