WE PAW Bloggers E-zine — Issue 04292022

This issue is mirror published on the editor’s Medium profile

Our “Flash Tales” prompt is a short story writing exercise. This issue’s prompt combined the short story writing exercise with the “Writers on the Writing Life” prompt. The goal was for contributors to take a true event in their lives which inspired them to become writers and create an autobiographical short story. Writes were specifically directed not to write a simple essay. Rather, the intent was to create a true autobiographical account which might read like a story in a book.

Please share this reading and take care of yourselves. And, keep writing.

As always, contributors must be members of the “WE PAW Bloggers”group on Facebook, and participate in the featured prompts to be published in the group ezine.

Blue Leather Binder: A short story

Photo by Mike Tinnion on Unsplash

We were only eight.

For reasons that remain hazy, Philip and I had both declared to elementary school teacher, Mrs Doyle that we were poets.

“Great,” she said. “We look forward to hearing some of your poetry.”

Today, as an adult, I know very well that such commitments can be put off almost indefinitely.

“Let’s meet-up… sometime,” I might say to former co-workers. Or, “Yeah, we should really do more work on that. It would make a great project.”

Five years later — no progress.

The thing is, that wasn’t Mrs Doyle.

No.

She arranged a class poetry reading for the following day.

I spoke with Philip in hushed tones, expecting him to be as dismayed as I was: “Are you kidding me? She actually wants us to stand up in front of our class and read something out?”

“So it appears,” he replied, flipping open a blue leather binder.

Yeah, I really remember that binder. The color, the size. It’s etched into my memory, along with a slightly smug smile on Philip’s face.

“What the hell, man?”

Did I say that, or just think it?

Whatever. There’s no doubting how I felt when I saw that unlike me, Philip wasn’t all talk. He had penned at least thirty poems, each neatly written out by hand.

And they were accomplished pieces, too.

Damn…

That evening, I set to it. A pile of blank, lined paper in front of me, a pen… and an absence of ideas.

Besides, of course, the very clear idea that I would be standing in front of all of my peers the next day, hearing Philip recite his marvellous odes, and then feeling my stomach churn as all eyes turned to me.

I wish I could go back and offer some advice to my younger self.

“This poetry thing doesn’t have to be so hard,” I’d say. “It just takes honesty. Knowing yourself. Feeling-meets-image-meets-wordplay…”

I did write that night. Not a lot, and the poems were terrible. What little I can remember was highly derivative. Song lyrics twisted out of shape. Doggerel descriptions of my back yard. A bizarre collection of puns.

I had something to read the next day, even if none of it worked for the audience.

It worked for me — subtly.

Strangely, despite the predicament I had found myself in and the garbage I had penned to meet Mrs Doyle’s deadline, something had changed. I realised I could produce something that was just mine. Not for schoolwork, or for homework.

My first few lines of something from within. And one day, a binder to call my own.

While Philip may have been a little smug, he showed me the way that day, almost forty years ago.

I wonder if he’s still writing now.

by JF Danskin

Evolution of a Writer — It’s a Mystery!

Image property of the contributor

I was privileged to be born into a family that valued the written and the spoken word.

My mother’s parents, with whom we lived until I was five years old, emigrated to Canada from Lithuania (my grandfather) and England (my grandmother’s parents emigrated to England from Latvia).

I inherited my love of reading from my father, and my love of wordplay from my mother and my maternal grandfather.

My grandfather was a letter writer. He corresponded with family members as far away as England and South Africa, and held the post of Recording Secretary for his union local until he was incapacitated by a stroke while attending a union meeting.

Mom had an instinct for writing doggerel, always including a short rhyming message in birthday and anniversary cards. When extending an invitation to our California cousins to visit us in Montréal during the 1967 World’s Fair, she wrote, “Fly or drive; there’s room for five.”

Although I grew up surrounded by words, I never planned to become a writer, much less a mystery novelist. It just sort of happened.

While browsing the library bulletin board one day (yes, I read just about anything), I came across a notice for PEN TO PAPER, A free drop-in weekly writing group. All I needed to bring was a pen and some paper.

How could I resist?

The sessions were both fun and challenging. At the start of each meeting, our moderator supplied us with a writing prompt. Usually the prompt was verbal — a sentence or a theme. Sometimes, the prompt was visual and, occasionally, it was tactile.

Catalyzed by the prompt, we wrote furiously for about twenty minutes. The rest of the one-hour session was devoted to reading aloud what we had written.

One day, Diane, our moderator, brought a string of green plastic Mardi Gras beads to our weekly session. I had an immediate mental flash of a slinky, well-endowed woman by the name of Sylvia who was wearing a rope of green pearls. I wrote a piece of flash fiction in which Sylvia hired Damien Dickens, a private investigator, to find her kid sister.

I didn’t realize at the time that my short piece would evolve into a novel and then into a series, but the characters nagged at me. Over the course of several weeks, I kept returning to the story, adding and modifying scenes.

Some time later, Diane’s prompt was to write a story that began “If I didn’t…”

Without conscious thought, I started to write,

“If I didn’t blog every day, I would spend more time with Damien.

“You’ve never met Damien. Well, perhaps some of you have. Damien is a detective who has been knocking on my forehead for a couple of weeks, asking to be let out of my brain. You might think that he’s just a figment of my imagination; but, to me, he’s real.”

In this accidental fashion, The Green Pearl Caper was born.

by Phyllis Entis

A Love of Words

Emily Dickinson

Once upon a time, there was a freckle-faced, gap-toothed six-year-old girl who loved to read.

Her first grade teacher, a diminutive woman with a quiet demeanor, asked the kids in the class to copy and illustrate classic poems and collect them in a pretty folder made out of folded wallpaper scraps.

Probably the teacher was just trying to make handwriting practice more interesting, but for the little girl, the assignment was a revelation.

In particular, she liked poems from Emily Dickinson.

So many great words swam into her brain–solitude, moor, heather, quiver, tippet, cornice, delirious, billow, demur.

So, Mrs. Alsdorf found more poems by Dickinson for the little girl. She’d stop by the child’s desk often, pulling up a chair to talk a little about what the words meant and to admire the girl’s drawings.

One day, Mrs. Alsdorf stopped by the girl’s desk as usual. She looked around, as if to make sure that no one else was watching or listening, then leaned in and said very quietly, as if divulging a great secret, “You know, you can write your own poems, if you want to.”

If it were a movie, there would have been a swell of violins and a raising of the lights as that idea exploded in the little girl’s mind.

Somehow, despite having loved so many books, stories, and verses, it had not occurred to her that an ordinary person could write poetry. You didn’t have to be some kind of mystical creature after all.

You could just be a little girl who loved interesting words.

by Samantha Dunaway Bryant

Wonder Woman Made Me Do It

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Mom made me go to school that day.

My left arm throbbed beneath the ugly white cast as I sulked my way to the end of our driveway.

I sulked my way onto the bus filled with kids I didn’t want to deal with.

I wasn’t ready to explain how I got this plaster on my shattered arm.

The bus arrived late at school.

I moped my way through the two-story building and into a large classroom where the teacher had already begun a lesson.

I walked to the back of the room and sat at my desk.

I could feel eyes on me.

I wanted to tell them off, but that would risk immediate punishment and expulsion.

I put my bag away and pulled out my math textbook.

My parents were mad enough at me as it was — that would push them over the edge.

Teacher dismissed us for our mid-morning break and that’s when it began.

“What the heck happened to your arm?” Mel, my red-haired best friend exclaimed as we gathered in our usual meeting place.

“It was stupid.” I muttered.

“Oh, do tell!” said Kirsten, my blonde-haired friend.

“My cuz and I were playing a dare as who could jump the farthest.” I began. “We had six chairs lined in a row. Darn near cleared them all.” I held up the injured arm.

“You know you’re not Wonder Woman, right?” Mel murmured. “Your imagination always get you into trouble.”

“Bet your parents were just thrilled.” Kirsten added.

“Hardly.” I replied as I vividly remembered their harsh reaction at me sprawled among the chairs I’d managed to nearly destroy. “Grounded. For two freakin’ weeks.”

“Well, not like this was your first time.” Kirsten sniffed.

I shrugged.

“Hey, I’ve an idea!” Mel said. “Let’s see who can write the scariest story. You know, for Halloween. It’d be fun!”

I shrugged again.

***

It was the final break of the day as I sat outside on a bench. I watched as the younger kids played on the see saw.

“Did you do it?” Mel asked.

“Yeah.” And handed her a single piece of paper filled with my scrawling handwriting.

“Here, read mine.” Kirsten shoved a crinkled paper at me before sitting with Mel to read the story I’d spent my entire lunch working on.

I tried to focus on Kirsten’s story, but her writing was illegible, so I gave up.

“Holy crap!” Kirsten exclaimed at the same time Mel let out a gasp.

“What’s wrong?” My cheeks burned.

“That…was…awesome!” Mel grinned. “Finding a bloody head in a fridge was great!”

Their praises caught me off guard.

“Really? You guys like it?” I asked disbelievingly.

“Yeah, dude! It’s so Stephen Kingish!” Mel replied.

Before anything more could be said, the bell rang.

As I walked back to our classroom, an idea of a new Wonder Woman’s escapade filled my mind.

I smiled to myself.

It’d be safer to write about that one instead of acting it out.

by Carrie Adams Golden

What Choice Did I Have?

Image by the contributor

“You remind me of a man…” Cousin Jasper was clearly up to something as he wandered about touching things.

“The man with the power of voodoo? I loved busting his chops.

“No. No. Those people in that Randy Newman song.”

“Rednecks?”

“No. No. No. You know the one. About the people who are ‘much smarter than I’ but have shitty jobs.”

“It’s Money That Matters?”

“That’s the one.” Jasper whirled about pointing at me with a bicycling-themed knick-knack. “You had a bunch of good jobs; but you took them nowhere. Now you’re a pensioner, with a minuscule pension I might add, writing books that don’t sell, despite putting in full time hours trying to sell them on FakeBook and Twister. What the hell happened to you? Were you dropped on your head as a child?” Jasper held his Armani-clad arms to the sky as though begging providence to explain the enigma that was me. The tiny bike wheels spun aimlessly in the air.

I decided to give providence and break; and explain myself, myself.

“It wasn’t so much any single event that set me on the path to being a writer, as it was a series of unfortunate events commencing with birth and culminating with an expansive lack of any talent other than putting pen to paper which, for better or worse, condemned me to be a writer.

“Retaining facts was always anathema to my feeble brain. In subjects like mathematics, the universal language, I was completely illiterate. So, throughout my schooling, from first grade through college, I could pass and even excel solely at subjects in which essay questions or written papers comprised the bulk of grade determination. Exams or papers in literature, history, even some of the sciences were met with a veritable glossolalia of endless verbiage expounding and re-expounding on the one or two things I actually knew about the subject. I presented my scant knowledge from this angle and that, from one side and then the other; eternally rewording, reexamining, and self-plagiarizing. Seriously, humorously, prosaically, and poetically, I would disguise my lack of acumen behind a volcano of words erupting in a plethora of styles, onto forests of paper in a strategy that usually succeeded; if not on its merits, then certainly on its ability to physically exhaust whatever luckless nun, teacher, or professor was destined to read through such drivel.

“However, likely the ultimate proof sentencing me to a life of scribbling away on everything from bar napkins to computer screens, was the fact that although able to produce a dictionary’s worth of words on paper at the drop of a hat; orally, I was but minimally more coherent than a boiled bivalve.

“What choice did I have?”

Jasper stared open-mouthed; much like a boiling bivalve opens its shell before dying.

by Joe Ferguson

If you wish to contribute to this ezine, please join the group on Facebook. All writing creatives are welcome.

D. Denise Dianaty, Editor and Graphic Designer for the WE PAW Bloggers E-Zine. Administrator for the writers forum “WE PAW Bloggers” group and its sister group “Pandora’s Box of Horrors” on Facebook. In addition to being a self-published author and poet, artist, art-photographer, and administrator of the group, “WE PAW Bloggers,” Denise is a graphic designer with 25+ years experience, predominately in print media.

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An ezine for members of the FB group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/wepawblog, as well as being the place to curate featured writing prompt contributions.

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WE PAW Bloggers E-zine

WE PAW Bloggers E-zine

An ezine for members of the FB group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/wepawblog, as well as being the place to curate featured writing prompt contributions.