Hangin’ Loose with Creative Writing

Sometimes I just want to have some fun when I write.  Make that mostly.  I’ve decided to work without a net here (well, I might edit a little) and really try an exercise I came up with myself which I mentioned in a previous post.  Double espresso beside me, here we go…

First step is to go to Hatch’s Plot Bank to find out what the total number of plots are there today.  It turns out there are 2382.

Next, off to this random number generator.  I fill in the form: Generate one random integer.  Smallest value: 1.  Largest value 2382.  Format in one column (unnecessary, but there it is).  The game is: I will generate a random number, get the corresponding plot sentence from Hatch’s Plot Bank and write about that until I run out of inspiration then grab another random number and repeat until I feel like I’m done.  It’s going to be a little bit like throwing the I Ching!

First number: 1243.  Let’s see what we’ve Hatched:

relative repeats story once too often and offends

Hmmm…  :

Uncle Jeff was particularly fond of a story about his sister.  As he entered his dotage, he kept forgetting that he’d already cajoled forced smiles with it a few times from his two nephews.

The story involved pre-pubescent explorations of a mock medical nature behind the rocks at one of the farm’s ponds where the older siblings once liked to play.  The first time he heard it as a young man, Angus, the older of the two nephews actually grinned a bit at the thought of his mother cutting up in that way.  Younger Billy, though, was clearly embarrassed. 

The second and third time the two were captive audiences of the story’s retelling, Angus came to think that Uncle Jeff might have some kind of psychological problem and Billy made abrupt excuses to leave. 

Now in his late seventies, Uncle Jeff started to add scatological detail that seemed to have more to do with his current obsessions than the factual past.  Now Angus was offended, and Billy didn’t care that Uncle Jeff could see him scowling.  But still the brothers wouldn’t challenge their uncle about his need to tell this story in the way he did.  Beyond their annoyance and discomfort, they felt sorry for him.

Well, that’s headed off in a somewhat disagreeable direction, but, that’s life…  Time to veer onto another tangent.  Random number: 2278.  Oh, this one maybe hits too close to home:

publisher says his novel manuscript is total rubbish

Angus quit his job, separated from Helen, and lived in a tiny garret over Howe Street working on his novel for more than two years.  He got most of his food from the local food bank. 

He knew at first the book would be good… no, not just good, it would have greatness, a masterpiece would be birthed.

But the feeling slackened and the writing took on an air of desperation.  He wanted to reach back into his childhood and retrieve the truth of his parents for what it could tell him about his characters, but it evaded him.  He kept thinking about that damn story Uncle Jeff kept repeating.

But finally he finished the third draft.  He’d lost his fire half way through the second.  So he wasn’t surprised when he read the initial rejection slip of many from the publishers he sent it to. 

When he first glimpsed the envelope from the publisher, he felt no excitement, only inevitability. He sank down in the frayed brown over-upholstered armchair he bought from the Salvation Army Thrift Store.  The afternoon light through the west facing window over the parking lot slanted onto the page as he extricated it clumsily from the envelope.

“Given the number of submissions we receive on a daily basis, we are forced to be highly selective. With that in mind, we have decided that your work is not right for us. We wish you the best in your literary pursuits elsewhere.

“Frankly, it may be in your best interest to revise the entire manuscript.  It lacks verisimilitude and meaning in its present form, although I am sure that a persevering writer might find a sentence or two with which to begin again.  Pardon my directness, but for some would-be writers, I find this is the only way for them to engage with reality.

“Yours truly… “

Angus crumpled the letter in his hands with great deliberateness.  The phone rang.  He dropped the balled up paper on the floor at his feet and picked up the phone.

“Hi, Ma…”

Since stories go in threes, it’s time for the last orthogonal input.  Random number 820:

starts rumor I have been unfaithful

Angus listened patiently.  “No,” he said, and almost said it again.  But his mother could still talk a blue streak even in her early eighties.

“I don’t care who you heard it from,” Angus said.  “Cousin Delilah is an idiot and you know it….”  A longish pause while he was chastised like a small boy.  He held the phone away from his ear for the last part of it.  “Sorry, Ma, I shouldn’t have said ‘idiot’.”  Moron was probably more like it, he thought to himself.

“It’s not true,” Angus said with some heat.  “I haven’t cheated on Helen and I won’t.  We’re only separated, you know.”  He hated how he sounded plaintive and like a failure.  With a measure of vindictiveness, he suddenly asked his mother for the very first time, in the middle of his mid-life crisis, “Uncle Jeff is always telling this story about you and him behind the rocks when you were kids at the old farm pool.

“What really happened there?”  He tried to give a little laugh.

The silence on the line went on and on.

Well, you never know where you’re going to end up with this kind of thing.  I did hope it would be lighter and funnier, but instead we’ve got to family secrets, small potatoes really, left unspoken and taking on more significance than they should because of it, and a short story resembling flash fiction.  Interesting, but certainly enough for now!

[Home]

Photography Corner: 

I’ve been playing around with photography for quite awhile.  It started off as an adjunct to painting, and that’s still there, but often I find myself playing with digital photos just for their own sake.  This week I’ve got a couple of photos processed from camera RAW files: one colour worked on in Photoshop, and the other, black and white, developed out of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.   The subject is crocuses (or is that croci?), which is appropriately springlike.  They may be observed here

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