Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2011

three little pigs

The Irvine Valley Writers’ Group (IVWG), the writing group I belong to, periodically host internal “assignments”, just prompts to get the creative juices flowing.

Our assignment for February was a re-write of the classic children’s tale The Three Little Pigs. I found it difficult to get a handle on this one. I just couldn’t come up with anything I thought was fun or creative enough to present to the rest of the group.

I knew I wanted to write something which was a parody of the current economic times, turning the big bad wolf into the big bad credit crunch. I knew I wanted to turn the pigs in to people.

So, in the spirit of full disclosure (also, it will be published on the IVWG website before too long) I hereby present my re-write of The Three Little Pigs. It was by no means the best or most creative example within the group, in fact I’d say it was near the bottom, but it was interesting and fun, either way.

Oh, and by way of explanation, I’ve chosen the format of a morning radio show with the DJ named Chaz interviewing a man named John Porcus (see what I did there?). So, here you go:

Sure, we’ve all heard about the dire economic state of the world – The Big Bad Credit Crunch, as it were. While everyone undoubtedly knows about the housing crisis, we here at KCRW wanted to know more; we wanted to explore the personal side of The Big Bad. So a few weeks ago we went out to find someone who could tell us their story. Enter my next guest, Mr. John Porcus, the youngest of three brothers who have all been affected by the fall of the housing market. I’m happy to say that John has agreed to come on the air to tell his story; good morning John.

-Morning, Chaz, thanks for having me.

-Not at all, not at all. Now, in your e-mail you said it’s not only yourself but also your whole family who were affected.

-That’s right, Chaz.

-Sounds pretty awful, why don’t you tell us what happened…

-Well, I imagine it’s all just been a result of some rather bad timing. About four years ago our mother met an married an Australian man and they emigrated together to Australia, following the sun, you see, which meant that my brothers and I no longer had a place to stay.

-Tricky situation.

-It wasn’t the best, no. So we all went out and bought our own homes. It seemed perfect – we had a few months of freedom before it all came crashing down… We’d all done it differently, you see. My oldest brother, Jack, is in banking. With a secure job in a major bank he stretched himself a bit beyond his means, bought a lovely, grand stone house in the country. Then there was Joe who is a structural engineer and at the time was working for a fast-growing construction company with building sites all over the place. He moved in with his girlfriend but they bought a brand new house off-plan, one of those wood frame house, in one of his company’s developments which was scheduled for completion near the end of the summer. I was a bit more cautious. I’m a teacher, you see, on a much smaller salary than my brothers.

-So, John, what did you do?

-I convinced our Mother to keep the family home and I took over the payments on the mortgage.

-Sly.

-Yes, well, it’s a nice house. A cottage, very old – been in the family for generations. Thatched roof…

-Right, and the monthly payments…

-Small. Very small.

-Sly! So now you and your brothers are all living in your new homes, enjoying the peace and quiet. Then what.

-Well, then everything went to heck, Chaz. Jack lost his job at the bank within weeks at the beginning of the economic crisis. On top of that, all of his investments were now worth very little and his glorious stone villa lost a lot of value. Was worth less than what he paid for it, anyway. Which would have been tolerable had he been able to continue payments, but, of course, being unemployed, he couldn’t.

-So he lost his house.

-So he lost his house.

-What about Joe?

-Well, the company Joe was working for shut down and he was made redundant. His house never got built past the wood frame. He got some money back from what he paid, but not enough, really. Oh, and his girlfriend dumped him.

-Jobless and homeless. Like Jack.

-That’s right, Chaz.

-Terrible. What about you?

-Well, I’m fine. I was the lucky one. It’s strange, really. Four or five years ago my family were all on my back to get a better qualification and a better paying job with more security. *chuckle* If only they’d known…

-Does your story have a happy ending, then?

-Well, all of our stories do, really. I mean, the housing crash put a dent in all of our plans. Jack lost his stone mansion. Joe lost his brand new wooden house. Thankfully, though, I’ve still got the family home – our lovely thatched cottage that my great-great-great-great grandfather built with his own hands. We’re all living together again, of course, because they have nowhere else to go, but it’s working out OK for now.

-For now.

-That’s right. For now.

-What a great story. Thanks so much for sharing, John. I wish you and your brothers all the best.

-Thanks for having me Chaz, it’s been fun.

-So, listeners, what do you think about John’s story? What about yours? Did the Big Bad Credit Crunch cause you as much grief as the Porcus family? Get in touch via e-mail or text message. Or you can visit the website where you can leave feedback on today’s story. And now back to the music

When I get the others’ pieces published on the IVWG website I will link them. They are all excellent. One in particular will have you laughing so hard you will struggle to get oxygen to your brain. I am quite blessed to have found such an excellent, supportive group of people who share a passion for writing.

Our next assignment was actually one that I thought of. I printed off some famous first lines from classic novels and everyone had to choose a line at random. The task is to use that first line as your own first line and create a story from that.

The catch? Our word limit is 200 words!! Of course, the 200 word limit does not count the famous first line, otherwise some would only have a few words left!

Fancy having a go? Choose a number between 1 and 100, go to This Website and find the corresponding famous first line. Then think of an additional 200 words that tells a story following on from that first line. If you are familiar with the novel from which the line comes try to go in a different direction than the plot of that novel.

My line?

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.”– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I haven’t written my 200 words yet, but as soon as I do, you’ll know about it!

xo
A

Read Full Post »

Sandie at A Bloggable Life has come up trumps again with another unusual writing prompt!

Just like the last time, Sandie posted a picture on the site and urged readers to use it as inspiration for an original piece of writing. This time there was no stream of consciousness suggestion, so I went my own way with it.

Here is the picture:

photo credit - Sandie @ A Bloggable Life

Here is the description of the photograph from A Bloggable Life:

Last summer, my family and I were out for a leisurely weekend drive, exploring some of the small towns that surround Kansas City. After a particularly flat and barren stretch, I noticed my hubby and kids had fallen asleep in the car, leaving me to experience portions of northwest Missouri on my own.

An hour later I happened upon this strange sight, stuck smack in the middle of a field: a lone tree, perched curiously upon a tall mound of soil. There was nothing else around for miles. Striking me as odd, I pulled the car over and snapped this photo from the side of the road. To this day, I wonder why that tree was left like that.

Here is my (written on lunch break at work, so forgive the roughness) story:

The old man trudges resolutely, bent low against the violent storm. He is dressed in ill-fitting clothes which blow behind him and snap like a banner in the wind. His sparse hair is filthy, framing his head like a halo in the dim light. One gnarled hand clasps an old rag against his withered face – his only capitulation to the invasive dust although it does not stop his coughing. His other hand clings desperately to the frayed guide rope which struggles against his weak fingers.

It is not a great distance but his strength is waning and it takes him the better part of an hour to navigate the path from his house to the barn. From where the rope is anchored he turns right and walks three shaky paces, hand held out until he feels the rough tickle of branches against his palm. In the storm he dare not open his eyes.

He tucks the cloth away to free both hands and then creeps blindly forward until his toes bump against the circle of fence posts– a protection he has built around the base of the tree. He kneels as if at an altar, feeling down towards where the posts are buried in the earth. It is as he thought it would be; the wind has worked its black magic; only a few of the posts remain buried.

He gropes around beside him until he grips the handle of the hammer. He stands, positioning himself for the next task. He takes very careful aim, raises the hammer and brings it down against the top of one post then judges its depth by its neighbour. The posts slide roughly into the dry earth. When he has finished the circle he lays the hammer down and once more covers his face with the cloth from his pocket.

As he struggles his way back to the house he considers again the futile nature of his actions. He knows that the tree is dead; there has been no rain for too long. The earth is disappearing beneath him and he knows that the wooden enclosure he has built does nothing but prevent the wind from carrying the tree away, roots and all, to blow across the countryside.

He also knows that it was her tree and that he cannot bear to lose it like he lost her.

The old man trudges resolutely, bent low against the violent storm.

****

His sons arrive after the rains come, but they are too late; the old man has died. The house and the barn have collapsed yet their foundations rise above the ground like grim monuments.

They are amazed at how much of the earth has vanished, the destruction is devastating. Still, there is life on the old farm; their mother’s apple tree, brought with them from back East so many years ago, has survived the drought and the dust both, though they cannot imagine how.

The men stand for a long while staring at the tree, its fresh green shoots defiant in the barren landscape. They do not need to dig far to free the roots from the ground. They work silently as the wrap the roots in burlap and load the tree into the back of their truck.

With one last look at the ruination and a quiet acknowledgement of grief they get into their truck and drive home to Missouri.

So, yeah, I went with the Dust Bowl. I like the idea that the tree is a relic of bad times past which was saved as a reminder of good times. I had to relocate the tree to an area devastated by the dust bowl, but solved that at the end by having family members moving the tree to its current location.

I had a lot of fun writing this piece, picturing the sad old man walking back and forth every day to protect the tree, an homage to his late wife. I just like the image, I suppose.

What about you? What do you think that tree in the picture is doing stranded on top of that impossibly tall stack of soil? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Thanks again to Sandie. I love her blog and you all should, too. (That’s an order!)

xo
A

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »