First Drafts is a collaborative blog aimed at providing writers with a place to share their work on any subject they like.

(Near-) daily writing prompts are emailed to you to provide guidance or inspiration.

To sign up to First Drafts and to start receiving the writing prompts click here.

For previous writing prompts click here to visit the archives and choose any subject that inspires.

The Free Directory of Independent Writers and Artists

Friday, May 19, 2006

Only Connect!

Whew! This one was hard. Personally, I didn't find it as informative as the book had suggested it would be. I tend to write about the same things a lot so it's not like my three entries were all over the place, not really. Still, it was a stretch to connect them, which I guess was the point. I feel stretched. I'll share my thought process as I worked through this, and then below is just a short freewrite. Is there something there to be expanded upon? I just don't know. There might be a character lurking underneath.

I will say that this was an "interesting" exercise. I either loved it or hated it, and don't feel that I'll know which one for a bit.

The three journal/blog entries I picked at random:

This one, whose overall theme was "feeling on the outside, like a weirdo in the world, while simultaneously understanding that there are others just like me who are moving around in the world quietly, reading the same things I am, thinking the same things I am, wanting to meet/talk to someone just like me only we don't know of one another's existence, with the added bonus theme of not living up to my potential in any arena."

And this one, whose theme was "sugar, as in too much of, how it calls to me and always has, with a subtheme of gluttony and greed versus organic, healthy desire."

And then this one, whose theme was "poetry, and the state of being hyperaware of the mysteries and wonders of Life whist those around you are slogging in the details."


So. How to connect loneliness, gluttony, and peace?


One might say that I have been drawn off course by a siren's song and that song, for me, lies in attention. Flattery. Praise. Or maybe not that so much as approval. Yes, it's more like that. It doesn't have to be outright enthusiastic praise; a simple nod of approval is enough to activate the craving. It's like sugar to me, like candy and ice cream and chocolate pudding all in one except it doesn't even make me fat or give me cavities.

If I'm in a situation where no one knows me, perhaps in the car dealership waiting on a repair, I become starved for approval, for recognition that I'm "special." I can manufacture it in my head, though. I can envision someone glancing at the book I read as I wait and immediately recognizing that it's not this season's best-seller. They can see that I'm not like everyone else. And in the same way, I am only halfheartedly reading because I'm simultaneously glancing up from my book to see if anyone is watching me. Look at me, notice me, see me!

I wonder about "normal" people, about how they have a healthy respect and desire for praise or approval but they don't seem to be as greedy for it as I am. They don't seem to be bottomless pits of need, or empty wells that are merely being filled one bucketful at a time. When they find someone who appears to really see them, who approves of them unconditionally, they don't become consumed with gluttony as I do. I drive all of my partners away with my possessiveness and jealous need to consume every piece of them. I demand to know their every thought and emotion. I get panicky if I don't hear from them every few hours.

It has always seemed as though it's only when I'm In Love that I can really live. It's only when someone reflects back to me a version of me that is in accordance with my deepest beliefs about myself that the world seems to be a wonderful place. When no one loves me, everything's dreary and it all seems futile. But when I've been chosen by someone and given that approval and admiration all is beautiful in the world and rife with poetry. With someone else I can enter that world that seems ephemeral and foggy, like a misty neither-her-nor-there place that is not Life or Afterlife but a little bit of both and while I'm in this haze I cannot fathom how "everyone else" manages to slog around in the mud of details and chores.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Have you ever watched the rain fall through the heat haze created by a burning candle on the windowsill?

It creates a hypnotic effect. Focus on the heat haze and it appears to rise with urgency and anger against the backdrop of the languid, lazy rainfall. The rain itself appears to dawdle, defying gravity in its meandering path from the sky to the ground, while the heat haze pushes upwards, reaching for something only it knows what.

Shift your focus to the rain and it falls incessantly, relentlessly, at a steady pace on a path that will not be altered by anything earthly. Forcefully it beats down, stopping only when it hits something solid and even then it rolls right round it, it will not be denied its ultimate goal of reaching the floor.

In contrast the heat haze has calmed itself, relaxed into a similar lazy rise as the rain falling earlier. It wanders in random directions, going where it will, where any breath of air cares to take it, uncaring about how it reaches its destination, just knowing it will get there eventually, content with that. Until, in sharp contrast to the incessant rain, it simply fades to nothing, its life ended at its farthest reach from whence it came.

It is hypnotic, no matter your focus. Eventually you look away and the real world returns.


I bought her a present once. A Christmas present. An early Christmas present.

I was not, could not be, present when she received her present.

I was not present to see her face as she opened it. I was not present to see her smile, not present to see her eyes gleam, not present to see her pick up her present for the first time.

I will not ever be present when she presents her present to the world, demonstrating her skill and love.

I will not ever be present to see if she plays her present, not ever present to see what she can do with it, not present to watch her learn, not present to see her explore her gift.

But I bought her a present. A present for her gift and love. I know she loved it. Even though I was not present.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Shiny Happy People

Lunch was just finishing up for the two little mouths in front of me.
I absentmindedly wiped a washcloth over both their faces and proceeded to clean the plastic trays of their high chairs.
The t.v. was on, but I hadn't noticed it until Sesame Street started.
The kids had no time for the show on prior to Big Bird and 'Snupalupalupagus' and so lunch continued every day without distraction.
These children, precious twins, a boy and a girl, ate anything.
Today was steamed spinach day... to which I would dig out a frozen entree as the thought of eating slimey leaves didn't sit well.
I unleashed the children from their seats, and they ran to the large area rug in the living room immediately breaking into dance.
Their tiny hands waved about as they bobbed up and down enthralled by 'Monster Time'.
I finished cleaning the kitchen up, able to watch the little ones from where I cleaned, and then came to join them on the carpet.
"Dance too! Dance too Monkey!" Milo screamed.
"Monkey" was the nickname the two had come up with for me, thanks to my very convincing ape impersonation. It was shorter and more familiar than my first name, and much better than being called 'Nanny' by two year olds.
The three of us continued watching as colourful puppets talked of being a friend, Oscar grouched and Elmo explored new activities. I used to watch this show as a child, I think everyone did, and it really hadn't changed all that much in 20 years.
R.E.M. suddenly appeared on screen, I watched in disbelief as they were quickly surrounded by 'back up singers' and groupies. These puppets had glamorous dresses, braided hair, and a tonne of soul.
More dancing ensued as Michael Stipe broke out 'Shiny Happy Monsters'.
The song went back and forth from the monsters being happy
*cue upbeat music and tonnes of very unique dance moves*
to being sad
*bright little eyes staring at the screen, pouts beginning to form*
but in the end happiness prevailed!
My little monsters and I were shiny & happy by the end of the song.
Even though they were only 2 years old, I think that the three of us all learned that bad days will eventually turn into good. I realized that these kids, just beginning in the world, were teaching me more lessons everyday then any adult could.
We all went outside to play after the show ended and as they pranced around outside with brightly coloured toys and sunshine bouncing off their perfect faces, I was happy to have this amazing day brought to me by the number 4 and the letter M.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I can never say quite as much as I know

I'd already knocked twice. But I thought I'd give it one more try, and so made a lusty rat-a-tat-tat TATTA-TAT-TAT-TAT!! I could hear the cats mewing on the other side, which surprised me, because I didn't think cats came to the door like dogs did. Then I recognised that distinctive pawing-flickety-flick-of-gravel noise and remembered that the cats' litter tray was just inside the door. I put my eye up to the security-lense-thing in the door to check for any movement, when just at that moment Batesy opened it, and I almost fell into his arms. The cats fled.

Unimpressed, he grunted "Oh. It's you", and turned back into his flat. I listened for a "Come in then", but no such invitation was issued. The door was left ajar, like a toilet seat left up to reveal a steaming sh*t in the bowl. I metaphorically put down the seat, pulled the chain, and sat down. Which roughly translates to: I thought of the money that c*nt owed me and how much I wanted it back, so followed him down the hall.

When I arrived at the loungeroom doorway Batesy couldn't conceal his surprise at my being there: clearly most folk turned away. He had company, and likewise she couldn't conceal her annoyance that my arrival had now made this A Crowd. Equally transparent, I couldn't conceal that I felt the same way. So, there were all were, our naked displeasure exposed. Almost comic in our synchronicity we each silently set about retrieving tobacco from respective tin, handbag, pocket; then rolling, licking, lighting Rizla papers; and finally hiding behind our veils of smokey indifference.

It was only after this ritual of nonchalence was complete that his 'visitor' spoke. "How long is you planning on being ere?..." I didn't notice the dot dot dot suffixing her question, and I was about to reply saying: It depends on how quickly Batesy hands over what he owes me, when she continued... "...only me and Ronald was aving a p-r-i-vaaaate converse-sation..." [slight pause, as she watched me for a reaction] "...and we isn't finished, see?" I waited to see if there were any more dot dot dots to follow. She must have indeed finished, but I had apparently waited too long to reply because she then raised her voice and slowly, patronisingly, added: "Is... you's... hearin... me... Son?" -- "Hey, is he DEAF?"

The last question wasn't directed to me, but to Batesy. It was only then that I noticed that Batesy (evidently 'Ronald' to 2-bit whores) was wearing a bathrobe, which had separated to reveal, well, the reason his visitor was so keen to get me away. Alright, if the window had been open I'd've stepped out of it right then, because a sudden loss of the will to live swept over me. I saw the futility of pursuing this debt, and realised what a fool, a sap, I'd been in holding out any hope for it. "Forget it. Just go." I told myself.

Interpreting my silence as a refusal to leave she defiantly began manoeuvering Batesy from the room - with me still sitting here, catatonic in defeat. As they left, the smirk on her face betrayed that she felt getting him to herself again was a conquest of mountain-to-mohammed-like magnitude. I heard the click of a latch, the squawk of cheap giggles, the scrape of furniture, the grind of bedsprings, the sound of my money being spent. I felt my attention wander off, and finally I followed.

Outside the building I opened the handbag. Fifty, one-fifty, two-fifty, four-fifty, five... five hundred and fifty. He owed me four-hundred - and I'd been waiting for it all Winter. Yeah, the surplus could cover the Inconvenience being out-of-pocket had caused me. Rummaging through her bag I found the tobacco and a lighter, put them in my pocket, then tossed her handbag into a skip. She'd get her money back off Batesy - her pimp would see to that.

[for info: here is my last one]