Every Monday morning for the last eight weeks, eight to 10 of us gathered from nine to noon at the Bibliotheque North Hatley Library to write.
Expertly led Carolyn Rowell, who came to the workshops equipped with all kinds of interesting exercises, prompts, thoughts, and ideas to challenge us, we put pens to paper (or fingers to keyboard), then shared the fruits of our labour between ourselves.
I find it extraordinarily challenging to write on the spot, because I’m prone to endless pondering, and letting my ideas percolate, sometimes for years! That may be why I am as yet unpublished beyond the Internet 🙂
One of our final exercises was to produce something from a five-word “salad” comprising (in my case): dreams, life, secrets, maggots, and bumblebees – not as easy as it may sound! (The exercise process is described below the creative results if you would like to give it a try yourself).
Here are my four separate and silly results:
1) Creating Space
Wriggle, writhe, write their life
In dead flesh.
They feed on carrion.
Thrive on rot, garbage, and gangrene.
Sometimes on open wounds.
That’s maggots out of the way.
Now there’s space for
2) It’s a test
Which one of these five does not belong and why?
Dreams, life, secrets, maggots, bumblebees.
Tough question at 9:46 on a Monday morning.
3) Wriggling Writer’s Block
My writing brain is disengaged
It’s filled with feeding maggots
They clog my creativity
I couldn’t stitch a faggot!
The wrigglers keep my dreams at bay
They burrow in my secrets.
They chain me to the page you see
A million pearly anklets.
I wish I had a bumblebee
To give them all a sting
And put some life back in my pen
Now that would be the thing!
4) Give Me a Buzz
“You should have gone with ‘men with pot bellies,’” says Me Too. “Maggots. Sheesh. Whatever possessed you to pick maggots?”
“I know, I know,” sighs Me One. “It’s Nancy’s fault. She brought up ‘ants writhing.’ And once she had, there was no going back.” (Me One likes passing the buck.)
“Okay, so what now? Now that we’ve started down this dead end maggot track and there seems nowhere else to go?” Me Too is frustrated. Can’t blame her really. Me One often makes stupid choices for which Me Too must pay.
“Hmmmm. Let me see. We could practice writing dialogue….” Me One tests the writerly waters.
“Dialogue!? Dialogue!?” Me Too heaps exasperation onto frustration. “Dialogue is ten times worse than maggots! Have you totally lost it? Clear your brain of that crazy dream this instant.”
Me One chuckles inwardly. It’s no secret Me Too hates composing dialogue. Still, it was worth a try. That’s what life is all about after all, giving it a go, even when you know there’s little hope of success.
“You’re right Me Too,” Me One is suitably contrite and conciliatory. “How about this: we just forget about maggots, dreams, life, and secrets, and skip directly to bumblebees.
“Cool.” Me One is suddenly silly: “Ready, set, go at the sound of the buzzzzzzzzer!”
In case you want to try it, here’s the process:
Take a few minutes and make a list under each of the following headings:
- Things that are gone in the morning
- Things that begin and end in grief
- Things that don’t stay secret
- Things that are unsightly
- Things that are full of grace
Choose one word from each of the five lists, and toss all five words into a random “word salad”) to create a story, essay, poem, or whatever else manifests.
My lists were:
- Things that are gone in the morning: dark, sleepiness, dreams, bad/negative thoughts, troubles, yesterday’s challenges.
- Things that began and end in grief: life, relationships, Alzheimer’s, war, rape, depression, funerals.
- Things that don’t stay secret: love, secrets, disease, pregnancy, contempt, purple hair, lies.
- Things that are unsightly: unwanted hair, maggots, fly swarms, garbage dumps, men with pot bellies, obesity.
- Things that are full of grace: me when I’m at peace, flower arrangements, bumblebees, birds as they sing, a calm lake, the world at dusk, dawn, a summer breeze, a newborn baby asleep.
I chose: dreams, life, secrets, maggots, and bumblebees.
Have fun 🙂
P.S. If you’re looking for real recipes, you’ll find some here.