[We tend to read a lot of poetry and use poetry as prompts in this workshop, partially because I as the workshop leader am inspired more by poetry usually, and partially because a poem is short enough that we can read it through once or twice and get on with our writing swiftly enough. We also tend to have more prompts from female writers. For today’s workshop I searched for a different prompt: fiction by a male author. I was so glad to share the first few pages ofThe Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Waoby Junot Diaz. People seemed to respond to the colloquial tone, to the rapid energy that starts this amazing novel.]
- by Matt
You’ve GOTTA get a girlfriend!!!
Oh, you MUST!!!
As if life weren’t complicated enough, why do
we feel life must be in twos, and nothing else?
Peer pressure, we might find, may bring down
the fall of human civilization.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with
getting married, yet, why do we feel this
absolutely, a co-dependent need, to do everything in couples.
Why can’t we simply be content, to be by
The happiest people, I believe, are not only
those who interact well with others, but those who
are happy simply being by themselves.
Violence is pariah.
Groups of people tend to do things, nasty to themselves.
If wars, and rumors of war, are the only
answer, why is it, in times of peace, we seem
to do better than any possibility.
Violence answers almost nothing,
and yet instead, leaves us with
The life of a rapier is one of sadness.
I’d rather be doused with mud than become
If being gentle makes you vulnerable, then…
Here I am.
There is more wisdom in the wake of water
than all the institutions combined.
If rest and relaxation are the opposite of
success, then why do we so often bleed
when we charge?
To upset an atom is to defile God.
To count your acquaintances is His pleasure.
Fellowship is at odds with all the ends of death.
- by Courtney
The neighbors with their floodlights blasting for six years into our living room window. We want to shoot it to darkness more than we want to shoot the fat squirrels that dig up the tulip bulbs but instead, yes, we could walk over there and talk to them. But no, instead Steve turns the Jeep around in our pockmarked driveway and points his headlights back at them, tilted up at the angle that perfectly reflects bright beams from their family room window. Tulip bulbs silent. The end of the world nine days away. Green glass in the recycling. There is a feeling of change, isn’t there? The moment when the high jumper decided to jump backwards for the first time, flying and then flopping over the air particles thigh high bar the blue soft mat and flopping beautifully as he landed.
There is a moment where change has to happen, where the scissors come out and all the drawings are fluttering, kaleidoscopic back flips. Punch. Punch. Move it, Chubby, Steve says, narrowly driving through a squirrel. The buzzing of the end of the world. The world as we know t will change, the man with the gray beard and the dirty backpack says. Six years, motherfuckers, Steve says, but the neighbors’ floodlights do not extinguish.
[1st lines. 1st paragraph]
by Bill S.
1st lines. 1st paragraph
1st pages. Glorious beginnings
It doesn’t always happen that way.
Classic literature doesn’t always
start with a great beginning
A / tentious (?), the background
must be set out, the
characters introduced, tensions
But when a great book does
start with a great beginning
it is a moment of wonder
Call me Ishmael. Tale of 2 Cities.
I find myself rereading 1st lines
1st paragraphs upentedly (?) to the
point of dysfunction
ADD. But perhaps there is
a purpose to this madness
Like repetitiously pondering the
packet of a baseball glove.
Wrapping my mind around the
story, the language, the
flow of words
And you just know. With
an unrestrained glee you just
know, this is going to be a