In A Station

In A Station

A short story featuring cold weather, sunglasses, and thoughtful absurdity.
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There’s something about a train station that makes everyone look like they’re in a movie. I couldn’t help smiling, as I waited with Dad for the 3:12 PM Princeton Junction train to New York Penn Station that was running thirteen minutes late — now eleven, corrected the friendly female recorded voice.

But that was okay. I looked around and smiled, at the curly-haired brunette lugging her large suitcase and violin past me, the frigid February air fogging her black-rimmed glasses.

The slick, bearded 20-something-year-old with skin the color of coffee and a Starbucks cup of it in his hand was making conversation with a stout, stubbly guy sporting only a sweatshirt to fend off the cold.

There was a young woman with dark blonde hair that flipped out at her shoulders and moved with the wind as she sat alone on a corner bench, hands gloved in black leather and clasped in her lap while her eyes roamed.

The couple next to us was huddled together and talking quietly; when they laughed, it was as if they were spilling a secret, and, forbidden or not, it was a beautiful thing to hear.

We all waited in the cold, some hopping or rubbing arms, but most standing still.

The trains that passed before ours were fast. When the first one went by, Dad and I were so unprepared for the speed of it that we both shouted and turned away, arms around each other to form some travesty of a shield. But I was smiling when we came out of hiding.

And I was still smiling when I looked across the tracks to see a newcomer, insolated by a puffy yellow coat with the hood up, legs clad in dark blue jeans, and an Adidas satchel hanging from one shoulder. When I finally made it to his face, he was looking at me.

Automatically, I looked away, but then the after-image in my mind made me turn back. He was still looking, just for a second, and then the contact broke.

In a bout of insanity, I thought he might be in love with me.

(Was it the fitted white coat that did it? My wind-blown hair?)

I laughed at the sheer absurdity of it and continued looking at the movie stars around me.

As train after train roared through the station, they began to leave, each of them in twos or threes or all alone.

Those of us still waiting shifted. We shivered as wintry air breathed into our jackets, shuddered as it dragged its fingers almost imperceptibly along the backs of our necks. I thought of Pound's "In a Station of the Metro" and wondered: were we petals, or ghosts?

My thrill at being on the set of this station diminished with the amount of people remaining, and at last the icy assault of the wind managed to steal my smile.

Perhaps I had merely become a part of the film.

I transferred my bags from one hand to the other until a sudden insight made me leave them on the ground.

I had brought sunglasses, and I couldn’t fathom why, but I saw it fit to wear them at that moment. I told myself it was the blinding light reflected in the snow that made me pull out my plastic diamond-studded shades, although why I had to justify it to myself at all, I can’t say.

The female voice-recording announced once again that the train to New York Penn Station would be eleven minutes late.

More and more trains that weren’t ours went by, and I wondered if everyone else was imagining a person in front of them every time, with the objectively curious afterthought of that abrupt, momentary impact lingering in the snowy wave of February air left in their mechanic wake.

The next time I turned around, someone was smiling.

Cover Image Credit: Derby Sulzers

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57 Things You Think When You're Debating Whether To Miss A Deadline In College

Wait... for real, though, did I finish that assignment?
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Deadline. It's a great thing, it teaches us how important it is to do things by, well, a deadline. BUT when you have like a million other things to do because you're about to graduate and the semester is coming to an end, well, you fear you may miss it.

Never fear, though, here are 57 things you are thinking about when debating on whether or not to miss this said deadline.

1. Did I do all of my work for that class?

2. Am I going to pass said class?

3. C's get degrees, right?

4. Well, I hope so because that's what it's going to be.

5. Wait... for real, though, did I finish that assignment?

6. I literally have assignments on assignments.

7. Don't I have an article due, too?

8. Welllllll...

9. OK, OK, five minutes on Facebook won't hurt.

10. LOOK AT THAT DOG!

11. I'm so buying that dog.

12. I wonder how much they cost?

13. Let me Google it.

14. Wait... how many zeroes is that?

15. Oh... that many zeroes.

16. Well, what if I adopt one?

17. OH MY GOSH WHY DID THIS GUY JUST ABANDON HIS 10-YEAR-OLD DOG ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD?!

18. I want to adopt you.

19. But, sorry, you're a Great Dane and I barely live in an apartment big enough for one.

20. Maybe my parents would buy him?

21. Let me tag my mom in a Facebook post about Great Danes and see what she says back.

22. Success! She didn't hate him.

23. Maybe I should text her and ask her if we can get a Great Dane.

24. OK, maybe not then...

25. Wait... don't I have a deadline?

26. Oh, not for another hour, I'm good.

27. I wonder what is on Netflix.

28. WAIT, they just uploaded a new season of my favorite show.

29. Let me find some popcorn because it's going to be a binge fest tonight!

30. Gosh, I just love this character. That's so me.

31. I'm hungry.

32. Do I have any food here?

33. Well, there's popcorn.

34. But, I need real food.

35. Do I have any money in my bank account?

36. Score! Enough for some real food.

37. OK, I'll be right back, Netflix, I just need to feed myself.

38. Why didn't I wear a heavier jacket?

39. Why do I live so far away from this restaurant?

40. What do I even want?

41. Do I even like this place?

42. What do you mean you're out of chicken?

43. Fine, that's fine. I'll take whatever.

44. Here I come, Netflix!

45. Bye-bye pause button.

46. Play next episode?

47. YES

48. Play next episode?

49. What time is it?

50. Oh, I'm still good.

51. Wait...

52. I think deadline was at 5...

53. Welp, it's 8 now, I might as well fully embrace this missing deadline thing.

54. AGH, NO

55. OK OK OK, regroup

56. This article is going to be amazing.

57. Who cares if I was late? This article is going viral.

Actual note though: don't be late for deadline. Seriously, Just don't do it, not even for the dog photo.

Cover Image Credit: NBC Universal

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The Key To Ending Your First Draft Blues

Or at least getting through the next chapter with your hair intact
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Ah, the first draft. We’ve all been there as writers. The day we decide to turn a blank word document into a 70,000 word (or more) masterpiece. Or, at least, that’s always the aim. Often as first-time writers, we go into the experience blind, learning as we go, and never really knowing whether what we’re doing is right or wrong.

It can be frustrating at times, as most first drafts are a test of sanity. As somebody who had written ten first draft books (nearing eleven) in six years, I have had my fair share of ups and downs when it comes to first drafts.

My first book ever took me four years just to write it, I started at the age of sixteen and finished by the time I was twenty. A year later I had written another. I then wrote one in thirty days, and nowadays I write about three to four books a year.

My point is, there is no science to writing. It is all about learning how to do it, and finding the methods that suit you best. I just wish I could have had someone to tell me all of that when I started.

With that in mind, here are my five pieces of advice on how to write your first draft:

#5 Embrace the Terribleness

The first draft is always the worst version of any story. The sooner you accept it, the easier it is to move forward with your work. So you misspell a few words so bad that even Word can't help you. That shouldn't stop you from going with the flow. Your dialogue will feel hammier than a "Star Wars" film, but you'll clean it up the second time around. You're not expected to create a masterpiece on the first go, so just enjoy the ride.

#4 Suffer for your Art

Writing can be hard. I've said it enough times already, but it's true. You have to be prepared to suffer for it. The reason my first book took four years to write was because I didn't commit to it. The reason I wrote 80,000 words in thirty days was because I committed myself to write at least 1,000 words a day. Now I average 3,000 daily. Is it painful to force 3,000 words to the page every day? Yes, but that's what you have to do to get the draft finished.

#3 Take your Time

Now I know this goes against what I just said, but it's important that you go at the pace you want to. I was happier writing 1,000 words a day, but I was eighteen then. At twenty-three, I'll never get everything done going at 1,000 words a day. Commit yourself to writing every day, even if its only 200 words. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. You'll get to the finishing line quicker if you jog a steady pace rather than adopting a sprint and rest mentality.

#2 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Yes, it's important to remember what colour your character's hair is, which one is taller, and what weapon they are carrying. Although with that said, it is important to keep going forward. In my editing, I go over everything with a fine comb, often with a character profile at my side. Don't get bogged down giving every little detail the first time around, you'll have time for that later. The hardest thing is getting it down the first time.

#1 Keep the Story Going at All Costs

This kind of goes without saying, but it is by far the most important step for me. You have to keep moving forward. It doesn't matter if you have to use the biggest Deus ex machina to get your plot going again, you can always edit it away in the re-draft. I use a technique called automatic writing, which means that I don't plan every detail of a chapter. I simply write it as I go. This allows me to give my characters natural reactions as events often come as a surprise to me too.

Obviously it is good to have a rough idea of what is meant to happen, but as long as you can get your characters from A to B, then you are half way there. The other half will be polishing it to the point you can see your reflection.

Good luck, and happy writing.

Cover Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Writer%27s_Block_I.jpg

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