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Exercise #27: Evasion

Jeremy woke up one morning, sat up in bed, looked at Boot—perched on the pile of Newsweeks under the window—and said out loud, “Today is the day.” He swung his legs off the side of the bed, careful to place his feet in the narrow path that led to the bathroom.

He said it again, louder this time: “Today is the day.” At the sound of Jeremy’s voice, Boot sprang from the stack of magazines to the bed. Some papers fluttered to the floor. …more

Exercise #26: Not Wearing It

Dr. Schollman says it doesn’t matter if I wear my hat or not, and that the important thing is that I take the pills, take all the pills, take the pills every day, the blue pills that the pharmacist counts with big steel tweezers on a white tray into the bottle one two three four five and so on until there is one for every day of the month and then I am supposed to come back for more, But it’s very important, Billy, says the pharmacist—this is the pharmacist talking to me now, not Dr. S—It’s very important, Billy, that you take your pill every day.

But I know that the pills are like the hat …more

Exercise #14: Lead Line: “I cannot help noticing all the things that…”

I cannot help noticing all the things that I let get in the way of writing. I came in here more than an hour ago, and my agenda was clear: to write for another half hour, including coming up with something in response to this prompt, and then to get my ass to bed at a reasonable hour. But no. I had to have a quick look at Facebook. And then I had to see what was going on over at two or three other “social networking” sites (read: places to meet guys). Nothing was going on, but I didn’t let that stop me from distracting myself there for a while. Then back to Facebook, because I was thinking about what I’d said to my young cousin, Michelle, about maybe setting up a fan page for the Gumnick family. But then I determined that they don’t really accommodate family sites in the “fan page” model, so I had to figure out where to go to set up a group, and then I had to nose around to figure out which category a family group gets filed into. And then I had to figure out a name and description for the group. And then I had to find jussssst the right photo for the group page. And then I had to tweak some of the wording a little. And send an invitation to all of the family members who are on Facebook. And then remember a few in-laws I’d forgotten. Then I had to go back to one of those other sites to reply to a couple of messages that had come in while I was tinkering on Facebook.

And mixed in with all of that, there was a fair amount of staring blankly at the screen and thinking, “I should stop messing around and get to writing, or I’m going to be up half the night. But first, let me see what this thing over here is.” [Sound of mouse click.]

But now I’m here, and I’m writing. So get off my back already.

Note: The title of this assignment is self-explanatory, I think. It didn’t inspire any flashes of creative brilliance (or even dull glows thereof), but I’m sticking to a “warts and all” policy of posting everything I write in this workshop.

© 2009 Edward F. Gumnick

Exercise #12: Fear of Water

Tomorrow the god will show his face in the shadow of the big temple. Then the priests will feed us a meal of corn and beans and give us a drink from a gold cup, wash us, paint our faces with the signs of Kukulkan in red and blue, and dress us in gold and feathers. And then they will lead us to the cenote.

I want to believe I will have the courage walk on my own legs and that they will not have to …more

50/50 Exercise #34: Lead Line: “Tonight my brother, in heavy boots, is walking…”

Tonight his comrades are patrolling up near the logging camp. They haven’t taken Klein along because it’s a dangerous assignment, and he’s still worth too much to them as a hostage, even though they—and he—have long since stopped thinking of him primarily as a hostage.

He stays in the camp and cooks a bland meal of corn cakes and red beans to keep himself busy, and so his captors will have something warm to eat when they return from their reconnaissance mission in the cold, damp hills. He warms the canned beans a little over a propane stove and cooks the corn barely long enough …more

50/50 Exercise #24: Siblings

My brother calls me a collaborator, a traitor—and worse. I ask him what he would do if he were the one responsible for our mother’s care. But he’s not responsible. What good are his principles when she is near starving and I don’t have the money to buy the medicine that might quiet her pain?

I take responsibility for the choices I have made. I accept the rations that they give me, although it is not enough for three of us. My brother lectures me on the subject of sacrifice. When he comes to visit us on a moonless night, he invokes the name of our father. I don’t need to be reminded of what was taken from both of us. I don’t want to hear …more

50/50 Exercise #9: Resistance

When I am 18, I will go up on the surface to fight beside my brothers. My mother says that she needs me too much to let me go sooner. She says that she cannot tend the plot of hydroponics beds by herself. Every day she tells me what a good worker I am. She wants me to believe that she could not produce our quota without my help.

I know what she is afraid of. She knows that most of our people who go out there never come back down below.

I cannot wait until I am 18, so I fight in the ways that I have found to fight. It is not much. …more

(Lame) Excuses

[None of the writing projects I’ve been working on lately are in good enough shape yet to go on the blog, so I thought I’d post something I wrote a while back (January 25, 2006) in the interest of having something fresh for anyone who might be keeping an eye on the site. This piece has been well received by most of the writers with whom I’ve shared it.]

Why I don’t spend more time writing:

  • Because it’s too hard to do anything when I first get out of bed in the morning, and then I’m too busy for the rest of the day.
  • Because by the time I’m winding down after all of the day’s activities, I’m too tired.
  • Because even though there’s nothing (whatsoever) worth watching on television, I park myself in front of the TV for at least five or six hours a week.
  • Because I’m too busy trying to get laid.
  • Because even though I’m thoroughly bored with my ordinary work, while I’m doing that work, I know what I’m supposed to be doing. …more