Writing Prompt: Happy New Year?

It’s 4:16pm on the last day of the year and I’m still at the office. Everyone with any sense has gone home to get ready for whatever festivities they have planned for tonight. Yes, I’m going out too, just not until later. However, as I sit here I wonder, what’s all the fuss about? The Earth made it once more around the sun, but what’s changed?

When I look out the window, the streets are closed off for the Edinburgh street party.  I’ll be there later, trying to avoid scary drunk men in kilts.

Aside from the office being quiet and getting more sleep than usual, I feel nothing during this time of year, but the impatience that comes with waiting for something extraordinary to happen when the clock strikes twelve.  It’s dark outside and the lights above the castle are lit.

I’ve spoken to a few friends this past 48 hours and there is a universal sense of anticlimax about the New Year’s festivities. Is that a sign of age or a symptom of a disillusioned society? No one has said anything optimistic or shared any goals for the new year with me, they just want the year to be over…I have a list of things I want to do, but that list never changes, only reaches certain degrees of completion as the years go by.

I don’t mean to sound so miserable, but I keep hearing people say that they can’t wait for the New Year to start. Are they going to be different people when it’s the 1st of January? Will their circumstances have changed from one day to the next just because it’s 2009 instead of 2008? I somehow doubt it, yet people have a tendency to put goalposts and deadlines on the start of a new year. If you really want to change something, what difference does it make whether it’s the 1st of Jan or the 18th of June? Just bloody get on with it.

I’m the same, and I know it. I have endless lists of things I want to do before I hit mid-30’s as if I’ll have failed in life if I don’t beat the clock. The thing to remember is that its about getting it done, moving forward, staying inspired every day, regardless of the date. I know it’s hard to stay focused, that putting something off until you hit a nice round number you like or a date or a time is easier, but that mentality leads to stagnation.

So, what am I trying to say? I guess that I hope everyone has a nice time tonight, but New Year’s Eve shouldn’t be an excuse to celebrate, to wipe the slate clean and start again. That should be every day. Have fun and do stuff that makes you happy regardless of what the calendar says…

Writing Prompt: Happy New Year

Thought: Me, without you…

A friend of mine said to me the other night, “You know how they say that you can’t choose your relatives, but you can choose your friends? Well…that’s bollocks.” I was startled at first, but then I realised the truth in what he said. When I think back to some of the close friends I’ve had over the years, I find that I never had a choice in the matter. We met, we gelled, we became friends, we discovered all the things we don’t like about each other, and here we still are. I might love some people, but on occasion, I don’t like them. You could argue that you could walk away, but I could no sooner give up on the emotional investment I’ve put into a friend than that of a relative. The true friends are there for better or for worse, and I for one, would not have it otherwise.

I can’t say I’ve ever looked at someone from a distance and thought, I think I’ll be friends with you, and you, and you, hmmm…not you…you, etc. Like most relationships, the good ones always seem to just happen, catching us off guard and by the time you realise that it’s going to take some effort to keep the momentum going, its too late. You’re in it…that’s actually a nice kind of punch in the gut when you realise you don’t want to do without someone. I have some friends in my life that have been there so long and we know each other so well, we don’t even bother being polite to each other anymore – is that a symptom of the inflexibility that comes with age?

Pause for a moment and think about the random and unexpected ways you’ve met people. Did you ever actually have a moment of realisation that you were friends? I’ll bet that in most cases, it just crept up on you…Is there anyone in your life that you just wouldn’t want to do without, despite having some pretty huge faults? (bearing in mind that your friends are dealing with a ball of imperfections in you as well, kind of nice huh?)

Pardon my rambling today, it’s the last day of the year and my mind is wandering…

Quote for the day

One of the things that draws writers to writing is that they can get things right that they got wrong in real life by writing about them. 

– Tobias Wolff

Writing Prompt: The first day of class

I wandered in, a few minutes late by the clock on the wall. There was a lot of noise in the room as the students dropped their bags on the floor and found their places. Some of them appeared to know each other, probably from the previous course. Me, I was new and a stranger to everyone. Just the same, I was determined to try my best to make a good impression.

“Call me Pete” the instructor said. “Line up and get ready to begin.”

I got a little nervous as everyone seemed to know where to position themselves and what to do.

“Ok, start, circle round the mat. Go!” He blew the whistle and everyone started running around the expansive matting that covered the wooden floors. “Five” He shouted. Everyone turned in unison and ran in the opposite direction.  I hesitated, unsure of what I was meant to be doing and just avoided crashing into the guy who had been in front and was suddenly behind me. I ran with the others feeling my heart rate jump. “One!” he shouted. Everyone dropped mid-step and placed their left hand on the floor for just a second then continued to run. “Two!” he shouted. The same action was repeated with the right hand. “Five!” He shouted. Everyone turned again and this time, I was quick enough.

By the time we stopped, I was out of breath.  Pete had us do press-ups, crunches, stretches, more running and some seemingly impossible positions on the floor that I didn’t think my back was capable of performing. I was please to find I was wrong. I bent, ran, stretched and panted with all my might.  When we finished, I looked at the clock. 20 minutes had passed and that was only the warm-up.

“Dear God”, I muttered. I was handed some sparring gloves and placed within arm’s reach of a chap that was about 70lbs heavier than me, if I was being generous.  He was clearly not a stranger to Krispy Kreme. Pete came up to us. “You’re both new, so I’ll put you together.”

I held my breath. This guy was twice my size.

When Pete demonstrated the first move, I thought, no problem. We were meant to take turns practicing and Pete nodded approvingly at my technique. I was careful to go slow and demonstrate that I understood the manoeuvre, but didn’t put too much strength into it. My partner took his turn. He moved quickly, too quickly for a drill and planted me face first onto the mat. A clumsy slap to the front of my neck left me gasping. He could kill someone with his carelessness, I thought.

Pete, having praised me for my balance a moment before, was helping me up. When he was reassured that I was ok, he had words with the other guy.

Two weeks later, having skipped a class waiting for the bruises to clear up, I returned. I found out that my sparring partner of that day dropped the class when an advanced student dropped him to the floor.  He had tried to be rough with the wrong person and this time, Pete had not stopped it.

It’s funny. Whenever I walk into a  new learning environment, I accept that there are going to be people in there that know more than me or show better aptitude. In the end, we’re all there to learn and to cooperate, not show off. Teamwork  should be the order of the day.

So, have you ever felt like a prize idiot on the first day of class? Have you been befriended, felt isolated, excelled when you didn’t expect it, in short, describe a memorable 1st day at anything.

Writing Prompt: The First Day of Class

Writing Prompt: Random

My mind is going in a hundred different directions. It drifts to work and some intense meetings I had today.  I’ve been thinking about next year and the things I have to do to make it successful. I’m excited, but it’s going to be busy.  I have so many plans and ideas and there are so many people I want to share them with.

Thoughts have wandered to my family back in California and for the first time, I understand that if I wished it, I could leave and go back there. It would be hard, it would take a few months to get it all sorted, six at least, but I’m free to go when I choose.

I thought about Wanda, one of my dearest friends and how much I admire her independence. I wonder if the guy who invented paperclips still gets royalties. Titch is on the sofa with me asleep and although I know this is a long way off, just the thought of not having her with me makes my throat constrict and heart beat a little faster. The Terminator is on TV and I remember where I was when it was released in the cinema and how scary Arnold Schwarzenegger was to me at that age.

I feel restless and I wish my mind would sit still for just a minute. I’m hoping that by having a bit of a stream of consciousness brain-dump, I’ll feel better and have a chance to sleep, an activity that has avoided me for some nights now.

When I feel like this,expressing some random thoughts sometimes helps. I use this exercise in the morning sometimes, when my mind is still working, processing my dreams and trying to push them back until they’re nothing more that an indent on my pillow, waiting for the night to come again.

Try this, just write freehand for 30 minutes. Don’t edit, don’t stop. Just let your mind wander and see where it takes you.

Writing Prompt: Random

Writing Prompt: Alphabet Soup

As a writer, I’m also a reader. I read everything and anything that catches my attention. Novels, newspaper, how-to books, magazines, cereal boxes, blogs, forum posts, song lyrics…anything. One of the most important things in writing is expanding your vocabulary, so I study the words and expressions of others searching for inspiration.

Funny, the book that I keep going back to is the dictionary.

Whenever I’m stuck, I flick through the thin pages of the enormous book and look for words I’ve never heard before.

Try this, find a dictionary, flick through each letter and make a list of 26 words you’re never heard of and write a narrative around them.

Have fun playing with the words.

Writing Prompt: Alphabet Soup

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