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Nigel Gordon

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I haven't started work on the Week 2 material yet (real life intruding) so I have a lot of catching up to do.

My comments on Nigel's 500 word story:

Loved this, a very attractive character but her name did trip me up. She's Agnus, of indeterminate sex, at the beginning of the first paragraph, but Angus and female at the end of the same paragraph. I know of Agnes, and also Angus, but Agnus is unfamilar to me so I started the paragraph assuming that it was a misprint for Angus and that he was male, and then at the end of the paragraph I had my assumption both confirmed and contradicted - the spelling confirmed but the sex contradicted.

Other than that I loved that she surprised me by having more about her than was at first apparent. She's a sort of Jane Bond, I think. I didn't have any problem with her reporting in that she had a package for disposal - I immediately assumed it was the dead body.

My comments on Camy's story:

Camy can be relied on to challenge, and this story has me double-thinking left right and centre. Great fun, like riding a roller coaster. At the end I'm not at all sure I have it all sorted out adequately - The characters are all avatars, the narrator is Yassa's mother and she hates him, and her husband Robert is his father, but he's in love with his own father, which helps his mother overcome her hatred? I can't help thinking I've missed something. Whatever Camy's on, can I have some?

My comments on Cole's story:

In classic style, this is an intriguing Cole story but like the others a 500 word limit is very limiting. I wanted Cole's to run on so I could find out what happens next.

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I haven't started work on the Week 2 material yet (real life intruding) so I have a lot of catching up to do.

My comments on Nigel's 500 word story:

Loved this, a very attractive character but her name did trip me up. She's Agnus, of indeterminate sex, at the beginning of the first paragraph, but Angus and female at the end of the same paragraph. I know of Agnes, and also Angus, but Agnus is unfamilar to me so I started the paragraph assuming that it was a misprint for Angus and that he was male, and then at the end of the paragraph I had my assumption both confirmed and contradicted - the spelling confirmed but the sex contradicted.

Other than that I loved that she surprised me by having more about her than was at first apparent. She's a sort of Jane Bond, I think. I didn't have any problem with her reporting in that she had a package for disposal - I immediately assumed it was the dead body.

My comments on Camy's story:

Camy can be relied on to challenge, and this story has me double-thinking left right and centre. Great fun, like riding a roller coaster. At the end I'm not at all sure I have it all sorted out adequately - The characters are all avatars, the narrator is Yassa's mother and she hates him, and her husband Robert is his father, but he's in love with his own father, which helps his mother overcome her hatred? I can't help thinking I've missed something. Whatever Camy's on, can I have some?

My comments on Cole's story:

In classic style, this is an intriguing Cole story but like the others a 500 word limit is very limiting. I wanted Cole's to run on so I could find out what happens next.

Cherry picking the above, I'll start with: I didn't have any problem with her reporting that she had a package for disposal

I thought it was the body being referred to, also. However, I began wondering when I read the very last sentence. When I learned that the ladies had swapped handbags, it gave me the idea that the deadly needle was in the one our unexpected killer had swapped, and so perhaps that was the package needing disposal.

Camy can be relied on to challenge. I can't help thinking I've missed something.

Agreed. I really didn't understand what this was all about. This story needs more story for me to get involved in it. That's the problem with having to use a limited number of words.

And last: In classic style, this is an intriguing Cole story but like the others a 500 word limit is very limiting. I wanted Cole's to run on so I could find out what happens next.

Me too.

C

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Well, here is my assignment for week three. Please comment on it but if you are on the course I hope some of you get this as your review assignment but that seems unlikely as it is a random allocation.

The splash of the drop falling from the leaf into the carp pond called Paul’s attention back from the past to the present. He sat still in the classic pose of a zen adept, portraying a sense of calmness and inner peace, it was a masterful illusion.

The rain fresh fragrance of the garden drifted in on him, carrying with it more memories that added to the turmoil that existed within him. It was over thirty years since those memories were formed and now he was back to deal with them, what though was there to deal with?

A bush warbler started to sing, confirming that despite the bitter chill spring had arrived. Paul sat motionless looking out across the garden through the open doors, waiting. The shadow of the cherry tree moved round and fell upon the pond, the warbler ceased to sing.

Gravel crunched under geta. Paul’s attention focused on the ascending path that led up to the tea garden. He was amazed that his visitor looked so small, he could only remember a giant. The man walked slowly up the path, supporting himself on a stick at points, Paul noticed that despite the geta raising him up above the wet ground splashes of red mud stained the bottom of his white hakama.

The man approached and stood outside the doors to the tea house. He was small and old, nothing like what Paul remembered. Their eyes met and for a moment they held each others gaze then Paul’s hands moved forward onto the mat in front of him, his body bent forward in a bow. Yashiro-san he whispered in a voice that reverberated around the tea house.

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This is what I wrote (week 2 - I'm a bit behind) for use of words in unexpected context. I'm quite pleased with it...

Raindrops trod the tarmac like so many marching soldiers and I watched it from behind my window pane, my nose glued to the glass and my thighs scalding against the radiator below the windowsill. Such is the afternoon of a child.

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The exercise at the end of week 2's material was interesting: turn the radio on, and take whatever you hear first as the basis for a story of no more than 500 words.

I turned the radio on and heard this:

"I've rigged up a footpedal see, and whenever I press it, it pauses the track."

I have no idea what was being talked about, or what the programme was, but I took it to be something to do with a DJ or a recording studio. So I wrote this:

A stray lock of oily shoulder-length blond hair escaped from the band at the nape of his neck and he looped it automatically behind his ear. He gave a deep sigh and kicked back, swung his legs up to prop his heels on the corner of the mixing desk. He reached for his pack of cigarettes in the back pocket of his jeans before remembering he'd given up. Shit. He dropped his legs back to the floor and reached forward to clear two empty plastic tumblers that had held beer when the gig started and threw them at the bin in the corner of the cramped control room. One missed and joined several more on the floor. His green eyes, slightly bloodshot and puffy, acquired a scowl of frustration. Bloody hell, he thought, when is life going to start getting bearable?

It was a thought he never gave voice to, there wasn't anyone he was close enough to, to open up to so much. Maybe if there had been someone, they might have commented on his negativity and advised him to seek counselling. Instead he just trod his days one after the other, shutting out the pain as much as possible with alcohol.

A phone rang and he patted his pockets until he found his mobile. Thumbing the button to answer the call, he raised it to his ear. “Hello?”

“Marco? Is that you?”

“Hi Patty, what's up?”

“Where are you? Can you talk?”

“I'm at the studio. There's no-one here, what's the matter?”

“Marco, I'm sorry. I don't know how to tell you this. I'm pregnant.”

“You're...”

“..pregnant. I thought you should know. It's okay, I'm not making any demands, you don't need to worry. But I'm thinking of having the baby.”

He dropped the phone into his lap, stunned. A tinny voice was just discernible, coming from the area of his groin. “Marco? Are you still there?”

He picked up the phone again.

“Still here. Look, Patty, I have to ask. Is it mine?”

“Of course it's bloody yours. I haven't been with anyone else since David and that was a year ago. Why else would I be telling you?”

“I just thought – it was only the once...”

“Believe me, it's yours. Well, it's mine, actually – you don't have to have anything to do with it. But I thought you had a right to know.”

“Thanks. Look, I've just finished a gig, and I'm dead on my feet, do you want to do a late lunch? How about the Fat Mackerel at 2?”

She agreed, they said their goodbyes, and he dropped the phone back into his lap. In those few short minutes the world had shifted on its axis. He was going to be a father. He became aware that his face felt funny and he put a hand up to feel around, to discover that he was grinning, beaming ear to ear. He was going to be a father!

493 words

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I like that. A complete story with a range of feelings and events and two characters in under 500 words.

I did the same, turned on the radio, listened to the first thing said, then wrote my piece based on them. The only radio I listen to is a classical music station, and I had to wait for a symphony to end before hearing any words, but the first thing said was, "That was Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, the Pathetique." Not much to write a story about, but rules are rules. And the fact Tchaikovsky was gay seemed right, somehow.

You did a good job of this, Bruin. I could easily visualize the setting, feel his mood, enter into the scene with him. The only thing I can think of to offer as a suggestion is that I found the last sentence of the first paragraph to be a bit discordant. You described what he was doing up to that point, but none if it sounded unbearable. Nothing had prepared us for that. So my suggestion would be, add something, change something, so we understood his despair and were prepared for it before we were slapped in the face with it. My thought would be to try to show it in the first sentence somehow.

C

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I like that. A complete story with a range of feelings and events and two characters in under 500 words.

I did the same, turned on the radio, listened to the first thing said, then wrote my piece based on them. The only radio I listen to is a classical music station, and I had to wait for a symphony to end before hearing any words, but the first thing said was, "That was Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, the Pathetique." Not much to write a story about, but rules are rules. And the fact Tchaikovsky was gay seemed right, somehow.

You did a good job of this, Bruin. I could easily visualize the setting, feel his mood, enter into the scene with him. The only thing I can think of to offer as a suggestion is that I found the last sentence of the first paragraph to be a bit discordant. You described what he was doing up to that point, but none if it sounded unbearable. Nothing had prepared us for that. So my suggestion would be, add something, change something, so we understood his despair and were prepared for it before we were slapped in the face with it. My thought would be to try to show it in the first sentence somehow.

C

Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony was the inspiration for the starting point of my first narrative poem, To Love in Silence. The idea for the poem came to me in the aftermath of the silence that surrounded me when the piece ended.

I found him not being able grab his pack of cigarettes meant that he was in unbearable enough agony, for me as a smoker, to sympathise with the frustrations of beer tumblers laying around on the floor, almost as if they were symbols of the small things that we sometimes deem as stopping our lives from being not just bearable, but meaningful.

I like that it was these small things rather than some super torment that the pregnant girlfriend interrupts with her news, which, cause him to discover that he now bears a bearable grin of impending fatherhood.

'Fat Mackerel' Was that a deliberate choice of name for the restaurant to meet his pregnant girlfriend for lunch, Bruin?

I liked your story.

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Thank you both for constructive, and kind, comments. To answer Des' question, the Fat Mackerel is a restaurant in the Cornish village of Coverack where I had a short break holiday a month ago, and I thought the name quirky enough to include in my story.

Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony was insulted by me when I wrote a limerick about it:

Peter Ilych wrote music unique,
His last piece he called 'Pathetique'.
Inspired by his 'Bob',
He completed the job,
But the poor man was dead in a week.

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Some people find the symphony maudlin or banal. I find it truly inspiring. How can someone put such depression, such pain, such angst into such beautiful music? The guy was a genius. I think he and Rachmaninoff could put more emotion in their writing and evoke the same sentiments in the listeners than any other composer ever.

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I think he's long dead now. Good riddance.

C

Hmmm....

This is what happens when I try to be enigmatic....

I confess I don't understand Cole's post. My post, to which I think he's responding, referred obliquely to President Putin, following on from Des' similarly obscure reference to him. Is Cole referring to Putin, who manifestly is not yet dead? Or Tchaikovsky who is dead, but of whom I would not expect Cole to wish 'good riddance'?

Cole? Can you elucidate?

(Like that word - elucidate. Another good word: avuncular. Did you know it means 'pertaining to an uncle'?!)

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Oblique. Yes, indeed. So oblique I missed it all together. Putin? Was Des referring to him? I sure didn't see that, and going back, still don't. I just thought he was putting a Southern accent on 'putting'.

So I was trying to figure out who this bigoted Russian was of whom you spoke, and the only one I could think of was the critic who panned the Tchaikovsky symphony. The fact you were thumbing your nose at old Vladdy never crossed my synapses.

C

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I am now in a state of confusion, which is probably better than laying in State, but we should stop there, perhaps, before we go down the punny path of puttin' Putin in a state that Stalin would've found great, and all too Russian to go rushin' around in.

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My week 3 exercise:

In the cramped kitchen area of a dilapidated mobile home, no less than five green-uniformed medics jostled for space and tried not to trip over their cases of equipment, as they assessed the patient, a little balding man in pyjamas, whose thin chest was heaving as he fought for breath. Outside, another middle-aged man, slightly built, bird-like, hovered anxiously until he was able to collar one of the paramedics.

“Can you tell me what's wrong? I'm Keith's neighbour across the road.”

The medic responded professionally, kindly. “Are you a relative?”

“No, a neighbour. That's my place, across the road.”

“Well I'm very sorry I'm not at liberty to tell you anything. You can ask him yourself, though, just give us a few minutes to finish our assessment.”

“Thank you.”

He continued hanging around in the roadway between the two caravans, currently completely blocked to traffic by the big slab-sided ambulance with its rear doors open and its chair lift lowered to the ground behind it. Eventually three of the medics squeezed their way out of the caravan and headed back to their vehicles. The neighbour took the opportunity and went inside.

“Keith, what's up? What's the matter, mate?”

The other man waved a hand ineffectually, nodded, communicating with everything but words that he was glad of the other man's concern, that he was not well but not at death's door either. His neighbour apparently understood, saw the heaving chest, the gasps for breath, the gurgle in the throat, the weak apologetic smile.

“They're taking you into hospital?” Keith nodded.

“I'll come in later and visit you. And I'll keep an eye on your house while you're away. Do you want me to have a key?” Keith pointed to a hook by the door where a keyring hung.

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Bruin,

I liked it. There is definitely the start of a story here. Might have liked a bit more characterization but the character foundation is clearly there and there is scope for development as the story progresses, so overall well done.

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Here's my effort from week three.

Summer came early that year. Hot and glorious the last two weeks of term; our teachers as excited to be off on holiday as we were.

Then Palmeter, whose father was a barrister, found an arcane bit of law that stated if it reached ninety degrees classes had to be suspended.
Ten days before the end of term we sweltered through a night exceeding eighty, and in broke ninety mid morning.
The bell rang half way through English. Mister Jonson smiled, put down his chalk and dismissed us with a wave. We fled, before he decided it was a mistake and carried on diagramming sentences.

Along with several others, Marbles and I ended up at the quarry. It had been worked out years before, and now, full of water and out-of-bounds, it enticingly beckoned. Marbles and I left the others and climbed up the overgrown path to the top, then crawled through the clumps of rhododendron lining the rim to the edge. Some thirty feet below the water glittered.
"Gonna jump?" Marbles said.
I shook my head, fascinated with the sweat beading on his upper lip. "Too dangerous."
"Then why did we come up here when we could already be swimming?" He raised an eyebrow as he pointed to the others splashing around below.
I shrugged. It wasn't as if I was going to tell him I thought he was a Greek god re-incarnate.

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Here's my post from week three:

By the time Tanner got home he was exhausted. Coach Linnert seemed to be pissed at the world, and the only people around who he could take it out on were the members of his Cathedral High School varsity football team. That included Tanner. He struggled to get the key into the back door lock, and after a couple tries he was finally successful. As soon as he entered the laundry room and closed the door he dropped his backpack and gym bag, kicked off his shoes, and started stripping off his practice jersey and shorts.

“Tanner, is that you?” his dad called from the kitchen.

“Yeah, Dad.”

“How was practice?”

“Brutal. I’m gonna shower then I’ll come down and tell you all about it.”

He continued undressing, tossing everything except his shoes into the washer. Then he emptied the contents of his gym bag into the washer as well. Now that he was naked, he grabbed his backpack, held his gym bag in front of him to cover himself, went upstairs, tossed everything onto the floor of his room as he passed by, and went directly into the bathroom.

The shower felt wonderful. He set the showerhead to the massage position. The sting of the hot water helped ease his aching muscles. He washed his hair, then used a stiff loofa to rub his body, trying to get rid of the dirt from today’s practice.

When he finished dressing he went back to the kitchen and joined his dad at the table.

“Hungry? Want me to make you a sandwich?”

“Thanks dad, but I think a couple of these bananas will be enough.” He pulled two bananas from the fruit bowl in the center of the table. “Since we’re taking Mom to dinner for her birthday, I don’t want to eat too much. Don’t want to spoil my appetite, ya know. We are still going tonight, right?”

Arnold Knox laughed. Tanner was like most teenage boys, a bottomless pit into which food simply disappeared. “Yes, we’re still going out to dinner for your mom’s birthday tonight."

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This is why AD is such a great place. Lovely writing from Camy and Colin.

Camy's piece is wonderfully evocative of hot summer afternoons and the gawkiness of young crushes. "Gonna jump?" Marbles said. I'm thinking when this is continued it will transpire that Marbles is a nickname born of a rumour about the size of the boy's equipment, perhaps.

Colin's piece is likewise delightful, leaving me with a persistent mental image of a young well-formed football player without his clothes.

Both these pieces are great, showing none of the defects that are so evident in much of what I've read in the course forums, reinforcing my long-held veiw that AD hosts the best writers on the web.

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Just to let you know that I have just left the Creative Writing Course. My reasons are summed up in the following, which I have posted in the course discussion:

Well I have found myself totally in disagreement with Novakovich views and ideas and having read some of his work which I found dull and insipid I see no point in taking his advice. As this course seems to be going in a direction totally based on his views I see no point in continuing with it.

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Just to let you know that I have just left the Creative Writing Course. My reasons are summed up in the following, which I have posted in the course discussion:

Well I have found myself totally in disagreement with Novakovich views and ideas and having read some of his work which I found dull and insipid I see no point in taking his advice. As this course seems to be going in a direction totally based on his views I see no point in continuing with it.

I, too, have been racking my brain as to why I should pay attention to what Novakovich says.

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