The introduction to this series is here. But the idea is simple: one quick writing exercise a day for seven days. Post the results in a comment below, or, if you prefer, email them to me (at my name at gmail).
Day Five: Day Five? Wow. Even if you’ve just done a couple of these, you’ve done some very good (and not easy) work this week.
Day five is stealing from the poets. This should be fun and simple: it’s one of my favourite ways to get writing.
Below, I have chosen two verses more or less at random from two different poets: John Keats and Langston Hughes. Take five or so images from the lines below and write the first 100-150 words of a story using them–or more if it grabs you.
No need to combine this with one of the previous exercises: it’s not necessary to use these images to write a Malamud-style opening. Although that would be cool. The point is just to produce material for a story you might not normally.
Verse one. This is Keats reflecting that while he and every human will grow old and die, the nightingale’s song will not.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that ofttimes hath
Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
Here are a few sentences from me:
Wruth arrived in Brighton in the last carriage of an off-white train. The grand houses of the rich old ladies faced the sea, their Italianate pallour muddied by the dimming sunset and the coming of night. Wruth walked about the town, delighted. The peculiar antiques sold down the many winding lanes, the small cafes still busy in the evening, the oddly designed palaces, they seemed to be opening some kind of doorway to himself, to the alien and unknown Nile flowing in his veins.
I’m not sure who “Wruth” is, or where this one is going–but maybe that’s a good thing.