Wringing out the brain,
to spite the page beneath it
a daily madness.


cc by Drew Coffman via Flickr


ShutUp30.30: 30 Days of Writing


Write a story, in 100 words.

Lorna wanted to go on a journey, so she stood at the junction and stuck out her hand. The car that stopped was not the one she wanted to stop; tatty but chintzy, it was driven by the kind of old woman who tugged a shopping cart up the high street and smiled at pigeons. Did she want to go home, asked the woman? I have no home, Lorna said, gazing out of the passenger-side window.

Instead, the kindly woman found her a new home, with a room of her own. They brought her home-cooked food, in between her clients.

ShutUp30.29: What is Plot Anyway?


Today’s task was to write one sentence plot summaries of movies, and then one of my own work in progress. It feels like a bit of a cop-out, but here’s my one sentence.

After a client is shot and killed on her watch, a young woman is forced to leave her home and go in search of the voices in her head.

ShutUp30.28: Burial Grounds


Write a death scene for the prompt “surrounded by family”.

Edith leaned back on the mauve armchair in the corner of the sitting room. The springs had gone back when it still lived in the back room at number 56, before her older sister Maud had passed. Lucky that she weighed so little these days, and had so little extra flesh to be troubled by the lumps and bumps, she thought. Silver lining to everything. That’s our Edith.

The lace curtains were drawn, but through the crack in them she could see kids straggling home from school, uniforms already askew with the promise of freedom. Tyler would be about their age, she thought, though he was slight and small, still a boy. It had been too long, she thought. He’ll walk through the door all of six foot eight, sprouting hair everywhere, you’ll see. She couldn’t wait to see him. He’s a good lad.

Victoria wanted to be called Tori. With an “I” at the end, to distinguish her from the political party. Edith didn’t let on that she had been voting Conservative for years. Who else was there to vote for? In between her job and her political friends, Victoria didn’t come around half as much as Edith would have liked.

The mantelpiece clocked ticked gently in its chrome-effect case. Edith felt her eyes begin to close. 5 o’clock, she’d said they were coming. Already a quarter to six. They’d ring the doorbell when they got here. No harm if she slept until then.

When Victoria did arrive, Edith could no longer be woken.

ShutUp30.27: We All Have ‘Em


Write about three fears.

Ever since I was young and learned that to journey is to find yourself, I’ve been afraid that if I grow roots, I’ll never be free again. This fear causes me to avoid activities such as marriage, childbirth and mortgages. While I’m curious about what would happen if I faced my fear, I’m bereft of a partner in crime. Men, it turns out, can smell fear.

I am afraid that nobody will notice that I’m here, and that I have all sorts of ideas. Writing allows me to calm the fuzzy muddle of competing theories, yearnings and self-beliefs, to smooth them into something resembling my smooth unblemished surface. But what if nobody’s listening? What if nobody sees me?

I worry that, even after all my struggles, when I burst to the surface, gasping for air with which to give life to my words, my ideas, my truth, it will be found wanting. How derivative, they’ll say. What a load of cobblers. To think she spent years writing this twaddle, when she could have been down the pub. This, of course, is the one that keeps me from doing.

ShutUp30.26: Don’t Be a Stranger


Write a bio of yourself at an earlier stage of your life.


What is she passionate about?

Spiller’s Records, and the big laminated book that lets her order Fugazi records for nothing.

What is her morning ritual?

Staying in bed until the absolute latest that will allow her to walk into morning registration in the final minute.

Is she close with her family?

Close but emotionally reticent. Believes that feelings are a kind of private shame.

What is her favourite holiday? Why?

Staying at home while her parents go away, because it’s almost like being a grown-up.

What does she fear the most?

That she’ll be stuck here forever. That there will always be school. That there will always be predators, never subject to the rules of adulthood.

What is her worst memory?

The predators, and the time they wrote an ironic poem about how ‘beautiful’ she was. They sent it to a local DJ, who dutifully read it out. Oh, how they cackled. There’s a part of her that hates that DJ.

What are her goals?

To go far.