Category Archives: Writing Exercise

Taking Back Sunday

It’s one of those nights when I don’t really feel like going to bed. I suppose having a laptop and being able to sit comfortably on the couch with technology at my fingertips doesn’t help.

So I decided to write a story. Haven’t done that in a while. Don’t expect much, it kind of sucks. A lot. And I use a naughty word. And I’m not taking the time to read it over. Or edit it. But it’s a story.

Continue reading Taking Back Sunday

Will there come a day when I like myself again?

You want to change the world but the world won’t change for you.

I wake up in the morning and wonder where I am. Come to my senses try to put my best face on. It’s not so easy before the sun rises. I’ve got to make an impression, got to be the one all the boys want. That’s what I’m talking about. You say it’s not true, but you don’t know the way they look at you. That look can mean so much, it can be everything.

You find the clothes that look best today. Whatever happened to my favorite pair of jeans, that comfy sweater that reminds you of rainy Saturdays and Monopoly? That doesn’t cut it any more. I dress with my back to the mirror, not wanting to know the latest. Maybe tonight I’ll be in better shape to face the music. I know what the magazines say, but my body doesn’t want to cooperate on Monday mornings. You wouldn’t cooperate either if you had to get up this early, with this little sleep, with this much to do.

By the time I walk out the door, I wonder if I’m really myself. I don’t listen to my mother’s makeup advice anymore. Nobody does. Someone from New York whom I’ve never met tells me how’s it done. That’s who everyone at school listens to, and I do the same. Once upon a time it was normal to be yourself. But no one’s interested in this self anymore. So I do what I can, I try my best to make myself presentable, acceptable, likable, lovable.

I never quite know if it works, if I can manage to pull the wool over their eyes, over my own eyes. Sometimes I just pretend it works, and ignore the fact that my pants are too loose or too baggy, that my shirt is too tight or not tight enough, showing too much cleavage or not enough, showing enough of my stomach or not enough. Sometimes I pretend my thighs are slim and my stomach is taunt and my breasts are just right. Sometimes I don’t give a shit.

Sometimes as I walk to the bus stop I wonder if I’ll ever look in the mirror and see myself again. I wonder if on the other side of the adolescent jungle is something worthwhile. I wonder if adults go through the same self-flagellation, or if we grow past this pathetic phase of gratifying total strangers and jilted popularity mongers.

Will there come a day when I like myself again?

Class Discussion

Rollins scratched his head. He always scratched his head when he thought about a big problem. His mom said all that head-scratching would give him a bald spot. Rollins would look up, scratch his head, and say that he though bald spots were distinguished looking. All the important people had them. Except Einstein. He had the opposite of a bald spot.

Today Rollins’ mind chewed on a problem his teacher has presented to the class. Every day Mr. Doyle reads the front page of the newspaper to the class, and they discuss the news. Today the news was about United States threatening to attack other countries that were a threat to world peace. Or that was the story as Mr. Doyle summarized it. Apparently there’s a country called Iraq with a leader named Saddam who’s not a very nice guy. This Saddam likes to hurt people, and he gives money to terrorists, and he likes to buy nasty weapons that he shouldn’t have. That was how Sally summarized the story during the discussion. Most of the class agreed that Saddam was a big meanie and that the United States should protect the world from the big bully.

Rollins agreed that this Saddam character wasn’t the nicest guy on the block. He sounded like the bullies that pushed kids into puddles on the playground. Only worse. But Rollins wondered what would happen if the United States attacked Iraq. Attacking another country isn’t exactly like pushing a bully back–and that’s no easy proposition. And if the U.S. attacks Iraq, Rollins thought, aren’t we being just like the bully, only a bigger bully?

Rollins rarely ever asks questions in class, mainly because his stomach gets all queasy when everyone looks at him. Rollins doesn’t care for the pressure. And he usually didn’t have any questions. But today he couldn’t help wondering if the U.S. was just being a bigger bully. After all, he reasoned, what if a bigger country came along and didn’t like the way we did things and wanted to attack us?

Some of the kids laughed, and a Jacob reminded Rollins that there is no bigger country. Jacob, of course, didn’t raise his hand before talking. Then Mr. Doyle stepped in. He walked over to Jacob’s desk and took his pencil.


“Hey,” Jacob cried, “That’s my pencil.”

“Yep,” said Mr. Doyle, “And I’m taking it. I’m bigger than you, so I can do what I want.” He paused a moment while Jacob reflected on that. “Rollins has a point. Just because we’re the biggest country in the world, doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want. We still have to be accountable for our actions. Can anybody tell me what that means?”

Sally answered, and Mr. Doyle continued talking while Rollins started reading the article from the paper. Most of the time the class didn’t read the article, Mr. Doyle would just summarize it and the discussion would start from there.

“Mr. Doyle?” Rollins asked without looking up from the paper. “This article says that Saddam used chemical weapons on his own people.”

“That’s right, Rollins. Mr. Hussein used chemical gasses to kill some of the people in his own country. As we’ve discussed before, he isn’t a very nice guy and something needs to be done about it. As Rollins pointed out, attacking his country may not be the best solution. Can anyone think of a better solution?”

Before anyone could answer Rollins spoke up, “Mr. Doyle? The article also says where Saddam got those chemical weapons.”

“Probably from terrorists,” said Jacob.

“I bet he got them from Russia,” said Donny.

“He made them himself,” a girl in the back said.

“No,” Rollins said, “Saddam got the chemical weapons from us.”

Writing Exercise #7

“Hi, God, it’s me Rollins,” the boy started. He figured God would know it was him anyway, but it wouldn’t hurt to give a little reminder. “How are you doing today?” Rollins also figured that God had to listen to enough problems, maybe he wanted people to ask him about his day.

Not bad, kid, not bad. There’s been some ups and downs, but I knew they were coming.

“I suppose,” Rollins replied, mulling God’s response over, “That kind of comes with the job, doesn’t it?”

You’re a bright kid.

It’s not every day that the Creator of the world says you’re smart, and Rollins couldn’t help smiling. He stopped for a second and toed the ground with his sneaker, then kept walking toward the bus stop. Rollins always talked to God on the way to school. He didn’t actually talk out loud, he just whispered quietly, and if anyone was nearby he just talked in his mind. He figured God would hear him either way.

“So I have this question,” Rollins started, a little unsure of how to start.

I know.

“I suppose you would know my question, wouldn’t you, being God and all?”


“Then what do you think?” Rollins asked, quickly moving past the actual asking of the question.

I think deep down inside your mom loves you very much, Rollins. In fact, I know she does. But she has a lot of stress in her life. She has a lot of distractions. And sometimes, Rollins, she forgets. She tries to do the best she can for you, I know she’s trying. But she’s not exactly the successful type.

“Can’t you make her successful? That’d make things a whole lot easier. Then she wouldn’t be so distracted,” Rollins suggested, wondering if it could really be that easy.

I certainly could do that, Rollins.

“But you’re not going to, are you?” Rollins asked, quickly seeing that it wouldn’t be that easy.

No, I’m sorry. It won’t be that easy, and I’m afraid things are going to have to get worse before they get better for you, Rollins. I have a lot of spectacular plans for you, but you’re not going to like some of them. Especially when you’re in the midst of them. But that’s the way it has to be.

“That’s the way it has to be?” Rollins asked.


“I suppose you’d know, wouldn’t you?” Rollins asked again.

Yes, Rollins, I would know. I appreciate that you acknowledge that. So many people call me God, but then treat me like a magic genie.

“That’s kind of silly,” Rollins said, smiling in spite of himself.

Yeah, it is, isn’t it?

Writing Exercise #6:

“Danielle,” she said, and walked away, adjusting the grocery bags in her arms. A celery stalk and the end of a loaf of French bread were sticking out the top of the bag, just like you see in the movies or staged ads. A child followed behind–a girl, probably only two and a half or three. Danielle took long strides, and the child had to hurry to keep up. She kept looking over her shoulder to make sure the child was still coming, and not distracted by a dandelion or a stray cat.

But for now I was the distraction. The strange man that held the door open. The child kept turning to gaze back at me, and I could see her deep brown eyes from half a block away. She had light brown skin and bouncing curls that she got from her fair-skinned mother. But the child smiled, something I could only guess she got from her father.

Writing Exercise #5

He was a sharp dressed man. But apparently someone didn’t think so. He threw the door open and stormed off towards his car, not really caring what the people in the lobby thought. Jared just didn’t think it was right to tell someone that they weren’t dressed appropriately.

Style. It’s all about style. And who’s idea of style. Jared thought of himself as a stylish guy. He liked to wear sports jackets, not like the cheap salesmen at the electronics store, or the irritating guys down at the sports bar who thought that somehow the addition of a sports jacket meant they were dressed up. Those were the kinds of guys who would put a sports jacket on over a stained sweater and think they were dressed to the teeth.

Not Jared. He wore a slick sports coat, pants that matched, a dark button down shirt, and for part of the day, a solid colored tie. After the lunch the office usually gets hot and the tie becomes a little too much. Jared took off the tie, gave himself the once over in the men’s room and decided he still looked more than professional.

But that’s not what Mr. Hodgson thought. Mr. Hodgson is the manager in Jared’s section. He’s the kind of guy who likes to give the impression of being loose and fun and easy to get along with. But in reality he’s just like the guys who hang out at the sports bar and try to pick up women. He’s big on impression and small on actual substance. He worries more about whether or not Jared’s dress slacks are pleated than whether or not Jared’s customers are happy, which they almost always are.

Jared fished the keys out of his pocket, unlocked the door and slumped behind the wheel. He slammed the door and wondered for a second if he should quit his job. He was being sent home to change his clothes, with the idea that he’d come back for the rest of his shift. But Jared had other ideas. You don’t send someone home at 1:45 and expect them to come back to work. That’s exactly the kind of thing Mr. Hodgson would want you think he’d approve of, but in reality, he’d heavily frown on that kind of the thing. A big, thick frown, full of frustration and sour milk and a rainy Saturday. Not exactly the kind of frown you want to run into when you’re walking around a corner.

Jared started the car and took off down Theodore Avenue, wondering if maybe he should pick up a paper and check out the Want Ads, just to see. Just to toy with the notion of seeing what’s available and who’s hiring who. Jared was the kind of guy who would quit his job at a moment’s notice and not really care. Now Allison would probably kill him, but Alice worried about things like that. She didn’t really care for change. Her idea of change was trying out six outfits in morning. But she always left with one she was satisfied with, and it would seem silly to her to want to change in the middle of the day. Jared, on the other hand, usually kept a few extra ties in his desk in case he got tired of one and wanted to switch to another. Not only did it satisfy his spontaneous desire to dress a certain way, but it really confused his coworkers. Jared liked to do that. Keep people guessing.

That’s why this dress code stuff was crap. There’s no spontaneity when they tell you what you can and can’t wear. How are you supposed to have style when everyone’s walking around like a fourth grade boarding school with the same ties, starched shirts, and pleated pants. Jared hated pleats.

Writing Exercise #4:

“He’s suck a jerk,” Amy said, looking to the ground with that pouty face. God, she can be so much sometimes.

“He’s a jerk? Do you remember when you used to follow him around? You had his schedule memorized, didn’t you?” I started. “You know, I think they classify that as stalking today.”

She didn’t say anything at first. She always knows I’m right but never likes to admit it. So she’s stubborn. So is every 17-year-old girl.

“So what if I did,” she retorted, still practicing that lip curl, “People change. And he became a jerk.”

“Yeah, people do change,” I said. She knew where this was going. “You changed. I remember in eighth grade when you were having a slumber party and you all got up at some ungodly hour to make chocolate chip cookies. But rather than actually bake the cookies, you just ate the cookie dough. Do you have any idea how many calories are in one bite of chocolate chip cookie dough?”

Amy only glared at me. Her lip curl was turning to a snarl.

“Of course you do, you’re the anorexic queen, what was I thinking.”

“Oh fuck you,” she snarled.

“Yeah, I get that a lot.” I said with a smile. I can have such an annoying charm sometimes.

“So what if I changed. We’re not talking about me. We’re talking about him. About Aaron.” At least she was making sense now.

“Yes, we are talking about Aaron. Does it really upset you that much?”

“Well, isn’t he supposed to like me no matter what? Isn’t that what boyfriends do? He only wants my body, why should he care whether I eat or not?” she asked.

“You have a point there. I won’t try to defend the fact that he thinks with is crotch.”

“Why do all guys do that?” she asked, finally looking me in the eye.

“They don’t. A lot do, but you’re incriminating all of us. And that’s not really fair.”

“Who cares about fair? He dumped me because I’m fat.” Her eyes fell to the floor again.

“You weigh 92 pounds.”

“Look at me, I’m fat.” She huffed, finally throwing herself onto the nearby couch.

“You’re as fat as a bean sprout. I bet the scarecrows are jealous. Do you just suck up the schtick they feed you in those fashion magazines? Don’t you have a brain?”

“You’re so heartless.” Red hot tears of anger were beginning to well in her eyes.

“If I was heartless I’d be off with Aaron, thinking with my crotch.” She finally quieted for a moment, and I let the silence linger. I can only push her so hard.

“It’s just that I try so hard. But nothing ever works.” She mumbled between sobs. “And you want me to still like this guy after what he did? You’re so fucked up.” The silence lingered again.

“First of all, you’re the one that’s fucked up, remember?” I reminded her, as gently as I could. The reminder slowly sunk in and her swelling anger quelled. She didn’t say anything.

“Secondly, I’m not asking you to like him. He is a jerk. You’re not required to like jerks.” A faint smile appeared at the corners of her mouth. She likes it when I admit she’s right, even if it’s only in so many words.

“But you are required to love him.”