Wednesday March 14th, 2012

The exercise:

Today we write about: karma.

At my writing group last Wednesday someone brought up Bruce Cockburn's Call Me Rose, which begins 'My name was Richard Nixon, only now I'm a girl. You wouldn't know it but I used to be the king of the world'.

She suggested that it would be an interesting prompt to start off with "My name was", insert the name of your choice (either famous or not or fictional), and go from there. So feel free to go that route, or take another spin altogether.


My name was Brad Pitt but they don't call me that anymore. I used to break hearts on an hourly basis - even in my sleep. I couldn't walk down the street of any town in America without being mobbed by paparazzi and autograph hounds.

It was all rather tiring. I just wanted to be left alone. Now I am of average height and looks, my hair has more bad days than good, and acne considers my face prime real estate. Girls don't look twice at me, boys don't need to decide if they'd be better off with me as a friend or foe.

In fact, nobody seems to care about me one way or the other.

It's all quite lonely and depressing, really.


Anonymous said...

marc, LOVE your piece

My Name Was (/karma) (dwp)

My name was Charles Manson. I used to control people for a living. It was kind of a game to me actually. I spent a lot of time behind bars to pay for crimes I never actually committed. Maybe they made an example of me. It’s complicated. I got other people to take things as far as I could could suggest. They did what I wanted. It was awe inspiring.
My ego went through the roof.

Now I’m a lemming.
I’m dull brown and furry. Some think I look cute but most think I’m less than ordinary. I’m pretty much ignored by the masses. I’m one of a number. 
Next Tuesday there is a scheduled meeting of lemmings at the local cliff face. I’m scheduled to go. I don’t have a say, it’s been mandated already. I don’t know what happens there.

... Next Tuesday arrived. I joined the line, one of a number. On the count of three we all marched forward. I noticed the lemmings calling the commands were former actors, Sharon Tate was amongst them. That seemed karmic. 
I marched forward. Next thing I knew I was falling into oblivion, I blacked out before I hit...

Cathryn Leigh said...

@Marc – Funny my hubby and I were talking about how I haven’t seen interview with a vampire yet and that I should as it’s Brad Pitt at his finest. And the only vampire sparkling is when they burst into flames and DIE! *giggles*

@Writebrite – Oh how tickling... don’t ask I’m taking a break from studying Biology for work. :}

If anyone needs some karmatic justice it’s my villain, the evil, stinky, slimy, worm that Wholawski is. :} But there’s also the flip side. What about those who do good? I’ll take a stab at both. *Snickers*

The Justice of Karma

“My name is Jackubos Wholawski. I was a man, proud and strong. I fed my perversions for forty years till that, that woman came along. She turned them all against me in the blink of an eye. I was so close; so close, I tell you, to ruling Videra!”

“Sure it is Jackie,” the jailer sniggers as he tightens the loops on the woman’s straight jacket. “Right now it’s time for your electrocution therapy.”

“What’s electrocution therapy?” Jackie is clueless, electricity didn’t exist where he’s from.

“You’ll find out soon enough,” a familiar voice cases him to shrink in fear.


My name is Sarah Anne Smith, and I should have died on Earth, when the opposing forces in World War III bombed the farmland of USA. But thanks to my love of children, family values and the strange tie to Jason de Borguez, I was given a second chance.

My reward for stopping a war in his world: the title of Phoenix and my very own farm. But we don’t just grow food and raise cattle and horse. We’re raising the next generation of peace keepers. My spirit soars.

morganna said...

My name was Death, but I quit. Now I wander the world, homeless and lost. A mythological construct can't die, and no one wants to be with a walking skeleton in a hooded cape. I make them nervous.

Based on Death in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.

Iron Bess said...

Hmmm, I quite got into this one.
@Marc - love it, very karma.
@WB - Great, from leader to follower.
@Cathryn - Great feel to your first piece.
@Morgana - I love Death in Discworld, I think he is my favourite after Esme.

My name was Morgaine, but they don’t call me that anymore. I was King Arthur’s half-sister, first lover, and a queen in my own right. This knowledge is new to me, suddenly, like someone pouring a pail of cold water over your head to wake you. One day I was just plain, Ima Grainger, going to school, feeding the dog, and trying to avoid the lime light. But now all that is over, finished, because of this sagacity.

Although I must admit even as a small child I must have known. I knew down in my bones. I knew that this life was just another in a long line of many. But I know that I shouldn’t know this, it isn’t supposed to work that way. We are supposed to be born into this world newly minted, like a blank page, ready to write the book of our lives.

Suddenly everyone I meet I recognise hiding behind their faces. Most of them have been around me for countless generations, my brother has been my mother, my cousin, my best friend, my confessor, my murderer, and on and on. King Arthur is now the little autistic boy down the street who is being raised by his grandmother. His grandmother used to be my husband only two lifetimes ago. Lancelot is my cousin Jenny, she is tall, strong, the best athlete in school. My closest and dearest friend is Merlin. I can see his impish grin when she looks at me but doesn’t see me.

We, all of us, are intertwined on this long journey we are following. Well most of us. I know my mother, Igraine, King Uther’s wife, has left this plane and moved onto the next level. Her bond has been completed, her duty to this dimension over. I also know that whoever gave me this gift of knowledge is not my friend.

Greg said...

@writebite: I think that was a good choice of both victim and fate, the karma neatly coming full circle. And though you know I like your writing and often think you should write more, I wonder if this time you could have left it at the end of the second paragraph and allowed the reader to follow karmic justice through to its conclusion by themselves?

@Cathryn: biology for work? Sounds interesting! You're spoiling Marc with all these extras to his prompt you know :)
Very neatly done, with the exclamatory style very much suiting your characters I think. I think I prefer the first one as I'm not a huge fan of an omniscient narrator, which Sarah comes across as here.

@Morganna: That's very brief and a little poignant, but it's spoiled a little for me by having read those books and knowing that Pratchett has actually addressed the issues of how a mythological construct could die (the Hogfather) and what happened when Death was ousted from his job. I'd have liked to see a little more just to understand how you're making Death your own here better.
@Iron Bess: detailed and fascinating and reminds me of some of Katherine Kerr's books, with the intertwined lives of people chained to the wheel of karma! It's almost as if, in your world, that karma is a force tying them all together until they find a way to break free.

@Marc: almost forgot you :P I think I'm going to have to post twice; this for comments and then a small, inferior contribution of my own, while I wait for Australia to call (for work). I quite like the way your piece appears to be approving of the anonymity at the start and then turning it around to bitter resignation of lost dreams at the end. Very karmic :)

Greg said...

My name was Sherlock Holmes and I was the greatest detective ever to have lived. My intellect was unsurpassed, except for my elder brother; no matter what Moriarty claimed or that Adler woman did they were, in the end, no real match for me. But... there's always a but, isn't there? But I grew bored and experimented with drugs, seeking a thrill above and beyond the intellectual.
Working with James Watson was initially an intriguing challenge, as the man was so clearly defective. His post-war shock affected him more and more, to the point where at times I could scarcely recognise myself in his lurid tales and I do not regret pushing him in front of that fiacre and blaming the Dowager Duchess of Kent.
And now? Now I call myself Malcolm and drive an SUV and have an NRA membership while I work for a think-tank in Washington DC. Once I solved crimes for a living, and now I perpetrate ones that would make Moriarty bite through the rim of his top hat in envy... how the mighty have fallen.

Krystin Scott said...


I must have offended the internet gods because the conspiracy continues.

< >

My name was Wilhelmina Murray.Once I resided with my best friend Lucy in the small seaside town of Whitby, England where I held a position as a school teacher. Back then I was sheltered by my family and my would-be husband. Like most of the respectable women of my time I would have been considered shy, quiet and nieve to the ways of the world. I lived a modest life style and was making preparations to become Mrs. Jonathan Harker when my fiance was sent to Budapest on business.
It was then that I captured the attention of another man and life as I knew it, changed forever.

Now I am a woman of the night. A volatile eccentric who does as she see's fit. No longer am I meak and compliant. I answer to no man. Since my transformation I see the world very differently. Gone are the days when I looked at it with the innocent eyes of a child. But there was a price to pay for my freedom and I paid it unwillingly. Immortality brought with it strength and power. An untamed energy rests within, giving me the desire. But I have maintained a sense of propriety and decorum
challanges my conscious only allowing me to pray upon the depraved.

Anonymous said...

“Ain't Karma a bitch.” Said Ted as he grinned at the television which was in the process of showing some poor schlub get his after being mean to someone moments earlier.

Lawrence met his grin with a face devoid of expression.

“I suppose it would be if that was how Karma was actually supposed to work.”

Ted turned away from the TV and looked annoyed.

“Say what? Everyone knows that if you do shitty stuff to people then Karma comes back and bites you in the ass.”

Lawrence sighed.

“Well yes...everyone who gets all their information from some poorly coordinated game of 'telephone'.”

He lifted hand to curtail Ted's incoming protest.

“Look, it's just that the version of Karma your talking about is just a dumbed down pop cultural lift from Eastern thought that caught on with a bunch of hippy simpletons back in the day. Karma isn't some big spring loaded mechanism waiting to spank you after you've been an asshole to someone else. It's more like a force that lets that whole mechanism of assholishness keep on rolling. Think of it more like a invisible energy field that we interact with that feeds off of decisions we make and affects other bits of the Karmic field whether we like it or not.

It seems to me that the key thing the Buddhists and Jains seem to be saying is that we get bogged down in the Karma because we're so hooked up and addicted to the world. Essentially, we're emotionally attached to all this crap, to our interactions and little victories and even littler failures that we just can't get past it. If you want a chance you just have to 'be' and see the world for what it is. Then you have a chance of getting out of the Karmic soup.”

“Is that so.” Said Ted, his face a peculiar mix of boredom and derision.

“Sounds like Brain Salad Surgery to me man. I'll take the Ass biting Karma any day!”

Lawrence sighed.

Marc said...

Writebite - thanks! :D

Hah, Manson to lemming. I like it.

Cathryn - dude, totally watch that movie.

Love the contrasting approaches. Nicely done.

Morganna - 'I make them nervous.' Why yes, I suppose he would :)

Iron Bess - really enjoyed the way you wove it all together. And that last line leaves me wanting more!

Greg - so be the dangers of not posting first: lots of stuff to comment on :)

Mmm, very intriguing idea there. I like it a lot. A modern day, fallen Holmes has a lot of possibility.

Krystin - gah, I feel for you. I hope the scoundrels responsible for your situation are rounded up quickly!

Great the way you never outright say what's happened to her, all while providing a solid foundation for more story to follow. If you so choose, obviously.

GZ - poor Lawrence. That seems to be the way most logical arguments are greeted these days.

Anonymous said...

greg... thanks, you make a valid point, i nearly left it off but i rather liked how dumb Manson is to not know what lemmings do :) i also loved the katherine kerr books.
grondzilla...nice work, i agree btw