Tonight we had the last Writers’ Circle meeting before Christmas. We planned our usual writing exercise for this time of year – a kind of writers’ ‘consequences’ – each person writing one paragraph of a single story. With nine of us in the room, we decided on passing our paragraphs a maximum of five times. But to add a bit more challenge, we were all given the same starting sentence, and had to include a different, randomly selected word each round.
So – nine writers – nine different styles, five different writers per story, each round just five minutes (seven for the last, time to wrap it up!). Then they were all read out. Steve laughed so much he could not see to read and passed his story to me. I started laughing so much I could barely read it either, especially when it came to the nose flying past the face after the carrot exploded. Perhaps everyone can write down their stories, so we can share more. But in the meantime, here’s a summary that sort of tells you how RWC ‘do’ Christmas…
On the 15th of December, thus wrote RWC…
Nine laughing writers
Six soft drinks (no alcohol needed!)
Five household chores
Four brutal murders
Three dead pets (we want to rename the group ‘The Dead Pets’ Society’)
Two prosthetic legs
One flying nose
And a mouse in a Christmas treeeeeeeee
Anyway, to give you an idea of how this mad exercise actually works, here’s the story that I started.
‘Twas the night before Christmas and the mouse was hiding. Fed up with being made to perform every night, he hid behind the Christmas tree and the star. He could hear his mother calling, “Alejandro!” but he ignored her and just hunkered down even further. The tree was lit by small twinkling lights that annoyed him. Sometimes they were yellow like the sun, or red like fire, or green like the tree. He liked the white ones a bit – they were calm and unpretentious. “Alejandro!” he almost jumped out of his skin.
Scurrying up the tree, he wove his way through the decorations, swinging on the tinsel, bouncing off a soft, portly Santa and eventually arriving at the very top. He peeped out behind the star and chuckled at the freshly shed carpet of tree needles he had created. The lady of the house would grumble at how easily these trees shed nowadays when she came into the living room in the morning. It was a very tall tree but it was nothing to a daredevil like Alejandro. He stood on his hind legs and surveyed the room.
But this year for the first time, Alejandro lost his footing on the top branch and was in danger of falling. The only way he could save himself was to wrap his tail around the angel’s left foot. What was more disconcerting was that he was now visible to the humans sitting around the cosy warm room drinking whisky and other drinks.
He was sitting sprawled in the chair, wearing the Christmas jumper depicting a jolly Santa laughing, hands on his belly. “Oh look Mabel, that tree’s swaying.”
“Oh Mabel, that angel’s got a pet dog on a lead.”
“Oh my god, Mabel. MABEL! The dog is pulling the angel off the tree!”
There was an enormous crack, a tiny squeak and a loud scream. Santa’s belly could be seen no more, the human was beneath the fallen tree. Alejandro ran.
Talk about complete chaos. When can we get the place tidied up? Think I’ll have a coffee just to see if it gives me a new lease of life. Do I hear singing in the distance; is it the church choir doing a bit of collecting for charity?
As you can see – nonsense, but imagine nine of these mad stories, including everything from a Santa does 50 Shades to spooky child murderers, and you get just a small insight into why the Royston Writers Circle is a great place to learn, to write, and to have fun.