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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Writing Prompt: Overheard Conversations

By Amy Robinson

Writing Pad has plenty of treats in store for you! We have conjured up fab discounts on our October and November workshops. Don't miss our fantastic classes at new, affordable rates. Call 323-333-2954 or email to reserve your spot before it disappears!
  • Acting Out: One Writer, One Act (Thurs p.m., starts Nov. 4)--1 spot left
  • So You Want To Be A Writer (Wed. nights, Fri and Sat. mornings)--2 spots left
  • Finishing School (Wed. nights, Fri and Sat. mornings)--2 spots left
  • Your Name In Print (Sun. a.m., starts Nov. 7)--2 spots leftWriting Prompt: Make a list of five things that you've overheard. Or go eavesdrop in a cafe or a park and open your ears! Pick one of the sentences from your list of five overheard things and write about it for 10 minutes. Be as outrageous as you want. You can write about how that sentence affected you. Then post your results in the comment section of this blog!
Example: During breakfast at Denny's, I overheard a 20-something girl say to her friend "If it hadn't been for that horse, I never would have finished college." That horse must have been a really great teacher!

Comment on this blog! Write about a line of a conversation that you overheard. The best mini-story of October/November will win a free class! All comments will receive likes and remembers from Marilyn.


Writing Pad said...

Great article and example for the prompt, Amy! That's hilarious! Can't wait to see your horsie story/poem.


Writing Pad said...

Do you like to behave badly and eavesdrop? Do it! I wrote my first poem after overhearing "I never order dessert" at a restaurant. I was so outraged that I had to write about it. This time your reaction could win you a free class. ;)

See the result below--this poem got published in Rockhurst Review. I hope that it inspires you to write something new and sassy!

By Marilyn Friedman

We never order dessert
never, dessert, never
didn't you notice that we
never order dessert, as if
the waiter was their butler
they wanted to know if they
stood out from the hundred couples
in oatmeal colored sweaters
that lean over these candles
that flicker like lighthouses
at the end of a week

We never order dessert
never, dessert, never
for dessert is absurd
the death by chocolate cake too dangerous
the cow girl's creamy cheesecake too luscious
for our pasty lives
that demand slight discomfort and restraint
where you are measured
by how tiny are your jeans
and how thick is your wallet

We never order dessert
never, dessert, never
for we are in the autumn of our lives
and we do not live in this hot-blooded neighborhood
and we do not have unplanned one night stands
with bowls of bananas flambe
that we'd surely regret in the morning
despite the whirling, twirling ecstasy
it delivers with just one bite

We never order dessert
never, dessert, never
but maybe some day we will come by
after I've cooked dinner
and order a light lemon sorbet
because we are just that wild
and we are just that important
and it is so disappointing
that we never order dessert

Todd said...

I made it to my seat on the plane at the last possible moment. As I was thumbing through the various reading material I had brought to pass the time during the transcontinental flight, I heard the distinct sound of a bird tweeting. Hm, that’s odd, I thought. Well we haven’t been asked to switch off our cell phones yet, so maybe it’s one of those pre recorded Iphone rings, designed to freak people out. Like the cat in heat meowing or the baby crying. Then everyone looks around and goes “oh my god who brought the baby to the party.” But a bird tweet is kind of...well...dumb. I guess that fact that something is dumb never stopped someone from thinking it was clever, but the tweeting was getting louder and more frequent by this point. It seemed as if not only was there a real, physical bird in the area, but there were at least two. I turned to my aisle buddy and confirmed that I was not hearing things. He too was looking around trying to find the source of the sound. I noticed a Flight Attendant leaning into the next row up. She was speaking in a sweet understanding tone like you would use with a child:

“Well, maybe you could try covering them up? I can bring you a blanket.”

The flight attendant left and I tried to peak at whoever she had been talking to, but couldn’t quite see because the person was sitting by the window. By now the bird chirping was becoming impossible to ignore and many of the passengers in our area were starting to grumble among themselves, dreading the next 6 hours.

“did someone bring a bird on the plane?”
“Isn’t there a rule against that?”
“I can’t bring a bottle of water on board but she can bring a bird? what about bird flu? That’s biological warfare.”

The stewardess came back with the blanket, leaned into the row again, fussed around a bit and then left.

I was, like everyone else, annoyed but also curious about the mystery bird in row 23. But, due to TSA safety regulations, I would have to wait until we got in the air and the captain turned off the seatbelt fasten sign before I could leave my seat and investigate further.

The plane began to take off and the birds were going crazy. I had resigned myself to the fact that is was going to be a long flight. I got my headphones out, anxiously awaiting for the moment when it was acceptable to use approved personal electronic devices so I could start blasting my iphone, (set to airplane mode of course.) As the plane settled and we reached our cruising altitude of 30,000 feet, there was some activity in 23, and a short, squat woman in her 50’s stumbled over her row mates and into the aisle. On her chest was a large bird cage, strapped over her shoulders like one of those baby backpacks that people wear in the front. She removed the blanket the stewardess had given her earlier and I could see as walked past me on her way to the bathroom that the cage contained a pair of yellow parakeets who were fluttering about nervously. She realized I was staring at her, gave me a shoulder shrug and said sheepishly:

“Sorry...they hate flying.”

Writing Pad said...

Todd--it is so great that you wrote on this prompt. Yay! I will give you likes and remembers later this week. I just got back from the retreat. :)

Writing Pad said...

What a great story! It was really well described and funny. I especially love the airline terminology that you sprinkled throughout--cruising altitude, TSA safety regulations, personal electronic devices. I love the inner dialogue of the narrator and what the woman says at the end. I felt like I was inside of the story. Thanks for commenting!

Natalie Kottke said...
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