Batter: A Creative Writing Portfolio


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Kennesaw State University
[email protected] State University
Master of Arts in Professional Writing Capstones
Spring 5-11-2022
Batter: A Creative Writing Portfolio
Hannah Newman [email protected]

Professional Writing

Follow this and additional works at: https://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/mapw_etd Part of the Fiction Commons, and the Nonfiction Commons
Recommended Citation Newman, Hannah, "Batter: A Creative Writing Portfolio" (2022). Master of Arts in Professional Writing Capstones. 116. https://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/mapw_etd/116
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MAPW Capstone Project Batter: Creative Writing Portfolio
By Hannah Newman Advised by Dr. Andrew Plattner and Dr. Bill Rice

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To my sister, Halle. She is a rarity, a once-in-a-lifetime soul. If you don’t know her, you’re a complete loser, and I feel bad for you.
And to myself because I deserve it.

3 Table of Contents

Table of Contents

3

Introduction

4

Short Story Fiction

5

Cuisine

5

How to Make a Stew

15

The Visitor

26

Fried Pickles

35

Flash Fiction

43

Contact

43

Lover

47

Why it Waits

49

Creative Nonfiction

51

Ring

51

Inheritance

58

Acknowledgments

70

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Introduction
My capstone project, Batter, is a collection of creative writing pieces, consisting of short stories, flash fiction, and two creative nonfiction essays. I decided to do a portfolio because creative writing is simply what I enjoy the most and have been intrigued by since I took my first fiction writing class at Kennesaw State University. Composing stories, imagining how characters could behave believably, their problems and their solutions, all of it combined gives me a sense of creative determination that I have not found in any other area of work or craft. I believe I’ve been rather lucky because working on most of these stories almost felt like no work at all. When I’ve produced a story that I believe in, that is when I know I’ve composed most diligently, regardless of if it were difficult to construct or not. What I aim to portray from this portfolio is strong writing, believable characters, stories that are simple but share a large, perhaps personal truth that we can all relate to.
My advisors, Dr. Andrew Plattner and Dr. Bill Rice, steadily and patiently worked with me to revise and polish the fiction and non-fiction pieces presented in this capstone. My project was originally created to be a portfolio of my best creative work so that I may use it to apply for creative writing PhD applications. However, it is now a gentle yet nudging reminder that my writing is never actually done and never really perfect. This realization, perhaps from some literary spell or curse, I can’t determine which, only pushes me to write more.

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Short Story Fiction
Cuisine Ever since I was a little girl, I could never eat enough to fill my stomach. My mother would give me industrial bags of cereal. I’d shovel bowls of crunch berries into my mouth and choke down a swallow. I would nearly devour my spoon. I’d go through gallons of milk. Eat us out of house and home, she said. Fruit was a waste. Bread didn’t do anything for long. Protein, meat, beans, peanut butter in all consistencies satisfied me for an hour. In the middle of the night, I’d walk to the kitchen and rifle through cabinets in the dark. And in the dark, I’d eat all our strudels, sometimes soaking them in milk and downing the sludge like a poor man’s smoothie. After a few months of that and there was a chain around the fridge door and a lock on the pantry. I consumed too much to afford. Kitchen was ravenous-proof. I wanted to eat the trash can.
In middle school, I brought quart-size containers of shredded rotisserie chicken to lunch. My locker was packed with Tupperware bins of rice, cemented refried beans, and boxes of granola bars filled with syrupy wrappers. People asked if they could buy food off me. I had so much of it. I was starving so it was always a no. My mom had to tell my teachers that I needed to eat in class. If I didn’t, who knew what would happen? My backpack was filled with gushers, fruit snacks, other types of sugar that melted like magma plastic in my mouth.
When I was in my last year of middle school, I had my first crush. I saw him across the cafeteria laughing with his friends, and something in my belly quieted. Lurched. I liked him before I knew his name. This curbed the appetite for some time. And then my belly felt like it had birthed something new. I looked at him, and then she was blinking awake inside me.

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One day, I was spending $15 at the vending machine when he came up behind me and asked what my favorite Pop-Tart flavor was. All of them, I said. They all taste the same. He laughed, and my eyes widened.
Can I buy one off you? He motioned to the bundle of Pop-Tarts I had in my arms. I stared at his face and nodded. He leaned forward, and my stomach growled. She felt practically alive. His eyes inspected the small, blue packages cradled near my chest, and then something in me knew that he was hungrier than he appeared.
I’ll take this one, he said, grabbing brown sugar. I’m Alex by the way. I’m June, I said. Thanks, June. I owe you. He walked away without paying me. I bought extra the next day in case he asked again. Each week, I waited for him by the vending machine. My mom bought me boxes of brown sugar Pop-Tarts, and I sheltered the foiled treasure in my backpack. Those were the ones I couldn’t eat.
Alex didn’t really talk to me again until we started our last year of high school. I saw him at the local country buffet that my mom and I went to every Sunday. It was right next to the Kroger, only a few minutes from our house. My mom would fill me up at the buffet, and then she’d go grocery shopping for the apartment. I had to stay in the car or else I’d go on a rampage.
I ran into him at the chocolate fountain, and it was a dream for me. There were two plates in my hand, one topped with macaroni and cheese mixed with mashed potatoes, the kind with the skins still in them. Chicken and meatloaf were somewhere in there. Green beans. I drizzled it all with steak sauce. I went to set my plate down and there his hand was, asking if I needed help balancing everything. We took a quick look at each other, and I recognized him immediately

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even though his appearance had changed, matured in just a few years. His arms were still lanky in a boyish way, but he was taller, and his shoulders were broader. There was a look in his eyes like he was seeing something for the first time, too, and suddenly I knew the food on my plate wouldn’t be enough.
He helped me dip all the cookies I had into the fountain. Chocolate drizzled onto our fingers; it was a messy process. I wondered what it would be like to bite on a sweet knuckle. After we piled everything onto my powder blue plate, he asked me what I was doing Friday night. His parents were out of town, and he wanted a few people over.
You should come, he said. Barbecue chicken was on his single plate. Sweet corn. Lima beans. A ball of glistening bread. Those were always rock-solid, but I saw the appeal. I’ll be there, I said, looking up at him. We parted ways at the chocolate fountain, and I walked back to the table where my mom was sitting. She was still picking at her first plate when I sat down. Who was that? she asked, pushing aside watery pineapple. Alex from school, I said. I could feel her eyes on me. Yeah? she asked. I knew she wanted me to continue, but she would never pry. I got you some marshmallows, I said, plopping them on her plate. She popped one in her mouth and smiled at me. Then she looked up past my shoulder. Oh, we gotta go, she said, grabbing her purse. I shoveled coconut macaroons in my mouth and stuffed some in my jacket as I turned around. From across the restaurant, I saw the

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buffet manager quickly walk across the floor to our seats, weaving through senior citizens and flailing kids. He had a stopwatch in his hand. My two hours were up.
Six days and millions of calories later, it was Friday. I had my outfit ready. My mom sat me down in her bathroom to help me with my make-up and hair. We went over the schedule for the month of June. I had a state-wide wing-eating competition in two weeks. That would make us $7,000 and then I’d be a runner up for the national finale. In July, there was a grouper sandwich competition on the gulf. I could make us an easy three grand. In the Keys, that conch fritter one.
Are you excited? my mom asked me. She brushed my hair and sprayed it with heat protectant. I knew exactly what she meant by asking that. I didn’t want her to know how hungry I was.
Yes, I said. It’ll be nice to see the Keys again. She gave me a small laugh while she sectioned off my hair.
I’m talking about tonight, silly, she said. I clenched my legs together without thinking. She smiled in the mirror at me and mentioned how she was happy to see me making friends. She said I’m becoming a woman. My lower belly growled in agreement.
In just a few minutes, my hair was curled, mascara on my eyelashes. I put on my outfit and stood before her. She squealed, and her hands flew to her face with excitement.
You don’t look like the Shrew, she said, nearly bursting. My stage name made us laugh. I was given the name by a Tampa journalist after I won my fourth contest: “High-school girl beats 15 men in hot dog eating competition. Don’t let her small frame fool you. She eats to live. She lives to eat. She is the Shrew.”

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She brushed hair out of my face and turned me around proudly for the final reveal in the mirror. I looked famished, sunken within myself.
My mom dropped me off at Alex’s house. She asked me several times on the way there to text her if something happened and when I was ready to leave. We pulled up to the house, and I leaned over to hug her. Her hair smelled like our apartment. Fruity cereal and bergamot. When I opened the car door to step out, she stopped me to say that there are always other ways to our hearts than through our stomachs. She grabbed my wrists with a tender grip and said to please, please be careful. She looked at me as if she knew I knew how people could be selfish with their appetites. I promised to make smart decisions. I told her I loved her, and that I’d see her soon. I stepped out and walked toward the door. When I rang the doorbell, I heard laughter and conversation mixed with music. It made me clutch my purse to my stomach.
A girl answered with a beer bottle in her hand. She looked surprised when she saw me standing there. I turned to my mom and waved. She waved back and drove off.
Hi, she said. You could have just walked in, she added. I stepped inside as she held the door open for me.
I looked around to observe a room of mingling high schoolers. I scanned the area for Alex but saw no sign of him. She offered to lead me to the kitchen.
There’s cold beer in the fridge, she said. And there’s food there. She pointed at a tray of untouched browning celery and chalky carrots on the kitchen counter. I frowned.
Yeah, I know, she said. Let me grab you a beer. She walked to the fridge and opened it. I heard her moving plastic bags out of the way. The kitchen was open so I could see people in the living room. Some of them stared at me when

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Batter: A Creative Writing Portfolio