From Diana Pavlac Glyer: Evidence of creative breakthrough is found in unlikely places: a quick note, an offhand remark, a journal entry, or a formal letter. We gather the scraps and piece them together as best we can.
Like yourself, I love a bit of writing. I’ve dabbled in short stories but have largely done spoken word poetry. But I used to run a regular writing group which ended last year. During lockdown I’ve done little writing but have picked up older hobbies.
Actually, I’ve started a Masters in Screenwriting this month and am hoping to pursue that. So that plus rereading LotR again drew me back to these boards after a long break. And the prompts were a pleasant surprise.
Firstly, can I please recommend Tim Clare’s Death of 1000 Cuts writing podcast. Especially his Couch to 80k series of episodes.
Anyway, I took a prompt and used one of the old exercises from our writing group and did a ten minute freewrite without pausing. This is what I came up with after minimal editing.
Very Good Dogs
The dogs were good. Disgustingly so. And it wound Nigel up no end. It didn’t matter how many times snarled at them as they passed the bottom of his front garden, how many times he attacked them with the hose, or lay elaborate obstacle courses of bacon-laced beartraps along the street, much to the chagrin and manglement of the neighbours; the dogs continued to be very, infuriatingly good. Today however, would change all that.
That morning, Nigel had been to the big B&Q off the bypass. He’d acquired a length of guttering, three large nails (the kind not already found in one of the many zip-locked, labelled bags stationed in the shed) a mallet, two doorknobs, several LED bulbs and one pair of thick industrial rubber gloves. Yes, Nigel thought, soon those dogs were going to be a darn sight less good.
He peered between the nicotine-stained curtains and sipped his dark viscous tea. His mouth grazed the mug’s chipped ceramic, fingertips rubbing against the hardened glue holding the handle in place. Her Southampton FC relic. A softer man might call it a momento. Not Nigel. He knew it for what it was: something he would get round to. In time. There were a lot of such somethings these days. Too many for one pair of hands. Still, he had to start somewhere. The dogs, and by extension, the lovely Erica, seemed as good a place as any. Maude would not have approved.
He slurped the tea. The drink was too hot to ingest without wincing but he preferred it that way. A little heat, a little sting on the lips, a little wake-up-call first thing of the day never did him anything wrong. Frankly, he’d only just managed to perfect his brew. He’d made himself tea before of course; he was an Englishman after all. He knew this because he enjoyed watching his neighbours through a crack in the curtains, spending a Friday morning perusing the local hardware store and entertaining rather salaciously delightful thoughts about the somewhat younger dog owner three doors down. Particular on the days she wore the pink cardigan that did not quite fit across her chest, no matter how much she tugged at it. But his tea making days had belonged to a much younger man, one with more on top and less round the middle. No, refining the process as of late had been a pursuit of nigh on a year. Maude had always made tea for the both of them.
Nigel glanced once more at his watch. The second hand crept ever closer to three eighteen. Soon the noses of two very well behaved basset hounds would appear between the bars of the gate at the end of his front path. And following them would be dear sweet Erica. He hoped the guttering, the bulbs and all the rest would do the trick. And, if all went to plan, Nigel would be there to rescue her. He slurped the last of his tea. The pain was easy to ignore in light of the pleasure he imagined that might follow. He pulled on the rubber gloves.