#StayHomeWriMo Day 5

Writing Prompt: Go outside (if you safely can). Put on your writer hat and try to notice 5 things to write about! 

My 5 things: gardening, waterfall, Buddha, t-shirt, bugs

The young man looked up to the sun, sweat beating down his face as he raked leaves. Kids ran by in delight down the freshly cleaned path to the waterfall nearby. He watched them with envy– free to make their own decisions, free to bounce and leap down the trail as they wished.

He so wished he could take his standard issue t-shirt off as he worked. Why did they make them wear such heavy material? Wasn’t it enough to be forced to do community service? Maybe it was to slow them down if they tried to run. He chuckled to himself. The guy working next to him gave him a dirty look.

Their site supervisor called out “BREAK” and everyone dropped their tools, huffing. They crowded under a tree for shade and accepted the pitiful granola bar and bottle of water. As if they were school children on rations. He smiled to himself again, remembering how he used to try to trade kids on the playground services like finishing their homework for granola bars like this one.

“What are you laughing at?” the man next to him asked, irritated.

“Oh, I was just thinking…” he started, but the man moved on, swatting flies and giving him a dirty look. He shrugged and sat under the tree, savoring the sweet oats and nuts flavour, trying not to drop anything on the forest floor.

“Okay, breaks up! Back to work!” The supervisor declared. The crowd of orange shirts slowly got up, cracking plastic water bottles in their fists, sauntering back to their work stations.

A group of yogis gathered on the opposite side of the trail, overlooking the waterfall beyond the trees. He watched their gentle movements, their limbs swaying in the breeze, the Buddha around one women’s neck twinkling in the sunlight. He sighed. They looked so peaceful.

Shaking his head, he thought to himself, ‘when I get out, I’m not wasting my time on that!’

Smiling, he went back to work.

#StayHomeWriMo Day 4

Writing Prompt: Write about a secret you or a character have been keeping

So many directions to go in… how do I pick just one?

She looked at her computer screen, contemplating the latest ridiculous problem her boss put in front of her. Statistics that were out off date, case files that made no sense, reports riddled with spelling mistakes. She sighed, looking out of her second story window to a grey dull sky on the brink of rain…

“Do do do, do do…” the song of online video conferencing shook her attention and she popped back to her screen. “Good morning…” she began, more resentful then she meant to be. Her boss began to dictate the rest of her day. She thought she was going to escape from this… from him, at least, by working from home! Apparently not.

Pellets of rain pattered lightly against her window.

As he droned on, a bang echoed from below her. She jumped in surprise and looked towards the door.

“Everything alright?” Her boss noticed. Darn.

More yelling from below. “Yup. Um. Just a sec,” she lunged from her chair and poked her head out the door.

“What’s going on down there?”

“Nothing!” little voices rang back.

She called to her partner, who assured her everything was fine.

“Keep it down, please!” she retorted, irritated.

Huffing, she dragged herself back to the video conference. Her boss continues as she stared out he window, a steady stream of rain pattering against her window. Tears welled in her eyes.

“Okay!” she exclaimed, surprised it was already over. “Yes. Talk to you soon!”

Her shoulders collapsed at the weight of documents waiting for her attention. She knew if she worked for a couple hours, she could make great headway and then she could cook a fun dinner with her kids. Maybe homemade pizza!

Okay, she thought. Let’s do this! I can do this! Rain was streaming down her windows now. Giggles from downstairs. She shook her head and dived into the onslaught of documents.

One hour ticked by, an hour and a half, two hours. All the while rain drenched the windows and she desperately wished she could throw her computer into it.

Finally, she had to emerge for lunch. Little voices were laughing and yelling in the kitchen. She so desperately wanted to join in on the fun.

“Hey everybody! Whatcha doing?” she smiled.

“Hi mama! Look what we made! Look, we did it!”

Her youngest wobbled over with a plate of homemade pizza. Everybody held their breath, beaming, waiting for her response.

Thunder clapped outside and she jumped.

“Oh! It’s wonderful! Amazing…” she echoed, tears welling up for the second time today. They weren’t convinced. “Thank you so much,” she added, kissing her youngest on the head.

“Mine’s pepperoni!” the little one exclaimed, “I don’t like pineapple.”

“Uhhuhh…” she nodded, staring at the pizza.

They ate their lunch, the kids retelling the whole messy story. After cleaning up and settling into colouring, she dragged herself back upstairs to the dreadful computer screen.

As the rain continued, she slagged to meet her deadline. Just as she was about to log off for the day, she heard it again.

“Do do do, do do…” surprised, she logged on to see her boss calling her. She took a deep breath, praying no overtime, and answered.

“Hello.” Her boss was serious. “There’s no easy way to tell you this, but we’re going to have to let you go.”

Her mouth fell open. “What? But I have so much work to do!”

“I know, and it will get done, I promise you!” (as if she cared) “but we’re just not bringing in revenue now. I can’t afford to keep you.”

She sat in disbelief.

“Ok.”

She logged off. Wind knocked rain hard against the window. She got up, slammed her computer closed, and marched downstairs. Nobody noticed her walk out the front door and stand on the stoop. She closed her eyes, rain pelting her from all directions, and sighed with relief.

 

 

#StayHomeWriMo Day 3

Writing Prompt: Set your text to white and try freewriting in invisible mode. No inner editors allowed! 

Since I usually write in a journal first before “editing” for the screen. I am going to leave my messy work there in the book today! Feel free to explore your writing and do the same– whatever works for you! There is no right or wrong way to write- as long as you have fun doing it!

As an added challenge, you can time yourself! Put the timer on your phone to 3, 5, 10 minutes and try writing without stopping or looking at any distractions. And remember, no editing!

Happy writing!

#StayHomeWriMo Day 2

Writing Prompt: Pick 5 words at random from different blog posts, tweets or articles and use them all in a scene.

My 5 words: Covid, Mama Bear, Happy, Meditation, Puppy

“Come on Covid, come here!”

The old chocolate lab shook his tail happily at the attention but kept his distance. His gentle eyes looked on curiously as the new puppy tried to leap and bound out of Papa Bear’s arms.

“Come on sweetie, come and meet your new buddy!” Covid looked again from Mama Bear, Papa Bear, the squirming crazy thing. He bowed his head, already exhausted by the effort this encounter was causing. How he yearned to find a quiet place on the kitchen floor to meditate.

“Oh- shoot!” Papa Bear lurched forward and the new little bullet shot out of his arms.

Covid’s eyes widened in shock as the fluffy devil skirted around his rigid form. He didn’t dare take his eyes off of it. He leaned in to sniff the bugger, trying to identify his scent. If only the darned thing would sit still!

“WOOF.”

Everybody stopped. Mama and Papa Bear looked on in amazement. They’d never heard their Covid make that sound.

The little fur ball inched closer to Covid.

“WOOF.”

The little puppy sat, staring up in awe.

“WOOF.”

The little puppy laid down, eyes locked on Covid. Covid, satisfied, sniffed momentarily, then sauntered to his favourite cold spot on the kitchen floor and flopped.

Industrious Art

A reflection on the Writer-in-Residence program at McMaster University and my personal experience meeting fellow inspiring writers!

From: http://thepaperstreetjournal.com/read/industrial-art/

INDUSTRIOUS ART

If grit and beauty both inspire and repulse you, you’ve likely found a home in Hamilton.

There is no one word to describe a city. Poverty, potholes–even beauty is an unfair hole in which to sink a city. The ever-changing pulse of a place constantly cultivates new talent and creates new possibilities. We are lucky to experience a great shift in Hamilton from industrial work to industrious art. The reflection of these possibilities reside in the hearts and work of artists.

Recently, McMaster University held an evening at the Faculty Hall celebrating the Writer-in-Residence program. Burlington native Kim Echlin was the 2015-2016 Writer-in-Residence, whose newest novel, Under the Visible Life, was recently featured atHamilton’s GritLIT festival. To accompany the evening was pianist Jason Scozzari, a McMaster piano student who picked up the art at the late age of fourteen. Together, these two harmonized a duet of words and music that inspired the audience.

Alongside her daily work as a writer, Echlin involved herself with the Hamilton arts and library community. She has been a hugely positive influence in the community, helping local writers cultivate their craft and perfect their work for various modes.

Seven writers from across the city gathered at the event to share their writing with the audience. All seemed influenced by Hamilton in one way or another, and all seemed proud to share bits and pieces of the city as their characters experienced it.

Each author’s piece of writing created a puzzle,  evoking intense imagery and diverse voices. Poverty was a central theme in multiple stories, one in particular discussing a woman from Wentworth Street who was weathered from a harsh life of mental illness and homelessness. Another story contrasted this through the life of a musician, living with her family on the Mountain Brow and dealing with lifelong struggles of her own.

Two brave authors shared pieces of their memoirs. One discussed a harsh reality of the closet in the dark basement becoming the caregiver to multiple children. In a weathered breath, another author shared his stories of sailing in the GTA. These truths shared by Hamilton writers were both relatable and inspiring to the audience. It was a riveting evening for all.

Writing, if done properly, sheds a light of truth on any subject. To continue the journey, follow this link to read the bios and excerpts of these brave writers living and working in Hamilton.

-Nichole Fanara, Chief Editor – Short Fiction

 

The Benefit of the Group

SKLessons from my first writing workshop

In a group, there is little room for doubt. The supportive atmosphere, the excitement of hearing something new, and the opportunity for growth are all contagious parts of the writers group dynamic. I experienced this on Saturday.

Kim Echlin (The Disappeared, nominated for the 2009 Giller Prize), the current Writer-in-Residence at McMaster University, hosted a writers workshop at the Hamiltion Public Library’s Central location. Local writers in association with Kim were asked to read scenes from their writing.  Many who attended were also aspiring writers curious about the craft itself.

For me, I have always been a “closeted writer.” I love to write, and I’ve worked at it for as long as I can remember. However, I’ve never shared my writing with a group of people. Only this year have I finally allowed someone in the writing community to read my work and offer commentary. From this authentic experience, I have gained confidence as a writer and improved my writing skills.

Kim has been an excellent shepherd in the writing community through her support in helping new writers emerge and take pride in their work. With a kind spirit and sweet disposition, Kim’s comments are always open-minded and thoughtful. She has reminded me that writing doesn’t always have to be a lonely or solitary struggle.

 

The following are some tips from Kim and the seven writers present at the event, in response to questions asked by audience members:

 

Some tips about “Writer’s Block”

  • Everyone experiences writer’s block at some point in their writing journey.
  • This usually stems from fear, the feeling of inadequacy or an unknown twist in the plot
  • Writing is the best medicine for writer’s block. Whatever you do, get your butt in the chair and WRITE
  • Try writing some “jibber jabber” or “free writing.” The process of allowing your mind to wander and allowing your characters to take you on a journey may help you reach the next part in your writing
  • JUST WRITE

 

Some tips on “Self-Doubt”

  • Your writing just is. It exists, it is there, it is open for judgement. No one person will think about your writing in the same way as another.
  • Surround yourself with a supportive group that will help you grow, not push you down
  • Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. You are entitled to write.
  • Criticism can help you grow as a writer, but negativity is not necessary
  • Keep an open mind
  • Oftentimes, we write because we can’t not write.
  • Write for yourself. Keep in mind the personal reason you have for writing and never let anyone change that.