Open University – Broadening my education

I forgot to say, I started an Open University course four weeks ago. Yes I know it’s taken me a long time to write about it. I have been very busy with work, editing Dark Magic Rising and one thing and another. However, I thought I would share a few thoughts about the course, which is called ‘Start Writing Fiction’. I did wonder how I would cope with no teacher there to crack the whip, so to speak but I’m finding it fun and very enlightening.

It’s good to know that some things I was on track with like keeping a notebook and journal. I have expanded on this and started looking at myself more closely. One of the exercises was to  examine what matters to you, personally. I found this a little difficult as I’ve never really thought about what makes ME tick! It was interesting.

The past weeks have also helped me to develop my characters, especially one of them. I knew what she was doing and feeling but she was very one dimensional. Now, she has purpose and I now know why acts in certain ways and I deeper understand how she will react as her story unfolds (Second book in the Sisterhood Trilogy, it doesn’t have a title yet).

The writing prompts exercises are very fun to do. It teaches you to take something as mundane as what is on your coffee table or the next line the radio presenter says, and turn it into a story line. The key is to…. just start writing. What me to share? Just remember this is not edited and pretty much a first draft so grammar is crap! Oh that bit underlined is the line from the radio, it was a Slade song that was playing at the time. (Thanks Planet Rock!!) Please be aware there is a little bit of swearing in there.

“I said good bye to Jane. Are you happy now?” Reed turned his back on Diane and placed his hands on the window. His shoulders were stiff as if he was holding the weight of their problems alone. It pained her he felt that way. She could see his closed eyes in the glass, reflecting back through the darkness beyond the huge window that made up one side of their family room. Watching him take measured breaths, Diane thought of their life together, their unusual marriage, building their fortune, the twins, now coming to their fourth birthday; juggling their busy lives had once been a way to avoid each other but now, after all these years she had told him the truth.

“I’m sorry…” Diane’s voice broke, the stress of all the lies and constantly been on guard getting the better of her. Chocking back a sob, she wouldn’t show weakness. Not after she demanded he send his lover packing. “I should have told you sooner.” She breathed deeply and tried to still her shaking hands.

“How long?” He turned towards her. One blonde curl that he could never tame, fell on his creased brows. He shoved his hands in his pockets as he tried to control his anger. He didn’t come any closer but kept his usual, respectful distance and pinned her with his stormy blue eyes. “Talk to me Di.” His stern tone demanded her answer.

“If I’m honest with myself, it was on our wedding night.” She gauged his reaction and noted the one raised eyebrow. He nodded to imply her to continue. “I didn’t realise it back then. I was caught up in what was expected of me, ours is a marriage of convenience, two rich, powerful families converging. When our wedding night approached I expected you to, you know?”

His face darkened, “Push myself on to you? Fuck Di, have I ever hurt you?”

She stepped back at his injured tone. “No, but I hardly knew you back then. We had met once. Then our parents kept me that busy with wedding plans,” her voice lifted as she spoke their memories, “it was like they deliberately tired to keep us from even making friends.”

“Or stopping you from running.”

“I couldn’t, could I? All my life my decisions were made for me, forever to be a pawn in someone else’s game. I’m sick of living like that, I’m sick of feeling expendable!”

“Don’t be ridicules.” Reed’s voice took on his usual calm tone. “You have never been expendable to your parents or me.”

Diane struggled to find the words to explain how she felt. “Maybe it was the wrong word.” She hung her head in shame. Reed wasn’t the bad guy here, he had done the same and obeyed his parents wish that he marry her and join their families. The last six years had its good points. Only in public did they have to put on a show. It had all been worth it, she told herself.

“Where do we go from here?” He moved closer and rubbed her arms and shoulders, a comforting gesture she was familiar with. He was willing to give up his lover and make a real go of their relationship. Her heart melted.

“Did you love her?”

“Jane?”

She nodded and looked up into his troubled face. “Nope, I’m fond of her, we were together almost three years but she was a means to an end. I have needs Di, needs that I couldn’t take from you. Why do you think we paid for the IVF treatment?”

When she tried to look away he lifted her chin with his finger, the touch gentle and she revelled in the shiver that shot through her whole body. It fanned the flames of hope growing in her heart.

“I know the treatment was uncomfortable for you but I couldn’t come to your bed under the circumstances. It was the best solution for all.”

Diane laughed. “And we got the twins from our ‘bogoff’ deal.”

Reed joined in her laughter at their private buy one get one free joke. The conception of the twins was their secret.

“If you’re sure of your feelings, maybe the next one would be fun to make?”

She felt her eyes widen, was Reed flirting with her? She had not seen this side of him before and spluttered a response. “I…. I…” He placed a finger on her lips.

“One step at at time, hey?” He looked deep into her eyes and she felt the usual pull. His eyelids where half closed and it seamed to pull her deeper into their depths.. Reed blinked and the moment was lost. He turned back to the window and placed his hands on the glass to brace himself. A quiet control rolled off his shoulders. He sighed and shook his head. Until that moment, hope had welled within her heart. Telling him she loved him had seemed right but now something had changed. He stood trying to fight an emotion she couldn’t place.

“I need to tell you about Jane.”

“It’s OK, I understand why you…” She didn’t want to know. The knowledge of their affair was enough. After all she couldn’t deny him a physical relationship with someone. Their own marriage has never been consummated.

“No, you don’t.” He didn’t look at her but placed his head on the window. His refection was dark and grim. Diane’s heart sank. “Jane is a man, she lives as a woman but…”

Diane sat on the floor, her knees no longer willing to hold her as her mind processed the information. No, not her Reed, he couldn’t be? His sex appeal had women flocking to his side. She quickly sifted through her memories of the men they came into contact with. He had shown a cool indifference. Looking up she caught his reflection looking at her. She couldn’t speak, her throat suddenly tight.

“My parents knew, it was one reason they wanted our marriage.” He lifted his head from the glass but kept his eyes on her through the reflection. “But when you told me you loved me, it changed everything. I do love you Di, in my own way. How could I not, you’re the mother to my children but I…”

Not caring how strong she portrayed herself, Diane let the tears fall, each one taking a little bit of her hope away as it fell.

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