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2020 Daily Writing Challenge: October 7

And now, from Jo Hawk, the 2020 Daily Writing Challenge, for October 7!

A new month, a new try, a new kick at the can for writing here every day.

I am taking a Creative Writing class, and am free-writing every day with themes posed by our instructor.  So, I am going to post my writings here…lucky you! Today’s prompt:  Try setting a scene somewhere that has been stripped of its usual characteristics: a forest with no trees, a supermarket with nothing on the shelves, a city with no humans.

Hmmm, this is an interesting one.

I recall a scene like this in March and April, grocery stores stripped of so many things on their shelves. Toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels, anything having to do with cleaning. Those are the obvious ones. But also what was interesting was the lack of chickens and eggs — not sure which ones went first — and also rice and pasta. Canned vegetables, although fresh veggies seemed to be there, but obviously people were hoarding. Packing their pantries, as it were.

It took awhile for some of these things to come back, and even now, paper towels shelves are bare.

In terms of the scenes listed here, I guess you can technically have a supermarket with bare shelves, even though it’s not much of a supermarket, but you can’t have a forest without trees. The definition of forest is a bunch of trees. A city with no humans? Sure. In fact, our city is much nicer in some ways with fewer humans. Well, there are more out there now, but it was sure quiet for a while out there.

Other ideas?  I think a bar with no alcohol would be a drag. Not much point there! What else? An ice cream shop with no ice cream? Well even if it has some ice cream, but no mint chocolate chip. A travesty! A butcher with no bacon. What’s the point? We have a college with no students on campus, well very few. But they are out there online! So, some appearances are deceiving and you have to look under the rug or in the dark corners or in the closets or online to find the things you are expecting.

It’s a strange world now where all the things listed here, except the treeless forest which I addressed already, have existed for most people at some point this year. An interesting question and I don’t think I’ve set a scene at all, but only reflected on what has happened in the past covid months.  End Scene.

2020 Daily Writing Challenge: October 6

And now, from Jo Hawk, the 2020 Daily Writing Challenge, for October 6!

A new month, a new try, a new kick at the can for writing here every day.

I am taking a Creative Writing class, and am free-writing every day with themes posed by our instructor.  So, I am going to post my writings here…lucky you! Today’s prompt:  Think of a scent, such as an ingredient for a meal, a perfume, or perhaps something from the outdoors or nature, that you associate with a person who has played an integral role in your life. Write a scene that explores the intertwining of smell and the resonant memories you associate with this person.

Oh, man. This is a hard one. I am trying to think of a scent that I remember at all, let along associate with someone.

There is a food smell which I can’t really pin down, a roast or gravy or something, which sometimes reminds me of Kevin’s mom. She was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Just accepting and kind and giving of herself right up until the end.

To give you an example, she and one of Kevin’s aunts would deliver meals on wheels to the “old” people who were younger than they were. She sold Avon, but it was really more about visiting with people who always became her friends. And she took so many pictures all the time, of family dinners and other get togethers, or when she visited people, so many that when Kevin and his sister were going through the boxes and boxes of pictures after she died, they reluctantly threw out tons of them because they simply had no idea who was in the pictures.

It was poignant, seeing all those memories disappear, but memories are ethereal anyway. They are really only or most important to the person who has them. They are never the same for a home else. Pictures were her way of holding those things in memory. I am beginning to document some things that way too, different things. Daily things. Things that strike me. Both in pictures and in writing. But I don’t think I will ever take pictures of people the way she did, nor do I think I will ever be able to be as kind and accepting as she was.

So every so often I catch a whiff of a scent that reminds me of Isabel and I think of her and her dinners and her kindness and of Christmas Eves with her and her family, and of a New Year’s Eve when Kevin and I took her to a Japanese restaurant in a snowstorm and how she liked the place so much, she took everyone there for a meal shortly before she got sick. I don’t know what the smell is, but it is powerful enough to take me there, and I am grateful for that.

2020 Daily Writing Challenge: October 5

And now, from Jo Hawk, the 2020 Daily Writing Challenge, for October 5!

A new month, a new try, a new kick at the can for writing here every day.

I am taking a Creative Writing class, and am free-writing every day with themes posed by our instructor.  So, I am going to post my writings here…lucky you! Today’s prompt: Write a scene that contains the following words: coffee, inflate, identification.

This morning I woke up ready for my coffee.  As I do every morning.  It’s what I like to call a routine.  Get up, feed the kitties, make coffee.  Then meditate and do my morning pages.  Every morning.  Then check blogs, blog myself, and at some point, make a second cup of coffee.  Every morning.

Don’t inflate this to more than it is:: a comforting routine that also serves to wake me up and prepare me for the day, whatever day it might be.  Missing my coffee in the morning?  Not possible.  There are just certain things I can’t do without in the morning.

If one day I can’t have or drink coffee any more?  Well then someone will be using forensic identification to figure out who all the dead bodies are buried in my yard and littering my basement.  Because without that coffee, that what will be unleashed upon the world.

People I work with these days are very lucky we are living in a virtual world.  Much easier for me to lose my shit over Zoom than in person,  which is probably good for me too,  I can easily mute myself and scream into the void without anyone hearing the vile spewing that would be that much worse without my coffee.

My point is that coffee is something I can’t do without in the morning.  That is not inflated. I can be identified by my love of coffee…and bacon.  But I won’t talk about the bacon now…

2020 Daily Writing Challenge: October 4

And now, from Jo Hawk, the 2020 Daily Writing Challenge, for October 4!

A new month, a new try, a new kick at the can for writing here every day.

I am taking a Creative Writing class, and am free-writing every day with themes posed by our instructor.  So, I am going to post my writings here…lucky you!

Today’s prompt: Write a scene that begins with the line, “The pen hadn’t been worth stealing”

The pen, in the end, hadn’t been worth stealing. If he had not stolen the sharpie off the table after the meeting with his top aides, he might not have been tempted to add that extra circle to the map.   A circle meant to add to the number of people who would receive an untested vaccine.  A circle meant to win votes in swing states.  A circle which led to the extended distribution of said vaccine that in the end caused the zombie apocalypse.

2020 Daily Writing Challenge: October 2

And now, from Jo Hawk, the 2020 Daily Writing Challenge, for October 2!

A new month, a new try, a new kick at the can for writing here every day.

I am taking a Creative Writing class, and am free-writing every day with themes posed by our instructor.  So, I am going to post my writings here…lucky you!

Today’s prompt:  Write about someone discovering a key.

It was buried down deep in the bottom of his pants pocket.  The pair he never wore and she was always begging him to get rid of.  Someone else could wear those, you know.  But he never did.  Pulling them out of the drawer, the odd lump drew her attention, pulling her thoughts from the abyss.

She reached into the pocket and felt the shape of something cold and metallic in her fingers.  Slowly drawing it out, she looked at the small key in the palm of her hand.  She had never seen it before and had no idea what it was a key to.  There were so many boxes full of things in the basement it might unlock, or maybe it was something else, something left at his office, or lost during one of the many moves they made.  How long has it been there?  She couldn’t begin to guess.  The pants had been folded, unworn, in that drawer for as long as they had lived in this house.

Turning the key over in her hand, she thought back to the last time she remembered seeing him wearing these pants.  So many years ago when they were both younger, and thinner,  with no idea of where life would lead them.   No plans written in stone for life, letting it take them where it would.  And it was a great journey.  But none of those memories helped with the mystery of the key. And no key would help unlock the door that had shut his mind to the world, no memory of pants once worn would bring him back.

Sighing, she walked to the bathroom, turned the key over once more in her hand, and tossed it in the trash, and went back to her work.

2020 Daily Writing Challenge: October 1

And now, from Jo Hawk, the 2020 Daily Writing Challenge, for October 1!

A new month, a new try, a new kick at the can for writing here every day.

I am taking a Creative Writing class, and am free-writing every day with themes posed by our instructor.  So, I am going to post my writings here…lucky you!

Today:  Write about a memory of blueberries.

Blueberries themselves don’t evoke a lot of memories in me.  I remember my dad loves blueberries, and we have tried to grow blueberries, but have not been successful yet.  I love blueberries and love them baked into muffins.

Ok, here is a memory for you.  I remember when I worked in the language lab at a university, and my co-worker, Susan, and I, would walk down to the cafeteria in the morning for our morning coffee break, and I would either want a blueberry muffin or a cinnamon bun.  But the problem with cinnamon buns was that sometimes they snuck raisins into them, and I would pile all the raisins on a napkin back in the office where we typically had our break.

Now blueberry muffins were usually safe.  But, I especially liked blueberry bran muffins which you had to be cautious of because sometimes were not blueberries, but raisins again sneaking into the mix and running a perfectly good muffin experience.

I miss eating those muffins.  Not because I no longer work at that university and can not longer avail myself of the delectable coffee treats at the cafeteria, which I don’t know if it even still exists, but because I no longer eat regular muffins, or cinnamon buns, or anything with gluten goodness in them.  And I can tell you from personal experience that gluten free blueberry muffins just aren’t the same.  At least none of the ones I’ve tried over the years.  Too dry and sweet at the same time typically.

No. I miss the days of blueberry muffin gluten goodness.  I also sometimes miss the days of working with Susan in the language lab, the small office where we shared a desk, with windows only on the other side of internal walls, and windows we popped open so we could get air until the janitors came in and riveted them shut again.  Where I finally got my own office, and it was the cassette tape library…yes, our lab had cassette tapes as this was just in the beginning days of computer assisted language learning where we coded the programs in DOS and ran them on big floppy disks.  Ah, those were the days.

I can’t believe thinking about blueberries took me back to those first days of working with educational technology.  And that’s what I still work in today.  Yes, the internet has changed things, as have iPhones and other devices, but blueberry muffins are still the same.  I just wish I could eat them again.

2020 Daily Writing Challenge: August 8

And now, from Jo Hawk, the 2020 Daily Writing Challenge, for August 8!

For my writing challenge, I am going to be working with daily prompts from the book “The Daily Writer: 365 Meditations to Cultivate a Productive and Meaningful Writing Life.”

So, today is:  Magic in the Details – “Imagine being inside a scary place, such as the unlit cellar of a haunted house or an abandoned graveyard late at night.  Use specific sensory descriptions – of smells, sounds, images, and physical sensations.”

Now, why would one be in an unlit cellar of a house one knew to be haunted? I’ve watched enough scary movies to know that when in a haunted house, you don’t go into the cellar. Now, an abandoned graveyard? That sounds much cooler. If I out aside my feeling that the only really potentially harmful thing in a cemetery late at night would be other people, not ghosts, I will put my sensible shoes aside and imagine.

Not a whisper of breeze disturbed the trees, and a mist creeps through the cold headstones popping up at all angles, some crumbled in piles of stone. A faint glow in the sky tells me the moon is full, but the clouds are determined to keep the light at bay. Wet grass squelches beneath my feet, and a faint smell of moss hands in the night air. I can see shadows moving out of the corners of my eyes, but when I turn all is still, dare I say, as death.

2020 Daily Writing Challenge: August 7

And now, from Jo Hawk, the 2020 Daily Writing Challenge, for August 7!

For my writing challenge, I am going to be working with daily prompts from the book “The Daily Writer: 365 Meditations to Cultivate a Productive and Meaningful Writing Life.”

So, today is:  Creating Realistic Characters – “Prepare a bio-sheet of a character to include in a memoir or novel.  Write a scene consisting of narration, dialogues, and action in which your character interacts with another.”

You know, one thing about the end of the day on a Friday, at the end of a first week back at work after a five week break from the madness that is my work life, is that I tend to really appreciate the theme free Friday ideal that my 365 photo project gives me each week. So, why not subscribe to that same theme here? Otherwise I have to push myself far out of my writing comfort zone which admittedly is narrow to begin with. I don’t have a lot of experience or practice with writing characters, given that my writing tends to centre around one character, that character being me…and quite a character I am, they say.

2020 Daily Writing Challenge: August 6

And now, from Jo Hawk, the 2020 Daily Writing Challenge, for August 6!

For my writing challenge, I am going to be working with daily prompts from the book “The Daily Writer: 365 Meditations to Cultivate a Productive and Meaningful Writing Life.”

So, today is: Brainstorming for Effective Titles – “Brainstorm for the title of a short story or magazine article you’ve recently begun.  Be inventive!  Come up with several possible titles.”

Brainstorming, eh?  Well, I am currently working on editing a draft of a commentary piece for a writing course, which I could perhaps title “Wear a Mask, dammit”.  Or maybe “You like the Lone Ranger?  Try being a Lone Maskman!”  Or how about “Holy People Who Don’t Care about Anyone Else, Batman!”  Don’t like these?  How about “Learn a New Skill:  Learn to Read Lips without Lips” or “A Mask for All Seasons”.

Well, I’m about done with my brainstorming.  I know the perfect title for this piece is out there (and I’m sure you’ve figured out the subject of my rant, I mean Commentary.)  I will take any and all additional suggestions, and if yours is the “winning” title, I’ll make sure to credit you, on my mask 🙂

2020 Daily Writing Challenge: August 5

And now, from Jo Hawk, the 2020 Daily Writing Challenge, for August 5!

For my writing challenge, I am going to be working with daily prompts from the book “The Daily Writer: 365 Meditations to Cultivate a Productive and Meaningful Writing Life.”

So, today is:  Reverence for Books and Reading:  “Describe your favourite kinds of books.  Or better yet, think back to a childhood experience with one special book.  How did it affect you?  Which characters were the most memorable?  What did you learn?  What long-term influence has it had on your life?”

So, I had thought a lot about this a month or two ago when my book club (which I have been lucky to attend again since they started Zooming – it’s the book club I left behind 13 years ago when I moved) had a theme of YA or children’s books.  I chose to dig up books I read when I was younger, so re-reads, but definitely trips down memory lane.   Now, the books I chose for this club meeting were Little House on the Prairie, Are you There God, It’s Me, Margaret, The Secret of the Old Clock, and all the Harry Potter books (ok, I confess that I did NOT read these as a youngster…but they took me back to younger days).

But, you know, thinking back, three books come to mind which really affected me when I read them:  Black Beauty (I remember crying when one of the horses died), the Narnia books (I remember babysitting and seeing the one book in the series I had NOT read and spending the whole night reading it), and The Lord of the Rings, which had a huge impact on me as I really got into fantasy books for a long time.  In all honesty, it’s hard for me to pin down specific books that had an impact on me as a child.  I read everything – the librarians had to limit how many books I could take out at a time, and I would always read ALL the books I took out.  I can see in my head the children’s library I used to frequent, and can even see the inside of the book mobile we used to have in the neighbourhood over the summer, back in the days when those  were still a thing.

So, I think my biggest memory is just reading, being encouraged to read by my parents, and endlessly hanging out at libraries (public, school, bookmobiles) to find something new to read.  And, of course, I still read all the time now, just not on paper or at a library.  It’s all Kindle app on the iPad now.  Purists will hate that, but it’s so easy to make the text bigger and these days, well that’s a deal breaker.

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