Recently I took a writing workshop in Chicago called The Writer's Loft. It was a great experience, and though I didn't always agree with the theories presented, it was very informative and helpful, and gave me plenty to think about as I strive to improve my writing.
One of the lessons was on writer's block, and how to overcome it. I don't suffer from writer's block, I have the opposite problem. I have too many ideas and not enough time to write. Or really, if I'm being honest, I have not yet figured out how to be really productive and I'm a terrible procrastinator.
At the end of each class, we were given several prompts to work from and a half hour to write. No editing, no moaning, no overthinking, just write, and then these exercises were read to the class the following week. At the end of the class on writer's block, one of the prompts we were given was, "try to write the worst story you possibly can." This was one of the exercises we learned could overcome writer's block. My instructor warned that it was harder than it seemed.
I decided to use this prompt. I would write a little piece using ALL of the bad writing habits we had learned NOT to use in our writing. But my instructor was right. It was hard to make it just bad. I found myself wanting to make it funny, make it satirical, make it trying to SAY something. As bad as this little story is, it was really fun to write, and when it was read aloud the next week in class, it got more of a response than anything else I had written. Everyone was laughed through the whole thing, and the cute young guy who sat next to me even applauded at my "note on the refrigerator" reference. Was he the only one who got it, I wondered?
Enjoy, The Worst Story I've Ever Written, otherwise known as, The Plum.
Grand Warden Micah Strand stood on the balcony of his glass tower in Asha City, and looked out at this purple gold planet that he and his army had just conquered. He had just fought the most exciting, most dangerous battle of his entire career, and had barely escaped with his life. If the witch and warlock guild had not come through with the Dragons of Fiery Doom, all would have been lost. He would owe them now.
Micah Strand turned and looked in the mirror. He admired his long, wavy hair and his fine chiseled features and fancy mustache. He was the youngest general the Bogart Regiment had ever seen and his successes were sung about in songs across the Realm of Allied Planets. He smiled at himself and knew the prize of Sarah would be his with ease.
Micah realized with alarm how hungry he was. He really wanted a plum. Some joker had hung a note on his refrigerator, claiming to have eaten his last plum, but when he looked, his fruit bowl was full of the delicious, purple fruit, and he remembered now that he had wanted to eat one. His stomach growled and he thought about the last time he had wanted to eat a plum this badly. It had been long ago, during his first battle as a commander of the Seven Realms. He laughed remembering.
I wasn’t nervous when the battle started, and I wasn’t nervous now. I am Micah Strand! I yelled in my mind. And I am unstoppable! My men rallied around me as I cut through the ranks of the Sheath and Gorah that we fought. They were no match for us and we were beating them easily. We would soon have this planet as well and add it to the Realm, another jewel in the crown. I wasn’t nervous, but I was hungry. The purple skinned Gorahs I was fighting reminded me of the delicious plums in my icebox at home. I could almost taste them. Plums are my favorite. As soon as this ridiculously simple battle for my life and all I hold dear was over, I would have the plums I desired above everything else. More than my Queen and the Princess who loved me, and was waiting to be rescued at the other end of the endless plain of monsters. More than my special sword, passed down to me through generations of warriors just like me. My father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, my great great grandfather. They had all wielded this same sword in the battle for the planets. No one knew our secret, and no one ever would. I would take it to my grave or die.
These Sheath and Gorah were so easy to defeat, so easy to kill. It was laughable. I would be laughing if I weren’t so hungry for nice cold plums.
Here comes another one, screaming towards me with his hair on fire. He is soon dead, no match for my sword.
My sword. It was long and sharp and cut through my enemies like butter. I looked at my reflection in it and remembered the day I had first held the sword and knew one day it would be mine. I had been hungry then, too. Hungry for plums. Plums that grew in great abundance in the fields of my home. I never lacked for plums, which was good, because I loved to eat them.
Micah Strand was a teenager on the planet Shoal, ready to be a warrior and hungry for plums. He loved plums almost as much as he loved his home and his father and learning to fight.
He looked in the mirror and knew one day he would be as handsome as the Heroes of Balloo, with their long wavy hair and fancy mustaches. His hair was not long yet, but it would be.
His father entered carrying his enormous battle sword and a basket of plums. Micah’s favorite. This was the moment he had been waiting for. He was so hungry. And he had been waiting to hold his father’s sword since he had first been born.
“Micah.” His father said.
“Yes?” He replied.
“Are you ready?” He asked.
“I am. And I’m hungry.” He said.
“I have brought my sword and these plums.” He replied.
“I see. Thank you.” He smiled.
“It is an important day.” He said.
“Yes, I know. I’ve been waiting.” He said.
“You know what this means.” He said.
“Yes, you will impart to me the secret I must keep.”
“Forever. You must. Our very lives and the safety of all the planets depends on it.” He said.
“I know. I can do it. I am ready.” He said.
“You must never tell a soul.” He said.
“Yes, I know.
Micah’s father whispered the secret their family had held for generations. Micah was surprised. It was not what he was expecting.
“Are you surprised?” His father asked.
“Yes. I was not expecting that.” He replied.
They ate a plum and vowed to never tell and keep the secret forever.
Grand Master Micah Strand stood on his balcony and looked at the purple and gold planet, knowing he would keep his secret forever, and all would be well. He would win as he always did.