Bits & Bobs

workshop writing

Bits & bobs: workshop writing

What I love most about the Amherst Writers method is that I’ve generated so. much. writing. Sure, they are short pieces, but I now have a file full of ideas for short stories, poems, and–who knows?–maybe even a novel. These posts are all very fresh writing–a few bits & bobs I’ve left workshops with, stuffing them into my pocket to work on sometime … maybe. Or not. I offer them up as encouragement–if can do this, you can, too.

workshop writing


He sat in the empty church, waiting. The red candle over the tabernacle burned with barely a flicker, its light dim. What happened, he wondered, to the body of Christ if the damn candle burned out? Did it lose those super powers Gran always said it had? Who keeps track of candle burnage? He wondered. A priest wouldn’t bother himself with housekeeping, would he?

He shifted in his seat and pulled down the kneeler. Five hours in the car and he was stiff, and didn’t feel like sitting to wait, especially on the hard pew. His knees popped as he bent down, and he looked around to see if anyone else had heard, but he was alone, of course. It was nearly midnight, after all. He could have walked around while he waited. Stood in the back of the nave, even. But that felt a little disrespectful, somehow, even if he was alone.

So he knelt because it seemed like a good compromise.

He rested against the back of the pew and sheepishly found himself making the sign of the cross. Old habits die hard, he thought, and remembered Gran kneeling next to him, worrying her beads and moving her lips.

From the other side of the altar the Blessed Virgin looked down at the flowers scattered at her feet. She was smiling, maybe, if you thought the upturns at the corners of her mouth signaled happiness. Of course, once finding herself fourteen and pregnant, she might also have been slightly bewildered by the strange turn of events her life had taken.

Isn’t that just like life, he thought.


workshop writing


We might be a team of NASA scientists, but reality plays itself out like this. Every detail has a member who takes the role of dad, and another who stands in for mom; there’s the good kid–the annoying rule follower– and the rebel with their devil-may-care attitude. Depending on the size of the group, the mission might also include a meddling auntie or uncle, with their nose in everyone’s business but their own.

It probably won’t surprise you to know I’m the mom on USLunar120. People are always so impressed when I tell them that I’m on one of the Lunar teams, but its no different from my role at home in many ways. Although I’m in charge of air and water quality in the station, it really boils down to cleaning up other team member’s shit, just like at home. Someone has a virus? I switch up to filters for communicable diseases and pay closer attention to compacting paper waste. I keep the laundry rotation on schedule so that no team member needs to wear their uni any longer than necessary and monitor the shower station so members neither under nor over use the facility, which also may affect the quality of the air or stress our water treatment, depending.

Really, the only difference from home is that my work station looks out over the lunar desert instead of the green lawn of my Midwest back yard.


I am from

I am from the Atlas moving van, the U-Haul hitch up
and miles of highway unraveling behind me.

I am from moving boxes stacked in the backseat clear to the ceiling
of a ’65 Valiant

I am from Warren Rd and Ivan Dr and Summit St and Sunrise
and Newcastle and Maxwell.

I am from Lakewood and Akron and Canton and Kent,
I am from Ohio to Michigan, lakes Erie to Superior

I am from sharing a closet bedroom under the eves with a washer and dryer
to the room with a window seat overlooking the oaks through leaded paned glass

I am from the wind blowing us every which-a-way–
I am from the daddy who was a rolling stone
gathering no moss–
and from the mommy who said it could be worse, remember.

I am from the storm before the calm.

[George Ella Lyon copy change]


workshop writing

The Mixer

She was ready, almost. Her hair was sprayed and she had Dippity Do’d two perfect spit curls by each ear. Her lips were glossed over with Bonnie Bell. Her jeans, riding low, were wide and scuffed along the floor, just right. When she turned to look in the mirror, her peasant blouse gathered in all the right places. Her first ever 7th grade mixer and time to run down the street to pick up Vicky, then around the corner for Debbie. Their clothes and hair had been planned over too many back and forth phone calls to count and they each had a wish list of which boy would ask them to dance. Catching some of her excitement, the dog yipped and ran circles around her feet. Before she  banged out the back door, she opened the baking cupboard. The little brown bottle hid behind the nutmeg–she unscrewed the little red cap and breathed deeply.  That heady sweet smell of being thirteen. Then she dabbed a spot of vanilla behind her ears, on her wrist. And she was let the the door and on to bigger things.