ShutUp30.4: Choose Your Own Adventure


Today’s prompt was to choose a setting, character and emotion, and write for 15 minutes

Today was the day: the big presentation at work. Genta had been working on it all night, forming his increasingly rubbery lips around the strange English words, and trying to say them like he meant them. He barely noticed the glances others gave him as he reached for the overhead rail and pulled himself between the packed bodies of the delayed 7:13 Sobu rapid to Tokyo station.

The doors closed on his briefcase, halted, then continued closing until they hit his pointy crocodile-skin shoes. The carriage, as one, breathed in. Genta spread himself flat against the neighbouring bodies, and finally the doors shut.

Tsk! said someone.

Good morning everyone, said Genta’s internal practice reel. Welcome to Tokyo Dynamics. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to – to you? – you too…?

A peculiar and somewhat primal sensation had been gradually dawning on Genta. This was that the hand holding his briefcase – his hand – was pinned against something soft and warm, desirable yet somehow chary of his touch. He didn’t dare look, so he looked the other way for some kind of relief. To his right, a woman was tottering about on heels as the carriage braked and cornered, somehow imprisoned in the blind spot between handrails.

He drew breath, the air a cacophony of lilacs, vanillas and roses. Not a single note of morning Asahi, nary a hint of breakfast ramen, no eau de sweaty bald head. Something was seriously amiss.

There were an awful lot of women on the train this morning, thought Genta. A lot more than he normally saw when he got on at the middle of the platform. But today he’d walked down to the very end in hopes that it would be emptier.

And this is where he’d found himself. In the women-only carriage. Tsk!

His mind raced. He was too imprisoned by flesh to move in any meaningfully remedial sense. He toyed with the idea of apologising to the lady with the, the softness, but that would involve acknowledgement of their predicament, and at any rate, what actual words could you actually say?

After evaluating his options, it seemed that there really was only one thing that he could do. He pushed his shoulders back imperceptibly, steeled himself, and, to save the lady’s honour, pretended to be asleep.

Shutup30.1: Jibba Jabba


I usually celebrate April by doing everything at once, starting a new semester at work with a piece of writing a day. This year I’m getting my prompts from Shut Up and Write!

The first prompt asks me to

Fill each line with words, any words, following this pattern:

7 words
3 words
5 words
9 words
3 words
1 word
(blank line)

Eventually you’ll find yourself coming up with phrases. Keep going until you find yourself writing your first sentence, then stop.

I struggled with this because I kept writing sentences from the get-go. Sentences like

Tomatoes like yours don’t grow proud and
tall without hare-brained
schemes and madcap trellis work.


Your totalitarian heart beats ugly with vengeance,
a narcissistic lather
amplified by scathing scorn.

Who knows what any of that means?

In any case, I’m supposed to build up to sentences from individual words, so I tried again.

Whole hole full thick with dead beats,
teeming softly wetly,
grammarless grammaring grammarable grandma, rocking
her chair to dead beats, dead bats, dad bats – 
what a of

Yet again, I’ve inadvertently written a sentence (of sorts).

Turmeric tobacco yellow burned acrid brown fingers
calloused around you
where I hold you, where
you give yourself to me – you lift me up
into the clouds


Disassemble dissembling dissociate, down with
tenebrous tenterhooks, tantamount
terrors vomiting subject verb whatever
I am sociologically hardwired to give you clauses/ causes for
my failure again,

What I learned today: I can’t not write a sentence.