A-Z: Y for Youth

Writing prompt: YOUTH

Provided by: Claire Goverts ,
a fellow A-Z challenge participant. Please visit her excellent blog!

Can’t believe I have one more post left to go…Z, and we’re done!

Genre: Fiction


Youth and blood spatter, magnolia

A to Z: Youth and Magnolia

The magnolia tree outside his apartment lit up his eyes as he wrote. He had to hurry, because they would be here soon. He had to write of his lost youth, of his encounter with the butcher, how he was spared, and became a butcher himself.

But first he had to take out the .45 bullets, the cold, sharp, dead things. Not his weapon of choice on the flowers he picked up, the boys who fell for the hush, the softness of his voice, never recognized him for who he was until too late.  Youth was stupid, that way. No grown man would have entered his car.

Knives had life, they hummed and sang with each spurt, but not the easiest things to use on your own throat. Things could get messy. He wanted a clean end and he knew how to shoot a .45 ACP from his days in the army.

The pistol readied, he sat down again to write, but the words would not come. He thought of the last boy, the one that almost got away, of how he lay under the earth, carved and peeled, so close to him.

He needed to decide how to end this.

He took one of the pale pink blossoms he had gathered that morning on his table. Magnolias should be red, he said, like blood, or youth. Not magnolia seeds. He began peeling the flower. The butcher had taught him this way of making up his mind.

I will be here when they come, he said, and tore a petal. I won’t be here, he said, and tore another.

He heard a bolt slip somewhere at the back, and knew they had found him. He wondered how he had missed the sound of cars pulling up.

The pale pink petals, having done their job, lay on the parquet around his feet.

He scribbled on the pad before him: Under the magnolia tree.

Let them find out the secret of the thriving posies that weighed the tree to the lawn.

As the door opened, he fired his shot, and a tiny red magnolia blossomed on his throat, where his voice had been.


I’m tweeting A to Z posts at #atozchallenge  There is also the A to Z Challenge Daily with links to Tweeted A-Z posts over the last 24 hours.
Thanks and shout-outs to organisers Arlee Bird (Tossing It Out) , Jeffrey Beesler’s (World of the Scribe),  Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh) , Jen Daiker ( Unedited), Candace Ganger (The Misadventures in Candyland) , Karen J Gowen  (Coming Down the Mountain) , Talli Roland ,  Stephen Tremp (Breakthrough Blogs )

A-Z: W is for Wonder, X for X-ray

Writing prompt: WONDER, X-RAY

Provided by: Nicole , a fellow A-Z challenge participant. Please visit her excellent blog.

Genre: Fiction


I wonder sometimes if I’m as dirty on the inside as I feel on the outside.

But the X-ray shows I’m merely broken.

My forearm has hairline fractures in two places, the doctor says, and I might have torn a bicep tendon. My bones have joined back earlier in other places, and look almost straight.

You want to tell me what happened, the doctor says, it is not natural for young bones to break so easy. Are you sure you fell on your hand? For a second I believe I can stay here for all time, in this room chilled with air-conditioning that smells a little of painkiller gels and alcohol. I’m tempted to tell her. The doctor reminds me of my mother, or what I think I remember of her before she died. But you can’t remember all that much at four.

Then I catch Dad’s eyes across the glass door. I swear he can hear each word from his blue chair outside the doctor’s office.

As I get my arm fixed up, I feel those eyes boring in, the eyes that make me dirty.

On my way out the doctor hands me the X-ray, taking her time about it. I take one last look at my bones, and then feel a small card under the stiff, thick X-ray as I shove it into the brown hospital envelope she gives me.

Call me anytime, she says, but I do not nod. I slip the card in my pocket without looking at it, clutch the envelope, and walk out to my Dad.

Tonight I think I’ll call her. If he does not find the card first.


I’m tweeting A to Z posts at #atozchallenge  There is also the A to Z Challenge Daily with links to Tweeted A-Z posts over the last 24 hours.
Thanks and shout-outs to organisers Arlee Bird (Tossing It Out) , Jeffrey Beesler’s (World of the Scribe),  Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh) , Jen Daiker ( Unedited), Candace Ganger (The Misadventures in Candyland) , Karen J Gowen  (Coming Down the Mountain) , Talli Roland ,  Stephen Tremp (Breakthrough Blogs )

Daily writing exercise, flying in the river

A river is made for floating, not flying

Dream-flying in a river

They fly in the river, these people.

Because life comes slow to them, their massive wings, and the water lifts them but little, they have to let their sinews bend and twist, work hard at keeping them aloft, far above the bottom which is a sort of destiny and death.

Each of them can be anything, a straight line, a dusty horseshoe, an exploding seaweed, a violent flower, a taxi upturned, a vertical road, a bashed-up song, a thought without a ladder, a dancing boat, a frequency of being, an empty corridor.

But they choose to be in their bodies, the atoms of their being imploding with effort, forever trapped in a rigid path, swimming on the seams of the ocean, where they could be the blue fabric that builds it instead.

Their wings tire, those things of vapid effort, each bone and feather contracts and revolts, yet they hold them together, trying to rise, forever looking down, afraid of falling.

They do not know all they have to do is surrender.

Not fly, but float, not think, not feel, just be.

Then falling and flying would be the same, life and death will mingle, fear and exhilaration would be the water itself, and they could be inside of their winged bodies or out, it would but matter little.


219 words, 10 minutes. Random words, lines, an exercise in timed writing based on a picture prompt. Daily writing exercises can be such a fun, unwinding, unraveling time. Just a river of words, simple.

Writing about an Interesting Writer’s Block

A Character's Writer's Block?

A Character's Writer's Block?

I get by the times I have writer’s block by pretending I don’t and doing other things like revising and editing like mad.

But I have a character in one of my stories now, who is an award-winning author. Since I can’t get the story to close the right way, I thought I will free-write as her. In character, so to speak. And boy, SHE has a writer’s block, because this is what came out:

Most times, all I need is a blank bit of space. Sometimes, I’m hunting for one, because I think I’ve got the mother of all ideas and I just have to pen it down before it floats away.

Now is not one of those times. This is just the opposite, when I have to pin my butt down to the chair. When I have to shove a dictionary into my nose, in search of a word that would inspire me to piddle out a few words. One of those times I am praying for my faith in the practice of showing up on the page.

Not wanting to face what has happened to you, to block out the images that will not be denied gives you a writing hole the size of Grand Canyon. You step into one of those and it is a long way to the bottom. I’m crashing into the darkness just about now, the winds of turmoil speeding through my being, the blackness of grief like layers of fabric all ripping through, one by painful one, till I’m suddenly afraid this is all I will have, this falling in the dark, in endless folds of ripping fabric, till I reach a vacuum, maybe hit outer space when I emerge from the other end of the earth, and remain suspended in that nameless, ageless, nothingness. Maybe I merge and become a part of non-air, non-life, a piece of nothing.

This is a little scary, because the story is in her voice. If she is so blocked, one needs to find out why….or I won’t get anywhere with that one. I’m in fine fettle with my writing otherwise, did a 1000 words yesterday. Interesting how a character in my story can be blocked without me feeling it all. Or maybe it is me who is blocked and pretending away I’m not? The character came from my head after all, (admittedly at a workshop two months ago.)


Daily Writing Exercise, Donatella Versace

Donatella Versace in writing

Donatella Versace in writing

My daily writing exercises can be strange sometimes, because I have no idea where the images and words come from. All I know is they are on paper before I know it. This is what I found in my notebook today:

In La Maison Bizzare, I walk up the curved wooden steps bathed in sunlight, run my hands on framed paintings on glass walls, turn to a grey carved door with a golden, V-shaped handle, find a room of white sofas, grey cushions which move and roll. On the ornate gold table are two tall candles that flicker, burn, drop off, and burn again.

I walk on wooden floors through corridors of grey-black, opening to white windows and a balcony that overlooks a stagnant pool of green water.

The air is heavy with the smell of moss and rotting logs, of disinfectants and decay, and amid it all, the unmistakable hints of Versace Woman, the smell of my mother. The smell that haunts our house, for it is no longer a home, that haunts our house ever since she left us to run away to bigger, and hopefully, better things.

At the corner of the balcony in shadow light sits a woman of blond-white-grey hair, on a gilded chair, swollen lips, drawn out cheeks and popping eyes, a woman of no eyebrows, and a nose that looks like it would burst, because surely it cannot be wider. I flinch.

Don’t be scared, she says, it is me, Donatella Versace. What happened to you, I ask.

I went painting, she says, by the river in the rain, I could not stand this pool any more, and the rain washed away my make-up.

I walk near her, because I can’t hear her very well. She did say Donatella Versace though, and in her bloated face and muscular body, I see that she just might be speaking the truth. Cover this woman in make-up and a glittering gown, and who knows what might happen?
I know why I can’t hear her, because what surrounds me is not silence. There it is, a stereo speaker next to her, blasting out “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me.”

Writing about plotting

I have been trying to plot out a story, and here’s a page I found was quite funny yet helpful:

Let’s put your character in a sticky situation!

I feel particularly evil following some of the instructions that come up on this page, and roasting my protagonist one way or the other, but that, I have learned, is the best way to create conflict.

And conflict is the best way to hook readers, and keep them reading!

Word count:

Feb 2: 320

Feb 3: 510 (oh, well…)

Feb 4 : 350 (grrrrrrrrrrr!)

Feb 5: 832 (much better!)

Writing about taking stock

Writing on a blank page can be scary on some days, which is why I’ve discovered a new trick. I write a few lines, any kind of lines, just before I go to bed, and in the morning all I have to do is find that page and write. Takes the struggle away from filling the blankness, removes the huge block that faces each creative effort.

I thought I’d also take stock. Exactly how well have I done on my word-count resolution?

I’ve come a long way from writing nothing for days on end, to writing 13000 words from 6th Jan to 2nd Feb. Horrible by any self-respecting fiction writer’s standards. 13000 in 28 days? That is 464 words a day, much below the 1000 words I had resolved.

But I’m looking at it this way: I have not really written an average of 464 words a day (excluding blogs, re-writing, editing, and work writing) ever in my life. So, that’s progress. What I have to do is push the figure towards 1000 this month.

Thanks to Sarah for pushing me, I could not have done it without you!  I promise to do better this month!

Writing about Blood Splatter

Writing has taken off again.

Word count : 29th Jan – 500 words, 30th Jan – 600 words. Not very good, but not 0 or 100 either.

One of the first things that sent me writing was a dream I had last night (or should I say this morning?). I did a spate of free-writing. I do this from time to time, leave a notebook and pencil beside my bed for just such occasions.

I saw a strange mixture of my friends, some from kindergarten, some from school, college and my institute, some of my friends in Malaysia and Singapore. The ones from kindergarten were still small, and the ones from school had school uniforms on, it was a group of all ages, and we were on a picnic.

A picnic near an old rolling mansion, and we soon fell to exploring, all my friends broken into mixed groups, the children holding adult hands.

And then, a girl I was friends with in school and had not thought of in the longest time, came shrieking, “There’s blood, blood!”

We all shuffled together, children and adults, and went to the next room, where the wall was indeed covered in blood spatters, and pitted with holes, where the plaster had fallen off.

To me they looked like splashes of rusty old paint, but even though the splatters were dried, and looked old, there was that unmistakable, nauseating, sweet-salt smell of blood.

We all wanted out, but suddenly there was no door. No windows either. Only us, the rusted splatters on dusty, riddled, dirty walls—the child friends crying, the school friends in shock and the adult friends perplexed, trying to find their way out.

I woke up then, with the weirdest feeling of being cut, on my arms and legs, and all over my body. Though I could feel the cuts, the throbbing that usually sets in after a few seconds of painlessness, I could not see the cuts. I was pristine, whole, just the way I went to bed. No blood splatters anywhere either. No pitted walls.

I tried to get up and check myself in the mirror, and this is when I realized I was still asleep and only waking up now for real. No cuts, no blood, no strange group of friends old and new, no room painted in blood splatter. Just a dream. Well, a nightmare.

Wall, blood splatter, holes and nightmares

Writing a write-as-you-think journal, after a long time

Writing a free-writing journal can be a de-stressing experience, but it has not featured here or on my writing blog for a time because I use most of my free-writing for my stories. But here goes today:

Each day, as it grows out of the old one, is an island in itself. It is surrounded by the seas of yesterday and tomorrow, but for those brief hours, it is all its own, and in its span an entire lifetime may be lived.

Strange, that given one day, you can grab at each of its moments, its minutes, its hours, stretch them out in the sun, lay them out one by one, one after the other like fresh washing—pristine, clean smelling. Examine each till it expands and swells under the glare of your scrutiny, as it lays itself bare, vulnerable, ready to be handled at your will.

And then, you pick it up, toss it carelessly aside, this today, this flower that has bloomed in your heart, your hands, your very existence, you toss it out and about and do not pay attention.

Seize the moment, hah, what garbage, you tell yourself. And before you know it, there is a new day, and the old one is gone.

Word count 300(sigh, again ! )

Write-as-you-think journal entry after a long time

Writing a journal seems to be a favorite preoccupation for people, cos it is one of the top searches that lands people on this blog. Even though I have not mentioned the word “journal” in quite some time now. Maybe it is just students with journal assignments?
So, I thought, maybe we do one of my journal entries today.

It was a busy Sunday, um, a busy weekend. Make that a busy month. Even a busy year so far. Only problem is, I have been busy doing everything other than the stuff I’ve been wanting to do. All the things that would have been on my New Year Resolution list (I stopped making those when I was ten and one of my resolutions was “grow taller”) I have left undone.

Life has a weird way of taking over and dictating its terms just when you have the biggest urge to control it.

Maybe just let go, huh?

Not on. I just can’t let go. Of Anything. I am like one of my cousins who always had one raw wound somewhere on himself, because he had to, just had to, pick at the scabs. Couldn’t let go. He was eleven at the time and did not know any better, but you’d think someone my age would know better, right? Apparently not.

I have studied Wu wei, written sporadically about it, but there is a big gap between knowledge and practice. To spend your time in inaction, acting only at the right moment and only as much as the moment requires for the restoration of universal harmony— seems like too many high-flown words.

But Wu wei is a lot about the essential nature of our being.

I like to imagine that inside each of us is a beautiful, blue calm lake, surrounded by snow-capped mountains on all sides, where a morning-fresh breeze unceasingly blows. A shimmering blue lake that reflects the pines on its banks, if only we let it stay that way. Instead, we throw stones, create ripples, shout out loud and break that majestic silence, the silence of our soul.

I try and visit this lake every once in a while, and find it surprisingly easy to let go of all the noise of my existence around its tranquil waters.

Perhaps I should want to do something, but then not try too hard (ouch, whatever happened to try, try again?), bring my desire as a prayer to the azure lake and wait for it to be granted—stranger things have been known to happen.

My inner lake, here I come.