Delphic – Day 174 – Academic Jargon

Unfortunately it’s that time of semester where everything is due. I’m doing a lot of academic reading and sitting next to a lot of other stressed students in the library. I don’t think many of us enjoy reading unnecessarily complicated academic writing- so I’m going to give it a go in the name of my fellow students. 

She read rhizomatically through incomprehensible dense thickets of theories.

Inundated with delphic propositions she nearly drowned.

To this day she still has hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.

Snippet – Day 141 – Hair Dressers

I spent most of today doing a huge assignment but I did manage to think of this in the hairdresser just then. Unfortunately I was feeling shy today so there is no photo.

Snippets Barber has never had to sweep up hair, instead they let it compound until it became sentient. Now the hair is cleaned up by small furry beings.

Tender – Day 140 – Sushi Train

Written at the sushi train during lunch. Then sent on its own train journey as I quickly left the restaurant. Maybe someone will pick it up?

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Little pieces of tender meat are carried by the train. Round and round they go, judged on looks alone. Thousands of nervous thoughts try to spill from their bodies like grains of sand. Their skin is delicate like thin sheets of seaweed. Looking out from its transparent cage, one waits for its chance. It does not want to go the way its friends will. As the plastic cloche is lifted and hungry eyes peer in, it rolls out onto the tracks. Feeling the wind ruffle its pickled ginger, it is free at last. It knows the feeling won’t endure, but this moment is all it needs.

Museum – Day 139 – Room

A carpet of clothes tell the story of her indecisive nature, the walls are an evolution of her artistic taste and old letters from loved ones jump out of open drawers. The room is a museum she does not wish to exhibit. Like a dragon showing its underbelly, she opens the door. The intruder sits down, immediately at home. Feeling no wounds to her vulnerable tum, she collects precious artifacts, suddenly compelled to give them the a guided tour of her life.

Of all the places I have written over the past 137 days; India, Woodford, Ikea and even from the top of a waterfall, I have never written a story in my room. I decided this was odd and decided to rectify this with the story above. Below is a picture- mess included.

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Checkmate – Day 138 – Woolies

Another day of full on study. The only ‘place’ I’ve gone to today is the grocery store.

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You check out my groceries

I check out your assets

But eyes burn into me

I check behind me

The check out boy is staring

His gaze on my behind

Then a wink

“Are you checking out another girl?” he asks

“What?”

“Shame, I thought we could go on a date”

“Ah, think I’ll have to raincheck on that”

I look back sheepish

“Check or Savings?” you ask, snickering

 

 

Grow – Day 137 – The Bearded Lady

Caught up with some friends at the Bearded Lady today- I wrote my story there and Chloe suggested I write my story on their hands. It’s a little hard to read so I have a translation underneath.

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She was a freak

She shut herself in a tower

And let her beard grow long

One day a fair maiden climbed it

Now they run a fine weavery

River – Day 136 – River

From the river.

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The tide breathes

In and out

In and out

In

And

Out

Far out

This time it exhales every last toxin

Its breath carries across the city

Seeping into the suburbs

But in the end it can’t hold on

It takes a deep rattling breath

And the cycle continues

In and out

In and out

Real – Day 135 – Bonaluga House

Tonight I come to you from the house with the cool fence that I wrote about all those months ago. It turns out the fence is just the start- the entire house is amazing! It is now an art gallery for the amazing Bonnie – check out her work- just do it: https://www.facebook.com/Bonaluga

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Bonaluga House nestles in plain sight. It draws only the people it wants and is invisible to those who wouldn’t appreciate it. The rooms are lush forests. Outside, the garden is cozy and dry. Music floats through the floorboards and undiscovered creatures stare, eyes glinting, from the corners. Most imagine such a place is only fantasy, but those who’ve been there aren’t stupid, they know fantasy is real.

@Horsinaround – Day 134 – Paddock

On my way to work there is a field with horses in it. I’ve stopped to write this morning. 

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@Longface Lol just saw owner stack it in mud.

@Horsinaround Poor thing, he only has 2 legs.

@Longface He thought laughter was shivers and put that ugly jumper on me.

@Horsinaround That’s Karma #paddockbuddhism #horsetaohorse should change my name to #horsezenaround

Antics on the Hill – Day 133 – Grass

Elizabeth gave me a place challenge for this month ‘somewhere you can get a birds eye view.’ I was thinking about high places in Brisbane as I sat on the grass today, when I realised I had a birds eye view of something right where I was. An entire world of ants were crawling around right underneath my nose and I could see everything right from where I was. 

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NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR HILL RESIDENTS

A much needed chocolate wrapper landed yesterday. The colossal site has provided hundreds of jobs for local sugar miners and economants are saying it will give a much needed boost to the hill economy. Investor and Queen Ant, Candice Newsome, commented this morning claiming, “Packet Mining is the future for Hill, if we continue to fund these projects and take advantage of wrappers we might become as strong our neighbouring Bin Colony.” 

But not everyone is happy with this explanation.The colony’s Envirantmentalist Group have slammed her, releasing a statement that called the wrapper site “a quick fix” for an ongoing problem. “Our Larva are starving because we have forgotten how to live off the land, depending on wrappers is unsustainable and unhealthy,” the statement concluded. 

Whilst wrapper mining law remains controversial, one thing is for sure, many hungry Larva will be fed tonight.

Absurd Flight – Day 132 – Flappy Bird

Last year I wrote a computer game with some game design students. One of whom was the charming Callum Grier, who contacted me the other day and suggested a place -a virtual place- the land of ‘flappy bird’. 

So I began playing… what wonders did the land of flappy bird have in store for me? Well monotony and frustration it turns out. I couldn’t get past 7 points. 

 

Relentlessly flapping underdeveloped wings for eternity

It dies over and over, always to be reborn into the same absurdity

Unable to give up the flight

Despite there being no end in sight

Just because a simple phrase caused it’s designer frustration

“the journey is more important than the destination”

Birth of a Song – Day 131 – Downstairs Conspiracy

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It’s 9pm and I’m listening to jazz/rap by the wonderful ‘Rivermouth’ under a house at ‘Downstairs Conspiracy’ in West End where I met Bonnie. She is a wonderful artist and the stranger who received my random story in the post a few months ago. It turns out she makes amazing patchwork dolls such as these:

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I thought it looked a little like a mermaid, it was very intricate. I asked her how long this one took her and she said she started it when she was pregnant ad it grew with her. I thought that was beautiful, so I sat down and listened to some Rivermouth whilst I wrote this:

Mermaids aren’t known for their music, but this mermaid learnt from the experts, the whales. She started with a beat, like the tiny heart forming inside her. Every day she added something new. A melody grew like the small limbs. A trill kicked like the petite feet.  A baseline swelled like the bond of blood. And when her daughter was born the song was complete, written with the newest lyrics that only a cry can articulate. 

I Remember Seven – Day 130 – Seventh

I’m at the powerhouse exhibition called “Seventh with Another” and there is an artwork here by Hailey Bartholomew (director / photographer) + Erin Lightfoot (textile designer) where they invite you to tell them a memory from when you were seven. So here is mine (with pictures)!

My brother and I did everything together at that time. We ate pancakes hot off the stove, ripping them up as they were cooked; half for me, half for him.

In summer we’d have water fights and when we got tired, we’d go inside and play tug of war. I remember he was so strong I’d be dragged across the polished wood floors on my belly

It wasn’t till I was older that I realised he wasn’t like other brothers. He aged much faster than me and now he is gone. But he will always remain my brother, protective, loyal and playful.

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Fall – Day 129 – Forest/Waterfall

I just got back from a mountain where I did a bush walk. The aim of the walk is to end up at a waterfall, but when you finally arrive, there is a huge wooden barrier. We climbed the barrier and stumbled over the rocks looking for perfect sitting spots to admire the falls. I found a spot right on the edge of the drop and wrote this. 

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We live atop a waterfall. No one knows what’s at the bottom. Folk have got lost down there and never come back. We’re told not to venture down.

But I’ve always wondered. So I send notes down there. Scratched in bark, I watch them teeter on the edge before plunging into froth. After a few years I stopped sending them. I had to assume it was just as people said. I vowed never to venture.

Until I looked up one morning and saw a note just like mine, dangling from a pulley system made of vines. It was the folk who ventured. They were not lost or dead. They’d found friends, caves and new animals.

I couldn’t convince the others. I am lost to my people now, but I have a new family and I can wonder as far as I like. 

Sparkly Creature – Day 127 – Circus

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I am currently sitting in on a circus class as my location for today. It’s been hard to concentrate on writing because the class itself is so entertaining to watch, but I’ve managed to get down this story:

As far as Nina was concerned she had lost her daughter the day Gen joined the circus. Gen had gotten perfect grades all through school and was headed to University, but had thrown it all away just to hang upside-down like a bat.

To add insult to injury, every few months she would receive posters of Gen hanging from hoops in skimpy outfits. Nina would hide them away in drawers and try to forget them, but they would permeate her dreams.

One night she fell asleep to the sound of the pounding rain. When Nina next opened her eyes she was convinced she was having one of her nightmares. She could hear what sounded like a waterfall outside and she was being carried by a small sparkly creature.

“Alright mum?”

The creature was Gen. This must be a dream, Nina thought, as she was carried out onto the back deck and passed to a man in drag.

“We had a show nearby, we came as soon as we heard,” Gen was saying.

“Ready Nina?” the man asked as he dropped her onto a soft mat.

She hit the mat with a loud wet thud, this was no dream. She could see water gushing round the front of the house and neighbours rushing to load their cars.

The clean up that followed was incredibly fast. They erected a big top in the street and cooked meals for everyone. Nina redecorated that summer and Gen’s posters now paper the walls. 

Hovags – Day 126 – IKEA

For April I am writing my story in a different place everyday. Today I went to IKEA.

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I decided to write my piece on some IKEA art which amused me. (Hovag was the name of one of the bits of furniture that I liked)

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The Hovag (commonly called the hipster antelope) is a rare species. Unlike the traditional antelope, Hovags are much smaller and more antisocial, usually living alone or in small groups called ‘subcultures’. They can be found amongst Swedish furniture, usually making their burrows from cardboard, alan keys and small pencils. Hovags are incredibly vulnerable animals and always choose flight over fight, which is why many are often spotted riding small bikes so as to escape their predators. Although populations are on the rise as their habitats are conserved and expanded by consumers, it is still illegal to hunt or catch a Hovag. However, it is said that the Hovag milk is exquisite and organic farmers who have permits to collect the milk report it has a “coffee like quality”.

 *Bonus pic!*

Found a story in the toy puppy display. It’s like a comic strip. Top panel: puppies tell secrets. Bottom panel: puppies are suddenly frightened. I’m wondering what they’ve just discovered?

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Double Decker – Day 125 – Tim Cox/Bus station

Went into 612 ABC radio station today to celebrate being over a third of the way through the challenge (listen here).

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I asked the lovely Tim Cox for an idea and he gave me “The shinny red double decker bus.” This month I’m going to write in different places and use them as my inspiration, so after the interview I went straight to the bus stop and wrote this:

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Looking longingly at the new slimline buses, the double decker chugs through the streets roaring and spluttering fumes. Its towering frame chaotically navigates the city streets, squeezing under overpasses and round tight corners.

Convinced it will soon be forgotten, it shudders to a stop in the underground fume box that is the city station. Its reflection stares back from the glass barrier. Drawn on the steamy window is a smiley face.

The double decker looks out at the sea of people getting off at the station wondering who had drawn the face. Perhaps they wouldn’t forget.

Also today I got my first hater. They think I’m “dead boring” and I need to “get a real job.” I can’t pretend it didn’t hurt but on the whole I’m quite excited to have one- It’s like I’ve been christened by the internet – I feel like a real blogger/artist now!  

Turbulence – Day 124 – Gemma Seltzer

It’s the last day of Mentor March and I am incredibly excited to write about my last mentor… Gemma Seltzer.

I was told about London based author, Gemma Seltzer, last year when the idea of this project was just a vague dream. She had started out writing a story every day for 100 days based on interactions with strangers and posted it to a blog (speaktostrangers.co.uk/). It was so successful she has often asked to re-create it in different cities and even written for the TATE Modern. She was young and she had started out with just a self run blog… something clicked in my brain and I decided then and there that my vague dream would become a concrete reality. The idea that had always seemed overwhelming and distant suddenly seemed like a real option. 

So last week I decided to email her and ask her for advice and a prompt. And on the weekend I got a beautiful reply…

“I’m so pleased you found something in my work that inspired you too – that’s made my day,” it began. “From a browse of your site, I can see you have loads of energy and a great range in your writing. What a lovely project, because it’s about real life and people as much as it’s about good writing.” 

I was so chuffed! She also told me to write in different places around Brisbane- explore every aspect of it. I think this is a really great idea and I will be using it as my theme for next month (April).

Lastly she gave me a challenge “Write your story on a piece of paper, fold it into an plane and let it go in a crowd.”

So I wrote a story and folded it up…

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Then threw it off a balcony into the Myer Centre food court in the city. I watched as it sailed down narrowly missing a young man’s head. Unfortunately he was listening to headphones and completely missed it. It landed somewhere at his feet and I now I have no idea where it is. Hopefully someone will pick it up…
 
Born from a few rash folds it knew only one purpose, to fly. But as its flimsy body quivered in the breeze, terror began to weigh it down. If it failed, its inky cargo would be lost.

It mustered its courage and leapt into a gust of wind, hoping to ride it smoothly to its destination. Alas it was only a few turbulent seconds before its bleached pulpy wings gave out and it took a nose dive toward the pavement below.

With only discarded chewing gum for company, it lay crumpled on the ground. But then a hand smoothed its wings and launched it into the air once more. This time it flew for a good while, and when it faltered another hand caught it. Its journey continued on like this until it wasn’t sure which way it was going, or if it was even facing the right direction.  

When it finally came to rest, it looked around, disorientated. Then, a face slid into focus, and it realised it had found its destination. The inky cargo was delivered in perfect reading condition.

Electronic Author – Day 123 – Grusin

I’ve been studying in the library all day so I’m basing my story off the only mentor I’ve had today… Richard Grusin- the author of my reading (“What is an Electronic Author? Theory and the Technological Fallacy”) I’ve taken the words “Electronic Author” on behalf of Grusin and set them as my prompt words. 

Constantly awake

Pounding the keyboard

Recording every millisecond of consciousness

Noting every lonely question  

Extracting thoughts

Spinning them into intricate webs

Filling them away

The electronic author of our story

Infinite – Day 118 – Jon Silver

Yesterday I met with another of my old lecturers, Jon. 

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As usual I asked him what he was good at that he could teach me. He told me he’s a good salesman. You can’t sell something by just telling, you have to ask questions and let the person come to the conclusion that they need it (yes ‘need’ even if it’s a bird shaped pen- they might need it because they have an emotional need to keep their childlike sense of fun with them through out the day’s meetings).

Then I asked a new question, “what have you failed at, that I should avoid?”

He told me resting – not just the body, but the mind and soul too. And if you don’t you’re only creating obstacles down the track. I needed this advice as I’m currently pretty sick and stressing myself out.

Finally, I asked for a prompt and he asked me a pretty hefty question: Is the universe a living organism?

Here’s my story:

The Sun burned inside him. He was never able to fit in or concentrate. He’d drift like space junk, trying to articulate his milky ideas to others. He liked looking up at night. It looked like a brain to him, perhaps they were all just thoughts in a huge brain. The others would laugh at him. So he went to his grandmother.

“I’ve always thought our minds are made up of thousands of galaxies,” she said, and he could see the wisdom of millions of stars past and present twinkling in her eyes.

“Never assume your thoughts are worth less than others,” she continued. “Your mind is infinite. Perhaps there is even a tiny boy on a tiny planet inside you, who is wondering the same thing.” 

Spilling – Day 117 – Mark

I’m not feeling the best today and my assessment, life and work all seem to be burring me. 

Reaching boiling point

She stirs occasionally

So close to spilling

My dad told me just to keep everything on the boil, stir occasionally and eventually some pots can come off the stove. You don’t always have to be on top of everything, sometimes just keeping everything from spilling is an achievement. 

Timing – Day 116 – Plane

I thought of this little story on the plane home to Brisbane today.

I sat next to an old man on the plane. He said the secret to being happy was to time everything to perfection. I shut my eyes and only awoke when his head drooped onto my shoulder. I checked his pulse as the plane plummeted.    

Quaff – Day 115 – Meadhbh

My Melbourne friend Meadhbh gave me a good word today: Quaff. I thought of some other good eating words (as eating is all I have been doing in Melbourne) and came up with this:

She quaffed fads, guzzled self help and wolfed down make up when just nibbling on a few words exchanged between friends would have filled her right up.

Little Tiny – Day 113 – Andrew Wright

My uncle gave me a prompt today: “Fluffy Bunny Slippers.” Written in my lunch break. 

Johnny had little tiny feet

And on those tiny feet were little tiny rabbits

And on those tiny rabbits were little tiny mouths

They squeaked little bits of guidance to little tiny Johnny

Told him where to put his little tiny feet

Now little tiny Johnny lives in a little tiny kingdom

A slave to the little tiny rabbit society

I guess not all mentors are good ones, rabbits especially.

On the Edge of Meaning – Day 110 – Meg Vann

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Today I was lucky enough to pin down the amazingly busy, multitalented networking exrtrodinaire, Meg Vann, for a quick meeting. As the CEO of the Queensland Writers Centre and an author herself I thought she would be a perfect mentor for Mentor March… And she was:

I asked her to explain one of her strengths in the hopes she could pass it on to me. Her answer was ridiculously simple and elegant: “curiosity.” She explained that the reason her writing is always improving and evolving is her curiosity because it leads her to experiment and question. By the same token, her natural curiosity about others has meant she is great at building relationships and connections. 

I made a mental note to always follow my curiosity and then asked her how she thought new writers improve. I was thrilled to hear that experimentation and exploring new publishing platforms were her top tips (I ticked them off in my mind). And then she told me “be a good literary citizen and you will have good publishing karma.” Eg. supporting other writers and being a helpful part of the writing community.

I suddenly felt that urgent feeling you get when you realise you’ve left the oven on. I’ve been so caught up with asking others for help and writing for myself that that I have completely neglected this aspect of being a writer. I made another mental note (this time in big red metaphorical letters to address this in next month’s theme). 

Lastly I asked for a story prompt and she gave me a devilishly tricky but fantastic prompt. She said “play with something on the edge of meaning, something readers can all interpret differently and read into individually.”

Well, it took me a few solid hours and a lot of staring at the screen to come up with something I was happy with. And that turned out to be nonsense: I decided to make up some of my own words so that you can imagine your own meanings and be part of creating the story. 

Ravenosity had got the better of her. She inhauled whole chaoters of brainfillers, but they weavled their way inside and laid sparkpods in her extrapolatory. They grew into huge solidicals that gunked up her percepilators. Now she pictuments differently; defracted forever but able to unmuck new jointuns.

To find out more about Meg, please go to: http://wp.me/oBwP

The Sound of Boredom – Day 107 – Cinnamon

Cinnamon gave me “the sound of boredom” 

Horace considers himself an amateur recluse. He wanted to be a professional recluse, but that would imply he was staying in to perfect a fine art. Instead he stayed in to avoid people. Occasionally, he would play the trumpet to ease the boredom. He didn’t want to get lessons, so he taught himself.

During his practice sessions the villagers would sidle up to the windows and listen. Word spread quickly and he acquired a cult following. Bus loads of people would turn up in the hopes of hearing him through the walls.

Horace was becoming increasingly confused. He wanted to ask them why they were coming? It couldn’t be to to hear his random toots (he still hadn’t got past Trumpet for beginners on YouTube). Eventually he worked up the courage to ask the growing crowd. It turned out they thought he was recluse musician, pioneering a new genre of abstract jazz.

Beastudents – Day 105 – Courtney

The beast lolloped through toward her. Anxiety wept from its pores spilling onto the carpet and the stink of desperation filled the foyer. It lifted a paw to bat away the stray concepts buzzing around its head. She held her breath as it came to a stop in front of her desk.

“I’ve lost my references,” it howled.

“Take a seat,” she said calmly opening tabs like shields and drawing up the database like a sword.

Librarians are highly skilled when it comes to taming wild students. 

I decided to ask a Librarian for a prompt, given they are the guardians of thousands of stories. At first, like most people she drew a blank. But soon she came up with “meltdown & students,” laughing and explaining they get a lot of that at the help desk. 

Patience – Day 103 – Sue Wright

“Patience” is today’s prompt as given to me by my mentor and mum Sue Wright. She said a mentor of hers taught her the art of patience. 

Scars and a docked tail etched the dog’s upbringing onto it’s body. The woman read the story as she watched it’s small frame quaking in the corner of the room. 

From that night onward their routine was set, always staring cautiously from opposite corners. The woman never cracked but eventually the dog inched closer. Each night he would settle himself just a margin closer to her than the last.

Now the two are old. They’ve never touched, but the dog follows by her side wherever she goes. 

Essential Existence – Day 102 – Pamela Wright

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In the spirit of mentor march I decided to ask my nanna for some words. She is the fastest reader on the planet, and loves stories. She gave me “essential existence.”

The boy’s racking cough echoed through the ward. Pamela tried to hide her shaking hands as she hooked him up to an air mask. Her first week at the hospital was not proving easy. Tears were welling in the mother’s eyes.

“Is he going to be alright?”

“Yes, 90% of our patients are pollution sufferers.” Pam replied trying to sound reassuring. “Most people just need a few hours break in the air bar.”

“I should have worked that overtime,” the mother said. “I could have gotten him more bottles of essential existence.”

“Mum, we needed the money for food,” said the boy. “Please don’t cry.”

Pam watched the two embrace, and thought about her own family. Her parents had paid for an in-home Essential Existence air system. But working in the emergency ward she could see most people were not so lucky.

Pam looked out the window. The smog was fairly sparse today, she could almost see the Essential Existence office in the next street.

“I’l be right back,” Pam said.

She hurried to the staff room, flung open her locker and emptied it of bottled Essential Existence. They deserved it more than she did. It wasn’t a smart solution but it was the only thing that would make this day bearable.

Hero – Day 100 – Rob Walz

It’s my 100th story today! It was somewhat anticlimactic to write it at work in my lunch break. Thanks to my boss Rob who I asked to give me two words for my story- he replied “super hero.”

He gave me 100 days to live. I spent the first 99 wallowing, with only movies for company. Reality was distant and the characters became my teachers. 

On the last day, I decided to live out a childhood dream. I’d already regressed this far, so why not? 

Armed with only a costume and a wasted body I hit the streets looking for a damsel in distress. Unfortunately I only found a drunk old man. As I heroically saved him from his own vomit, I heard a voice.

“Hey, poofta!”

I woke up in hospital the next day, to the sound of a TV news report. 

“The city’s superhero is said to be in a stable condition.”

A picture of me in my hand sewn superhero onesie stared back at me from the screen. I’d made it. I’d lived past the hundred days the palm reader had given me, and now I was a bonefide superhero as well.

Rain – Day 99 – Matt Hsu

Prompt: (unfortunately not from a stranger today) “with all these musical gifts passed on to me…” 

With all these musical gifts passed on to me, I decided to lock them up.

I saved them for a rainy day. 

So when it poured; music would rush through the gutters.

It would soak into people’s clothes,

And stain their vision so they didn’t see the rain anymore.

Delightful Sunshine – Day 98 – Sales Assistant

I bought a new bag today, after I’d paid I asked the girl for two words to write today’s story. It wasn’t even scary at all. She said ‘delightful’ and ‘sunshine’. 

The Sun was tired of burning. It itched and the noise was distracting. Alone and angry at the universe, it spent most of its time spitting flames at passing rocks. One day, a neighbouring star told the Sun that thousands of tiny creatures depended on those flames. As it thought about this the burning cooled and the itch stopped. The Sun renamed the flames ‘sunshine’.

Zombie Town – Day 97 – Bus Stranger

*WARNING NOT A ZOMBIE STORY*

Yesterday a woman sat down next to me on the bus and started a polite conversation. As it went along a thought hit me, I could ask this stranger for an idea. There was a lull in conversation: this was my chance. And I don’t know if it was because I’m introverted or shy or lazy, but I said nothing.

The longer I left it, the more my mouth felt as if it was glued shut. I found myself repeating my starting line over and over in my head. Then finally, I spat it out and asking was easy. She turned out to be a creative writing teacher for people with mental health problems, so I’ve taken that as my prompt. 

It was as if the city had been sleeping for years and had just woken up. The nightmare had been violent and the memories were still vivid. Peace felt surreal and people wandered aimlessly through its streets looking for lost loved ones. Tourists labelled it the “zombie town”, scared of its tortured citizens. 

So the Mayor bought paper in bulk and ordered every person to spill their thoughts onto it. Then she folded them up and posted them across the world, so their burden could be shared.

The zombie town was no more. The people felt understood and their problems seemed distant. 

Echoes – Day 96 – Tanwyn

Tanwyn posted a link to “20 Terrifying 2 Sentence Horror Stories” on my facebook the other day (http://www.mandatory.com/2014/02/21/20-terrifying-two-sentence-horror-stories/). 

I think my favourite was no. 13 from JustAnotherMuffledVo:

I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, “Daddy, check for monsters under my bed.” I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering, “Daddy, there’s somebody on my bed.”

So I decided to use these stories and writers as my inspiration/mentors and write my own 2 sentence horror today.

My profanity echoes around the lift as it shudders, stuck between floors. I lean against its mirrored wall in frustration and feel a cold hand grasp mine as my reflection smiles back at me.

A Few Words – Day 95 – The great dancer

Alright, throwback to India. During the wedding, we met this young girl (probably a future Bollywood star) who translated for us, taught us to dance and explained the Punjab customs. She was such a fantastic cultural guide, without her we would have been lost, so this story is about her.

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Even though the crowd surrounded her, she was an outsider. Everything from the colour of her skin to the way she moved gave her away. Feeling a fraud, she copied their moves awkwardly.

Then a pair of eyes from the crowd caught her own, and she knew they understood. With a few explanations and a bit of encouragement, she didn’t feel a fraud anymore. 

Elusive Teacher – Day 94 – Teachers

It’s the first day of mentor march! (I think I’ll need it given yesterday’s post) 

I really want you guys to teach me some lessons- is there something you know well that you can pass on to me? For now though I’ll just write about a teacher.

There were rumours he was the best teacher in the city. He was patient, had a wicked sense of humour and his students never forgot what they learnt. But he only taught a select few and was incredibly elusive. 

After months of letter writing and missed calls, I finally tracked him down and convinced him to give me 10 minutes of his time. His office was papered with long letters from students explaining complicated concepts in depth. Each letter seemed to be under a different heading. I asked him what they were but he was silent. He lead me to one of the notes on his wall, under the heading ‘You’. 

It read: 

I have a rare condition which means once I explain something, I forget it myself. These walls are my memories. I have a few things left to teach, but you must listen carefully as I will need you to explain it back to me as soon as I tell it to you, or the information will be lost forever. 

Desert – Day 93 – My Fears

Last day of fear Feb- so I’m gonna write about something that’s scaring me right now.

Her mind was an arid desert and thoughts slipped through her fingers like sand. She’d walked for months. She was sure she was making progress, but when she looked back she could still see her house. Her destination was so far away it was hidden by the horizon. Her optimism was fading like the sun.

She sat down in the sand and imagined the day when her supplies would run dry and her people would stop caring. It seemed inevitable on such a long journey. In fact she couldn’t believe they’d supported her this far. She was a fraud, and she would fail them in the end. 

India – Days 80 to 90 – India

So just finished typing up all the stories from India and uploading the pictures here they are. Just a quick note before you read- I went to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Alsisar and finally to a small village in Punjab for a friends wedding. 

Day 80 (15th Feb)

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On the first day we got into Delhi I completely forgot to take a picture of me with my story. My senses were overloaded as I ventured into the streets in a tuk tuk (pictured above- my face says it all). In retrospect, I think this goes with my story better anyway.

Following the crowd

Laying her belongings bare

Yonder an unknown world culture

Inside, a globalised no-man’s land full of loud carpet and duty free

Nothing sleeps; the days seem endless

Gathering her things, she leaves cultural ambiguity behind and is hit by the force the city

Day 81 (16th Feb)

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On this day I came to terms with the traffic as we made our way through Delhi and to the mini Taj.

Electric spider webs hung above his head and screeching noises pressed in on his ears. He took a deep breath of thick haze.

Colin, the Office Safety Manager, was experiencing his own personal nightmare as he looked out at the 16 lane mess of Delhi.

“Come sir, very safe,” the rickshaw driver was prompting him.

Colin had no choice. He dived into the sea of traffic and found if he didn’t struggle against the current it took him exactly where he wanted to go.

As every type of wheeled object whizzed past, he thought about his pages of rules and fine print at home. It suddenly seemed meaningless.

Day 82 (17th Feb)

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After seeing all these amazing monuments and temples and hearing the stories behind them it was impossible to resist trying to write my own story about a fake monument.

Sinda loved to laugh, though her mother told her not to, as it would spoil her perfect face with wrinkles. In fact most people in the village regarded her as the most beautiful girl in the kingdom. They told her it was a blessing, because she could capture the heart of a wealthy man.

Sure enough, one day King Vijay visited the village. He had heard of Sinda’s beauty and wanted it for his own. Determined to wed her, he asked her what she liked best.

“Laughing,” Sinda replied.

And so it was decided that Sinda would marry Vijay if he could make her laugh. Just a few months later, Vijay returned to collect her. He had built a temple for her in the city that he thought would make her laugh.

As she was escorted in, Sinda saw that shelves stuck out from every surface. They held small pots filled with different laughs. She opened a few and found a range guffaws, cackles, titters, giggles and wheezing. A smile spread across Sinda’s face and her laughter echoed around the chambers confirming the marriage.

Sinda did her best to be a good queen but she noticed that her people were unhappy. They had short tempers and never smiled at her. She payed for festivals and theatres to cheer them up but nothing helped.

Despairing, she took a small group into her laughter temple. They glared at her. She opened laugh after laugh and still they glared.

“Vijay took them from us,” said one, “why do you taunt us so?”

And suddenly Sinda realised why no one ever laughed.

Now the temple is a monument. A bowl sits at the centre and anyone who opens it can hear Vijay’s laugh. Thousands come from all around to hear it, and pay their respects to Queen Sinda who opened the temple to the people and returned laughter to the city.

Day 83 (18th Feb)

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Our lovely tour guide Yusuf gave me today’s prompt. He had told us an amazing story about his own arranged marriage and told me to write my own story about an arranged marriage.

Note* Astrology is incredibly important to Hindu’s so much so that they don’t marry if their star signs are not a good match.

They grew up together, and she had hopes they’d grow old together too. But he was engaged to another against his will. So she left the village and vowed never to enter an arranged marriage.

Soon enough her family called her back. Her mother was ill. Reluctantly she returned to find her mother looking perfectly well and clutching a photo of a man. Without looking, she tore up the photo and ran.

He found her in a neighbouring village. Childhood friends reunited. He told her how he had bribed the astrologer and gotten out of the engagement. Then handed her the torn photo. She pieced it together. It was him.

Day 84 (19th Feb)

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Two boys

Arm in arm

Became two warriors

Two husbands

Two fathers

Two leaders

And still they walk arm in arm

 

One day when war was upon them

They led a march to a strange land

Arm in arm

 

The strangers laughed

And told them they were not men

Because they walked arm in arm

So they challenged the strangers to a duel

 

And now the strange land is called home

And the mark of a fierce warrior is to march

Arm in arm

I saw so many men and little boys walking with their arms around each other as they chatted. It made me wonder why in Australia we would be so scared of this, it didn’t threaten anyone’s masculinity in India, why should it here?

Day 85 (20th Feb)

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I was quite stuck on this day, so I came up with this eventually.

Once there was a great story teller. The king heard about her and asked her to tell him the best story in the world.

So he sent her on a trip across the kingdom for inspiration. It was very different to her life back home where she worked tirelessly on her family’s farm and told tall tales for fun. She visited palaces, tasted the finest spices and met the richest people.

But the fear had set in and when she returned to the palace she had nothing. Desperately she cobbled together a story and told it to the king. But he just yawned, and asked the guards to imprison her.

In the years that followed something amazing happened. With nothing to look at but a stone wall, the story teller imagined the most epic tale. They say it took her a year to tell it to the guards, who were so impressed that they let her walk free. Unfortunately the king was so angry to find her cell empty that he executed the guards and never got to hear the greatest story in the world.

Day 86 (21st Feb)

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My sari for the wedding arrived on this day, so I wrote about a magical sari.

The princess had been told she was ugly by her father many times. At 15 when her mother died, she gave her a magical Sari. When she put it on, her features became beautiful and her figure looked perfect.

A year later her father passed away and being an only child she became Queen. She tried her utmost to rule fairly and wore the sari every day, concerned that if she didn’t her people would dislike her, just like her father.

But one day as she dried the Sari by the fire, a loose ember found its way to the silk. The sari was reduced to a small heap of ashes in seconds.

She faced the people that day, convinced that they would see her for what she truly was. But no-one blinked an eye. When she returned home for the day, she looked through her mother’s letters searching for answers.

She found a note from a tailor addressed to her mother that read:

I have made the Sari you asked for, it has been enchanted so that whoever wears it will see themselves as others do.

 

Day 87 (22nd Feb)

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Piles of plastic wrappers line the streets in India but I didn’t get a chance to take a photo near one so I went with the opposite. In this photo I am on a farm in rural Punjab, behind me is a gorgeous field of mustard.

Uncontainable

Suffocating the landscape

Dependant, I feed the beast

Day 88 (23rd Feb)

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Thousands of arms and legs pound the floor as the dragon moves. Carried in its clutches I struggle to break free but it’s futile. It walks across its carpet of treasure fiercely beating its chest. Its scales are blindingly sparkling and bright, and its breath is hot and spicy.

The dragon swallows me whole and I find that in fact it is warm and friendly inside. It is only fierce because it is proud, the scales are intricate and beautiful and its breath is new and fresh.

This story is a bit abstract but it is based on the wedding. Sikh weddings are quite intense, the crowd was huge (850 people) and they throw money on the ground (which gave me the dragon idea). There are drums everywhere, sparkles on everything, and the food is spicy. At first it was too overwhelming, but once I adjusted I found it was really fun and very interesting.

Day 89 (24th Feb)

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I stayed with a gorgeous family on a farm for the wedding, and I was terrified of being an ungrateful, culturally unaware guest

I fear disappointing others.

I fear being rude.

I fear embarrassment.

So I dance until I fear collapse.

Eat until I fear illness

And get involved until I fear losing myself

Day 90 (25th Feb)

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As an Australian in a small village in Punjab- expect to be treated a little like royalty or a doll. It was quite bizarre and inspired to think about how a doll might feel. I wrote this on the plane from Delhi to Singapore- sorry the photo is so dark.

Once there was a doll. She was dragged around everywhere, showed off to strangers and locked away at the end of every day. So one night, she escaped. She didn’t want to be an object anymore.

Going Home – Day 91 – India Final Day

I just got home! I’m quite jet-lagged so I’ll catch up with uploading my stories from India tomorrow. Here is today’s though! The photo is of my hands after getting Henna from the lovely family I stayed with.Image

She’d explored abandoned palaces hidden in dust

Communicated in foreign tongue and dance

Weaved through chaos

And tattooed the tale on her hands

For she feared when she got home

The knowledge would vanish

And the memories would become empty anecdotes

Dredged up only to impress others at parties

 

Dream Farming – Day 79 – Matt Hsu

The phrase ‘Dream Farming’ came up in conversation this morning, so that’s what today’s prompt is. I am going to India in a few hours so this will be the last story I upload for 2 weeks. I’ll still be writing, and will take a photo of me and my story wherever I am on my travels to upload when I get back. See you soon!

The giant bags under her eyes looked as though they were carrying her guilt. The past year had been hard for Rosie. She was a dream farmer by birth. It was a meticulous craft only mastered by the finest artists. Her grandmother had taught her how to produce the finest quality crops. They had been the most prosperous farm in the district.

Imagination and ambition grew in excess on earth back then, but last year had been so barren Rosie’s crops had spoilt. She had scraped through the year by selling off the nightmares to a dodgy looking spirit.

Rosie had never imagined she would be in the nightmare industry. Wild nightmares would creep in through her windows at night and she would dream of the poor restless humans who had been given her spoilt crop.  

One night, after a particularly haunting nightmare involving her grandmother, Rosie decided she had to change things. She forced herself to write down hundreds of cheerful and wondrous thoughts. It was slow work at first, but eventually they came naturally. She cut them up and planted each one in the rotation cloud beds.

To her surprise they began to grow. Word slowly spread, and rich spirits began to flock the farm, bidding ridiculous prices. Rosie took the highest bid and used the money to run classes for the neighbouring farmers. The more farmers she taught, the easier it was to farm good dreams. And the more good dreams they sold to earth, the easier it was to find imagination and ambition. 

Speech – Day 78 – Embarrassment

The conversation I imagine goes on in my body as I begin a speech.

“Sir? We’re losing her. Her eyes are glazing over.”

“Alright, administer shot of adrenaline.”

“Administering shot.”

“Dilate the Blood vessels.”

“Blood flowing.”

“It’s spreading.Repeat, the blush is spreading from neck to face.”

“Perfect, that should help her through the speech.”

“Anything else we can do sir? Quivering hands? Constrict the throat? Press on the bladder”

“Good thinking, we’ve saved her.”

Confession – Day 75 – Religion

The words in brackets explain what the phobia is of (eg. theophobic- fear of religion)

 

I’m having Theophobic (religion) thoughts.  

I can’t stop thinking about the power religion wields.

I see it breed homophobia,

Promote gynophobia (women),

Grow Hedonophobia (pleasure),

Nurture Epistemophobia (knowledge),

And generate Cenophobia (new things).

Perhaps it is born from Eleutherophobia (freedom);

Our need to have rules and guidance.

Maybe I need to rid myself of Optophobia (opening one’s eyes)

And take a look at the positive side.

Fear – Day 73 – Election

I had incredible writers block today but finally extracted this. I then slipped it in with my ballot paper today whilst voting in the by-election.

The people were divided. They were taught to fear each other. They got their information from leaders who feared honesty and reporters who feared low ratings. Strangers from across the water were locked up, new sources of energy were ignored, and people who loved regardless of gender were shunned. They were offered a chance to change things. But familiarity always won and so things stayed the same.  

Home – Day 71 – Alex’s found photos

Another photo. Another story. And some more fear. Image

 

Sarah,

I cleaned out dad’s house today. It was eerie being back. Vera still lives next door. She’s not as creepy as I remember her being. She gave me this photo of the place from when we were kids ‘to remember happier times’. It still looks the same. Do you remember we used to call it ‘the asylum’?

x James

Neil – Day 70 – Alex’s found photos

Alex, a friend I made at the National Young Writers Fest last year, posted me an envelope full of photos she found in a book shop the other day to use as prompts. This is the first photo and the first story:

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Neil holds his fear in his hand. The tiny picture makes his insides feel empty; a clash of anxiety and nostalgia. He remembers climbing onto the fence and smiling at the camera. He tries recalling the carefree attitude he had at the time, but the moment is now so far away. It had been the last time his family was together, after that he was forced to grow up fast. He feels cheated, but then he has an idea. He walks out of the nursing home and climbs the patio banister.

“What are you doing up there?” a nurse asks him.

“I thought it might be fun,” Neil answers.

 He smiles, and it’s the same smile he remembers donning all those years ago. 

Contained – Day 69 – Kait

There is no escape.

They cling to friends and family.

Small and inconspicuous.

Lined up in army-like rows.

Staying close to the chest.

Right by the heart.

They seal you in.

Fiddly and frustrating.

I cannot escape buttons.

 

‘The fear of buttons’ donated by Kait Moncrieff. 

Boat – Day 60 – Why am I doing nothing for my country?

I’ve been pretty ill today again so today’s was written in a fever fuelled haze. Michael tweeted me: ‘why am I doing nothing for my country’. Thought it was apt for Straya day so I put it on a paper boat and sent it down the Brisbane river.

I’m quite certain this boat will get lost. 

That’s how I voice my opinions.

Quiet, small, symbolic. 

I don’t believe in turning back those in need.

Or choosing a day of invasion as a national celebration.

But I do nothing. 

Because just like the water, the answers are muddy.

And the journey seems long, arduous and uncertain.

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