Who stole the weekend when I wasn’t looking? I am in serious brain drain mode after a great great weekend. As promised, I attended Judy Reeves marathon creative writing workshop. 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Which for me was more like 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (this includes the shlep to San Diego and the not-so-pleasant traffic on the way back). But TOTALLY worth it.
A great room, full of great women (and two guys). I think there were about 15 or so of us, all of whom seemed either impressed that I’d come from LA or considered I was quite barmy. Or perhaps a harmonious combination of both? Either way I had a blast.
Judy is great – inspiring, fun, focusing on the theme of Summer this summery day. We wrote for three minutes, five minutes, 12 minutes, 17 minutes – depending on the prompt. We worked on poems together, wrote alone, read our work out loud, drew inspiration from sights sounds and smells in the street, postacards handed out, little slips of coloured paper.. AND we received cute party favours – a plastic cup with a crazy straw, a cute fan. There were beautiful sunflowers on the table, along with much needed sugar fortification – red vines, M&M’s, trail mix, cherries, little cup cakes. Yum!
But best of all was the writing. Lots of fun, an amazing array of voices in the class – some funny, some sad. Truly incredible how you can come up with vastly different stories from the same prompt. ‘Twas fun, if not a little exhausting.
Here is just ONE piece I wrote in that class. Judy read out three separate prompts at three minute intervals, and we just had to keep writing and incorporate the next prompt into our writing.
The first prompt was: On the inside. We wrote for three minutes and then she threw out the second prompt: a recurring dream. Another three minutes of writing and the final prompt: someone is playing the piano
HERE’S MY STORY
This is hallowed space. Here where we prep, wash and cleanse your body. Here is where we will wipe away the scars of your smashed remains and make you beautiful once more so we can send you pristine and perfect into the next world. Back, back, back you go. Sweat soaked, crying uncontrollably, you cannot breathe. They’ve come to get you; blow you to smithereens, blow you out of this world and steal your birthright. You were born to play the piano but the walls are way too thin. The neighbours complain. You can hear them:
“What do I have to do to get some peace and quiet around here? Those bloody scales. Up and down, up and down. Why don’t they just let the kid take drawing classes?”
“Hey,” you hear him say in his deep baritone. “It could be worse. The brat could be learning to play the violin.”
“I don’t care,” she shoots back. “I just wish he were dead.”
And now you are.
Okay, so it’s not particularly sunny, but then again, I’m not the sunniest person in the world either. Blame my subconscious!
Alright, here’s a happier one. The prompt was: A summer storm
The bullets rain down thick and fast heralding another smashing Sydney summer.
Spitting and cursing on the prefabricted roofs of the box-like classrooms, inside the children suffer and squirm, waiting, waiting for the bell to toll. And they don’t even know who John Donne is.
But it doesn’t matter. The break, the fault line that runs between the slow, languid build up of dark musky humidity — sometimes days in the making — and the heavens’ release, pushed to breaking point, puffing out their cheeks and holding their breath until they can no longer contain themselves or sustain their glee.
The gumball-sized icicles devolve into the pavement, scattering rainbow puddles, bouncing along like marbles in a penny arcade. They peel down the hill as the bell peals for recess and 35 chairs scrape back in unision; tiny feet head for the door and tumble into the courtyard.
“Wait!” the teacher cries. “Take your raincoats.”
But they don’t hear. They don’t care. All they want is to fling off their lace-up shoes, twirl their socks in the air and skip between those delicious, icy, dancing, donuts.
We wrote much more on lots of different things, but that’s enough for now I think.
It’s Monday again, and I’m scrounging for work. Thrilled that I got two articles out (nope, three) last week. My latest can be viewed here: It’s the story on Max Said Yes about Woodstock (mentioned in an earlier post).
Now I must dredge up some more pitches for other papers, magazines etc. And now I’m excited to write some more fiction.
How’s the website you ask? Coming along, coming along…. All will be revealed soon,
Happy Monday everyone!