1. Reflect on a photograph:The camera was given to me at Christmas. I took a picture of my brother in front of the garage. It wasn’t centered, not even close. He stared back, bored, his mittened hands awkwardly together, waiting for me. It was a nothing moment, taken badly, now something with little to say. I wonder where the other pictures are. Why only that one? There must have been another dozen or so. At least. Were they also of my brother and the garage? The garden? What about the dog? Where are my parents?
2. Write about a place and time – an indelible moment – with extraordinary and ordinary aspects.
Richard was shirtless, his sweaty chest barreling over his grey black shorts. His girlfriend was behind him in the corner, completely naked, just her high heels and a glass of wine in her hand. “She’s a nudist,” Jerome said. “Can you believe it?”
“It’s freezing outside.”
“I know.” His face was glowing, stretched like elastic. “It’s the kind of thing that only happens on MTV.”
3. Write a piece that starts with “The last time I saw _____ was _____.”
The last time I saw my cousin was on the park bench at Emerald Lake. He was red-faced, laughing, a bottle of Kokanee in his hand. “They’re everywhere! Holy shit!”
They raced back and forth, dotting the burrowed ground, chasing each other to get nuts from the people, darting back, vanishing like they were never there.“It’s a Golden-mantle Ground Squirrel.” I had my glossy guide, The Field Guide for the Flora and Fauna of Western Canada, clutched in my hand.
“The Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel!” He spilled beer in a foamy glob at the one nearest. “There you go, tiger. You’ll like that.”
4. Choose the thing that you are most afraid of and write about that.
I can’t move my head. Not even my shoulders. I am pinned, dead still, between the boards, a bright side light on my face and neck. I am in a flat horrible space, my eyes wide, stuck inside this coffin in the ground. Stuck there, panicking. I can’t even raise my hands properly. I have no control. I am completely helpless, trapped by monsters, people I don’t know, who have left me here to die, to be tortured in my final hours and think nothing of it. I close my hands to make it go away, but it is still there. I can’t get out. I want to scream but I can’t even do that. I am stuck in the horrible silent box with not even myself.