Wednesday Write-in #10


Welcome to the Wednesday Write-in!

CAKE.shortandsweet runs a write-in every week to writers to practise their skills, and get chatting to each other about their work. Everyone is welcome to join in, and the more people you tell, the more everyone will get out of it.

 

Prompts

paperback  ::  bounce  ::  crushing  ::  liquor  ::  root

Guidelines

There are no hard and fast rules, but here are some brief guidelines:

  • You can use the prompts as inspiration or try to work them into your story somehow. Use as many as you want.
  • When your story is done, post it online (your blog/twitter/in a comment here), tag with #wednesdaywritein and comment with a link so we can read it. You can write as many stories as you like.
  • Please take the time to read and comment on as many other stories as you can.

Featured Story

We’ll feature our favourite story on the blog with a review of it and links to the author’s blog/twitter/facebook if relevant.

Posts will generally go up at 9am(ish) on Wednesday – stories are due by 10am Thursday (UK) to be considered for the featured story. You can keep posting your work after this, it just won’t be featured.

The winner will also be eligible to publish on our special CAKE.shortandsweet genre through Ether Books.

Rewards

We’ll keep track of who takes part in the write-ins, and you earn points for different things.

  • Take part in a write-in = 1 point.
  • Comment on other people’s stories = 1 point.
  • Share/reblog this post = 1 point.

When you reach ten points the editing team will give detailed feedback on a story of your choice. This only counts for separate sessions—so if you write five stories for one write-in, that counts as one, and if you share on both facebook and twitter, that’s one.

 

Please look for us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with the write-ins, or click the follow button to get blog updates!

Don’t forget to read our Previous Issues and check out the Submissions page if you’d like to be a CAKE.author!

 

Any questions? Otherwise, have fun writing!

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132 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-in #10

  1. Pingback: Story :: Liquorice root « a slice of imagination

  2. Hi! Couldn’t write last week, but so that doesn’t happen again, I leave this week’s story before I leave for school.

    Drowning
    I seem to drown in piles of books, which I really should have got rid of a long time ago. I should have at least put them on shelves to keep them off the floor.

    On my way to the kitchen I stumble upon some neatly stacked paperbacks.

    “Shit!” I kick them, scattering pages all over the hallway. “Serves them good.”

    That’s when I realize I’m drunk. I blame books for all my problems, including the bottle of liquor I’m polishing off now.

    “I hate you!,” I yell, gripping the door frame.

    Back in my bedroom, bottle still firmly in hand, I decide it’s time to change. I pull books from wherever I can find them; I lie on top of them, trying to crush them like they have crushed me.

    • Xalalia,

      Glad you found the time to join in 🙂 This is a really interesting idea: trying to crush them like they have crushed me – I love the idea of someone blaming all their problems on books! You take a really typical set up – someone drunk, throwing blame elsewhere – but subvert it by having the blame laid on books. It’s almost fun, but held back by the fact that this person is clearly unhappy. There’s something very irreverent about this. Perhaps because we’re so used to treating books with such care, to see them literally kicked about feels a bit naughty!

      • I’ve never been able to even throw a book across the room when I’m mad at it (or the characters, or the story). I almost apologize to them if I accidentally drop them, so I could never kick them!

      • Me too, I cringed when she began throwing the books around – but maybe she grew too close to her book characters and felt lost in the end – doesn’t every author want a reaction from her readers? 🙂

    • There’s a really nice flippant, sad and angry tone to your piece which I enjoyed reading. It also left me wanting to know more about what’s your characters story and why is she taking it out on books. As someone who has had to get rid of sixteen bin bags full of books to charity and am still mourning some of them the thought of kicking them oooh no !

  3. Park Life

    I’m sitting watching. Watching the children run around screaming that awful high pitched squeal that hurts the ears. Watching as new coats are dragged round and round the roundabout with ticking buttons scuffing. School shoes being leathered. Waste of bloody money. Who is disappearing into the bushes? Why the frantic shouting? Oh bloody hell, fat mother has found him and is yanking his arm out of its socket. Silly little sod.
    Must get back to the old man and bounce on his knee like a kid.

      • I think the character was a bit of a bag lady, perhaps a randy one too! I saw women and children in a park, in an area of deprivation. The children were not being kept under control which allowed the woman to observe. All the bouncing around of active children gave her ‘strange ideas’ .

        I wrote a short story a couple of years ago about a similar character…I don’t think she has gone yet 😉

        Thanks for the comments.

    • I really like the details in your description of the children playing on the playground. Took me back to being a kid and getting told off for ruining my new school shoes! The ending is kinda sinister, not really sure what’s going on there despite your explanation!?

  4. Managed it again this week! 🙂

    Darkness

    It’s midnight and I’m still markin’ these damn papers for tomorrow. The monotonous whirring of the ceiling fan is the only noise in this stifling hot room. A lone cockroach scuttles across the wooden floor and I pick up a paperback version of Anna Karenina and slam it down hard, crushing its insides into the floorboards. There’s a satisfying crunch and I smile to myself. One fewer in the world, although I doubt whether I’ll make much of a difference as scientists think the only thing that’ll survive a nuclear bomb is bastard cockroaches.

    I look at my glass of lemonade, sweating in the heat and wish for something stronger. I’ve never touched a drop of liquor, not since my daddy hit my brother halfway across our yard after one of his three-day benders. Mamma just stood there in her frayed pink apron doing the dishes like nothin’ was happening. That hasn’t stopped me wantin’ it, but not touching liquor is about the only thing my willpower works on. It’s like there’s a barrel of it and it’s all used up on that one thing, that I can’t but help wanting other things more than I should.

    An old tennis ball sits on the corner of the table and I squeeze it and throw it at the wall. It bounces, but loses momentum and drops to the floor. I look at the paper in front of me, typed in Arial point twelve. Without even reading it, I know it’s going to be boring. In my class of students there are only one or two bright sparks and this kid Josie is not one of them. I can always pick them out the second they walk through the door. It’s something about the way they dress or a look in their eyes. Last year I taught this guy called Lee. Brilliant kid. Had to give it all up ‘cos of some situation at home.

    I switch off the light and crawl into bed fully-clothed and allow the darkness of the night to envelop me before the other darkness takes root.

    • I really enjoyed this piece; I love the colloquial language. I feel like I’d like to know this narrator better though – their relationship with their students. I feel that there’s an underlying sadness I’d love to see explored.

      • Thank you Jennie B! I let the idea simmer for ages and suddenly this entire character came to me. I think I will be returning to her (currently nameless!).

    • I really enjoyed it, even the description of the squashing of the cockroach. I wanted to know what more culdn’t he/she help wanting more than they should. What was Lee’s situation at home and what is the other darkness waiting to take hold of the narrator. Not sure about the line ‘something about the way they dress’ – by not sure I mean how could anyone tell if someone is a bright spark by the way they dress? I get the look in their eyes – that bit works for me. It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of your story, which also felt as if it were part of a much longer story or novel – maybe it could be or is?

      • Thank you for you comments – really appreciate it! I think this could be part of a longer narrative (currently isn’t, I wrote this piece based solely on the prompts yesterday). Take on board your thoughts about clothing. Had something quirky in mind, but maybe I should stick with the look in the eyes.

    • I love the scene setting at the start. I can feel the heat and her frustration. Your story make me want to know more about the narrator’s past and situation – my imagination is running wild 🙂

      • I chose Anna Karenina because I’ve read it recently! I also thought it gave a clue as to what kind of teacher she might be. Thanks for commenting. I think I’ll be using this character (currently nameless!) again!

    • Hi Laura, glad to see you taking part again 🙂

      I really like the atmosphere of this piece, though I’d like to know more about what’s going on with the narrator. I feel like there are distracting sections – generally where you’ve tried to work in a prompt that doesn’t feel as natural – but overall it’s a really interesting set up and I’d like to see more of her!

    • The voice is really interesting, I get a sense of menace with the barrel analogy. What other things does he want (The narrator sounded male to me).

      I thought maybe near the end the voice sounded a little off (this line: Without even reading it, I know it’s going to be boring) for what I assumed was an English teacher?

      Still pretty gripping stuff.

      • Hi Laura, I really enjoyed reading this and felt quickly very interested in the narrator, as well as in Lee. I assumed the narrator was a woman, (without thinking about it much). I especially liked the bit about her willpower and her knowing the paper she was going to read would be boring. And the details about her crushing the cockroach were powerful enough to make me cringe! It seemed like the beginning of a longer story or novel to me too and I was left wanting to know about her darkness, present life and past.

    • As everyone else has said, I definitely want to know more about the other darkness. I liked some of the details in this story, like the cockroach squashing and the tennis ball, it just bought the scene alive and made it seem real. I like the colloqial style, but I think if you are going to do that maybe make it a bit more consistent, sometimes the language you use doesn’t seem to fit in with that tone.

  5. Here’s mine:

    Christmas Eve

    She did not believer in hoarding things or people. When something or someone was no longer of use she moved on. This was the first time she had a collection of paperback books. If he every found out, although, it was a big if because she was so careful, but if he did, she was sure he would understand she only intercepted his mail in order to gain insight into his likes and dislikes so she could be of more use to him. She thought he must really like reading with the amount of books he ordered from Amazon and when he thought they had not arrived, he just reordered.

    She preferred watching films either on television or sharing her pleasure with strangers in the dark. It was Christmas Eve yesterday and un-typically it was snowing in Manchester when she popped into Cornerhouse to see one of her all time favourite films ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. When he realised she was sitting behind him, she reassured him it was purely a coincidence they found themselves in close proximity. The woman he was with could not have meant much, if anything, to him as he did not introduce her.

    She wished he had seen all of the film but he missed the end when the ambulance men came. His so-called friend was so upset she had not needed much encouragement to go home and wait for a phone call. She stayed with him until they took him into a cubicle in Accident and Emergency. Even though he kept on insisting he would be alright on his own, she knew he was only saying that to be brave and so ignored his cries of protestation. Besides, she did feel a tiny bit guilty that his stomach problem just might have been caused by the mince pies she had made him. That would be difficult to prove now as she had thrown away those not eaten. She didn’t like them herself. And she always used bleach to clean her kitchen as it was the best way to get rid of germs.

    There, she finished wrapping a present for him and put it under the tree with the rest for later when it was visiting time. She loved everything about Christmas. He did not seem to share her views. When she last went to his house there were no signs of it being the festive season and nothing which even vaguely looked like a Christmas tree, although she had not been able to see much of his sitting room through the gap in the curtains. Still people change and she was sure he would once they were officially a couple and living together. Of course he had to get well before any of that could happen. If he didn’t fully recover, everyone always said when she was young tht she would make a great nurse..

    • I want to know more! Are they related?

      I love how the piece is mysterious and a little uncomfortable at the same time. I can’t quite make up my mind whether she’s stalking someone she knows/likes or perhaps just keeping an eye on him because she’s concerned…?

    • Ooh spooky and not in a Haloween way! This woman is scary and clearly needs a good friend to tell her to back off! However, he’s obviously ‘friendly’ with her otherwise he wouldn’t have eaten her mince pies. Is he two-timing the girl from the cinema? Intriguing!

      • Hi Laura, he thinks she is just his secretary, I know she’s obsessed with him and will do anything to get with him. The girl in the cinema is his current girlfriend. Glad you liked it.

    • Oooh so excited to see more of this character, she’s so entertaining … and terrifying! There are a few typos/odd grammar bits that made me stumble over some of the sentences, but I really like how this story is progressing. I’m slightly scared to see what she does next!

      • Thanks Sarah. sorry for the typos/odd grammar, it was a bit of a rush job in between my day job stuff. Glad you liked it. Yup she’s definately alive and kicking somewhere in my brain and just might pop out again at some point.

    • I like the idea of her intercepting the books to understand him better. She feels very stalker-ish and creepy. I’m glad to hear more about her after your last story. I wonder what further lengths she would go to. I’m intrigued to find out what her breakdown will be like when she realizes that he doesn’t actually want her.

      • I’ve not plans as yet to write a longer piece with her as the main character but after reading your comments a possible ending has popped into my head so you never know. Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for your comments.

    • The best part is how understated and natural she feels about this whole thing. I<m not sure if the first line works though – seems counter-intuitive to her obsession maybe? then again, I'm no psychologist, hahhaha.

      nicely done.

      • Thanks Brinda. I agree she is both mad and sad. Can’t say I’ve ever done the stalking bit myself but I did once ring an ex just to hear his voice and put the phone down after he answered. Maybe there’s a bit of mad and sad in us all – or maybe that’s just my excuse! Thanks for your comments. Now all I have to do is decide whether or not to write it up as a longer story/nove. Anyone got any advice/thoughts on this? Cheers

      • I think we definitely all have the mad/sad in us somewhere!

        You should try using Story Snowflake. I used it to pin down the idea for, then plot out my NaNo novel, and it’s been incredibly helpful. Might help you work out where you want to go with this 🙂

    • I like how creepy and completely deluded this character is, especially when you reveal that she’s stood outside his house spying in on him. I’m not sure if it would work as a novel, just because I feel like the story could get a bit out of hand if you tried to make it that long. I think its good not trying to have a definite resolution and just having the main character doing ever creepier things. Could definitely work as a longer short story.

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  7. Pingback: Fallible Opinions - Wednesday write-in #10

      • Ahhh you’re really doing Nano? That’s awesome! Are you going to the meetups at Madlab?? I haven’t RSVPd any yet but we should go if you’re not working 🙂

      • I haven’t done Nano before either. Was going to this year but I’ve started a writing course and will be too busy 😦

        Have you ever finishing Fallible and Sarah?

      • I managed NaNo the first year I tried it, failed to get started the second year (Life™ got in the way), and got about half way through last year before getting annoyed at it and quitting. I think a lot of last year was due to planning wrong, so hopefully that’s not going to be a problem again.

        I may make some of the Madlab meet-ups, not sure, but I think I’m going to make the drinks tomorrow at Kro, assuming I can find people when I get there.

    • I really like the relationship you conjure up here, Fallible. There are so many interesting ways this could go, and so many sinister ways too! I enjoyed the atmosphere a lot, though I did feel that it needed a stronger narrative arc – just for something to be going on in the background. You start to hint at it with the birth of an evening but I’d like a tiny clue more about what’s going on 🙂

      Good luck with Nano! Unluckily for me I’ll still be running this alongside writing my novel 😀

    • I really enjoyed your story. As I read I was asking – is he dead? is he being haunted? is he schizophrenic? but then I wondered. Is it his subconscious? This friend is actually him?

      The relationship is great between them, and I like how you display their situation in paragraph four. I’m intrigued to know who and what Jeffries actually is.

    • Very interesting idea. I wonder how “ghost” time compares to “alive” time. If this Jeffries is “still young” but has been around since the narrator’s birth, then time must flow differently?

      anyway, back to the point, your piece was well written and had a lovely pace.

    • I’m comforted by the notion that most ghosts do not see the humans either – that is just fine by me – hope it stays that way for me! I enjoyed this glimpse into his world. Good luck with NaNoWriMo – I’m constantly debating with myself whether to jump in or not, I’d hate to run out of steam midway, maybe I’ll do a trial run this year and see if I can keep up.

    • Hi Fallible, I really enjoyed your story although I am still not sure if Jeffries is really a dead person she/he’s hanging around with or whether he/she is schizophrenic (not sure how you spell that!), as I knew someone who had two friends who were with him all the time who he talked to and discussed things with. And I really liked your last para short and succinct.

    • This is a really interesting idea. I like the idea that someone suggested, that Jeffries is some kind of guardian angel. I love the last lines, “Death of a bottle, but the birth of the evening. There’s an appealing symmetry in that.” I do kind of wonder where the evening will take them, but I also think this piece works well as a stand alone piece. I did have to re-read the third paragraph though, I found it a little confusing because I wasn’t sure if the narrator was dead or alive or what.

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    • Oh no! I’m so sad that John the mouse died! I loved Harold the pigeon too. Its nice to have a “children’s story” aimed at adults. I do think the ending was a bit rushed though, I would have liked to have heard more about John’s adventures or maybe just make the ending simple, like “One day he was trying to get some cheese out of an old fashioned trap when the metal came down. He was crushed.” Saying “everything changed” makes it feel like its building up to something instead of wrapping up. But other than that I enjoyed this piece and I don’t think you need to worry so much about it making sense, that’s what makes it fun!

  11. Pingback: Good Books « Craig Towsley

    • I like the idea of a story within a story, although it didn’t quite feel complete to me, I wanted at least one of the story to somehow be resolved. Perhaps you could have told us how the robbery panned out? Also I did find it a little difficult to follow at times because I wasn’t sure who was who and who was where. I like the description of Trout trying to find his page “Trout let the stiff, yellowed pages flip past his right thumb until it caught the dog ear.”

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  14. So Late! 🙂

    Open Market

    Sitting up on the 43rd floor is like sharing shoulder room with the gods but they realise the fog isn’t going to lift sometime around lunchtime. Particles of it sit heavy and sly on the floor to ceiling windows. They can’t see more than a foot beyond that – the handful of skyscrapers they share this height with are completely obliterated. An endless, obsessive loop of BBC News 24 plays over and over by the photocopy station. They find out first that the schools have closed. A team of business support girls go out to pick up their children, bundled tight into coats, scarfs and hats. They don’t come back. Then they hear that retail and central housing units are being evacuated. Up there in the sky, nobody’s come to evacuate them. The TV claims it’s suffering from technical difficulties and promises a speedy return to its coverage which has just begun to focus on the same 23 second video clip procured from a terrified TopShop employee on Argyll street: A lone dark figure walking into a building and walking back out with a child in its arms before completely disappearing. Then the lights start – as blinding as they are compelling, they transfix everybody, pulsing from beyond the fog, burning the same three words over and over in their irises and behind their eyelids as they plaster themselves around the edge of the trade floor. They are so compelled that they don’t hear the crushing sound of reinforced steel and concrete breaking, nor do they notice the shudders which send trillions of pounds of trading data crashing to the floor. By the time they know what’s happening, the fog is clearing, and so are the clouds, and the sun and the moon, all of them getting smaller and smaller until they’re pinpricks, less than that, a dust mote, microscopic, as they drift silently into oblivion.

    • Very creepy! I love the opening line “Sitting up on the 43rd floor is like sharing shoulder room with the gods”. I think the imagery throughout this is very vivid, which makes it even scarier, especially the image of the “lone dark figure.”

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