How Writers Write Fiction 2015: The Nightstand’s Blues

Author’s Note: I am enrolled in the University of Iowa’s How Writers Write Fiction online course (because I need just one more thing to do in life).  Below is my first free-form writing assignment.  As I progress in the course, I’ll post them every once in a while to keep myself motivated to complete the eight-week term and earn my certification.

This first assignment asked that we describe an inanimate object we love.  I chose first person narrative since that’s the POV in which I need the most practice.  Enjoy my scribbles.


Ugh! Yet another stack of books. Another collection of bound pages she’ll never have the time nor the inclination to read. Can’t she see that my flimsy shelf is beginning to bow under the weight of Rainbow Rowell, Judy Blume, and F. Scott Fitzgerald? Yes, my owner enjoys quite the collection of fiction. What woman pushing forty admits to reading Superfudge whenever the spirit moves her?

She should really upgrade to a real bookcase. I’m just a pile of scrap wood, bound together and stuffed in a box. In fact, the box I lived in for months on that shelf is sturdier than the plywood that is me. One day, this shelf of mine will buckle under the weight of Candace Bushnell novels and I’ll be no more. I’ll be out of the master bedroom and down in the basement to die a lonely décor-related death.

Not only is her literary collection becoming an issue, but her children. Oh, her precious babies – climbing me, knocking into me by accident as they knock into each other on purpose. One of them…I think it was the littlest one. She banged her head on my corner, silly girl. Her scalp bled for a moment and she resumed her play. Her climbing, her bumping. Her.

It’s not all bad, I suppose. I could live in a worse house. I could still be on that shelf at WalMart until the lady in the blue vest marked me down to nothing in value. I am nothing in value, the more I think of it.

But she loves me.

For some reason, she seeks my surface when she arises in the morning and tends to the books I hold in the evening. My favorite part of the week is when I feel the flourish of her mesh rag across my top on Sunday afternoons, cleaning off the dust that’s collected over the lonely week. And I suppose her books aren’t that heavy. Some of them are quite fascinating and entertaining reads, I’m certain. She laughs around me while she reads and the sound of her giggle makes me feel good. it makes me feel useful. I mean, I’ the holder of her humor. The bearer of her books. It warms my heart when she touches me before reaching for her lamp and turning off the light.

But seriously – she needs to get a bookcase.


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