Thursday, May 24, 2012

Five Words That Are Not In The Dictionary

Last Friday, I went to a free creative writing workshop, run by the New York Writers Coalition. It was a really neat event: about 25 people met at the Station Island Ferry terminal down near Battery Park. We were all given notepads, picked writing prompts out of a canvas bag, and boarded the ferry. Then, we all sat silently and wrote for the 10-15 minute ferry ride. When we reached Staten Island, we debarked, split into small groups of 4 or 5 people, and read our pieces to one another, giving one positive comment to each writer. Then, we reconvened in the Staten Island terminal, received our second prompt, and repeated the process (boarding the ferry, writing on the ride back, and sharing our pieces in small groups back in the Manhattan terminal).

It has been a very, very long time since I wrote anything purely fictional, and even longer since I wrote a timed fictional piece based on a prompt. I was wary going into the whole experience (would I be able to come up with any ideas? would I be able to find the right words?), but it turned out better than I could have hoped.

The feedback I received was so positive, in fact, that I decided to share the pieces I wrote here, on my blog. They are certainly not polished, nor are they complete, but I'm proud to finally have written something--anything--after such a long writing drought. And, of course, I have always loved writing for (and reading to) an audience.

My first prompt was: Write using give words that are not in the dictionary. Here is what I wrote.

"Katie, it's time to get up."

The bundle of sheets squirmed and then grew still again.

"No Katie, get out of the bed. It's time to go to church."

"Nooooo," came the high pitched whine. "Mommy, I can't."

"Yes you can." Laura leaned over the bed and tugged down the blanket, revealing two bright blue eyes and an impish smile that her daughter quickly contorted into a grimace.

"I can't, Mommy, I can't!"

Despite the protests, Laura tucked one arm under her daughter's body and scooted her toward the edge of the bed.

"Yes you can. Look, I laid out your pretty yellow sundress and your favorite pink shoes."

"But Mommy, I can't wear them!"

Laura started to peel back the blankets further, but Katie yanked the blanket from her grip.

"Mommy, don't!" She pulled the blanket up under her chin, protectively. "You'll see them!"

Laura tried not to sigh. "See what? Why can't you get up and put your clothing on? You know it's Sunday. On Sundays, we get up and get dressed for church."

"Because of them." Katie stared at her mother imploringly.

"Because of who?"

"The honk monsters!"

"The . . . honk monsters." Laura tried not to smile. "And what exactly are these honk monsters doing to keep you from getting ready for church?"

"They nommed my toesies."

Laughter bubbled up inside Laura's throat, and she gave an unconvincing cough. Katie continued to stare at her mother in horror.

They did, Mommy. My toesies are gone!"

When she had finally composed herself, Laura turned to fully face her daughter.

"Daddy is the only one who can nom your toesies, Katie. Remember?"

Katie shook her head.

"It's true," Laura said. "It is. Look what happens when I do it." Gingerly, she unwrapped one of Katie's feet from the blanket and then, bending over, she hovered her mouth right above Katie's toes.

"Ahhhh-nom-nom-nom. Ahhhh-nom-nom-nom."

Then she stood up and shrugged helplessly.

"See? Your toes are still right there. It didn't work."

Katie shook her head. "That's because you didn't do it right. Only Daddy does it right." With that, she began to unwind herself from the sheet. Then, suddenly, she stopped.

"But . . . the honk monsters. What if they come back?"

"No," Laura assured her. "They won't come back. Honk monsters are afraid of shunshi--I mean, sunshine.""

"Shunshine!" Katie leapt out of bed, knocking all of the sheets to the floor. "Shun-shine, shun-shine, who's afraid of shun-shine!"

Hopping from one foot to the other, she danced out of the room and down the hallway toward the bathroom. Laura sank down onto the bed and leaned over to pick the sheet off the floor. From there, she heard the bathroom door open and the rumble of her husband's voice.

"Turble burble, where's my little purble gurble?"

Katie squealed, and the bathroom door slammed shut again.

Shunshine, Laura thought. Banishing honk monsters for my purble gurble.

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