Exercise about Place–100 words

16 03 2008

Prompt: “We are supposed to _want_ to see the great places of the world. But what if, in fact, we would much, much rather get home and for once get on top and _stay_ on top of the dandelion situation in the lawn?… Describe some place where great or infamous history was made that means very, very little to you”
–Carol Bly, Beyond the Writer’s Workshop: New Ways to Write Creative Nonfiction, p284

The Tower of London, where all those queens lost their heads, where all those traitors were thrown, meant nothing to me, just more lines, people, waiting. Silly men in silly costumes. Then my brother enumerated for me all the castle crooks who threw people to the rats, the stocks, the rope , and all the crooks who crossed the Irish Sea to kill and pillage and plunder there. By the time I donned my school uniform with its silk crest that next week, I was determined to do my bit of resisting. After all, these girls represented the aristocracy. Prince Charles was a student at the university. And so I stomped loudly up the Prefects’ staircase, and got caught in the act, pulled along by my collar. No stocks for me, but no lunch, either.





Smoke (100 words)

12 03 2008

march ice

I have gauzy memories of my very young mother smoking out on our back patio, with college friends, drinking wine, waxing on, I imagine, about literature and philosophy and love as colored candles dripped like hippie hair down the sides of a cheap chianti bottle. Twenty four with three children. College-after-kids. As we grew to adolescence, she gave up those languid evenings, and cigarettes bit by bit, pretending to quit so we wouldn’t start, backing into her bathroom finally to throw open the small, clouded window and perch on the windowsill, leaning out into the pale winter sky, sighing smoke.





Creative Nonfiction Exercise

5 03 2008

“On Storms”

Driving across the flat bones of Saskatchewan, you knew you could make the Manitoba border before dark. The road was straight, the air clear, your energy in that soft limbo of cross-country travel. Easy with one another, ready to throw yourselves into the forge of marriage, yes–you thought you might even drive through the night, through several nights.

When the gaping sky suddenly shape-shifted, swiveled, exposing its insides, though, you, you lost your bearings. Yellow-green salting a purple rash, deepening, infecting the plains. And no sound at all except for the tires, the engine. Just freaked-out sky hunkering over the flat flat land.

He glinted. “A good summer storm! About freakin’ time!” You withdrew into a New Englander’s silent shelter. But the sky responded, shattering around you into slicing rain, lightning, thunder–a cacophony of sensation, chasing you onward onward, he, soon-to-be-husband leaning into the windshield, strange, a stranger.

Here are the rules:

1. Use a second-person narrator

2. Use 150 words.
3. Use the following words: bones, glint, forge, salt
4. Title it “On Storms”
5. Make it creative nonfiction
6. Go…