I’m Ann Linquist, freelance writer and online writing instructor. Whether you’re interested in writing fiction, creative nonfiction, or effective business documents, I invite you to explore this site and find out how to reach your writing goals.
When I used to do writing workshops, one of my favorite exercises was to ask people to look at the room around them and name ten things that they thought no one else would notice. This made everyone look very hard and also eliminate the obvious things like the pattern of the carpet or the texture of the desktops.
We’re not in a meeting room, so we’ll have to do this a bit differently. We are all sitting in front of some kind of screen that has a keyboard or keypad. Our fingers are close by, doing the typing. Our eyes are reading. Our rear ends are all in some sort of chair or sofa.
Name ten things about your current involvement in this computer interaction that you don’t think anyone else will think to mention. What do you notice that we don’t?
I’d just finished exercising after work, and the door bell rang. I was sweaty, but I decided I really didn’t care who saw me in my Jane Fonda outfit. I pulled open the front door. A tall guy in a hoodie stood in the darkening dusk, his face in shadow.
“I am death,” he said.
“Yeah, and I’m the Queen of Sheba,” I replied, waiting for the punchline.
He showed me his skeletal hand, as if to offer his credentials.
I wiped the sweat off my forehead and licked my lips. “Okay.” I paused. “I was just about to have a scotch. You want one?”
This isn’t fodder for a story. It is an example of statements that make little sense taken together, but are somehow fun to read because they are so odd. It is my contention that you can’t write without meaning sneaking its way in. But we can try. Let’s see how much non-sense we can each generate, and whether some sense demands to wander in.
I have a bit of dried apricot stuck in my teeth.
Yellow tablets want me to write on them.
Snow drips off my car in the garage.
Urgent messages keep arriving.
Borscht is a soup I dislike, though I’ve never eaten any.
Camels always seem to be smiling.
This time of night my fingers ache.
Robin had gone to the mall in the vague hope that she would feel like she was doing something entertaining. She was sick of her life, sick of her job as a claims examiner, sick of her four room apartment on the third floor, sick of TV. She was even sick of her friends, both the married ones and the single ones. How had life turned out so boring?
She stood outside the Bath Barn and wanted to vomit when she thought of buying one more candle as some sort of consolation prize. Odd, how the sales lady in there looked like her sixth grade teacher, dyed black pompadour and everything. Robin pivoted toward the escalator, and hey, was that what’s-his-name she’d dated in college headed up the moving steps? But he lived in England now. Weird. Low blood sugar? She headed toward the food court, and oh no, the guy behind the Jazz Up Your Pizza counter was her Uncle Lyman who had been dead for fifteen years. What the…?
Greta stood in the back doorway that led into the garage. Alvin sat upright but unconscious in the front seat, his errand forgotten. He snored slightly. Greta made sure the garage was closed up tight, opened the car door on the driver’s side, and turned the key in the ignition. Alvin never stirred. Ambien and martinis were such a deadly combination.
Many of us have fathers who are no longer with us. This can present an unexpected surprise. His memory ends up best being captured in something he gave us or that we took from his house, in many cases, without realizing that the item in question would become so important in our memory of this important man.
I always expected the main remembrance would be evoked by photographs or old letters, maybe some of his books or even an old hat. I was quite surprised to find that he comes alive for me in a blue ceramic statue of a hippo that he had bought at an art museum. It is bolted to a black block of wood and measures maybe eight inches long and four inches high. It’s not high art; you wouldn’t notice it right away. But that dang hippo reminds me so much of my father. It’s beat up, cute, chunky, irreverent, and solid.
What do you have of your father’s where you find his spirit still residing?