We Weren't Supposed to Go There

This was the result of my five minutes of free writing at the beginning of Kathy Stinson’s writing class yesterday. Of course, about 75% of the class used “but” as their very next word…

We weren’t supposed to go there. But, of course, we did anyway.

Peer pressure. You know it’s bad. Your parents warned you about it. Every fibre of your being is screaming at you that it’s wrong. But you don’t speak up. No one cool does.

“I don’t think this is a good idea, guys.”

That was Bill. A stocky kid, a year younger than the rest of us, with a poor complexion and braces. He’s hung back, tentative. You can see the cords from us to him, tugging at his stomach, wrenching his gut.

“Come on, Bill!” John. The leader. The one so gung-ho on this idea. “It won’t hurt anyone. We’ll just throw pebbles. They’ll rattle off their hoods, scare ‘em a little. That’s all.”

But Bill won’t budge. And the group stretches out, lines tightening between Bill and John.

The class was a lot of fun (as usual). One of the readers (and I apologize here for forgetting her name. I am so terrible with names) read the first four chapters of an early draft of her work about an eleven-year-old boy, his upcoming twelfth birthday, and his family. It was a very brave thing she did, and it was a good crit. She has an excellent narrative voice in her story, but we had all sorts of ideas of how to restructure things — a lot to sink our teeth into. I think she found the experience quite positive.

Another writing assignment (describe a place from the point of view of a young character) and another story to critique next week. I’m really enjoying this class.

Those of you who need advice about writing can find some excellent examples online. The Turkey City Lexicon is a definitive reference on the pitfalls and cliché that should be avoided in your writing. It’s also quite a funny read.

Another example, pointed out on Neil Gaiman’s blog is an essay by Nick Lowe (written in the mid-eighties but still relevant today) on the Well-Tempered Plot Device. If you are writing science fiction or fantasy, read this exceedingly funny essay for the things you should avoid.

You know, John Manley might not have such a bad idea if he wants to raise public support for increasing the GST. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, our Finance Minister said that he would rather jump off the Peace Tower than raise the GST. Well, how about he jump off the Peace Tower in return for raising the GST? He’d have to attach a bungee cord to his ankles, of course, to make the stunt less fatal, but I might pay a percentage point of the GST in order to see that.

Other politicians could raise support by performing similar feats. Jane Stewart table dancing naked? Allan Rock sitting in a dunk tank while Canadian after Canadian gets to throw a ball at a target three feet away? Sheila Copps consenting to wear a gag for a day? Jean Chretien waterskiing… without any waterskis. Not to be outdone, the opposition could perform similar tasks in order to get their ideas on the agenda, or even get votes. Stephen Harper could coat himself in honey and run naked through the bush in the middle of black fly season, for instance.

The possibilities are endless…

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