Camp Day 1 – Off to a great start!

June 1, 2012

So, it was a rather rainy Friday here in Southern Ontario, so I didn’t want to take the Alphasmart or a netbook with me and write on the bus. Instead, I took a bit of time writing at home, then drove Ghost in to work, back home, and wrote more.

I ended up starting “A new Look”, based on an old prompt from Nicki, and though I only got a few hundred words done in the morning, I’m now over 1700, which means that I’m nearly done. I’m probably going to go over two thousand words, especially since I’ve got the whole denouement to go yet, but I think I can wrap it up in less than 1000 more.

This is definitely a great start – one story nearly complete on the first day, and it was a workday to boot. Maybe I’ll even be able to do better than eight stories in June – but I’m not going to commit to that yet. 😉

The socks left behind

March 4, 2011

This was from a prompt writing exercise at the Hamilton Writer’s group (Chester’s beers of the world,) over a year ago. As always, feedback greatly appreciated.

There’s a wormhole that opens up in the top drawer of the dresser and swallows socks. Nobody knows where it leads, but any sock that goes through that hole in the space-time continuum is never seen or heard from again.

Everybody in the whole dresser knows about it, and even the dress shirts and pants that get put on plastic hangers in the closet have heard the stories as they go through the laundry. New socks, fresh from the store, shake when they first find out, and hope that they’ll be left in the laundry basket after they’re washed and dried, just so that they don’t have to get put away in the top drawer.

But I’m not afraid of the top drawer. That wormhole has already taken everything it can from me. It’s not going to take what’s left of me.

I’m a gray dress sock with black horizontal stripes, and I’ve lived in the top drawer of that dresser for three years.

Sometimes I do dwell on the wormhole, concocting overly elaborate plans to track a fresh white tube sock as it gets sucked away, to find out what’s on the other end, or to implode the wormhole permanently. But I know that that’s all melodramatic nonsense. I’m a sock for god’s sake, and a lone sock at that. There’s nothing I can do against forces of that kind.

Lately, I’m often the one who tells the facts of life in the top drawer to the new purchases. The white briefs snicker as the story is retold – they know that they’re untouchable, although some of them have seen dozens of innocent socks get snatched.

Occasionally a fresh sock, a deep navy blue one perhaps, will ask if there’s any way for a sock to be safe. I know the answer to that, and I’m honest enough to tell them, although that’s the answer that breaks my heart.

“The vortex will never suck away a sock once its mate has already been taken, kid,” I tell them. “What do you think about that?”


Brian Henry exercise number three – Cup of tea assignment

February 4, 2011

Okay, I’ve got one more bit of writing from the Oakville Brian Henry plotting workshop to share today – the assignment was to write something about characters coming to a decision while doing something mundane – such as preparing and drinking a cup of tea. I went in a slightly different direction for it. Please, let me know your thoughts, I love getting feedback on little snippets of writing like this!


The file organizer box sitting next to the videotape shelves was the logical place to start.

Of course, it wasn’t as if the shelves held videotapes anymore. Who had videotapes these days? VCRs have finally gone the way of the eight-track player. So there was a remarkable assortment of burned optical disks, paperback books, USB cables, DVD box sets, and scrap paper on those shelves. There might even be some receipts on those shelves, and I’d need to look through those if it came to that. But the file organizer box was first.

I sat down in the armchair and opened up the box on my lap. Twenty different labelled pockets, all stuffed full of receipts. So much for the paperless economy, huh? Credit card receipts, utility receipts, bank receipts, miscellaneous receipts that defied description, and… there it was. Investment receipts.

Investment receipts showing ninety thousand dollars that I’d sent to the fund people. Day before yesterday, it had probably been worth a hundred grand. Today? Who the hell knew.

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Another Brian Henry exercise to share.

January 28, 2011

Well, I figured that again, I’d share one of the little passages that I wrote at the Brian Henry workshop last Saturday, which was really fun, especially his slightly tweaked version of the Snowflake method.

I’m not sure if looking at an exercise like this is really the best way of judging what I’ve learned at a workshop, by the way, but they’re fun to write, and probably show a bit about how I was thinking about the workshop topic. For this one, in the morning, we were talking about how to structure short stories, and how they can grow up around a very small seed or prompt. This was based on a prompt that somebody called out, which was: “By the time I got to ______, the turtle wasn’t there anymore!”


“Purpose of the trip?”

I was taken by surprise at the fact that they actually asked the question outside of tv shows and movies. Maybe I shouldn’t have been, after all, they have to get cliches like that from somewhere. But it wasn’t like I was used to dealing with customs and immigration officials. Heck, I could still count the number of times I’d left Massachussets on the fingers of one hand.

“Umm, well, I’m looking for a – that is to say, business. Or education, more than anything else – or educational business. It’s a student field research trip.”

The uniformed official considered this. “So you’re being sponsored by an American university?”

“Yes.” I dove into my carryon looking for something official with the Harvard letterhead on it, until I was waved down, a gesture that I took to mean that I shouldn’t bother. “Is there a local school that you’ll be working with?”

“I… I’m not sure,” I said. “A local zoologist, at least – Doctor Hector Guerras. I think that he’s with the Institute of Reptile research in Daracas, not an instructor at a school.”

“Very good. Is the Institute arranging for your lodging?”

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