Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Word-a-day Writing Challenge

After something of a hiatus I have returned. I won't get into the details of what's kept me away—mostly because I'm sick to death of talking about it—but suffice to say I have a lot more time on my hands to write. I will say this though: take care of your body, you might need it one day.

In the spirit of new beginnings and the fall season, I'm taking on a new project.  A few summers ago I participated in a writing exercise that consisted of a fellow writer and I choosing one word every other day (she one day, I the next) and each of us comprising a story, poem, sentence, shopping list, whatever, that included that word.  It didn't necessarily need to be about the word, but the word had to be present in the content.  One of the obvious tricks (not that tricks are required) was to try to use the word in some unconventional manner, but without sounding forcibly clever—always a challenge for the writer of anything.

This week the practice has been resuscitated with a couple of new people, and while I will not publish their words (unless they'd like to see them here), I've decided to post my own "word-a-day" pieces in hopes that others may participate by posting stories, poems, etc, in the comments section. If nothing else it will keep me on task. Provided I can keep the group going, we'll start with a thirty day window and see what comes of it. The practice also coincides with my reading of Arthur Plotnik's Spunk & Bite: A writer's guide to punchier, more engaging language & style, which has little to do with anything except that it's encouraged me to be more engaged with the process of writing, and that's something I highly recommend to anyone doing anything.

Now. Some words.

Day One: Misdemeanour

East Vancouver in the middle of summer, when the heat has finally lifted away with a few cool breaths from the harbour. Dusk and just after. Among the old Italian men strolling over to the park to smoke cigars and argue politics and sport while the wives sigh or hum or smile at the grandkids and scrape sauces and side dishes into Tupperware. And along the school yard basketball courts fenced in by the vocabulary of belonging, slang, and misdemeanour. Through the heavy curtain of three day old dumpster stench and towards the open air of waterfront, the screech of seagulls and the steady grumble of machinery shrugging its dark shoulders at the moon. Ceaselessly loading; unloading.

These are the places I go to meet poetry.

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