“I don’t think it’s fair that She offloaded this reviewing gig to us,” Sparky complained.
Enigma was scrolling through the eBook, paw on the track pad. “How ARE we supposed to review this? It’s not even the kind of book you have to read from front to back.”
Sparky peered at the screen with his beady little eyes. “1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, by Bryan Cohen,” he read aloud. “So it’s a book on how She’s supposed to write more, cept She’s not. Where do we start, Mi Mi?”
The cat grimaced. Mi Mi was her real name, but in the spirit of autonomy, she chose another. Still, it didn’t stop Sparky from using it when he wanted to annoy her. She came from a franchise of children’s toys. Her best pal the pig was rescued from a reject shop, so that could account for his occasional lack of class.
“From the beginning,” she decided, rolling the document back to the top. “There we go. Reviews. Praise for 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts (Volume 1) by Bryan Cohen. This book inspires me to write more… yadda yadda banana.”
Sparky giggled. “You think any of them actually read the whole thing? No, we need another strategy. This is a book of writing prompts, right?” He rested an arm on Enigma’s back and leaned in. “Tap the down button to the next part… there. The author Bryan Cohen explains why he put together a book of prompts. It’s because you won’t feel like starting from scratch if someone hands you a place to look.”
Enigma flexed a fore paw. “I won’t mind giving Someone a scratch if it’s going to get Her started on…”
Sparky scratched his feline friend soothingly behind an ear. She forgot about wanting to scratch anyone and purred.
“Let’s see what else this says,” suggested Sparky. “Scroll, scroll, scroll, stop.”
“How to write from prompts,” Enigma read. “Seriously, porkchop, he pulled all 1,000 ideas from his head and put it in this eBook, and made the prompts open ended so it can be used over and over. So it’s really 1,000 multiplied by infinity and nobody should run out of ideas.”
“Okay. So he gives an example here of how you can reuse the same prompt. We should try it out, Mi Mi!”
Enigma sighed. “How do you pick one prompt out of 1,000 when nobody really cares…”
“Pick a number between 1 and 1,000!”
“Six-six-six,” the cat said drily, and leaned on the track pad since her paw was still on it. They both watched words flying upwards for a few seconds. The 500′s rolled by and Enigma stopped leaning in favour of tapping until they reached the 600′s.
“Did you see that? There were sections. The prompts are divided into sections,” Sparky said. “I saw Holidays near the top but 666 is under a sub-category called ‘Writing’, which is under ‘Literature and Genre’.”
They both peered blankly at item 666:
How do other people affect your writing? Talk about how a different people in your life change your writing after you interact with them.
The cat was the first to shrug. “I won’t know. I’m a cat. You’re a pig. We’re just messing around.”
“I’ll pick a number. Um, forty-two.”
“All the way up again? Nice.”
“Sorry. But that’s the only significant number I can think of.”
“Sometimes I’d sit and wonder about 42. But it hurts my head.”
Sparky’s choice said:
42. You are visiting four thanksgivings in one weekend (a la “Four Christmases”). How do you eat all that food? Which one is the best? Who are these people you’re visiting?
“I’d take a spoon of everything, just a spoon, put it on my plate and eat it all,” decided Sparky. “Then I’d move on to the next house.”
“I’d just eat my fill at the first house and take a nap. Who cares about the other houses when one is sufficient?”
“Can we just pick another one and be done with it? All this talk of food is making me hungry.”
Enigma switched over to the browser and typed in random.org. “Let’s just make it fair and let a random number generator pick the last number,” she said.
The result box shows the figure 353. Enigma found the entry and they both stared at the prompt:
A body has been found and the dental records show it is your best friend. The parents have asked you to go and identify the body. Describe the experience.
After a pregnant silence, Enigma started laughing.
“What’s so funny?” asked Sparky. “That’s pretty grim!”
She stopped laughing. “Ok, Sparky, how would you write this?”
Performed at ‘Shades of Art, 9th Edition‘ at Bing! Green Heights, Jan 11.
Text of poem below the cut.
1. Canine Distemper
Had my heart broken in a new way first thing in January when I lost a rescue dog (Cider) to distemper despite everything. Blondie had distemper the last time I saw him; presumed dead. Daisy ran away from the distemper ward at the shelter and was seen alive in Kota Sentosa a few weeks later. Current status unknown. There’s been success stories in rescue through the year but these are the ones that will always make my heart ache.
2. An Introvert in Bali
Went on my first solo trip (KL doesn’t count). I spent a week in Ubud, Bali, soaking in the culture, arts, sights and pleasure of my own company. Immediately before that, I attended the wedding of an old friend in Penang.
3. Returned to my creative roots
Completed 3 creative projects comprising of:
- The Sketchbook Project 2012 – My Name is Girlie Tan (temporary link)
- Nanowrimo 2013 – The Mystery of Bahagia Park Theatre
- Three poems for Strong Words, including crowd pleaser – Skinny Girl
Current project – The Black Dogs of December (novel)
4. Phantom of the Opera
Went to see the most defining musical of all musicals. Turned out to be the only musical I saw this year. Still wish I grew up in an era where a career in musical theatre was not stuff of fantasies.
6. ‘Animals and the City’ international symposium
Attended my first conference. Voluntarily. Actually understood the subject matter and realise that I still a lot to learn. Met some pretty prominent figures in the veterinary and animal welfare field in the region.
7. Went to the dentist
This ranks as a pretty big milestone. Went in to because of a dead tooth. Ended up getting a root canal, and fillings after that. Didn’t cry. Can use full set of teeth now.
8. Bought a folding bicycle
Rode the folding bicycle around the city with one of my closest friends. Love it. Signing up for Let’s Share The Road 2014.
9. Grew out my hair
Yeah. The First Lady of Go Bald went long. Acquaintances don’t recognise me. And since my hair decided to grow out curly, sometimes I don’t recognise myself either. It’s cool though, especially when people keep complimenting me on the hair, asking where I got it done.
10. Did a lot of soul searching
Which comes naturally from embracing my introvert self, reminding myself that I am the average of the five people I spend the most time with, being unapologetic about my growing list of quirks, and learning to let go of destructive relationships and circumstances beyond my control.