I visited a writing group this morning. It was about what I expected– six conservative hating women in their fifties and sixties, writing off of prompts cut out of magazine clippings. I’m not sure that I at all fit in with them, but the practice is appreciated. We wrote to six prompts, each 6-8 minutes, and I thought that I’d share my best with you.
Mr. Thompson was a gentleman, as far as society was concerned. He wore a silk top hat with a black ribbon about the base, and his coat was brushed and pressed to a crisp. Intellectualism was the norm for the wealthy aristocracy, but I couldn’t help feel that Mr. Ezra Thompson took it too far when he invited me for tea and showed me his doomsday device.
It weighed fifty-ton and ran off of steam, he told me. Brass fittings with giant bolts and gears, the monstrosity of destruction took up the whole of his workshop.
“It is… interesting,” I said.
“It is amazing, Miss Dellia! The greatest invention of our time, perhaps!”
I wasn’t so sure. “Does it play games? There is an automaton… a machine that plays chess in the form of a Turk, I’d heard. Austrian make, perhaps?”
“No.” Mr. Thompson appeared put-out.
“Does it take snap shots, or inform one of the state of the weather?”
He confessed that it did neither.
“Well, what good is a devise that can neither play a game, nor take a snapshot, nor give one the weather? No, no, no, my dear Mr. Thompson, you must keep working.”
And he nodded, and set about redesigning the machine once more with the air of a scolded dog.
The basic idea (to use Belinda‘s wording, as she alerted me to this) is that it’s a little like a dating site… except that instead of finding dates, you’re looking for compatible writing-critique buddies. You create an account, fill out how long you’ve been writing, your strengths and weaknesses, and what sort of things you’d like in a critique partner.
The site is only two days old, so it’s small right now. I hope it grows much larger– this was a great idea.
Sleep has never come easily. I remember staring up at the ceiling even when I was very young, watching the shadows of the horizontal blinds move as cars passed by our house, blue and gray walls turning orange and black for a few brief seconds. My bed was tucked beside the wall and away from the path of light and shadow, but I still liked holding my hands up into it, to see the shape they could make as they retreated across the room.
There was one night that I remember distinctly laying in bed, thinking about something I had learned that day, that there were people that spoke languages that weren’t like mine. I was confused, and convinced that regardless, they must still think in English. How could people think differently from me? The concept was abstract, speculative, too far away from my experience. I worked around it. Perhaps, if I learned a new word, I could use that in my thought process. What if that new word happened to be in another language, and I just didn’t realize that? Would I be thinking in words that weren’t my own? Or maybe, just maybe thoughts weren’t words at all. Maybe the images in your head had their own language, a mind-language, that you interpreted as it came to you. That made me feel better, as if I had solved something.
I was five years old. Too young to give voice to the things in my head, aware enough to cry when I heard my parents screaming at each other through the thin walls of our little house, naïve enough to think that making stop signs stopped more than just traffic.
(One of the last writing classes I took in college was on literary non-fiction. It may have been one of the best things for my craft at the time, and I still indulge myself in it now and then.)