Sunday January 31st, 2010

The exercise:

The final two days of January have been quite relaxing. I think this is the least writing I've done in months.

Kat and I finally got around to seeing Avatar last night. I enjoyed it and find it very interesting that a movie that is so blatantly anti-military and pro-nature is breaking the all time box office record.

Even if most people leave it thinking 'that was sure pretty.'

Anyway. Your exercise today is to use the title of the last movie you watched as the topic of your poetry or prose. The title, not the movie itself. Unless you really want to. It's not like I'm going to stop you if you do!



Oh baby I really have to say
Your game character is super hot.
So that must mean that you are too

I mean just because my guy is ripped
While I'm shaped like a barrel of lard,
Doesn't put things in a different

So hell yeah let's meet up in real life!
We'll go for a walk in the park
And then I'll sing you your favorite

But until then I'll do as you command;
I'll slay dragons and help with your quests,
And never ever think that something's

Saturday January 30th, 2010

The exercise:

Kat found her wedding dress yesterday (don't ask me what it looks like, I won't be seeing it for another six months. And a day.)

So to mark the occasion this week's four line poems shall be about: the dress.


I don't need to see the dress now
To know that day my heart will race.
I won't even see the dress then,
For my eyes will be on her face.

Friday January 29th, 2010

The exercise:

Welcome to the 600th day in a row of Daily Writing Practice.

Let's celebrate with four lines of prose about: bumper cars.


In my wanders around the city, every now and again I encounter a car with an oddly placed or sized dent in its exterior. When this happens I'll usually stop and stare, trying to figure out how on earth a dent was made there and by what.

More often than not there's no logical explanation - which simply means an illogical one is required.

For example: "I guess that car got head-butted by an elephant."

Thursday January 28th, 2010

The exercise:

I was digging around National Geographic's photo section today, looking for something to use as a prompt, and came across this:

So today we're going to offer up some captions for that shot. Doesn't it look like a painting?


And so the dolphin invasion begins...

* * *

"Stop pushing - there's plenty of room for everyone!"

* * *

"Last one out of the water is a rotten roe!"

Wednesday January 27th, 2010

The exercise:

First off:

AFC Target: The End
AFC Actual: The End

Hurray! Total word count for January was 30,048. Total count, from start to finish, is 65,643.

In related news, your prompt today is: final words.

I was inspired by how much trouble I had deciding on the (for now) final line of the story.


How do you end a story,
What words do you choose?
Does the hero earn glory,
Or falter and lose?

How do you leave your reader,
Do you make them cry?
Do you dare leave them hanging?
Or quite satisfied?

Writing a story is tough,
That much I now know.
But bringing it to an end?
That's a damn hard go.

Tuesday January 26th, 2010

The exercise:

Today was a much better day at work. I think the sunshine helped.

Your Two Haiku Tuesday prompt this week: decay.

AFC Word Count: 28,698 
AFC Word Target: 26,000

I'm going to be brave and say the first draft is getting finished tomorrow.


My nerves have been frayed
We don't talk, only argue
Our bond has decayed

*     *     *

Lisa's house of cards
Came tumbling down - that happens
When the king decays

Monday January 25th, 2010

The exercise:

Well, that was definitely a Monday at work.

Your prompt today (having nothing to do with what I dealt with at work, for the record) is: act your age.

AFC Word Count: 27,172
AFC Word Target: 25,000

I'm going to tentatively say the first draft will be done in three days. Don't hold me to that.


You ball your fists
And stomp about.
You cry and scream
And sulk and pout.

It's all because
They said, "You lose"?
Please act your age,
You're sixty-two!

Sunday January 24th, 2010

The exercise:

Going to try something new today - a literary version of the random CD prompt, if you will. The random book prompt!

We all have books lying around. Go grab one. If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, all the better. Read the very first line of the book and stop there. Now go use that opening line as your own.

Poetry is welcome, as always, but I think it'll be more fun to stick to prose - up to each of you though, obviously. I've chosen my book but I haven't looked at the first line yet - I'm thinking I'll just go a few paragraphs, but we'll see how it goes.

AFC Word Count: 26,087
AFC Word Target: 24,000

I haven't read this book yet - hopefully the first line isn't so good that I end up being dragged into the story before I have the time to read it!


From: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he'd reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.

"Good," he would say softly to himself before retracting his hand and returning it to the relative warmth of the threadbare blanket he had cocooned himself in.

He knows that he would hear them coming, that their clumsy and heavy footsteps would rouse him from sleep before they could take the child, but it was still a comfort to find him there beside him. If one night he were to reach out and touch only air he did not know what he would do.

Lose his mind, most likely.

But he did not dare to think such thoughts. Instead he would take solace in the child still being there and return to the long wait for morning.

Saturday January 23rd, 2010

The exercise:

Your four line poem this week has one job, and one job alone: make me laugh.

Okay, that's a lot of pressure. How about I just say give me four lines of nonsense? Does that make it better? I'll even give you an extra line to use as the title of your poem if you want!

I'm really enjoying this round of the poetry tournament - and there are only seven poems submitted so far!

AFC Word Count: 25,038
AFC Word Target: 23,000

Man, I thought that was going to be done 5,000 words ago.

Update: Woo, went over 60,000 words today.


Travel Like A Man

I went for a walk today,
And got lost along the way;
But rather than ask for directions,
I'll just eat some confections.

Friday January 22nd, 2010

The exercise:

Your four line prose prompt for this fine Friday: calculations.

AFC Word Count: 23,866
AFC Word Target: 22,000


"... and so, with my innovative calculations, the world food crisis will be solved," Doctor Munroe finished to a standing ovation.

"Ah, excuse me," my colleague called out as he stood up beside me and waited for the commotion to subside. "Sorry to be a bother, but it seems to me that in line two hundred and twelve you forgot to carry the three - thereby making the remaining eight hundred and fifty-two lines of calculations invalid."

"Bobby," I sighed as he sat back down amidst the stunned silence of the other conference attendees, "this is why nobody likes you."

Thursday January 21st, 2010

The exercise:

A meeting took up most of my morning, then inspiration for my third round entry in the poetry tournament kept punching me in the face until I got it down on paper, then this evening filled up pretty quickly.

So I didn't do much work on AFC today. And that's okay.

Your prompt today: a holiday of my own making.

Do with it as you will.


Four years ago today I found out why I'd been unable to quench my thirst for the previous couple of weeks. I found out why I had a near constant need to pee for the previous couple of days. I finally understood why I'd lost twenty pounds in less than a month (after discovering that was the case the night before).

Four years ago today I was diagnosed with type one diabetes.

It's not something I talk too much about, for several reasons. I'll share one with you now: it's really not much of a disease, as these things go. I can live with it just fine. Cancer? Now that's a real disease.

Anyway, I've been marking the anniversary of my diagnosis in different ways the last few years but this time around I've started something specific. Something I'm going to stick with.

Welcome to my Diabetes Donut Day.

I eat very well for a very large portion of the year. I think I can splurge, nay indulge on a donut once a year, don't you? So Kat and I took a trip to Tim Hortons this evening and I picked me up one of these (minus the coffee):

That, my friends, is a Canadian Maple donut. It was even better than I remembered it being.

Wednesday January 20th, 2010

The exercise:

I was feeling silly today, so we're going to do some unfavorable comparisons.

AFC Word Count: 22,589
AFC Word Target: 20,000


His voice was like a fallen angel: broken, burned, and tortured.

Her drumbeat had the rhythm of an epileptic seizure.*

Your breath is like garbage that's been left out in the sun for three weeks.

What did I think of your speech? It was like listening to a gathering of drunk alley cats at midnight while I'm trying to sleep.

*Before anyone asks: no, that was not inspired by something that happened at class last night. I've just had drumming on my mind and that, combined with something Greg wrote the other day, produced that rather unflattering comparison.

Tuesday January 19th, 2010

The exercise:

Two things before I get to the prompt today.

Thing the first: if you've never done any hand drumming, you should. It is seriously fantastic stuff. The more people and drums and noise makers... the better.

Yes, I enjoyed class again tonight.

Thing the second: go read this. If you don't have time now, make time later.

Alrighty then. Your Two Haiku Tuesday prompt this week: the haunted house.
AFC Word Count: 21,471
AFC Word Target: 19,000


The voices I hear,
I know they're not really here...
But I still listen.

*     *     *

Chains rattle upstairs,
Floorboards creak in the basement;
My Realtor hates me.

Monday January 18th, 2010

The exercise:

Let's go with a variation on the random CD prompt. So grab a CD, scroll through your iPod, turn on the radio, whatever you want. Now choose a song title at random and use that (not the first line of the song, just the title) as the subject of your poetry or prose.

Mine ended up being shorter than I planned because today I got to write a chapter in A Fighting Chance that I had been looking forward to for months. As you may be able to tell by the word count, it went quite well.

AFC Word Count: 20,059
AFC Word Target: 18,000


Hard Road by Sam Roberts

The man advanced slowly, feeling the flattened earth beneath his feet with searching steps. The path continued in a straight line until the horizon swallowed it whole, with thick, bushy trees not much taller than the man crowding both sides like eager spectators at a joust. He held both of his swords at the ready, his eyes never resting in their quest to detect the slightest movement.

He knew he would be spotted eventually if he stayed in the open but the trees hid much worse dangers, ones he wouldn't be able to defend himself against. So he continued his deliberate progress and remained vigilant.

Another mile crept slowly by before he brought his body to stillness and his breath went silent. He dropped to his knees, crossing his swords in the dirt before him, and pressed an ear to the earth. The rhythmic rumble of several horses approaching at a gallop reverberated in his eardrum and a smile sprung to his lips.

They had come for him at last.

Sunday January 17th, 2010

The exercise:

Not much time to write today, so I'm going to cheat in two ways. I'm keeping mine short and I'm going to make this a continuation day, which means I don't have to think of a proper ending :)

AFC Word Count: 17,921
AFC Word Target: 17,000


The grass grows tall
In the abandoned yard.
The house still stands,
Though its walls have been scarred,
And it keeps watch,
Though its windows be barred.
Dare you pass through
This grim gate that stands guard?

Saturday January 16th, 2010

The exercise:

I finally finished labeling all of my old posts last night, so now I need to find another thing to do to procrastinate wri... um... nothing, just move along. Nothing to see here.

Your four line poem prompt this week: ducks.

I'm very fond of ducks, by the way. I'm not entirely sure why. But Kat and I went for a walk this morning and went by a couple duck ponds and she had to drag me away from both of them.

AFC Word Count: 16,713
AFC Word Target: 16,000


At rest and at play,
These ducks just make me smile.
With naught else to say,
I'll just stand here awhile.

Friday January 15th, 2010

The exercise:

Your Four Line Friday Prose prompt this week is: my own little rain cloud.

AFC Word Count: 15,764
AFC Word Target: 15,000

I'm finally finding my stride with the story now. Which is good, because I realized today that there's a good chance the first draft won't be done by the end of the month unless I up my daily word target. How'd it get to the 15th already?


Vancouver's real winter has arrived in town for a proper visit - it's been absolutely miserable with rain out there the last few days.

Despite this, I somehow managed to convince myself to go to the gym last night, equipped only with my umbrella and whatever crazy thoughts that had convinced me that staying warm and dry were bad things.

On the way to the bus stop at least three, fat drops landed on my head - from underneath my umbrella, as far as I could tell. I checked it for holes but found none and was a little confused; when I got to the bus shelter and got hit with two more raindrops (umbrella folded up at my side at this point, just using the large, glass, hole-free roof of the shelter for protection against the elements) I just about lost my damn mind.

Thursday January 14th, 2010

The exercise:

I felt like doing an acrostic today, so go nuts with that.

In other news, A Fighting Chance edged across the 50,000 word mark today, so that was kind of exciting.

AFC Word Count: 14,463
AFC Word Target: 14,000


Courting your sugary spice,
Love of my heart,
I step into the spotlight,
Charmingly playing my part;
High may be your pedestal but I'd climb
Everest for you, my sweet tart.

Wednesday January 13th, 2010

The exercise:

Kat gave me my Valentine's Day present early - I get to go to drumming classes every Tuesday night for six weeks. The first class was last night and we stuck to the djembe drum but there's all sorts of neat stuff that we'll get to play with in the weeks to come.

Today's prompt was one of the rhythms we learned to play: calypso.

So of course I went off and wrote something that had nothing to do with drumming.

AFC Word Count: 13,433
AFC Word Target: 13,000


It was hard not to think of how far away we were from home whenever I looked out the window of our temporary residence. The miles and miles of rock and sand were a far cry from the lush forests and tranquil lakes that populated my youth; the continuously black sky messed up our circadian rhythms, making sleep difficult at best; and of course there was our constant celestial neighbour, its massive bulk swallowing the horizon to my right.

I wondered once more what lay beneath the swirling black and red clouds that enveloped Saturn as I rested my elbows on the windowsill. We would find out eventually, I knew; it was just a matter of time before the captain realized wed have to go down there ourselves if we ever wanted to discover the truth of the matter. If we survived the journey we might even be allowed to return to Earth with our results.

Feeling claustrophobic, I slipped into my oxygen suit and out the back door, closing it gently so as to not disturb the others. I stood staring up at the mysterious planet and felt my smallness, realizing with a start that if we failed I would be forgotten just like the men and women who were sent before us.

I dont want to be forgotten, I whispered hoarsely.I want to be remembered.

And so I turned away and began to walk. But instead of returning to the house I circled around it and headed for the ship.

Tuesday January 12th, 2010

The exercise:

Your Two Haiku Tuesday prompt this week: mockingbird.

AFC Word Count: 12,308
AFC Word Target: 12,000

Busy night tonight, I'll reply to yesterday's comments later.


Your voice is lovely,
But I believe I've heard it
From another's lips.

*     *     *

Outside my window
Your song greets the day with cheer;
Please stop mocking me.

Monday January 11th, 2010

The exercise:

As I was bouncing around the archive I came across a prompt I used only once that I'd had every intention of using again. So I used it today. Click on the label to see what happened last time around (yes, I'm all the way up to September with the labels now).

I'll provide the first line and then we can all go wherever we please with it. Here it is:

I have been tracking my prey through the wooded hills gathered at the feet of the Rocky Mountains for the past two weeks.


AFC Word Count: 11,116
AFC Word Target: 11,000

I am beginning to have my doubts the story will be done 'well before the end of the month', as I so foolishly predicted.


I have been tracking my prey through the wooded hills gathered at the feet of the Rocky Mountains for the past two weeks. The first few days had produced precious little in the way of concrete signs of his passage and I had been forced to operate more on instinct than evidence. But that had changed on the morning of the fourth day with the discovery of a torn piece of white fabric hanging from the thorn of a blackberry bush like a signal of surrender.

Hunger had made him sloppy and that was not something you could afford to be with me on your trail.

A footprint in the mud two days later had sealed his fate, his destination now obvious to me. I began moving at night to make up the distance between us, to make up for the wasted time at the start of the chase when all of my movements were tentative. I could operate on an hour of sleep each night when I was on the hunt, caffeine pills and adrenaline fuelling my body until the capture was made and rest was once again permitted.

But even now he still manages to elude me. Perhaps I misjudged his strength. Maybe he had more supplies with him than my employer was aware of. No matter, I'm closing in and the end game has begun. Tonight I make camp for the final time and in the morning I will reach his father's cabin. If I get there first the takedown will go smoothly. If he gets there first it will be much messier, but the end result will be the same.

I hope I get there second.

Sunday January 10th, 2010

The exercise:

With all of the entries in for the first round of Protag's Winter Poetry Tournament, I thought it would be fun to share with you the poems from various contributors to this blog. You get to see a lot of their poetry here, but what can they produce when they actually spend some time and effort on their work?

The challenge was relevant rhythm and here are the results:

Archi                Greg

Gwen                Mine

Feel free to read through the other entries as well, there is some truly great stuff in there. And it's only round one!

In other news, today's prompt is one I haven't used in a while,'s word of the day: onus.


AFC Word Count: 10,062
AFC Word Target: 10,000

Hurray, I was able to escape the weekend without falling behind again!


"It's on you now."
She said with a smile,
As though she did not
Think it much of a trial.

"I will not fail."
He said with a nod,
As though he was not
About to face a god.

But in the end
The burden crushed him,
And life for her
Became so very grim.

Saturday January 9th, 2010

The exercise:

Four line poem Saturday would you like to see you write about: plagiarism.

I'll update the AFC word count later, once I've actually done some work on it.

AFC Word Count: 9,149
AFC Word Target: 9,000


What's mine is mine,
What's yours is mine,
It's all mine.
Yeah, that sounds fine.

Friday January 8th, 2010

The exercise:

Sigh, the spam has not stopped. I'll have to invest some time this weekend in figuring out a way to block it.

But today is Friday! And that is good. Your four lines of prose this week shall be based around: there's always one. I may have taken some liberties with my 'four' lines.

AFC Word Count: 8,152
AFC Word Target: 8,000


I started really working out when I began university and since then I've made use of a lot of different gyms in a lot of different locations - chains, community centers, independents, small town, big city. But one thing seems to always be present wherever I go: that one weird guy who you do your best to stay away from.

Sometimes it's the smell, sometimes it's just how he looks, but there's always one in every gym - on Monday night it was a gentleman with a bushy Friar Tuck hairstyle, green cotton shirt tucked into red shorts that were well above waist level, who kept checking out his knees in the mirror (seriously... as best I could tell anyway) and using free weights right in the middle of narrow walking paths.

To his credit, at least he wasn't a grunter as well (don't get me started).

Thursday January 7th, 2010

The exercise:

Almost caught up! I'd keep going but I have other things to work on tonight (hurray for not getting Greg in the first round again!).

AFC Word Count: 6,993
AFC Word Target: 7,000

Your prompt today: spam.

Yes, spam. Allow me to explain...


Spammers are stupid.

I'm sure that's not earth-shattering news to any of you but I needed to say it today.

Last night, as I was cruising through the archives in my attempt to label all of my old posts, I had a sudden urge to find the most recent post that had no comments. I was finding it pretty cool to be moving from the oldest posts, which regularly would go a week or two without any comments, to the most recent ones that had at least one comment every day for a very big chunk of time. While I was scrolling down my post list one caught my eye.

Because it had 109 comments.

Um, what?

So I clicked on it. Turns out? It appeared as though some idiot had posted a single comment per day since the post had first gone up (or shortly afterward, for me to have missed it at the time). I'd love to know what was being spammed, but it was all in kanji aside from the odd email address.

And I'd love to know how they thought that was going to ever be seen, as it continued to be buried further and further into the archives. I'm hoping it was just a script that was adding one comment per day automatically, and not some moron going back to that same post every single day and doing it manually.

I spent quite a bit of time deleting the 103 spam comments (individually - thanks Blogger) because I couldn't stand having them there. I'll be keeping an eye on that post to see if the streak has been broken or if the spam continues. I've gotten pretty good at hunting down and deleting spam on Protagonize, so it's not a big deal to carry that practice over to here.

But I still think spammers are stupid.

Wednesday January 6th, 2010

The exercise:

I've made a bit of a dent into the gap between where I want to be and where I am on AFC today, might get some more done tonight. We shall see.

AFC Word Count: 5,783
AFC Word Target: 6,000

Anyway, your prompt for today: in the trenches.


I rest my back against the mud of the embankment and stare up at the darkening sky. The mess of saturated dirt and blood soaks through the back of my uniform in seconds but I'm too exhausted to care, too wore down to move. Bullets pierce the air above us like deadly shooting stars. They're so close. I want to reach up and catch one...

"Sarge?" I slowly turn my head to look at the soldier to my right. I think I've seen him before. "Are you feeling okay?"

"Of course," I reply with a shaky laugh. "I'm in the middle of a field of dead earth and dead men and I'm being shot at twenty-four hours a day. How could I possibly be better?"

He falls silent and his eyes shift to study the ground at his feet. His boots are caked in dried mud and other things I don't care to think about and I take the opportunity to study his face. He's young, too young to be out here with us old men. He should go home. No. He should never have come.

Maybe I should have stayed home too.

A shell lands close enough behind us to jolt us forward and shower us with bits of earth. The scent of burning metal and grass reaches my nostrils and I smile in shock. How is there still grass left to burn? How can anything be left alive out there, between us and them?

I scramble up to the edge, ignoring the boy's shouts to stay down. I hope there is still some green left after that blast. I need to see something besides brown and grey and red and black.

But as my eyes peer over the top of the trench I see only brown mud and the grey of cascading bullets. Then my luck runs out at last and I briefly see red before everything fades to black.

Tuesday January 5th, 2010

The exercise:

Your Two Haiku Tuesday prompt this week: muscle memory.

I went back to the gym for the first time in a long time yesterday. For the record: not a New Year's resolution, the timing and motivation just finally came together.

The more observant of you might have noticed I haven't been posting my progress on A Fighting Chance. That's because it hasn't been going well, haha. But! I'm starting to catch up. So here we go:

AFC Word Count: 4,716
AFC Word Target: 5,000


I don't need to think
When I take you in my arms -
They act on their own.

*     *     *

Sunlight pouring down,
Tanned, fit bodies all around;
My youth at the beach.

Monday January 4th, 2010

The exercise:

As I've been going through my old posts to label the prompts I've come across a few that I wanted to make use of again. So I'm getting started today with my favorite one: the random CD prompt.

Here's how it works: grab a CD at random and pick a track, or flip through the play list on your iPod (or whatever) to find a random track, and then use the very first line of your song as the first line of your poetry or prose. Then just go wherever it takes you (and let us know which song you used!).

Oh, before I forget again, I wanted to mention one last Christmas gift I received. My parents got me a gift certificate for MEC and Kat and I went on Saturday to use it on these snowshoes. She picked up a pair for herself and we can't wait to get back up to the mountains for fun like this:

Alright, now you can go write.


Night swimming deserves a quiet night
In mid-summer with stars shining bright,
A lake rippling with lazy strokes,
And a breeze that carries campfire smoke.

Life in the city can get crowded;
It's easy for sight to get clouded.
But in the silence of the country
There is room to be, room to see.

Thoughts grow still and breath begins to slow,
When you have nowhere you need to go.
So find the time to go night swimming,
And see life without all the trimmings.

Sunday January 3rd, 2010

The exercise:

Here's your prompt for today:

I took that before dinner on Christmas Eve at Kat's parents, but feel free to place it anytime and anywhere. I think this was one of the first pictures I used my tripod for and I liked how it came out.


Six will sit down to dinner tonight,
Their faces warmed by soft candlelight.
Six glasses will be filled by the host,
Who shall then propose a wordy toast -
The waver in his voice only slight.

He sits back down, his speech concluded.
Drinks are sipped by guests so deluded,
Then one by one they fall into sleep
And collapse to the floor in a heap;
The host can no more be excluded.

Saturday January 2nd, 2010

The exercise:

Yesterday was a reminder that I'm quite out of the habit of forced writing. I had to pull those last 200 words kicking and screaming from my fingers. Hopefully it gets easier in the next few days.

Your four line poem prompt today: balance.

Update: only 895 words today, but I'll make up for that this week for sure.


A single step to either side
Is all it takes to veer off course -
And now she's running like a horse
And he is left without a bride.

Friday January 1st, 2010

The exercise:

Typing 2010 instead of 2009 is going to take some getting used to.

Regardless! Welcome to the new year!

Let us start the year off with this Friday Four Line Prose prompt: faking it.

Small site note: I've finally started going through my old posts and adding labels for the writing prompts. 125 down, 450'ish to go! Sigh.

Anyway! While I'm chipping away at that I've added a Label Cloud just above the archive list on the bottom right. Currently I have it set to display any prompt that was used more than once. I'd love to make it a random selection but I haven't worked out how to do that yet. If it's even possible.

I'll update my progress on A Fighting Chance later (once I've actually worked on it).

Update: 1,028 words today, and the posts have been labeled up to the start of January.

That would be way more awesome if it wasn't January 2009 I was talking about.


Over on Protagonize we've been dealing with fake accounts for a while now, but it's been getting worse recently (which lead to the blog post from Nick linked above). Basically, a few users have created additional accounts for the sole purpose of rating their own work highly so that they move up in the overall author rankings.

What a load of silly nonsense.

It's pointless and ridiculously insecure and a waste of my damn time - I'd much rather be reading and writing stories than tracking down and dealing with this crap.