Workshop notes

I’ve joined a writers’ workshop with some colleagues here, and find the exercises really exciting. The focused prompts make me think deliberately about my writing and my word choices and the effects they have on the story-telling/descriptive nature of my thoughts.   Some examples:

Prompt: write something focusing on sounds, using alliteration (if I remember correctly).

Sibilant sounds slide so smoothly, slipping softly, snakily, shaping sighs and sorrows. Sshhhh, silence and sacred, the hush of a soft word.

Cacophony crows and rings and cries and caws – crashing carelessly and crazily into conversations. bringing the chaos of cackling, crackling intent. The cymbals that crash and slither, the drums that bang and pulse. The music of our tongues, setting the beat and rhythm of our conversations, intentions and lives.

Prompt: Write about a chore/task from imagination or memory.

Dinner was always late- night, past bedtime.

So we napped between cocktails and cokes.


Waiting, increasingly hungry. So hungry we tried the chopped liver.

Finally, Grandpa pulls out the Fondue. It’s cheesy,

heavenly, and very sharp. Sharp with wine.

We ate ’til we were drowsy. Food drunk at midnight.

Dozing at the table, listening to chatter, chatter, chatter, shout laugh.

Watching the finger-pointing opinions circle the table.

Finally, as the blurry scenes turn dark, moms and aunts gesture and call, “kids…”

And the small, drowsy army mobilizes.

Plates, white ceramic with blue portuguese pattern

and heavy, mismatched silverware clink.

The metal butter dish is covered and ceramic jugs lifted clear.

The food disappears into the kitchen, but

the wine & whisky glasses stay.

Army job – accomplished. We can finally, finally,

finally sleep.

Prompt: Write something using magical realism, from imagination or memory.

It’s always trees. As a child, it was always trees. Their upward stillness and whispering motions. The different textures of their barks, yet always so smooth when stripped bare.

He was so young when he learned how to travel through trees that he believed he’d always known how.

There were two types of travel – of the heart and of the senses. Senses was easy. Just climb the tree of choice and sit in it. Feel its’ sway and listen to its’ leaves. Soon enough, you’ll be mostly bird and can be in the branches of your choice. From the berry-studded Jabuticaba to the swaying flamboyant to the prickly, sticky evergreens.


Heart-travel required the right mindset – a little practice. He had to lay down on the ground near some venerable worthies and look at their crowns. Day or night, though the silence of stars was easier than the clatter of birds. These wise men, looking down from their high posts would guide him inward to the calm they embodied, through the labyrinth of their leaves, to the core of his being. He could sigh and expand – travelling through the continents of his soul. His loneliness and fear surrendered to their soothing, stoic immortality.

Sometimes, he forgot he could do this, but the sight of one tangled, gnarled beauty or beast would remind him and calm his most frantic, erratic heartbeats.

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