For my blog contribution today, I want to share some of the fun we have each ANWA meeting. It has become a habit for us to take the last fifteen minutes and do a writing exercise in notebooks we keep for just this purpose. Each member draws a slip of paper on which is written a word that has been chosen at random from a dictionary. I set the timer for 5 minutes, and we scribble furiously with the aim of weaving that word into a coherent paragraph. Then we share what we’ve written.
Here is a sampling from different members’ books. Bear in mind, this is just five minutes’ work. We are allowed to finish the sentence we were writing when the buzzer goes off, but that’s all.
Random word: clarinet By Katie Watters
This Christmas, my sister gave my ten-year-old son, Andy, a clarinet. When she came to see me yesterday for Postum and cookies, he began to play for Aunt Peggy. The shrieks, squeals and gasps lasted for fifteen minutes. My neck hairs curled, and it drew my spinal cord inward. He left to practice in his room after tremendous applause and, “Wow was that good!” Peggy’s and my eyes met. She gave me that Mona Lisa smile.
Random word: autoharp By Melisse Lee
Jessie was afeerd to ask that sweet young thang that looked at him from crost the barn. What if she said no? Why, it would just about break his heart. The music started again—Ole Ben a strummin’ his guitar and Billy Bob beating a tune on his autoharp. He could see her tapping her foot and giving him that come-to-me look. He steeled himself, took courage, and made his way to stand before her. She lowered her eyes and, well, he just up and asked her, “Would you like to stomp with me?”
Random word: garden By Liz Adair
“Get out of my garden, you runny-nosed little twerp!”
Sister Rinderknek came puffing out of her house waving a fly swatter as I ducked under the fence with my pockets stuffed full of early snow peas.
“If I see you inside my fence again, I’m going to call Robert Burford!” The loose skin under Sister Rinderknek’s chin wobbled as she shook her arm in the air.
Random word: horseback By Carol Addington
Jenny was dressed in her new hunting tunic that her grandfather had given her for her tenth birthday. She was very excited. Today she was old enough to ride horseback in the fox hunt. She loved horses and had looked forward to today for it seemed forever. Of course her dreams of riding astride in the hunt never included the fox. Later that day, after the hunt, she would sit in her room on the bed and fill several hankies with her tears. She had never expected that they would kill the beautiful creature. She vowed never to ride horseback again.
Random word: hypoxia By Terry Deighton
The fireworks exploded above the crowd. The resultant boom resounded deep in my breastbone. I held my breath and watched as the next series of brilliant stars burst into view. “You’ll give yourself hypoxia if you don’t breathe.” My daughter laughed at seeing her old mom mesmerized by the lights and the noise. Do we ever outgrow the marvel of such things? I hope not. Fireworks, babies, a bird in flight, even fire, still amaze me and transfix me. Somewhere, deep in these experiences, are truths too deep to be told.
Random word: painstaking By Marilynn Hughes
Her life was painstaking. Everything was hard, much harder than it needed to be. It had been a year since her baby had died, that horrible night in July. It had been hot, humid. The air was full of smoke from fireworks in the aftermath of the celebration of the Fourth. She had not heard her baby cry or even whimper….she just was gone. Her little angel had put on her little wings and gone home to heaven.
Random word: bomb By Kari Acton
“Girly, girly, come here to Daddy.” She gives a sly look with her big blue eyes and darts to the kitchen. Her wobbly, chubby legs get hung up on one another, and Dad snatches her up in his protecting arms. The door to the kitchen swings open and the kids dash in. “Holy Moly! What is that smell?” Dad replies that the baby dropped a bomb.
Random word: fleece By Ann Acton
Old Mother Hubbard went to her cupboard;
We’ve heard these same rhymes before,
But I want to know what comes next in the tale.
Did she get up and head to the store?
Did Little Bo Peep’s dear little sheep
Really heed the advice of her friend?
Or did she go out with some grain and a shout
And bring their fleece back to the pen?
As you can guess, everyone is delighted with the creativity and inventiveness that has bubbled up in those few minutes when we put pencil to paper with a purpose. It’s a “Little Engine” moment. We each leave smiling, with “I think I can, I think I can” in our hearts.