An Exercise (with Anecdote)

September 26th, 2006

Every now and then life hands you a weirdness, and if you’re a writer, it tends to get the juices flowing. I’ll give you an example from My Real Life in a second, but as a writers’ exercise, taking some odd thing you’ve observed and running with it is hard to beat. You see someone doing something weird and you want to figure out why, or what happens; you hear someone say something bizarre and you want to set the comment in a scene that makes sense. So:

This morning, as I was walking my dog, I saw another dog-walker, a middle aged woman in a sweatshirt and jeans. She had two dogs, off leash, and a plastic back in which to collect the feces. When the dogs were both done, and she had a large-ish bag of poop, she tied the bag off into a neat bundle, which she then left under the windshield wiper of one of the cars on the street. Then she walked off, apparently pleased with herself.

Doesn’t this make you want to know what came before or what happened after? So go write it!

13 Responses to “An Exercise (with Anecdote)”

  1. Ericon 27 Sep 2006 at 11:15 am

    That’s hilarious. And yes, that does make me want to know what came before or happened after. :)

  2. readerdianeon 28 Sep 2006 at 11:21 am

    Ok that was a great start to my morning.

    I am always looking for prompts for my middle school students, just imagine what they are going to write when I give this to them. I love it.

  3. Madeleine Robinson 28 Sep 2006 at 11:28 am

    Ooh. If you get something really lovely, post it!

  4. LauraJMixonon 28 Sep 2006 at 7:48 pm

    I was in the Peace Corps for two years in Kenya, and we had six weeks of training before they were willing to turn us loose on an unsuspecting populace. During training one evening, we watched a National Geographic special on the Serengeti, and the wildebeest migration. There was a sequence in which the herds have to swim across this large rivier. The mothers and calves get separated, because the mothers are stronger swimmers.

    When the mothers reach the far side and their calves are not with them, they cross back to find them. Meanwhile, the calves reach the far side, and when they see that their mothers are not there, they jump in to swim back to find them. And they go back and forth and back and forth, until the calves and mothers drown, and their bodies pile up on the shore, further down.

    Something about this both saddened me, and deeply moved me, and it was the ‘sand in the oyster’ that resulted in a novel that Tor nearly bought, years before my first real sale.


  5. heatheron 03 Oct 2006 at 8:13 pm

    Gross but true:

    I was in chemistry finishing important exponential paperwork when (not to offend the men) i had an ‘accident’ and was forced to rush to the restroom.

    The science building was set scenically next to a gator laden pond, it was late and i was wearing a long brown knit dress. Again, the work was important ( i needed the grade to keep my average up) and my professor was akin to a marine drill instructor- and just as sweet.

    Sure enough, the damage was done- and determined or not, i was vain enough not to return to class in such a blatent condition. I rubbed furiously on the stain, which only made it larger.

    My reflection told me to splash some water randomly over my front. Apparently, i have terrible ideas under pressure. The only thing for it was to take off my dress and totally soak it.

    This worked, the garment was now all one color again, albeit a darker brown than when i entered. I rang the excess water out, redressed and returned to class.

    In the 15minutes or so it took for me to rush through the rest of my work, a shallow puddle gradually formed around my chair. I could feel the eyes of those students closest to me, but i kept my head down and plod along. Once done, i took the work to the prof, who looked long but said naught. He checked me off and i bolted for the solace of my car.

    I’ve always wondered what they thought had happened to me.
    Can’t believe i’m gonna post this…

  6. Samer Rabadion 04 Oct 2006 at 3:41 pm

    My reflection told me to splash some water randomly over my front. Apparently, i have terrible ideas under pressure.

    Ah, the old water stain maneuver. I’ve done this a few times myself, but perhaps not on the same scale as you’ve described.

    For me, its seems that I am incapable of eating anything without spilling something onto my clothing. Walking into a meeting with water artfully sprinkled onto my shirt or trousers – I’m not sure how I thought that was much better.

  7. heatheron 05 Oct 2006 at 3:12 am


  8. heatheron 05 Oct 2006 at 3:47 am

    Why, I don’t know, but here’s another one.

    I used to keep a bag in my car for whenever i felt like going to the gym for a workout. It had probably been in there for a month by the time i used it- but go i did.

    I dressed, then went to put on my canvas slip-ons (because i hate sneakers) but they were drenched in shower gel. As was the rest of the bottom of my bag. Irritated, i proceeded to rinse my now pink shoes back to white and squeak them on.

    I always did the treadmill first. Once programmed and on it, i could see all the wet footprints i’d tracked on the way there. I hoped they dried before anyone else noticed. It was a fleeting thought as i worked my self into a steady walk.After five minutes or so i increased my speed to the point just before actual running.

    Now, i’m no stranger to being stared at, but after awhile it started to bother me. I noticed belatedly that i was the only female present, but still.. The guys were looking pretty hard. I got embarrassed and ducked my head, a little bit shy.

    Bubbles covered the treadmill but most impressively ballooned in large clouds on my feet.

    See where vanity and conceit will get you?

  9. Samer Rabadion 06 Oct 2006 at 5:50 am

    Bubbles covered the treadmill but most impressively ballooned in large clouds on my feet.

    Wow, I’ve got nothing remotely close to that. It must’ve been quite the sight. :-)

    I’ve recently moved to London to be student again, and I brought with me a small, American football which I supposed to take pictures of juxtaposed to London’s streets and landmarks. It’s a long story, but the short version is that the football is the gnome from the film Amelie – a dear friend’s beloved possession gone missing and traveling the world.

    Mostly people just stared, but occasionally some brave person would approach me with something like, “Excuse me. I don’t mean to pry, but why on earth are you doing that?” In any case, it was an interesting way to meet people on the street.

    My favorite was the shopkeeper of a science fiction hobby store. The look on his face when I asked permission to pose the football in the arms of a Dalek (from Doctor Who) was priceless. :-)

  10. heatheron 06 Oct 2006 at 7:46 am

    We did the same with Flat Chelsea (a pieced together, life sized paper replica of one of my nieces who lives 5 states away).

    Imagination is a wonderful thing.

  11. LauraJMixonon 06 Oct 2006 at 2:38 pm

    “bubbles covered the treadmill…” That’s a great story, Heather. It made me laugh out loud.


  12. heatheron 12 Oct 2006 at 2:22 am

    I have so many more where that came from. It is true, isn’t it- that truth is stranger than fiction? Lord help me, but i’m one goofy individual. These things just seem to happen to me.

  13. Mitch Wagneron 12 Oct 2006 at 3:04 am

    Samer Rabadi:

    For me, its seems that I am incapable of eating anything without spilling something onto my clothing.

    Same here.

    I was having lunch with a friend one day and comparing notes on getting food on ourselves while eating.

    He said one day he went out to lunch wearing his best suit, and got home at the end of the workday to discover he had a food stain on his shoulder. He thought to himself, “How did I manage to do that?”

    Then he remembered: He’d had pasta with red sauce for lunch and dropped a big glob of sauce on the tie. He noticed, and decided to get the tie out of the way so he wouldn’t get more food on it, so he flipped it over his shoulder…..

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply