The following exercise is inspired by a writing prompt from, Flash 52: 52 Writing Prompts for a Year of Writing by Jamie DeBree
Richard pours tea and we raise our cups in a celebratory manner. This is our quintet—well, sextet considering Richard. Basically, it’s a group of stressed out writers looking to profit more than gas money from words.
“How’s it going? Any new ideas, progress?” Richard asks.
Sheila’s hand shoots up first. “I don’t know how I did it,” she beams, “but this week, I managed 50k in between the twins’ naps.”
Another hand goes up. 10K. 6K. More cheers and tea.
That’s me; it’s my turn. I clutch my yellow notebook to my chest. The notepad is as blank as when I opened it to its first college-ruled page, two weeks ago. How would they know if I did 50K or zero? It isn’t as though we inspect each other’s drafts, at least not during the first part of the month.
“I’m still outlining,” I say, which is neither truth nor lie.
An uncomfortable silence ensues. And then a collective murmur of well, that’s a start.
Sheila’s eyes scan the group. “I’ve been hiding something,” she says.
Let me guess, she isn’t human? She hired a ghostwriter? She hasn’t typed one alphabet but instead fibbed to make herself feel better?
As if sensing my skepticism, she plops a copy of her manuscript onto the table and then retrieves a small, plastic bag from her purse.
Are those…poppy seeds? No, poppy seeds are smaller. And darker.
“Okay, I know certain things improve brain function, and that’s why we drink tea and meet twice a month and share our thoughts. But these babies,” she continues, grabbing a handful of the seeds and dropping them into a cup, “are like…bees to flowers, bubbles to baths, syrup to waffles. This is brain food!”
Within minutes of sipping from a teacup, she’s reciting passages of Spoon River Anthology.
“Amazing!” Richard says.
“I’ve retained four plays, three anthologies, every word of Ethan Frome and created my draft in two weeks—all with the help of these Z seeds.”
Suddenly, I’m reminded of a time I came home sporting a nose ring and red hair. Ma took one look and admonished, “If the entire class jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?”
Would I? Am I seriously considering Sheila’s claim?
I imagine four to five completed novels a year, a new car, a full-tank of gas instead of the fumes I’ve driven on the majority of the day. Surely similar thoughts are running through the other’s mind.
Would you be silly enough to do it, too?
And so it begins…
Shonte Sanders aka Whatevertheyaint
* I didn’t follow the premise to a fault, but I did keep the basics as far as setting and characters. The original prompt calls for a man in his thirties, a folding table in a huge parking lot, an electric kettle, a teapot and teacups, and five women approaching. Feel free to continue to add to this piece by sharing (300 words or less) in the comments section. Ready? Let’s Go! Have fun 🙂