Writing Workshop

Today I engaged in a writing workshop with Alice Tuan. It was wondrously informative, fun and reminded me to re-commit to my own writing.

Alice led us through a workshop; there were six slips of paper given to each participant, on which they had to indicate as such (one thing per slip):

1. Action

2. Place

3. Prop or Object

4. Secret

5. First line of the scene

6. Last line of the scene

The slips of paper were then grouped (all the 1’s – Action sheets together, etc.), then redistributed so that each participant had a full set of six from six different individuals. We were then given 30 minutes to write. My group of papers looked something like this:

1. Chopping firewood

2. bottom of a well

3. piece of chalk

4. French Stewart was the best and only Inspector Gadget

5. “What you did to her…you should be lynched.”

6. “Maria! It doesn’t matter how many paper cuts you have.” “Stop!” (I was given two #6s)

My scene looks like this:

Scene: An older man, poorly dressed, withered. He wears worm overalls, a dirty shirt and is barefoot. He is in the bottom of a damp, dark well, a light is shown from “above”. Water trickles down the stone walls and the man chops wood into small piles. Throughout the scene more food falls from “above” for the man to chop. He is alone on stage, in the well, chopping wood.

MAN: What you did to her…you should be lynched.

(laughs) (chops)

What you did to her…you should be taught, a lesson.

(chops) (a log falls from “above” and the man takes out a piece of white chalk from his overall pocket, he marks a small tally on the stone wall, in the lower SR corner, returns chalk to pocket and resumes chopping)

A lesson.

An education.

A punishment. The chair. The block. The juice.

My pants.


What you did.

To her. To him. The family. The city.

Already forgotten. Already buried. What was written, unwrit. Recycled. Shredded. Taken out with the trash. The fish. The pinata. Paper only.

(log falls, man tallys, continues chopping)

Global Chorus of Condemnation.

Farmer Bill Becomes Fondler.

French Stewart was the best (and only). Inspector Gadget.

Raging Against a Universe Past.

I lay with the fish.

(chops) (dogs bark)

Can I take this call? (Pause)

You’re in class. In your education. Your re-education.


You’re in limbo. You’re forgotten.


In the corner. You’re cold. You’re old. Gray. Wrinkled. No longer seventeen and able to run. You’re shirt is dirty. You’re blood in yellow.


You are alone, wrapped in newspaper.
Maria! It doesn’t matter how many paper cuts you have.


(logs fall, tally, man continues chopping) (more dogs bark)

A lesson.

What you did.

An education.

What I did.

Global Chorus of Condemnation.

The block.


Maria! It doesn’t matter how many paper cuts you have.


(man chops into fade out) (a dog howls)




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