Yesterday on Facebook I saw Angela, the Procrastination Coach, talking about joining a free writer’s workshop. The first task is to write a short story between 150 and 300 words. Why not, thought I, even though I had never visited Go Dog Go Café but I liked the name immediately.
It’s rare that people know exactly how to make me obey.
It seems that the challenge lasts one month and every Saturday there is a new task. If anybody else wishes to join, the first part is here and it sounds like this:
Use the prompt “measure twice, cut once” to inspire a short story, 150-300 words long, fiction (any genre) or nonfiction allowed. Your response should be in first/second draft form. Don’t worry about putting that final polish on it. We will be working on it throughout the month.
I did it, and didn’t worry, and this is what appeared:
Clip cloppity clop
I am lulled to sleep by Father clicking away in the next room, night after night. It’s his work, he is a journalist. The world lives in the breath between clip and clop and everything is possible. It’s the seventies.
I’m in primary school and already on a deadline. One of father’s old typewriters is on my desk. Clip cloppity clop. I type just to make myself heard, over the noise of Duran Duran. It’s the eighties.
The paper is on classical music, though. Twenty pages, the teacher said. It’s the last day. I like to… what’s the word… oh yes, procrastinate.
I go to ask Father for some paper. Not many sheets left.
We count them. There are twenty.
No room for mistakes then.
I have a general idea and plenty of books lying around with bits of paper indicating useful passages.
I do not measure even once. I do not start and hope for the best. I start and know it: this will be the best cut. There is no other way.
Clip cloppity clop, for several more years. I’m in high school, but for our household a computer is still many years removed. One class is called Typewriting and we type on ancient machines. All ten fingers do the work which two used to do. It’s 1984.
The novelty hit me on the head with its simplicity. Right, so now I can move paragraphs around! I can always insert a thought later! And print it out only when everything is perfect! It’s the nineties, and I discover my first word processor.
Typing as fast as I’m thinking, clip clippity clip, on my slick and only slightly noisy keyboard, I’m still grateful for the lesson. It’s now, and I know the one perfect cut.
The second thing I wished to tell you is that Visual Verse published my contribution once again. This is the third time and each occasion had me giddy with happiness. Thank you!
Each month they provide a photograph and you write between 50 and 500 words. Here is the photo and my take on it.
With the head in the clouds,
the reflection reversed –
a rare tool that I allow myself.
What does it say about me?
no unnatural colours –
that is all sunset,
no excessive saturation,
no black and whites,
but especially no elimination.
They edit out power grid lines now, I hear.
There’s an app.
Where do birds land in their worlds?
Before I click
she knows that I’m here,
fiddling with my camera.
She keeps an eye on me,
waiting for the camera to lift to life
as she has seen
so that she can hide her face in time.
But what she doesn’t know
is that she exists in the puddle as well:
but not frozen,
but not posing,
but not guilty.
(First published in Visual Verse, Vol. 07 Chapter 04.)
And it’s true, as known by you who come to view my photos: I rarely do anything to them. But when writing this I had in mind that time when I flipped the canal in Trieste.