The Writer’s Toolbox, an Exercise in Creative Bravery

My wife, ever the cheerleader (thanks babies!), bought me a wonderful gift that I didn’t bother to even open. How rude. Yes, but the time had to be right. Tonight’s the night!The gift, The Writer’s Toolbox, by Jamie Cat Callan, is both a book(let) and several simple inspiring exercises to get the brain jogging into the land of twists, turns, conflicts, descriptions, and plots.

Today’s exercise: using the sticks!

1. Draw a “First Sentence” stick.” Write for a few minutes.
2. Draw a “Non-Sequitur” stick. Write a bit longer.
3. Draw a “Last Straw” stick.

Here’s what came out… my ‘sticks’ sentences are underlined.

***

On Tuesday, Margaret told me she liked the little oranges with the seeds better than the ones I bought.I hated her for that.

Her distaste for anything ‘unnatural’ drove me to commit mind murder, the likes of which I’d not experienced since grade school. Kenny Malich, not Margaret, was the object of my half-rage then, but it felt the same now as is did back at Glen Heights Elementary in Canton.

We were celebrating Thanksgiving. My parents made me a pilgrim-like collar out of four sheets of thick black construction paper cut to form a circle around my neck. Sticking out awkwardly from my shoulders, the collar looked like a umbrella missing a few strands in it’s DNA. I pulled my socks over my pant cuffs and half way up my calf to further compliment my colonial-ness. There’s a shadowy memory of a hat and an odd belt buckle, but I can’t be certain at present. My costume, though complete, was anything but authentic, real, and natural.

Kenny was an indian. Oh yes, he got it all. He had the moccasins, the war paint, and even a hatchet. So cool. They were all the read deal too. Even the hatchet.

So why did I hate him and why did Margaret’s comment about the seeded clementines set me reeling back to childhood?

“You could make a living doing that kind of thing.” I suppose I could, but I had never thought about it, until then.

Produce aisle. Frozen for who knows how long. Holding oranges. I didn’t even know if I was blinking. It could’ve been five seconds or ten minutes. From the looks of my meager audience, my journey to elementary school and back to my seeded clementine selection had transformed me into a stick-figured mime.

I should’ve passed a hat and collected a few bucks.

“Yeah, well, woulda coulda shoulda ya know.” It was the first thing that came to mind. I would’ve felt more comfortable walking out of the grocery store half naked.

Maybe she felt that way because of the oranges, maybe she just didn’t like me because I forgot to pay her back for one too many lattes. Perhaps she even felt the same way I did about Kenny.

The past seems to be sinking down on all of us Margaret.

****
Got the creative juices going!
Try it. I dare you.
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