Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

Shut Up and Write!

A few weeks ago, I joined an experiment. A team of us got together to write a story, with each person responsible for a different part of the story. The first writer would send the first and last sentence of what he wrote to the rest of the team. The second would send the last sentence of what he wrote. The third would follow the pattern of the third, after which I would be responsible for writing the final part.

The sentences I had to work with were vivid, including a fedora, clocks that spoke, and even the name of a bordello employee. I tried my best to add to the liveliness in my part of the story, bringing in a monkey named Butler with a fedora of his own. When the story was read at a dinner party a couple weeks ago, the result was surprisingly cohesive, if not exactly uniform.

A by-product of the evening was a throw-away comment by the host about a group called “Shut Up and Write!” on Meetup.com. I forget what she said, but it was in my mind a few days ago when they sent me an e-mail. I got curious and started browsing upcoming events and, noticing a “Shut Up and Write! East Bay” program on Monday, December 27, I signed up for another experiment.

The meetup was at The Beanery in Elmwood, so I decided to drive. When I arrived, S, the organizer and whose face I recognized from the web site, was waiting outside. The Beanery was closed, he told me, as he motioned to the dark cafe behind me with a “Closed” sign posted to its door. Thankfully, there was a Plan B: Espresso Roma was across the street. He suggested I head over while he waited to tell others about the change of plans.

I walked into Espresso Roma and ordered a hot cocoa. By the time my order arrived, S had arrived with A, a journalist working on a political piece about the Middle East. S, for his part, was working on novel based on a story he had written a few months earlier. A few minutes later, E arrived, and S introduced him to the group.

At this point, the writing began, and this became my first piece. The experiment continues as I figure out what to write next.

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