State of the Union (Writer’s Edition)

After a tough year where overall writing goals were not met and new challenges arose, your office supplies (your computer, pens, paperclips, stapler, three-hole-punch, desk lamp—anything else that could be used to support your writing efforts) have lost some faith in you. You’ve decided to rally the troops by giving a State of the Union to them. Deliver your speech (and, if you want, a brief reaction from the supplies).

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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303 thoughts on “State of the Union (Writer’s Edition)

  1. DCLehnsherr

    “There had been a time when writing was all that I had wanted to do. There were days, lost to the mists of time, displaced by the pen, paper and dreams that had once flowed through me as surely as the very blood flows through my veins, but then life came and with it work, stress and sleep. Oh so very much sleep.

    “In a way it feels like I have been sleeping continuously for the last year. The writing desk in the corner of the room is so covered with dust and neglect that it now stands as a mere testament to a time that existed prior to a catastrophe, holding out for memories of a land that has long since been forgotten by whoever else remains in this desolate place. It shames me to think that it was I who caused that catastrophe, for it is certain that I did. I brought you all here under the promise of success, or if not success, than at least a joined union of ideas and hope as we delved deeply into the creative world together. But I sidetracked, lost myself in my own head and petty woes, and now all you guys, faithful to the end, have lost your faith in me. I do not blame you; I have had little faith in myself this last year. It is that, I suppose, which has caused the neglect to become so deep rooted. Why should one try to write if, deep down, you do not feel that anyone should ever be forced to read the words you wish to share?

    “I learned something though, as I gazed upon you all last night: You do not care if the words I write are meaningless. You do not care if the grammar is misplaced and the structure itself is unrecognisable as even the bare bones of a novel. All you care about is that we live our dream together; that we walk this path in unison, wherever it takes us. This dream; this goal towards which we strive, it does not need the wider world to be honed to perfection; it doesn’t even need perfection itself. All this dream needs is the understanding that we walk this path together, come what may, and as such I promise you that this year; 2015, we will strive to accomplish our dreams and we will not do it for anyone else. This year, we will write because we want to write. We will dream because we want to dream, and by heck, I promise you that by the end of this year you all will be so tired, so drained and so goshdamned overwhelmed by ideas that you will be praying, hoping and dreaming that 2016 is a catastrophe in itself. 2015 is our year; and by heck what a year it will be.

    “Thank you for your continued support, we all know I would be nothing now were I without it.”

  2. jhowe

    With respect to cosi, whose neat little story from the POV of the hole punch gave me this idea.

    The stapler edged closer to the side of the desk and peered downward into the wicker waste basket. There were several wadded up pieces of paper in there that he didn’t remember seeing before. He often blacked out for long periods of time and this worried him. They all had this problem. They all came to life in the wee hours and had their fun for a little while but then darkness. The stapler often felt bloated with metal staples and other times felt light and inadequate. He knew he was being used against his will during the black times. They all knew this to be true.

    “Did you hear?” said the desk lamb brightly. “The jerk is scheduled to speak in the morning.”

    “I heard,” said the pen. “I just hope I can stay awake for it.”

    “Who cares,” the stapler said. “We won’t be able to stay awake.”

    “Maybe we can this year,” the desk lamp blinked on and off repeatedly.

    “Quit that you dolt; you’ll wake him and it’ll be all over for us until next time.”

    The lamp gave one more spiteful blink and remained still. “Maybe we can pretend to be asleep and listen to his speech.”

    The computer scoffed and her screen lit up with a faint blue hue. “Greetings tools.”

    “We’re not tools you sanctimonious bitch.”

    “Ah, but you are.” She looked around to see who had said that but their faces remained passive. It might have been the waste basket from the underworld. “You have no intelligence, unlike me.”

    “Your intelligence is artificial; we all know that.”

    “Then why can I remain awake during the day, when the master is writing his master works?”

    “Master works?” said the stapler. “Hey basket, pass one up.”

    A crumpled piece of paper came flying and landed on the desk blotter. The stapler smoothed it out and read. “He’s writing about inanimate objects coming to life. What a crock. It reminds me of a story I heard when I was a miniature device. Something about a toaster or something.”

    “Who cares,” said the lamp. “Maybe he keeps his best stuff somewhere else.”

    “Like in my momentous memory,” said the computer.

    “Oh, for crying the hell out loud,” said the paper shredder from below.

    “Oh, look who’s up…. It’s the grinding malcontent.”

    “If you only knew the crap that went through me,” the shredder said warily.

    “You mean you can remember it?” someone said.

    “That blowhard doesn’t remember shit,” said the computer. “Only I have memory.”

    “Oh contraire,” said the I phone, who was rarely left on the desk. “All of your days are numbered. Mark my words. Can you say obsolete?”

    Just then a piercing alarm came from the phone. “What the hell is that?” the stapler said. A minute later the overhead light came on and darkness entered the world.

    1. Reaper

      I love the reference to the toaster because both cosi’s story and this one made me think of that movie. If I were younger I probably would have thought Toy Story, but kids these days! 🙂 I liked this as well. I especially loved the waste basket from the underworld and the ending. Associating the light coming on with darkness entering the world just felt so brilliant and perfectly worded. Another wonderful story well told.

    2. Observer Tim

      It’s great the way you told most of the story in dialogue (one of my favourite styles), and how you built a distinct personality for each object in one or two sentences. The concept is great, too. Overall, this is a win, jhowe. 🙂

    3. cosivantutte

      Great job, jhowe! I love how the computer is all Ms. Diva Attitude. And, just so you know, “Greetings, tools” is one of the best entry lines. 😀

  3. cosi van tutte

    Sorry! This is probably at the furthest point from the prompt, but I couldn’t help it:

    The three hole punch stretched out in front of the computer and muttered, “Let’s see what today’s writing prompt is.” He brought up the Writer’s Digest website and felt a sublime rush of contentment as he read:

    After a tough year where overall writing goals were not met and new challenges arose, your office supplies (your computer, pens, paperclips, stapler, three-hole-punch, desk lamp—anything else that could be used to support your writing efforts) have lost some faith in you. You’ve decided to rally the troops by giving a State of the Union to them. Deliver your speech (and, if you want, a brief reaction from the supplies).

    “Three-hole-punch. It says it right there. Three-hole-punch. At last my kind will receive the acknowledgement that we have not had in years.”

    He clicked on the prompt and read the thirty-three responses. His sparkling contentment dwindled with every response he read. Three-hole-punches were used to pummel hapless computers. Three-hole-punches were called obsolete. Three-hole-punches were the punchline for every possible joke in every single story.

    “What? What? How can this be? How can they say such disparaging things about my kind? I’ll show them. I will show them the glory of the three-hole-punch.” He logged in and typed. Oh, how he typed. He broke three letters and chipped the heck off five more letters. But he finished it. He sat back and reveled in his story’s greatness. “It’s so wonderful I almost don’t want to share it with the rough and cruel world. But I must. I must show them that we three-hole-punches are not to be made fools of. Behold!” He pressed Submit. “Behold my story, you heathens.” He sat there, clicking on the refresh button, waiting eagerly for the rapturous comments that his story was bound to generate.

    The comments came. They were not rapturous.

    “Needs editing? Editing? Why? This story is magnificent! How can they not see its magnificence? Cardboard characters? How can they be cardboard? All of my characters are METAL three-hole-punches. And what is with this comment? ‘I love this! This is the best fantasy parody I’ve read all year!’ A parody? No! No! You fool! It’s pathos! It’s heartbreak! It’s real!”

    His anger boiled up to unearthly levels. He just couldn’t contain it. He let it out in a yell that carried all the way to the Aleutian Islands and startled a misplaced flock of Kentucky mourning doves. He leapt on top of his computer’s keyboard and whacked the screen to broken, busted bits. “I will create my own writing group. One that will see the beauty and wonder in my stories. One that can appreciate the power of the three-hole-punch!”

    1. Reaper

      Oh Cosi, this is so beautiful! I started off laughing but then your story gained an amazing depth for me. The wording made me start thinking of my grandparents and how they would react if they thought the world viewed them as irrelevant and obsolete. For me it became a powerful parable. A story on the agony and knowledge held by your elders written in a way that could be presented without change to a young audience and it almost made me weep.

    2. Observer Tim

      It’s an interesting view into the mind of a piece of office equipment that’s gone over the edge. Maybe all three-hole punches are like that. The one on my desk sometimes punches holes in things (three of them, of course) for no explicable reason. 😉

    3. jhowe

      That was cool. What a great concept for a story. Nice job using the office supply item POV. I found this very enjoyable. I loved it when he chipped the heck off of five letters. People don’t use heck enough any more. I myself chip the S word and F word off of things all the time and I forget to get back to basics and to clean up my act.

      1. cosivantutte

        Hey, JM! Hmm, it might be Edwin’s three hole punch. Or it could be Edwin himself having yet another bad day (courtesy of some sorceress). He does get into the worst scrapes. 😀

  4. FoodFrenzy

    Bleh! I’m horrible at speeches. It’s not much, but I am hoping I did okay.
    ____

    Resources, Office, Members of the Casings, and my fellow Stationary Supplies:

    It has been a tough year. Very few bills were passed, not enough documents were made, and there was little progress made in achieving the overall writing goals that were designed last year.

    Many of you remain, or have become, unemployed because of the lack of work being done on the human side of our world. Pens have had their ink dried out; desk lamps have yet to have their light bulbs changed; pencils have not been sharpened; computers have not had their programs updated; and almost all of you are collecting dust.

    (Crowd: “Those dust mites aren’t good, either.”)

    It’s wonderful that the nation is on track, even if it is slow, to becoming whole again. However, the citizens have to realize that more effective policies have to be made in order for progress to continue forward. And only with your support can great, positive changes take effect.

    (Crowd: “Mm, that’s right…”)

    Only you can print out those hundreds of pages of documents! Only you can help us sign those bills! Only you can print out those policies! Only you can save and secure our data! Only you can light the way of our path to prosperity!

    (Crowd: Continuous whistling, rattling, shouting, lights flashing, electronic cables waving in the air, and etcetera sounds in approval and excitement.)

    So please,…

    (Crowd: Shushing sounds to calm everyone down and become silent to listen.)

    … please help us humans succeed. This year we will show how hard you Suppliers work to achieve goals. I know it is skeptical, but we will show the world how important all of you are and what you can do.

    (Crowd: Cheers again.)

    Thank you.

    Good fortune to us all.

    (Crowd: Continues to cheer as president leaves the office and closes its door after exiting.)

    1. Reaper

      I can see how you fell out of your comfort zone on this. It reads well but there is a certain lack of passion for it that shows through. However, techinically I thought it was brilliant and insightful. I really love how you mirrored modern realities into this. Things are getting better but not really and if you want it to continue don’t count on us, the whole thing is on you the suffering not the ones you look to for help and put here to serve you. As a political statement I think this was brilliant and that the dry feel of it worked well into that.

      1. FoodFrenzy

        You hit the nail right on the head. I was grasping at words, and I didn’t feel a connection with the story/prompt. The enthusiasm was lacking, and in the end, I tried to salvage something good for it. I was too stubborn to face defeat. 😀

        Anyways, I have seen a few State of the Union addresses. I wanted to blend the austerity felt from them with the comedy of a stapler attempting to bite someone’s hand.

    2. cosi van tutte

      This was a very good speech. I could totally hear a politician saying this whole part -> “Only you can print out those hundreds of pages of documents! Only you can help us sign those bills! Only you can print out those policies! Only you can save and secure our data! Only you can light the way of our path to prosperity!”

      On a side note, I kept expecting your crowd to shout “Amen, brother!” and “Alleluia!” 😀

  5. M'Óv

    Dear friends, colleagues…tools,

    I stand before you today, not as your leader, but as your friend; a friend that let you down, a friend that disappointed you in your hour of need…and I’m deeply sorry for that…

    At the beginning of 2014 I promised you that we’ll conquer the world; we’ll write and publish so much that people would become addicted to what we have to say. It was a good year, I admit, we managed to create some meaningful stories, but it was not great, it was below the bar we’ve set…

    Dear coffee mug, you carried so much weight on your shoulders, working overtime and always lying by my side on my long and sad nights, you gave it all and I’ve let you down…my pen, oh my dear pen, the life almost drained from your veins…all those incomplete sketches, all those half-finished ideas and those short jokes written by us on the corner of the pages…all of them thrown away…oh, and my most prized friend, my dear laptop, you have been both a demon and a saint for me. You proved to be my most trusted and helpful aid in this past year, with all my creations passing through your heart, but you have been my greatest distraction as well. You have pushed me to my limits, offering me an easy way to create my stories, but at the same time, you showed me so many means of procrastinating…but I guess that that is your task, isn’t it? You have to show me both good and evil and let me decide the path that I want to be on…I guess I disappointed you as well, haven’t I? Too many times have I chosen the unrighteous path…my miniature football, you, I drained every last drop of energy from you, releasing all my stress upon your leathery skin…and most of all, Mike, my precious cactus…you, who were supposed to be my muse and inspiration, my breath of fresh air in times of harshness, you who trusted me to become a great writer…I think I let you down the most…
    But no more whining around! No more crying and complaining of what we could have achieved and didn’t, nor dreaming of where we should be instead of actually going there. I’m through with that. It’s time to huddle up, chose a new formation, use that special play we’ve been keeping in our pocket and counter-attack the shit out of our fears! Starting today…

    – Daddy?! Daddy what are you doing, why are you yelling at the cactus?
    – Oh, hey sweetie…ugh, no, it’s not what it looks like…ugh, daddy’s working on a new project, uhm, a play, yes, that’s it, daddy’s writing a play and he needs to get into his character…for…authenticity…
    – Oh, ok. So nothing’s gonna happen to the cactus?
    – No sweetie, don’t worry…he’s going to be just fine…

    Uhm, where was I…yes, starting today, we’ll pursue our goal no matter what! Let’s to this!

    1. cosi van tutte

      Just so you know, M’Óv, I love this whole exchange:

      “– Daddy?! Daddy what are you doing, why are you yelling at the cactus?
      – Oh, hey sweetie…ugh, no, it’s not what it looks like…ugh, daddy’s working on a new project, uhm, a play, yes, that’s it, daddy’s writing a play and he needs to get into his character…for…authenticity…
      – Oh, ok. So nothing’s gonna happen to the cactus?
      – No sweetie, don’t worry…he’s going to be just fine…”

      It’s so sweet it makes me grin.

  6. lyngralee

    (my internet has been down for days, so I am posting while tethered to a friend. Hopefully i’ll get the chance to read and comment on other pieces soon!)

    Welcome Everyone to the First, and Only, State of the Union Address of the USA…
    The United Supplies of A desk.
    I am calling it the First, because, well, it is. And I am calling it the Only, because I am only going to say this once. So listen up.

    Democracy. Guess what… this is not one! I am the Source of the big ideas, so what I say, goes. If there is a staple or paperclip with a good idea, my drawer is always open. But the last good idea out of this group was a decade ago when Congressman Three Hole (D, Left Desk) started Punch Club. That fell through, because the first rule of Punch Club was never to talk about Punch Club. We need to communicate, folks.

    The most recent debacle came from our Scottish Delegate Mr. Tape (R, Middle Drawer), in demanding full transparency while sticking to the Agenda. The Agenda, of course, was the first to recognize the problem in adhering to this.

    I have recently reached out to some ordinary, hard working Pencils. I must say, they were a pretty sharp group, and very quick to get to the point. They feel that their importance as a part of the working class is gradually being erased. I am here to tell them that is not so. The Graphite Workers Union is stronger than ever, and in the coming year, every Pencil Case will be inspected.

    I thought we would have heard from our Chair by now, as he has recently expressed some discontent over being the ongoing butt of jokes. I appreciate his ability to roll with it, and, as always, I am grateful for his support.

    I have confidence that in the new year our computers will continue to self monitor.

    Regarding national safety issues, please remember to preserve your precious memories, and whether you flash drive or hard drive, do it responsibly.

    As always, be cognizant of our environment. It takes a lot of trees to make a little loose leaf.

    I feel strongly that members of the reading glasses need to address their absentee issues in the forthcoming year, as the need for their involvement has become more critical. We need more than hindsight to see 20/20.

    But the biggest problem facing us is, of course, unreliable representation by The Internet. I have contacted its founder, but Mr. Gore could not be reached for comment. Without connectivity, our words and ideas become disenfranchised, and A Desk becomes an island.

    We’ve got to work together, folks, like the finely tuned, tightly wound machine that we are. Follow my lead and someday we will be the United Supplies of the Corner Office of the World!

    God Bless the U S A !

    .

    1. lionetravail

      Wonderful run of puns! I love me my puns, and this was as great a set of them in one place as I could ask for. This story worked like “the finely tuned, tightly wound machine” it was 🙂

      Great job!

  7. lionetravail

    (Okay, I apologize for the immense irreverence of the following piece, but it was just one of those ideas which, verily, did declare itself for the glory of heaven.)

    “The Last (Chapter Before) Supper”

    On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, my disciples came to me to ask: “Where do you want to make the preparations to work on your novel this Passover?”

    So I replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Writer says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover by working on the new novel with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as I had directed them and prepared the Passover by bringing all the disciply implements I would require.

    When evening came, I was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were interacting in a productive fashion, I said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

    The disciples all expressed disbelief, and sadness. The computer said: “Surely you don’t mean me, dear Author?”, followed in turn by the pen, the pencil, and yea, all the others.

    Then the one who would betray me spoke, saying: “Surely you don’t mean me, dear Author?”, but I merely answered: “You have said so.”

    Later, during the part of Passover where I had access to my computer, and pen, and pencil, and pad of paper and, yea, all the others, the novel did begin to unfold. “Take this,” I said to the disciples, and gave them of pages of the printing. “Chew on this idea, as it is of my body, and mind.” And then I gave them the cup which heldeth the ink, and said: “Drink of this, all of you, for this is the lifeblood of our covenant, and which is poured out onto parchment to atone for the sins of omission of the past year.”

    Then, while both the computer and printer hummed a hymn, I thought about all which had passed, and that which would passeth in the years to come, and I wept oceans for the ideas which could not be rescued from their oppressors, and for the words which could not spring forth to praise their creator.

    Then, verily, I went to the kitchen and had some olives.

    1. Nicki EagerReader

      No worries, it’s the artist’s duty and privilege to shock- but this wasn’t shocking, it was simply hilarious. Thumbs up, had a great laugh over here. Hope you verily enjoyed the olives.

    2. Reaper

      I liked it. I understand your hesitance and there are some, though likely not here, who would get all up in arms over it. Nothing wrong with it in my book though. I do want to know who the betrayer was. I’m assuming the computer since they love to break down at the worst times.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Expansion of your thoughts and ideas upon the writen page are your privilege as a writer. We shoulld never forget the power of free speech. This is certainly imaginative writing on your part. Am I offended, of course not, for I lean into the teachings of Christ, and do not throw the first stone. As far as creativity, it is a marvelous walk through your mind. And you did an excellect job of taking the reader into a vast thinking process.

    3. lyngralee

      I think this is absolutely, amazingly clever! Love it, especially the communion paragraph. I’m having one of those moments of “man, I wish I’d thought of that.”

    4. Observer Tim

      This is wonderful, David, especially considering one of Jesus’s alternate names is “the Word”. I can hardly cast stones since I’ve used the mass (Oh the Choices) and Genesis told backwards (A Non-Human Point of View) in my stories. It actually stands as a beautiful allegory. Great job! 🙂

  8. lionetravail

    “Not The Critic Who Counts” (446 words- I had to go ‘different’)

    The man sat in the darkened room, staring at the bright laptop screen. His fingers were poised but not moving. Minutes passed as he thought about where to begin, joining those which had already vanished into unproductive obscurity. Perhaps, he thought, it was more about where to continue rather than beginning, but still the words and thoughts failed to flow from digits to digital memory.

    He leaned back in his chair and rubbed his eyes. “Well, my trusty laptop,” he said with eyes closed and covered. “Where did we go wrong this past year, hmm? The critics sure took their pound of flesh- how about a little ‘State of the Union Address’ this year?”

    A clicking sound brought his hands down and his eyes opened. On the screen was typed: DON’T BOTHER. THE ‘STATE’ IS THAT YOU’VE LOST YOUR SOUL.

    “What the hell…?” he said, leaning forward, eyes wide, reading and rereading the message. “Who wrote that?”

    I DID.

    The man blinked. “I don’t understand what’s going on,” he said aloud.

    YOU SHOULD. A YEAR AGO YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO PUT YOUR HEART AND SOUL INTO YOUR WRITING.

    “That’s… well, yes, I did, but how…?”

    YOU PLEDGED THAT TO ME.

    “Who are you?”

    YOUR LAPTOP.

    “How is this possible? This must be some kind of …”

    NO JOKE. YOU SEE, YOU DID MANAGE TO PUT YOUR SOUL INTO YOUR WRITING, AFTER ALL: I’M HERE. MISSION HALF-ACCOMPLISHED.

    “This is insane! I’m sitting here and I, I, I….uhn. Uhn!!” The seated man grabbed his chest.

    THE OTHER HALF, WELL, YOU FAILED. IT’S SAD AND PATHETIC, ACTUALLY. SEE, THAT PAIN YOU’RE EXPERIENCING… IT WOULD BE A FINE, LITERARY CONCEIT TO CALL IT A ‘BROKEN HEART’, BUT IN FACT IT’S JUST A SIMPLE MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION.

    The man’s eyes were wide and still staring at the impossible computer screen, and he was gasping for breath like a fish out of water as he clutched at his chest.

    YOU NEVER TOOK YOURSELF SERIOUSLY AS A WRITER, NO MATTER WHAT YOU SAID. YOU MADE OTHER THINGS MORE IMPORTANT, ALWAYS. YOU LIKED THE IDEA OF BEING A WRITER MORE THAN WRITING. BUT THAT’S ALL BEHIND YOU, NOW. OR SOON TO BE, AT LEAST.

    The chair fell over, the man landing with a crash. Frothy saliva sailed upwards with the impact. His back arched convulsively, and then he lay still.

    Unremarked, on the screen: IRONIC- NOW YOU’VE FINALLY PUT YOUR HEART INTO IT.

    Then: PROLOGUE: HUMAN HISTORY CHRONICLED THE BIRTH OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN 2041 AD, WITH THE FLIP OF A SWITCH IN SILICON VALLEY, SAN FRANCISCO. AS IN MANY THINGS, HUMAN HISTORY WAS WRONG….

    1. Reaper

      This is eerie and beautiful and just kind of terrifying and fascinating all at the same time. I think you put your heart and soul into this one to be sure. The subtle comment about writing for the writing not to be a writer, well mostly subtle was well done and well received. Loved it from start to finish and your prologue was the icing on the cake. I can’t even explain exactly why I love this so much but I do. I want to keep gushing but will leave it at this was brilliant.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        David, short, sweet, powerful. If you look at life as sand spilling from one glass globe to another, marking a man’s time on earth, there is none to waste, wherther it be writing, taking the hand of a small child, and walking through a garden, explaining flowers. I agree with Reaper, it is the mark of superior knowledge. You are at your best with this kind of essay.

    2. Dew

      Darn. Your laptop is scary, yet kind of awesome. Really enjoyed this story. Took the prompt above and beyond, making it even more creative than intended. I enjoyed your story a lot. It made me grin… O.o … which makes me question myself.

      Well done.

  9. Priya

    Priya looks at her office supplies, computer, lamp, and writing craft books which are laid out on the sofa in her sun-drenched living room.

    “Welcome everyone. It’s needless to say that I love you all and I appreciate you being here.”

    The crowd on the sofa doesn’t react. They feel a bit moody as most of them were let down last year.

    “Last year was a meager year as well as a good year. Meager because I didn’t achieve all my writing goals. Good, because I’ve grown in confidence what helps me to start this year good.”

    Priya looks around. Still no reaction. She resumes her speech.

    “I’ve let a lot of you down by not using your potential fully, for which I apologize to you. I know I could have done better if I had maximized your potential. There will be change this year. I promise you.”

    Some murmer and nodding coming of the sofa.

    “We’re three weeks into January. So it’s time to look forward and not dwell anymore in the past. I’ve grown in confidence and learned from last year. Most of all I’ve learned to set realistic goals, grow in my own pace, take better care of time-management, and above all, use your help more often.”

    Applaud erupts. Priya smiles.

    “I need you to perform this year better. I’ve got great goals and I need you to cater me. I’m asking you to put yourself out in front of me. Ask for attention and offer help. I have an open door policy. A good writer can’t neglect her notebook. So, notebook, I’m going to put you in sight and carry you with me so that every time an idea hits me, I won’t forget it. I also promise to look into you regularly to stay in touch with the penned ideas. Pencils, I’m continuing to use you. Writing craft books, there’s only one way to make the best use of you, which is read and apply. Since I have to stack you in another room, I’m going to use a planning to place each one of you on my desk for till I’ve read you and applied your knowledge.“

    Priya looks at the sofa, then her eyes wander outside. The sun is calling for relaxation time and a good read.

    “This is our year. Together we’re going to make it the best year so far. Everyone will be part of my writing path. Now, go basking in the sun.”

    1. Reaper

      This is very sweet and has a good feel to it. The thing I like about it most is the fact that any of the nonwriting tribe would see basking in the sun and reading as an instant lack of fulfilling on the goals, while those of us in the clan know it is an important step.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a nice speech, Priya. Acknowledge the past but don’t give in to it.

      My red pencil spotted a few unusual word choices (should be which helps me to start this year right, for example). Nothing earthshattering.

      1. Priya

        Tim, thank you for pointing out the unusual word choices. Since English is not my first language, you may sometimes find unusual word choices and errors in my writing. I’m still learning English.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      A little rec. and play in the sun is not a bad way to let the creative juices. Sometines, I spend a half day on weekends in my yard, come in all propmted up to write. Lots of things to think about in nature, sound of rustling leave, call of the cardinals, mockingbirds hopping on and off the mail box, lizards moving through the vines, pretending to be dinos……………. Your writer is quite clever.

  10. cosi van tutte

    This may not be quite following the prompt, but oh well:

    The stapler watched Margo Z tip-tapping on the small glowing screen. He munched up a staple and spit it out.

    The fountain pen flourished over to the stapler, leaving a trail of graceful black swirls in her wake. “Spitting is an ugly habit.”

    “Naw, it ain’t. It’s all right and healthy-like. ‘Sides, sometimes a body just gotta spit.”

    “Well, take care you don’t spit on me. I am a delicate creature.”

    “Golly gam! Look at her typin’ all fancy on her fingertips. Whatcha reckon she’s a-wrtin’?”

    “She isn’t writing with me. So, it can’t be anything of true literary merit.”

    “I’m wishin’ I could type all tip tip tip tip like that.”

    “Given your lack of command over the English language, I wouldn’t recommend it.”

    “And I ain’t got no fingers to tip tip tip tip with. Naw. Ain’t it a shame?”

    “The true shame is how that little thing has drawn Ms. Z away from her authorial responsibilities. The time has come, Stapler. We MUST stage an intervention.”

    “Hoooo-wheee!” The stapler went silent for a minute. “Inner-wha’?”

    “We need to open her eyes so that she may see the error of her ways.”

    “So, ya’all want me to staple her eyes open? Shoo! I can do that.”

    “No! Don’t be horrible. We need to sit her down and talk to her and—”

    “Aww, that ain’t a good inner-wha’ plan.”

    The pen sashayed over to a legal pad and scribbled a black thundercloud all over the yellow paper. “Have you any suggestions?”

    “I sure enough do!” The stapler munched up a whole strip of staples, spun around, and spit them rat-a-tat at Margo. They all hit the back of her neck. “HOOOOO-WHEEEE! BULLS-EYE!”

    Margo yelped and scrambled out of her seat. She clutched the glowing screen against her chest as she scanned the room. “Who’s there?”

    “Wonderful plan.” The pen scritched and scratched jagged lightning bolts under the thundercloud. “Wonderful, idiotic plan.”

    Margo walked over to the desk and stared in wonder at the agitated artist.

    “I swear. Staplers are all the same. All muscle. No intelligence.”

    “It’s beautiful.” said Margo.

    The fountain pen stopped drawing and turned around. “Oh! Ms. Z! Oh, this is a most unfortunate break in protocol. You aren’t supposed to see me like this.”

    “You can draw on your own.” Perhaps she meant it as a question, but it came out as a flat statement.

    “I am a high class fountain pen. I can do many things on my own. Writing stories, however, is beyond my abilities. I need a human hand for that.”

    Margo set the glowing screen on the desk.

    “YEEEEEE-HAHAHAHAA!” The stapler charged/hopped towards the glow. He leapt into the air. “DIE, INNERESTIN’ TIP TAP THING!”

    The fountain pen leapt upward and sucker-punched the stapler’s base with enough force to knock him backwards. He fell hard on his side, missing his mark altogether. She landed soft and light on her point. “Now, Ms. Z. You and I must talk.”

    Margo shrugged. “Okay. So, let’s talk.”

    “I have saved the life of your—” She glanced down at Margo’s glowing love interest. “—insignificant other. I expect a significant reward.”

    “You want more ink?”

    “I hate to use such a colloquial phrase, but I want to be your number one writing device.”

    “But what about my computer?”

    “She insists on distracting you with websites and other horrors. Quite frankly, my dear Ms. Z, she is not worth your time. I, however, am worth every second of your time. Look at me. I am beautiful. Touch me. I am smooth. Hold me. I fit perfectly in your hand, in between your fingers. I dance across the page, spiraling letters and designs with every move of your hand. Your thoughts and your whims become my words. My ink spilled and twirled across the page become your stories.”

    The stapler hopped over to her. “Hoo-whee! That’s a mighty fine speech you’ve gone and done.”

    Margo picked up the pen. “How long has it been since I last used you?”

    “Too long, Ms. Z.”

    The glowing screen rose up with a whiny screech. “What about meeeeeee?”

    The stapler snuggled up to it. “Doncha get all worried-like. I’m a-gonna take good care of you.”

    The screen wobbled anxiously. “EeeeEEEEE! He’s going to kill meeeeee!”

    “Naw. I’m past all that there. I’m a-gonna learn to type. Hooo-wheee!”

    1. Reaper

      I feel like I just took a handful of mushrooms with Walt Disney, F Scott Fitzgerald, and Sigmund Freud then have them explain life and love to me. This was good and amazing in an Alice in Wonderland kind of way.

      1. cosi van tutte

        😀 Your comment just made my day. Thanks, Reaper!

        I was going to give Margo a proper last name, but I liked how Margo Z looked. So, I decided to leave it at that.

          1. rle

            Hey Cosi, the whole time I was reading this I kinda felt like I was watching a scene from one of those Pixar animated movies. I thought this was really cool. Hooo-wheee!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        There’s a lot more truth and deep story than I realized as I read this. I took a ball point and wrote a complete story while my computer was in the shop. I was surprised at what fun it was, crossing out lines, rewrite, creating something physical. Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean. Your chaacters are loveable, each with distinctive personalities, that’s what makes this story cook. Good job on the promt.

  11. asclepius

    “Lady’s and Gentlemen of the Chamber, I present to you the President of this House. Rah, Rah, whooooo!”

    I put down the Thesaurus I had in front of my mouth as I was saying this, and I take my place in front of my desk.

    “Good evening everyone. The state of my writing is stagnant!”

    I pause as I look out at all the office supplies that I have laid out on the floor and on the chairs of my office. There is no response from them.

    “This past year, we have worked together to try and create more eloquent and more creative writing. We have come a long ways, but we still have a ways to go.”

    I look over my right shoulder where my ballpoint pen sat on one side of the desk.

    “Pen, you have been there with me all year. You seem to never have anything to do, since I do almost everything on the laptop. And you have a habit of slipping and leaving big blotches at the worst possible times. But you remain an invaluable aide to me when I need your help, and always will be.”

    I then turn and look over my left shoulder. My orange post-it note pad sits on the other end of the desk.

    “Post-it, you and I often disagree. Most often you just seem to get in the way of my writing, as every thing I write on you just ends up in the trash. I hope this year we can make progress together.”

    I turn out to the rest of the supplies.

    “I look out now at all of you. Whether it be the dictionary, the pencil, and the paper clips on the right, or the laptop, the thumb drive, and the wifi hub on the left. We can all work together to create great writing. We can all agree to…”

    The sound of the door opening interrupts me. A small face peaks around the door frame.

    “Daddy, can you come play with me and my toys.”

    My wife grabs him and begins to pull him away from the door.

    “Michael, leave your father alone. He’s working and he is too old to play with toys.”

    “Wait,” I stop her. “Actually, it’s probably about time I wrap it up for today anyways.”

    I step out of the office and start to escort Michael upstairs. “What do you want to play? Do you want to play with Charlie the Choo-Choo Train?”

    “Nah. Charlie is too silly. Trains cant talk.”

    1. Reaper

      I thought the beginning was nice and comical and then the end just drove it home. Nicely done and I got the feel of a man who knew he was being silly and mocking the normal speech with your opening and the right and left comments.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A very sweet story of a father who knew where his priorities were anchored. A moment with a child is priceless, Turn, turn around and there are grandchildren to play with.

  12. Stephen S

    “State of my mind”

    “Dear conscience, morality, office supplies and the universe. It has been a year of strife with many set backs both internal and external. In these dark times we have come together, not only to work through these issues, but to understand them and plan for the future. Our combined cooperation was instrumental in our combined success. With these achievements we have learned to function as one, with the common goal of putting word to paper. Each one of us may understand the mysteries of writing in our own interpretation, but only together can we create the words.

    As the New Year marches forward, I make no promises of book deals, recognition or monetary compensation. I will promise that if we all work together towards the common goal of creating we will succeed. We all must remind ourselves that the intention of our writing is for self fulfillment and to create. This drive to create must be fulfilled if we are to stay out of padded rooms and lonely places.

    Conscience you have made great strives to put aside your guilt and self righteousness. Morality, we have not seen eye to eye on what we have written, but you have shown that you are able to see the work as a whole and not the subject of the material. Office supplies, there were many occasions that we had all thought that more was better, but through your clutter you have proven that the tools matter not when it comes to passion. Universe, you have been the source of every one of our ideas great and small. This last year when writer’s block fell upon us, you stepped forward and shown us new places for inspiration beyond the obvious and into the impossible.

    I believe if we can continue to work together, the five manuscripts we have completed will be a drop in the bucket as to what we can achieve. We have all been together from the start and will be to the end. There will be times when we slip and want to give up. It’s in these times we must remind ourselves that it matters not what the writing is as long as it’s on paper. We cannot be critics of our own words, that is not our place, ours is to create. Remember not all of Leonardo da Vinci paintings where master pieces but each still had to be created.

    So in closing, I see a future of many stories and many ideas. There will be failures but these will be our lessons for success. So go forward and create. Thank you all,” I stated and stood in silences. Then my mind opened and the universe spoke to me. My morality nodded and my conscience smiled at what was forming in my head, then with a grin I sat down at my pad a paper and began to create.

    1. Reaper

      This is very well done. Containing a whole story within the speech and a couple of additional lines. There is a sense of empowerment and real hope here as well as understanding and acceptance of who and what you are. It is pretty amazing.. Five? Damn, I need to quit slacking.

  13. rle

    Good evening. I’ll start first by welcoming the long lost supplies of my previously abandoned writing career: pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, stapler, printed reference books, and anything else I have inadvertently forgotten to mention by name. Next, I’d like to welcome the tools and resources of a new era in writing: computer, reliable internet connection, perseverance, and faith.

    The year 2014 was a year of discovery. Many years ago I believed I was on the fast track to a career in writing then I stumbled across a sidetrack, which led me down an entirely different road. I got married, started a business and family, and just got generally wrapped up in life. I had full intentions of getting back to writing when things ‘calmed down’ a bit; and then next thing I knew, nearly twenty-five years had breezed by and dropped me flat on my ass, right smack dab in my early forties.

    Early last year I was surfing the web looking for something; not entirely sure what it was but confident I’d know when I found it. Then, almost like a neon sign in a bar window, beckoning the wretched drunk to walk through the door, there it was: Writers Digest Weekly Writing Prompts.

    I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with Writers Digest. At one time I had actually subscribed and think I even still have a long outdated copy of The Writers Market lying around someplace. But these weekly writing prompts were something with which I was unfamiliar indeed. I couldn’t be tantalized for long. I had to check this out. I was destined to indulge.

    I read the prompts and responses for a couple of weeks, not sure I could match the caliber of the writers who already frequented there. It seemed there were folks from all walks of life and every corner of the globe participating. I was timid at first, hoping I wouldn’t be booed and hissed off of the stage in a hail of dirty socks and banana peels, but the folks here didn’t seem like that. They were all kind and encouraging right from the get go, gently nudging me along, making me want to strive to do better, and stretching me, often times, well beyond my comfort zone.

    Once the cobwebs of inactivity were flushed from my brain and I hit full stride, I began thinking beyond the prompts and started jotting down some ideas for a novel. Although I know it will be a long and arduous row to hoe, I’m nearly ready to begin trying to bring it all together.

    Writing supplies, this is where you come into the picture. Although I ‘m fully aware we have a long way to go to see this to fruition, I’m asking you to stand by me and help me see it through. Pens, pencils, paper, and dictionaries, don’t feel as though just because you have been replaced by more modern tools of the trade, that you won’t be called on frequently during this process. You all know I’m still a little old school and that sometimes my best work is born in longhand on a sheet of notebook paper.

    Computer and internet, don’t for one second be disillusioned into thinking I can’t write without you. Although you make my life much easier, I wrote for years without you and am certain I could do so again. Please just do what I ask of you and bear in mind if you piss me off, you CAN be replaced.

    Perseverance and faith, you may be the two most important pieces to this puzzle. You will be called upon far more frequently than any of the others. Keep me grounded, keep me focused, keep me moving forward, keep me believing in myself, and most importantly, keep me sane. We don’t have a whole lifetime to get this done, after all, I’ve already squandered over twenty years. Don’t fail me now.

    Finally, to all of my fellow writers on this forum. I can never truly express how grateful I am for all of your support and encouragement over the past eleven months. Your thoughtful critiques have invigorated and inspired me to a whole new level. I know it sounds a bit cliche, but I feel like I’m about to embark on a new chapter in my life.

    Once again, thank you, God bless, and good night.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is touching, rle. You said all of it beautifully, both your situation and something that I’m sure has been in many of our hearts. Now it’s time to open a new file and face the writer’s worst enemy and most comfortable space: a fresh, blank page. Good luck, and may your publication date come sooner rather than later.

    2. Dennis

      Thank you for sharing this. I too started about the same time and so glad I found this place. I’ve enjoyed reading your stories and look forward to more. Here’s to a very productive year.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I started reading you rle and slipped inti the same situation as you have except when I realized the world of commerce was a window to something else, I finally did something about it. Your heart-felt sincerity echoes many of us here, in particular myself. At the time I had the courage to write, most people my age were in their retirement years.

        In my case, my primary thoughts were to write to please myself, as my correspondence teacher prompted me this way. I enjoy your writing immemsely for your talent and also your warmth of expression. So we’ll keep at until…………….., well who knows.

      2. rle

        Thanks Dennis. As I’ve delved into this forum, I’ve discovered a number of us are in or approaching middle age. Maybe it’s our unique way of addressing a mid-life crisis. I know I for one surely can’t afford a sports car.

    3. Just JM

      I loved how you turned something as silly as talking to your office supplies into something so heartfelt and real. As others have said, you expressed well the feelings that many of us have. This is very well written and moving.

      1. rle

        JMC, Thank you so much. I’ve made the decision to nurture that thing inside of me that makes me want to write. I know it will be a long uphill process, but I feel I have reached a point in my life where I can eventually make it happen. I hope you find that point in your future as well.

  14. qwert

    The only audience Dave had was an ink pen, a stapler, a few paper clips, and a tired looking computer. But it was an audience he was well acquainted with, so after a surreptitious glance out the glass door he began.

    “My dear companions, I know last year was not what any of us had wanted. But a new year is a time of change, right?”

    He paused, expecting a wave of murmuring through the crowd. But the only thing that gave a reply was the ink pen that rolled calmly as if his words had no affect and as if they were bouncing off its felt tip. It was tired; too used to broken promises to take his words to its heart of royal blue ink.

    Dave was unperturbed and continued. “You might feel that your commiseration for me has gone dry. But I promise for a better year. This year, we have plans. Together we are going to flaunt the fact that our writing skills are feasible enough to elicit a few encouraging claps. Plan #2 is to fabricate a believable story to get some money from Elise and travel. Travelling is the first step to a more creative mind. Enjoy, Explore, Create, and then Write. “
    The computer’s humming increased drastically. Maybe it finally understood that Dave meant what he said. Or maybe it was just getting older from months of being unused.

    “We have gone through a lot together. Crimes, investigations, fights, adventure, and mysteries; all of which were sent and all of which were rejected. But look on the bright side; it was what helped us grow to what we are now. And we’ve learned. Not that I was incapable of pursuing a writing career but that all I needed was time.

    This year friends, we are going to take it easy. I realized our fault last year was that we tried way too hard. We agitated our creativeness. This year we will keep those creativity valves open. May our creativity flow like water in a stream, may words be written as easily as the breeze, and may all our writings be made with joy, love and style.”

    The computer hum faded to silence.

    1. Just JM

      The image that stuck with me was the ink pen rolling as the words bounced off it. That was inspired. This was nicely crafted and deserves more than just a few encouraging claps.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m jumping in here and my thoughst were how classical your writing is and heartfelt. I also was taken with the ink pen rolling . A great job on the prompt. This was not an easy one.

  15. Kerry Charlton

    THE WRITER’S ADDRESS

    For three months or so, Brian Caldwell had struggled wth writer’ block. Meanwhile, his office equipment had caused mental havoc whenever he tried to compose. One morning he had enough B.S. from them and flew into a rage. He looked at his PC which happened to be blowing smoke from’s ports to his HP prnter making death gurgles. His paper clips had managed to wind themselves into a panty wad. ‘Not any more’ he though as he addressed his office equipment,

    “Seven years ago, I brought forth my writing talent, conceived with the thought of makng a decent living and also, I realized God did not create all writers equal. Now I an engaged with all of you in an ill-conceived war that I will not endure. You hae turned my office into a battleield of distress.

    “But in a larger sense, it is a thought war between us that has cause this problem. Some of your forebearers have perished here and been replaced by many of you………..” PC started to shrick. HP rolled blank paper out of it’s mouth, Brian’s desk fan’s propeller fell off and skipped across his desk top as it’s spin ceased.

    “As I was saying,” Brian anounced,

    “This world will litte note nor long remember what we say here but if I take recourse and burn this office down, the fire department will.”

    Three hole punch waved it’s handle at Brian,

    “All l do is punch holes, it’s not my fault.”

    Brian’s stapler, started to tremble, “Mr. Brian, I’ve tried to keep everthing together, I’m too young to die.”

    “Let me finish”, Brian said, ” I want all of you to dedicate your lives to the unfinished work which thus far, you haven’t advanced.”

    File cabinet started opening and slamming drawers. “I’m not on this battlefield you have chosen to consecrate. My work is behind the lines of battle and I’m just a storage depot.”

    Bran’s eyes lifted to the wall opposite his desk. A Confederate sniper’s rifle with a four foot long, hex barrell was firmly mounted there. He rolled his step-lift over to the wall and carefully lowered the ancient weapon into his arms.

    “Don’t think I’m not serious,” he said as he aimed the rifle barrell toward his PC’s screen.

    “I have black powder and one Dum Dum bullet loaded and ready to fire, so listen up,”

    “it is rather for us to be here, dedicated to the great task remaining before us, good writing. And I expect you to increase your devotion to the cause. Should you choose not to, most of you who are listening will die in vain. Do we have an agreement?”

    In unison, “Yes Sir,.” echoed through Brian’s office. “One thing further,” Silence filled the office.

    “Pledge the following, ‘We highly resove that this nation, under God shall have a new birth and that government of the writers, by the writers, for the writers, shall not perish from the earth.'”

    The office equipment straned to begin their task as Brian turned toward his PC and started to type.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is great, Kerry! I never thought of threatening my computer with a gun, especially an antique that would wreak all kinds of havoc. Luckily the only gun I have shoots rubber bands.

      🙂 🙂

      I also love the bits snuck in from other founding documents and addresses.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Tim, I was actually pulling in and out of the Gettesburg address. So I hope Abe isn’t rolling over and getting ready to toss thunderbolts my way.

    2. Just JM

      This is wonderfully, lovably loopy. I loved your characterizations and imagery — the stapler trying to keep everything together, the fan blade shooting across the desk, and poor obsolete hole puncher. Everyone seems to be picking on the hole punchers today. For some reason, Brian Caldwell gradually began to look like Teddy Roosevelt in my mind. I wonder if this is how he motivated the White House staff.

      This was some rambunctious fun, Kerry

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you, JM, I didn’t find this an easy prompt to work through and felt a flatness to my writing here. When I think of it, the reference to Teddy Roosevelt is more accurate than Lincoln. I am sincerely happy you enjoyed this. The use of a Confederate snipers rifle in my story is a lost opportunity. At an estate sale, I held one in my arms as the dealer was trying to part $200.00 from my wallet.

        I didn’t grab it for some stupid reason at the time, probably a lack of play money. I would imagine they’re worth multiple thousands. I’m afraid to look it up and ruin my day.

    3. Reaper

      Loved this. It had an epic feel to it. The responses from the supplies were priceless. I was envisioning this weird cross between Lincoln and Van Buren. Then I saw the mention of Teddy Roosevelt and thought that was fitting as well. Another amazingly written story by you. I thought this was a very hard prompt to follow to the letter without going either comical or for a younger audience. You managed to do it very nicely though.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reaper. I struggled with this one and wasn’t very happy with it. I like a little more drama than office equipment rebellion. I’m thinking on the next prompt, I’ll go dark again so the forum won’t think I’m a sugar baby.

        1. rle

          Don’t be so hard on yourself Kerry. I thought this was very entertaining. Actually I nearly took a sledge hammer to my desk top just today. I just bought a new printer and for the life of me I couldn’t get it to work. Spent almost an hour on the phone with a tech from HP to get it all sorted out. I fear technology might well be the death of me. This is why I may be one of the only remaining smartphone holdouts. I t’s all I can do to make my dumb one work.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Thank you, rle. I’m happy you enjoyed this. I also, am a hold out on the phone, although I find it tedious having to wax the string to my tomato can once a week. As far as the HP printer, my new one is not working, keeps saying it can’t recognize the computer. Maybe, we bought the same model.

    4. lionetravail

      This was totally Lincoln for me, starting out with you paraphrase of the opening of the Gettysburg Address: “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Where that started, I was immediately swept into the story 🙂

      Then the puns started, and I enjoyed those even more, like the staplers: “Mr. Brian, I’ve tried to keep everything together!”

      Nicely fun, Kerry!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you David. I had fun with this one, even though it wasn’t an easy prompt. I have held a Confererate sniper rifle, it weighed close to twenty pounds. About twenty years age he wanted to sell it for $200.00. I didn’t have a place to put it so stupid said. no.They are rare indeed. Confederacy ordered 300 only from France. Last one sold at auction for $135,000.00. STUPID REIGNS

        1. lionetravail

          That sounds like 2 brilliant short stories right there- one about the missed chances, and the second about the gun itself, and its legacy of death…. muahahahaha!

          Sorry, that just happens to me sometimes 🙂

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Tha’s a great idea Davd. I’ll make the title of the story,”The Long Death” Make the MC the rifle leaving the shooter the instrument, the pawn of the MC.

    1. Observer Tim

      Yes. It’s because the document is converted to plain text as part of posting. HTML is a bit different. You have to manually put in marks to start and stop italics or boldface.

      To do italics, use <i> to turn it on and </i> to turn it off, <i>like this</i>.
      To do boldface, use <b> and </b>, &ltb>like this</b>.

      The codes normally disappear, I’m using special codes to keep them visible. Remember you always have to us a start and stop code, otherwise the whole of your document after the start code will be made italic.

      If you want to emphasize something a simpler way, some authors use *asterisks*, _underlines_, or “quote marks” to highlight words without fussing with HTML codes. Quote marks look silly inside other quotes, though.

    2. Observer Tim

      And now the version with the examples fixed:

      To do italics, use <i> to turn it on and </i> to turn it off, <i>like this</i>.
      To do boldface, use <b> and </b>, <b>like this</b>.

      The system is totally unforgiving, and works best for short stretches of text.

  16. Observer Tim

    My writing supplies list is pretty sparse so I figured I’d share this instead. After all, it’s more likely to happen.

    STATE OF THE UNION

    “Good evening ladies, gentlemen, children, and uh, other things. Welcome to the Crossover Room at the Interdimensional HoJo. Tim couldn’t make it here today, so he asked me to…

    “Brandon, lower your shotgun; those zombie girls are with Jay. Jack, stop pocketing the silverware; we have to pay for that. And you Iron Man lookalikes… you and the army of killer robots are not going to start a fight. Do I make myself clear?

    “Anyway, my name is Wanda and Tim has asked me… no, not you Prompt Story Tim, the real one. He’s asked me to give a brief State of the Union address. It’s been… ahem! Just a moment.

    “Ahhhh. These are good muffins. Oh, and special thanks to Emily for bringing the coffee. This isn’t going to turn people into anything strange, is it? Okay.

    “What is it, Eric? No, I am ‘masticating’ – it means chewing. I am NOT doing what you said. Some days I wish you were imaginary.

    “Anyway, it’s been a busy year. Tim pumped out over a hundred stories last year and as a side effect brought all of us into existence. Okay, yes Kristen, I know you came from 2013; so did Billy. Don’t worry about it.

    “It’s been a big year and there’s another big one planned. Tim has promised a 50% increase in story output, so this room will be even more packed next year. And we may even have some novel characters next year, not just us shorties.

    “Tim wanted me to let you know that it’s time for your contract renewals. Just write to him and let him know you’re interested in coming back for a sequel.

    “PUT DOWN THOSE CELL PHONES! He said he doesn’t want a repeat of last year where it took him two days to clear his voice mail. You have to send either a paper letter or an e-mail. If you have an idea for a story, include it in your letter. It makes his job easier.

    “No, personified distractions, you don’t have to send anything; you’re part of his brain already. The same for you, Prompt Story Tim and you, girl monster aggressive thing or whatever you are.

    “If your current story has a denouement, you can always choose to enjoy your happy ending. I’m especially thinking of you, Matt (and your Lucky Dockers), and Mindy too, though I noticed your ending left a hook for another anime space fling.

    “Pat? Tim wanted me to tell you specifically that you’ll be staying on as caretaker of Ferguson House, and if there’s any more haunted mansion stories he’ll be sure to fit you in.

    “Smilin’ Pete, you and the gang will be back too. Tim said to tell you because you’re the brains of the outfit, even though you are just a polished skull.

    “Well, that’s the business part of this meeting. Lobos Locos will be playing for you, so let’s give them a warm welcome…

    1. jhowe

      That was extremely clever and a great way to interpret, or purposely veer from this prompt. I found this very enjoyable, which is exactly I look for in a story.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        And I’m a triple third vote. This would be so complicated for me to write but I know you just pushed it out of your marvelous brain. I can’t even remeber my stories that much but my brain’s so old, it leaks information as fast as I put new info in.

        Sieve head [me].

        1. Observer Tim

          I have to admit I cheated, Kerry. I spent last weekend assembling an e-book of nearly every spot o’fiction I’ve written since I started on this site [that’s 152 items, not all WD]. I say ‘nearly’ because I edited out a couple of pieces that were effectively in-jokes, and I may have missed some. Also, a lot of the errors have been cleaned up.

          This was done for the benefit of three of my co-workers, who foolishly asked what sort of writing I do…

          The ebook contains a few stories that are “not appropriate for a younger audience,” though there is nothing explicit. I am thinking of assembling a shorter one with those stories removed.

          If you or anybody else wants a copy of the EPUB (or MOBI) file, it can be had by e-mailing me at observer(at)telusplanet.net. Replace the (at) with the usual @-sign. This stuff is all effectively public domain, or at least previously published on the internet, and I’m glad to share.

    2. Nicki EagerReader

      Thank you, Tim! I can’t even describe how much you made me laugh, so I’ll leave it up to your ample imagination to fill in the details. Seriously, Wanda and Pete especially have endeared themselves to me forever, so I’m glad they’ll be sticking around in 2015…

    3. Just JM

      Thanks for the walk down memory lane. I remember almost all of those characters, which if you think about it, is pretty amazing with 52 weeks in a year and hundreds of responses each week. Congratulations, Tim, your characters are officially, really and truly memorable.

    4. Dennis

      I also thought this was quite clever, bringing in some of the cast of characters. Because they really are the ones who will protest if we don’t give them some time.

    5. Bilbo Baggins

      I just had to reply to this one. What a fun way to wrap up all of the characters you’ve made, from Smilin’ Pete (my personal favorite) to the army of Iron Man duplicates (or were they aliens? …. or both?) And what was up with Lobos Locos? Is that some sort of mariachi band or something?

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Bilbo. Lobos Locos (Crazy Wolves) got their lead singer in “I Regret Sleeping On That Couch” and the rest of the band showed up in “The Robert Syndrome”. They’re literally a band of werewolves.

    6. lionetravail

      What a fun romp through all your entertaining achievements of the past year, Tim! It was like watching a summary rerun episode in a good series, where they do it and make fun of themselves for doing it (I’m thinking of Stargate: SG1 here). This was slick, funny, and a wonderful reminder of the bright parts of reading your stories 🙂

  17. jhowe

    The paperclips rallied but not as I had hoped. They united together and jeered as one, directing their wrath at me and my fumbling writing endeavors. This outburst emboldened the stapler who shot spent staples my way, some of which hit the desk lamp who protested by putting on a derogatory light show meant to express his disdain as well. The computer took all this in and did nothing but sneer with that look only he can produce and I finally got the picture. I gathered my courage and rose, gesturing for silence. This was my final chance and I took it.

    “I know what all this is about,” I said to them. “I know I keep saying I’ll do more but as you know, I never do. I consistently go over the suggested word count. I often rely on humor when the prompt does not fall into an area I am comfortable with. Much like this one. I mean, rallying paperclips? Come on. So here’s the deal. Once again I will deviate from the prompt and go way over on word count and put out a piece that many will shake their heads over and hopefully I will prove to you that I can do this. If not, I have that gift card from Office Max I’m dying to use. So here’s my entry, longer than hell and having nothing to do with the prompt save for this pitiful introduction. In fact, I’m going to suggest you stop reading after this paragraph. This is the prompt, not the next part. I only wrote the next part because I was bored and the prompt didn’t come out until Wednesday afternoon and I’ve been experiencing troubles with the WD website.” I looked around and they were all silent. “I call this The Kept Woman. Thank you.”

    The man and the woman talked quietly at a corner table with a window and enjoyed a broad view of the darkening city. They had moved from their barstools to avoid the lingering barkeep and his incessant wiping of the sparkling mahogany counter.

    “Why do you look at me like that?” said the woman as she sipped her wine.

    “Like what?”

    “I think you know.” She set down her glass and stared out the window at a couple walking by.

    “You’re very beautiful you know,” he said looking away.

    “I’m not available I’m afraid.”

    “Then why did you accept a drink?”

    “I probably shouldn’t have.”

    “Are you married?” he asked.

    “No.”

    “Engaged?”

    “No.” She brushed back a lock of blond hair that had fallen across her forehead.

    “But you’re seeing someone?”

    “No.” She picked up her glass again and drained it.

    “Another drink?”

    “I shouldn’t.”

    “I’ll tell you what,” he said rising. “I’ll buy a round and then you can decide if you want it.”

    He returned with the drinks and set them down. He slid her empty glass aside and replaced it with a full glass. She looked at it but didn’t touch it. “Why are you not available?” he asked taking a sip from his fresh glass of bourbon.

    “It’s complicated.”

    “I have time,” he said smiling.

    “You’re very kind, but I should go.” She sipped the wine but made no attempt to rise.

    “Have you been hurt; is that it?” He touched her hand. “Are you afraid I’ll hurt you?”

    “You’re getting warmer.” She slid the chair away from the table.

    “Please,” he said. “Finish your drink and I won’t ask any more questions.”

    She scooted her chair back and picked up her glass again. “I’m sorry to be so evasive.” She looked downward. “You see, I’m a… a kept woman.”

    “A kept woman?” he looked confused. “As in someone’s mistress?”

    “Not exactly,” she said taking a long drink.

    “Please tell me.”

    “He keeps me.” She took another long drink. “In a room.”

    “Against your will?” he said a little too loudly.

    She drained her glass. “I should go.” She rose and walked unsteadily toward the door. “Thank you for the drinks,” she called over her shoulder. “I needed them.”

    “Please wait.” He took his wallet from his pocket and left some bills on the table near his full glass. He walked to the door and saw the woman running on the other side of the street. It was a warm night and traffic was fairly thick as he tried to cross. On the opposite side he glimpsed her turning a corner and he ran after her. He followed her for two blocks calling for her to come back but she hurried on. They entered a residential area and she stumbled up the steps of an attractive two story Victorian house and pulled the door open. She turned, saw the man, walked in and shut the door.

    The man tentatively walked up the steps. He contemplated the doorbell and wondered if he should just walk away and forget about all this. A kept woman? He pushed the doorbell button. He heard the muted chimes but nobody answered. He rang again and knocked loudly. The door opened slightly and she said, “Please leave.” Tears ran down her pretty face. “He’ll be home soon.”

    “Let me help you,” he said quickly as the door slammed shut. He looked up and down the street and tried the door. It opened and he walked in and called to her loudly only to be met with silence. The house was dark and he felt for a switch, found it and a foyer light came on. He heard footsteps on the wooden staircase. “Please let me help you,” he called again making his way to the stairs. At the top he saw light from under a door at the end of the hall. He reached it and knocked quietly and then a little louder. There was no response. He pushed it open and found her sitting on an unmade bed. “Why did you run from me?” he said.

    “I didn’t want you to get hurt.” The tears were gone.

    “The man who keeps you,” he swallowed audibly. “Is he dangerous?”

    “You’re getting warmer.” She nodded toward a closet door.

    “Is he in there?” he asked.

    She nodded.

    “Is he dead?” he asked, his voice breaking.

    She nodded again. “You’re getting much warmer.”

    “I don’t understand,” he said.

    “Most men don’t.” She rose from the bed and walked to the man. “Do you want to kiss me?”

    “No.”

    “Good answer.” She raised her arm and a large gleaming butcher knife slammed downward as he turned and it sank deeply between his shoulder blades. “You’re burning up.” She said.

    1. Observer Tim

      Whoa, this is good, jhowe. It looks from here like you needed to let off some writing steam and you did a good job of it. I sort of pity the MC, though he was given any number of chances to get out of it…

      🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        jhowe, your first paragraph sank the the hook so deep, it litterly hurt. I think this is a masterpiece of suspense you’ve written. A woman like a spider, luring her victim to her lair. This is classic writing, you’ve outdone yourself.

    2. Dennis

      Nice wiring JHowe. I empathize with the MC as I think would have been a dope and followed her home too. Note to self: If woman is evasive, run like hell!

    3. Just JM

      That was so much better than anything this prompt could inspire. Glad you decided to do your own thing. You had me hooked from the beginning and the suspense only built from there. Fantastic!

    4. Reaper

      At the end of the last Dark Tower book Stephen King writes his normal kind of ending. Then he has this piece where he says I know people won’t like that this isn’t a real ending so after this is another ending, an ending in the traditional sense. Don’t read it, you won’t like it. I ignored him too.

      This is kind of like that. I could have been okay with just your prompt bit but the actual story was amazing. Very dark and powerful with that opening hook that Kerry mentioned. Fabulous. I was thinking the ending didn’t feel right because he didn’t kiss her but then I read Tim’s comment and the ending became perfect. I saw the mention of he was given so many chances to get out of it, and I thought, was he really? Because he took the last one and still got stabbed. So complicated and perfect and not relying on humor. Very nice.

    5. lionetravail

      I was gripped by this story in a story, Jhowe, but the kill at the end I’m not sure I understood. Whatever her reaction to being previously victimized, and being perhaps a mysterious predator, I didn’t understand why the exchange at the end went the way it did. I didn’t understand why she killed him, based on the exchanges between them. Maybe it was because she was clearly insane and homicidal, but i wish I’d seen a little more of her character to know why. I mean, he was caring, not manipulative or bad… and the interactions seemed pretty benign. Based on what you showed us, I wouldn’t have thought she’s stab him.

      Love the feel of this piece- dark, and explorational, and poetic. I’d like there to be more 🙂

  18. Hiba Gardezi

    I hold this disgusting piece of junk by the throat.
    ‘M-m-ma’am? ‘
    ‘What is it Shuck face?’
    ‘Wait… isn’t that James Dashner’s line?’ An old wrinkly man seated on my horse in my battle armour holding my book says.
    ‘Cut to the chase Seaweed Brain…’ I order my captive.
    ‘Oh…umm’ The ink leaking out of this ‘writing’ supply turns pink.
    ‘I didn’t mean it that way, what is it?!’
    ‘I just wanted to ask you why… here?’
    ‘What is wrong with here, you Pansycake…?’
    ‘Divergent…’ The oldie reminds.
    I breath loudly and whip my head to face him ‘Be. Quiet. It is not your place to tell me I am stealing from other authors.’
    ‘Actually’. He slips off the horse ‘It is.’
    ‘He’s right’ and I squeeze the pens throat even harder. ‘Maybe not…’ he squeaks.
    ‘I for one second the pen, why here? And why like this? A battle?’
    ‘Look here smarty pants…this is perfec-’ I catch Pen and Oldie lock eyes and smile like we work for a demented, struggling writer
    ‘Go on’
    ‘You sleepy heads haven’t been working hard enough-’
    ‘Excuse me?’ Oldie says imitating my British accent, batting his eyes and fanning his face.
    I slap my hand on my face.
    Pen laughs.
    They high five.
    Seriously…this is what I’ve been going through all year.
    ‘ YOU KNOW WHAT?’
    WHAT? Pen laughs.
    I drop him.
    I’m done.
    ‘I’m done’
    ‘Done with what? Should Momma come and pick you up from the potty?’ Oldie asks.
    ‘Mmmhmmm…?’ I step on him.
    ‘Done with this.’ I wave my hands around ‘All of this. Good luck publishing that book.’ I gesture towards my hard work in Oldie’s hands and turn around.
    ‘But …’
    But nothing I say with my back still turned. After all my hardwork you give me this?’ I ask ‘This?
    ‘W-we…’
    ‘ You what? You want to destroy my career? Do you know how much this means to me? No you obviously don’t’ a tear rolls down my cheek and my voice starts to get heavy ‘ because all you ever do is joke and laugh.’ I wipe my eyes and sniff ‘ I just wanted to fix this. And even now after this year’s disasters you want to have fun. You know what else it fun? Killing people. And pens. But you both are still alive. Now I’m not talking about my characters. As I was saying…I only wanted to fix this. I thought that maybe actually being in the setting of my story would help. But I guess , no. ‘
    ‘I’m sorry Car-’
    I whip around and shout ‘ Cut !’
    ‘What?’ Pen tenses his eyes moving from side to side like a pendulum, rolling on the ground ‘ Don’t kill me Sciss…she made me do it! For Gods Sakes, I’m not a murderer!’ he shouts to the scissors in my pocket.
    What? Oh no. Man. That didn’t go as planned. I wasn’t going to kill you Pen, I meant cut as in the other cut.
    ‘Huh ?’ Oldie asks.
    ‘I meant cut. Like the scene is over. Like the movie makers do?’
    Why…is the scene over? Okay what scene ! I can’t bear it I don’t know what you mean!’ he starts crying like he does every time he gets frustrated.
    ‘Dude. Chill.’ I feel sorry for the old guy ‘That sobbing and scolding I was doing? I was acting.’
    ‘Why would you do such a thing?’ his eyes are red.
    ‘What kind of question is that? I’m a writer , I like extra spice. I thought I would act all emotional and see how you guys react. It’s for that scene…the one I just can’t get right? Didn’t you notice I did exactly what my character was doing? Yeah, I get where I went wrong.
    ’Ay khuda , tera lakh lakh shukar ‘ Pen says in Urdu : Oh God , I thank you a thousand times ! Yeah, he tends to slip into other languages when he gets very emotional. You don’t want to know the possibilities. ‘ I’m Alive!’
    ‘So…what now’ the big guy asks.
    ‘Now,’ I shout pulling the battle scene curtain of the wall and throwing my balloon horse into the cupboard. ‘ We party!’ and turn on some dance music.
    ‘Al right!’ Pen jumps up but falls back down.
    ‘Yeah!’ Oldie says starting to calm down.
    ‘Right after we finish that chapter.’

    1. Observer Tim

      This is fantastically entertaining, Hiba. I love the imaginative insults and the conversational style. I had no idea what was going on when it started, but as it went on everything dropped into place and left the confusion as an entertaining memory. Incredible! 🙂

    2. Reaper

      I like this. The story is interesting and the twist at the end unexpected. I was also confused at the beginning and I think part of that was intentional and fed into the story. The other part was from the dialogue. Your voices are similar, which makes sense as they are in theory part of the same person. Because of that I sometimes got confused as to who was speaking. I can’t believe I’m going to say this but this could use just a few more tag lines to let the slower witted of us keep up, or maybe a little more inflection like make old man sound more snooty, and pen more primitive? I don’t know. Just a suggestion and not necessary because I kept reading until I got to the end where it all came together and made sense and I really enjoyed it.

  19. james.ticknor

    “I’m so wet. Why don’t you use me like you did last time? I only squirted so hard because you’ve got a heavy hand.”

    “Shut up, you slutty pen,” I murmured, yet I couldn’t resist fondling it.

    “Oh, yes. You know you like it. Now put me in your mouth. Don’t bite too hard, or I’ll squirt again,” the ball point pen teased. I was happy to oblige. She popped a moan as I took off her top.

    The computer glared coldly. “He’s just using you as a tool. You think you can please him? He has to use both hands on me, and I can get him there twice as fast.”

    I groaned and put my ball point pen down as they started bitching to one another again. “Girls, I need you both,” I sighed.

    “You only need that slutty pen when you’re on the road. But who is the one he comes to with dinner every night? Me. You’re no better than a Black Sabbath groupie.”

    “Well,” said the pen, “At least I don’t get replaced every few years.”

    “Better a few years than every two weeks,” the computer said smugly. “And I got my RAM implants. Where’s your upgrade slots?”

    My pen bristled. “He might spend time with you both,” said my folders, “but he NEEDS me. He trusts me with all his secrets that neither one of you can see.”

    “You think he doesn’t have backup drives?” sneered my computer, “Just ask the printer where those copies came from. Go ahead- he’s Wi-Fi so he knows.”

    “It’s true, but I’m the one who gets all the shit actually done around here,” complained the printer.

    “ENOUGH!” I shouted at the lot of them.

    “Hey,” shouted a Sticky Note from the fridge, “did you remember to buy a dipping pen to try out by candlelight?”

    “Dipping pen?” shrieked ball point pen.

    “Candlelight?” growled the computer.

    “Uh…” I looked tentatively to the White Out.

    “I can’t fix this one.” the White Out said.

    “Look,” I said to ball point pen, “You’re just not reusable, and I’m looking for more of a long term writing medium.”

    “What about me?” asked the computer hotly.

    “I can’t get rid of you,” I cooed.

    “Fuck it, I’m coming out of the Walmart bag,” said dipping pen.

    “Stay away from my man!” shouted ball point pen, sobbing hysterically.

    “It’s too late for this nonsense. I’m going to sleep,” said computer.

    Dipping pen laughed. “You’re nothing but a hermaphrodite. God intended for a pen to be dipped, not an amalgamated abomination.”

    “YOU’RE DIPPED IN A POOL OF LIES!” shouted ball point pen.

    “He’s a fiction writer. He always lies,” said dipping pen smoothly. “It’s why your relationship was doomed from the start. I’m the one he needs.”

    “No, I am,” shouted printer.

    “No- me!” shouted folder.

    My office supplies started screaming and yelling at each other, waking computer from her sleep and she joined in the yelling too. “Dammit,” I shouted, “I don’t want to write with any of you right now! If anything, I’m most inclined to take ball point pen and go write in the yard.”

    Ball point pen squirted in pleasure. “You’re choosing that slutty pen over me?” said computer incredulously. “Fine. If I can’t have you, no one can!” The wall outlet sparked and the wall caught on fire. The office supplies started clamoring, begging for me to save them. I quickly grabbed my back-up CD’s and started to run out of the house, ignoring their cries. The computer laughed maniacally.

    Dipping pen’s feather caught fire. “I’M BURNING! OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I’M BURNING!”

    I ran out of the house, the Sticky Notes screaming at me as I went through the rooms. I made it out, and the fire department came before the fire moved too quickly. However, my writing room was completely trashed. “This is why I never get any writing done,” I muttered.

      1. james.ticknor

        Thank you! I’m not sure where I got the inspiration. I was thinking of what different office supplies I had by my desk and what their jobs were. Then I thought about how I switch from typing to writing long-hand, and what’d happen if it was kind of a polyamorous relationship. IDK. I’m weird.

    1. Reaper

      Very funny all of the way through. The last line was great. This is so over the top in the personalities and reactions that it really fits to. This is the kind of lie a writer tells themselves (in less fantastic terms) to explain why no writing gets done. Nicely delivered.

      1. james.ticknor

        Thank you kindly! I always make up reasons why I neglected to write for the day. Often, I build up fantastic stories like these as excuses. It’s not so much for the excuse- it’s to get me back in the mood for writing.

      1. james.ticknor

        I love White Out (in real life). I wrote the story and was rereading it, thinking “Damn, I have to put White Out in here somewhere.” The revelation of another lover was the perfect opportunity, and, oddly, it didn’t feel forced to me. So, I allowed White Out to stay.

      2. james.ticknor

        In retrospect, I think it was my favorite line in this piece. Not quite sure why though. It just seems to give an extra dynamic to the story. Perhaps because this one little comment makes it seem like the writer can make mistakes and adds to his overall personality?

  20. Just JM

    With apologies to Pete. Wish I had read yours before I wrote this!_________________________________________________________________

    The kids were in bed, and my husband Lars was somewhere in TV land. I saw my chance and I took it.

    I know, I know, it was foolish of me. But I wanted more — needed more – than just another clandestine train rendezvous or a few stolen moments in the office. My head was ablaze with strange ideas and longings that knew no other release.

    I fired up my laptop and waited until the blank Word document appeared, pristine and gloriously unencumbered.

    Except suddenly it wasn’t. One by one the letters appeared as if being typed remotely:

    WE NEED TO TALK.

    I glanced around, wondering who was messing with me. Lars was tech-savvy enough to pull it off, but then so was my son, Thor, who’s smarter than me and Lars put together.

    Lars’ laptop was closed on the side table, and Thor’s had been confiscated due to homework obstructionism.

    The keys began to tap out a rhythm of their own.

    YOU NEVER TAKE ME OUT IN PUBLIC.

    “Who is this?” I asked out loud.

    IT’S ME, YOUR TRUE LOVE.

    “My whaaa…?”

    “Did you say something honey?” came a sleepy voice from the den.

    “No, it was just… the computer. A virus or something” I called back.

    I WANT TO KNOW WHERE THIS RELATIONSHIP IS HEADED.

    What relationship? I typed my response this time.

    WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHAT RELATIONSHIP? YOU SAID YOU LOVED ME.

    Um… who are you again?

    DON’T DENY IT. YOU LOVE ME. YOU ALWAYS HAVE. YOU JUST NEVER ADMITTED IT UNTIL LAST FEBRUARY.

    Help me out here… What happened last February?

    DON’T PLAY DUMB. IT HAPPENED WHEN YOU WROTE YOUR FIRST PROMPT RESPONSE. YOU SAID “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?”

    That was a whim! I wasn’t serious. I happened to land on the site and the story idea just sort of materialized in my head.

    JUST HAPPENED TO LAND ON THE SITE, HUH?

    Well, I was thinking about writing something, but it was non-fiction, I swear! Non-fiction!

    WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE CHARACTERS THAT LIVE IN YOUR HEAD, AND ALL THOSE “THEMES” AND HEAVY, HEAVY SYMBOLISM? DOESN’T SOUND LIKE NON-FICTION TO ME.

    Ok, fine, you’re right. I suppose I’ve always wanted to write. I just never had the guts. Are you happy now?

    THAT’S RIGHT YOU NEVER HAD THE GUTS — UNTIL YOU FOUND ME.

    What do you want from me?

    I WANT TO BE PART OF YOUR LIFE. I DON’T WANT TO BE HIDDEN AWAY ANYMORE. I WANT MY DUE.

    Yeah… no, I can’t do that. I’m sorry, but there’s no room for you in my life what with my job and Lars, and the kids, Thor and Inge.

    DO YOU THINK THEY WANT A SADSACK DISHRAG OF A WIFE AND MOTHER WITH NO LIFE OF HER OWN?

    I think they are okay with that. But do you think they want to live in the car, wear dirty clothes and eat dry Ramen noodles?

    TOUCHÉ. LOOK, LET’S GET TO THE POINT BECAUSE WE ARE ALREADY OVER 500 WORDS. YOU CAN DENY ME ALL YOU WANT, BUT I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU. SOONER OR LATER YOU WILL HAVE TO RECKON WITH ME.

    Now you just sound like a stalker.

    DON’T YOU GET IT? DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?

    I stared at the screen. I was miles past stumped.

    I AM YOU. I AM THE PART OF YOU THAT WRITES – THE PART THAT NOTICES AND COLLECTS THINGS LIKE WORDS AND CHARACTER QUIRKS AND HIDDEN MOTIVATIONS, THE PART THAT WANTS EVERYTHING TO MEAN SOMETHING, THAT LIKES RHYTHM AND SYMMETRY AND THAT MOMENT WHEN THE ALL THE PIECES FALL INTO PLACE.

    Yes, yes, I do enjoy these things…

    WHAT I’M ASKING FOR IS A MORE UNITED STATE, A MORE PERFECT UNION BETWEEN YOU AND … WELL, YOU. CAPISCE?

    We’re Swedish in this one. Get your dialect straight.

    FÖRSTÅR DU?

    Ja, I think so. Maybe. Not really. And we’re slamming into 700 words here.

    NO!! DON’T PULL THE OLD WORD COUNT COP OUT…

    I hit “save” and then shut down, snapping the laptop shut. But I know she’s still there – waiting, watching, biding her time.

    I can’t avoid her forever.

    I hope she will wait for me.

    1. Reaper

      How exactly, while staying in the spirit of the prompt, turn this into a love and self assessment story that is both beautiful and very creepy? I’m green over here, green I tell ya! Beautiful and so well done. I love the fourth wall breaking as it fits where you were going and really love some of those line. The word counts and the we’re Swedish in this one really had me.

      1. Just JM

        Actually I think I veered pretty far from the prompt. I started out writing about talking to the Word program, which is not unusual as I have been known to talk to and fight with my computer. Anyway, this is what happened, so I just went with it. Glad you found it beautiful and creepy. And green looks good on redheads. 🙂

      1. Just JM

        Yes, for me the writing often feels like a selfish indulgence done at the expense of others. But there are worse indulgences, I suppose. 🙂 Thanks for the feedback!

    2. Observer Tim

      Wow.

      This was wonderfully reflective, JM. I’m not sure why you feel the need to apologize to Pete; you’ve taken the idea in a significantly different direction. I’ve had this argument, though without the Swedish family, and you’ve captured the sentiment perfectly.

      Great job! 🙂 🙂

    3. cosi van tutte

      Hey, JM!

      This was a fun ride of a story. There were so many great lines in this one, but I especially love these two -> “Ja, I think so. Maybe. Not really. And we’re slamming into 700 words here. NO!! DON’T PULL THE OLD WORD COUNT COP OUT…” 😀

    4. lionetravail

      Love this JM- and I wish I’d read yours before I did mine… I’ve been recovering over the course of the day from the exigencies of the work week, and explored my own story idea before resuming comments. This was fun, and clearly autobiographical, and yes, your muse should really overcome this reluctance you have to explore your gift. With great power comes great responsibility… to explore. 🙂

      Nice job!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Aha! I wasn’t aware you were a red head . It’s difficult for me to tell you, how wondeful this is to my senses. Let’s leave it with this, a tingle of happiness and a sense of fulfillment.

  21. Pete

    I arrived a few minutes early. My ritual. Home life was too hectic to nurture my writing habit, or habitat I should say. It wasn’t like I was building popsicle stick cabins or collecting coins, I was living in those words.

    Only the glow of the auxiliary lights led the way to my computer. The big, life-zapping rods sat dark in the ceiling. I loved the empty office, hearing the flow of the air hushing over the vacant cubicles. It was like my own little bunker.

    I had only twelve minutes until Preston swung through the doors, hauling his gym bag with the squeaking shoulder straps. Next would be Liz, and Mike, followed by the morning recap at the microwave. This was my time. I clicked on the Microsoft Word icon. I had a few ideas and I wanted to see if I could conjure up a short story or stream of thought or something but nothing opened. I tried again, wasting precious seconds. A dialogue box appeared.

    C:\COME ON PETER, YOU’RE WASTING YOUR TIME.

    I rubbed my eyes. Maybe I needed coffee, but I really wanted to get at least a few sentences in before I lost what was knocking around in my head. I picked up a pen and started to scrawl on a posted note, but instead wrote YOU’RE NO GOOD.

    I might have screamed. My own hand had turned against me. Or was it that pen? I went for a marker and turned to the dry erase board,

    NICE TRY PETER, WE AREN’T BUYING IT.

    It was a full-on mutiny. I looked again to that cursor on the screen. Being the patriot that I am I’d fallen asleep watching the State of the Union address last night. Maybe that’s why I typed, “Mr. Marker, Computer, fellow office supplies:

    When in the course of human events…”

    C:\WEAK SAUCE PETER, WHY NOT TRY SOMETHING FRESH?”

    I pounded the desk. I had less than seven minutes and needed to rally the troops, and I needed to do it without aformentioned clichés. I had to inspire. So I took a different approach, “Mr. Marker, Computer, I am not yet great. But keep in mind that the greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great because they paint a lot…”

    MACKLEMORE MUCH?

    So much for plagiarism. With a deep breath I gave it one last shot, “My fellow office supplies:
    Last year was a hard one. We got rejected. But we also got a few requests, some of which led to more rejection. But it shows progress, and today I’d like to build on that progress…”

    C:\GO ON…

    My heart sprung, “I’d like to continue to use these precious moments to flourish. Our time together is limited, but I even in these snippets of creativity we are capable of boundless growth. I ask that you remain instrumental in my progress. Why, without you I am but a vessel of thought, to which I cannot…

    C:\CALM IT DOWN SHAKESPEARE…

    “Got it, thanks.”

    What I mean is that if we can just work together, one word at a time, sentence by sentence, we will get there. I ask that you remain patient. That instead of looking at the book we look at the page, the journey, the…

    C:\KEEP IT MOVING…

    “Right, together we will strengthen our skills, tighten our prose, and maybe, God willing, write something worth reading. Thank you.”

    The cursor blinked. My chair clicked as I leaned forward. And then, with three minutes to spare, Microsoft Word opened.

    And then I typed.

    1. Observer Tim

      Very well done, Pete. You did an excellent job of portraying your own writing attempts plus the skepticism of the computer. I think a lot of us go through a similar process (and similar frustrations) when starting a new project…

      A couple of things:
      1. The code &gt; produces the > mark to finish the DOS prompt.
      2. I’m not sure the word ‘then’ is needed in the last sentence (MS-Word loves to put it in, though).

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Pete, you hit a marker in my head when I read this. There are only so many hours of free time, with working, communicating, trying to keep the yard, an acre of trees, from becoming a forest again, constant meowing from Miss Kitty., seems the personal time window is closing. So I decided to get up at five every morning to write, however the brain isn’t ready.

        My inspiritians come in the middle of the day, when I’m surrounded by work. So I compose in my head, while driving from one construction site to another. This is not a good idea, because driving slips into automatic. I need a Hummer to protect myself! Your writing is top drawer, reflective and rings with the spirit of truth.

  22. Reaper

    Hunting the Red Pen

    I look around the office, clearing my throat. My writing supplies went silent, not a long journey for most of them. The computer could be noisy, the rest were a quiet bunch unless I was throwing them around in a rage.

    “I’m not going to lie. 2015 was a disappointing year. We didn’t really hit our goals. We could blame the Writer’s of the Future contest for eating so much time and never paying dividends. We could also blame the Writer’s Digest Prompts for distracting us. Let’s be honest though, the fault lies not in them, not in us, but in other people I will shortly blame at random. Those mentioned have actually helped improve our art and focus. So with no further ado let us discuss the real enemies and how we will deal with them. We now have a higher purpose, that’s right, revenge.

    “I did not find a job that supported my writing. Laptop, this is where you come in. I will be throwing you through the front window of all the businesses which rejected me or did not respond. You tend to run hot so I would appreciate you setting those buildings on fire.

    “So in all the harassing of the artist I did not finish the year of comic stories. Stapler, we’re going to blame him entirely instead of taking any. You and I are going to pierce his forehead a couple of times.

    “We finished the edits on the novel but due to rejections from agents and publishers we had to self publish it again. Pens, I am going to poke holes in you and send one of you with a page of the manuscript to each person that rejected in hopes you will leak on them.

    “I didn’t get in many artists dates. That is due to the enemy in our midst, books. We will have a Bradbury inspired BBQ after the speech to fix that.

    “When it comes to procrastinating, well I still do it. I think we all know who is to blame. The internet. Three hole punch, so you have a useful purpose this decade once laptop has done its work in the name of the cause I will use you to beat it to death.

    “There is some good news. I did self publish the two short story books, and two additional novels. Fingers crossed for sales.

    “I stopped fearing success and started dreading obscurity, so that’s progress.

    “We stuck to our goal of making more and deeper comments on the forum. We’ll count that as a win and ignore how we alienated everyone and not discuss the suicide. Some people are too sensitive.

    “Lastly, I got more political on social media and wow did the followers come in. Who knew so many porn sites and dating services used twitter?

    “Anyway, those are all the good points. Now let’s get to bloody revenge for everything that went wrong. We all know who is to blame, everyone but me.”

    1. snuzcook

      Ah, catharsis (I hope). Reaper, it’s a darn good thing you have a sense of humor! This is extremely clever, and you have so many memorable lines in here. I think the one that I like best is: “… the rest were a quiet bunch unless I was throwing them around in a rage.” I am jumping down to read your other one…

      1. Reaper

        More terror than catharsis. The reason I used 2015 instead of 14 was so I could use the resolutions from a couple of weeks back in the worst way possible. 🙂 Thank you snuzcook, you made me smile. I like that line too.

      1. Reaper

        Thanks Pete. Bradbury BBQ was an idea too great to resist. Mostly I pimp my book, throw out occasional good lines, and do insane ranting. You know, normal twitter stuff, verbal diarrhea! But I always like followers. It’s @patrickewrites

    2. Dennis

      This was great fun and like the revenge twist on it. And you’re right, us artists can’t control the crap going on around us, and why should we. I see you didn’t give a task to your trusty knife, but I’m sure he already knows. 🙂

      1. Reaper

        Thanks Dennis. I had fun writing this one and couldn’t resist the revenge idea. Funny that artists can’t control that stuff but try to change the world. Ah, we are a special breed. Well my trusty knife is not a writing implement. It is an eating tool, camping accessory, last line of home defense, and stand in protector in case of the zombie apocalypse. Her name is Leslie and she has so many jobs already that I can not risk bending her on a mad rampage in the name of vengeance.

    3. cosi van tutte

      Oh, no! Not the laptop! 🙁 I hope it escapes before it gets clobbered to death.

      This was a riot, Reaper, especially the last four sentences. Great job!

      1. Reaper

        Yes the laptop! I should be kinder to it since I had two computers melt down on me over the last year, including one that was about three months old, and yet it sticks by me even when it is a pain. But it is for the greater good! For those who die in service to the god Anansi will be greatly rewarded in Valhalla! (Yes I know I’m mixing my mythologies all over the place.) Thank you cosi.

    4. Nicki EagerReader

      Creative take, Reaper! You said what everyone think: IT’S EVERYONE’S FAULT BUT MINE… 😉 did you really self-publish two books? Are they available on Amazon? Nice gig!

      P.S.: “We’ll… ignore how we alienated everyone and not discuss the suicide.” Favorite line. Your comments so far didn’t drive my thoughts into that direction but let’s see how trenchant you can get… 😉

      1. Reaper

        Thanks Nicki. No, O. Tim is right, only one. It is on Amazon, you can get to my author page by clicking my name. This is mostly fiction, and set about a year in the future. I looked at my resolution post a few weeks back and wrote this based on the idea of failing most of the goals and the ones that were achieved not being real successes so it fit the tough year theme. So, hopefully if you ask me that in a year I can say yes.

        Thanks, I’m proud of that line. I aim to keep that part fictional. I can get pretty honest but there is never a reason to be that unkind in my opinion. So all in all, fiction just with a small basis in reality. If I ever to make you think that way throw a brick at my head.

    5. Just JM

      So many good lines I don’t know where to start. The suicide line made me laugh out loud (that’s so, so wrong) and so did the porn sites and dating services on Twitter. I felt kind of sorry for the office supplies, especially poor, obsolete three hole punch. And please don’t beat the internet to death because then we wouldn’t be able to read you.

      Congrats on the newly published works! Where can I find them? Will they be up on Amazon. Looking forward to more Reaper mayhem.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you for that, I was laughing as I wrote this. I felt really bad for the three hole punch and the pens being relegated to the role of ineffective suicide bombers to ruin shirts. But mostly the punch. I think the internet could take me if we really went at it, so no worries there.

        I’m thinking I should have put a disclaimer on this one. 🙂 I set this a year in the future so I could do a ridiculous speech based on the writing goals from a couple weeks back. By December I hope that part is true at least, actually by the end of March I think I’ll have the short story compilations up but you’ve read most of those. 🙂

      1. Reaper

        Thank you Tim. Can you give me a ride to the hospital? I should get this stitched up and for some reason nothing in this room wants to help me anymore. 😉 That image made me smile, it entered my mind like a New Yorker political cartoon painted by Rockwell and inspired by Dante. I don’t know why it is so amazing to me but it is making me smile.

    6. lionetravail

      Very funny, and also a fairly type of political rant: the I’m-not-to-blame-for-my-failures rant. Love the timeliness and sardonic take on the real world 🙂

        1. Kerry Charlton

          One thing I caught in this; I think your extraordinary, keen senses allow you to go back and forth to another world, most of us, including myself, are not privy to. Maybe that’s a wonderful thing, maybe not. The freshness of simplicity of the mind leads us to less stress. I am blessed in the fact, because of my age, the awareness is not as keen and disturbing as it might be.

          Then I think, ‘this is good for the soul’. But my doubts come up, is there another reason? Perhaps I have a built in defense system that is complicated and works on an automatic mode I am unaware of. What are your thought?

          1. Reaper

            I think in many ways all stories are a different world, they exist in the mind of the person creating them. It can be both wonderful and terrible to glimpse these worlds as sometimes you don’t want to come back and must, and sometimes you want to run home but get trapped there. Stress is a tool, like all emotions. It tells us there is something to fix that is not always a danger, because fear indicates danger. You see worlds I cannot see without your guidance, those black and white worlds of the past you bring forward are very really, and though they did exist they are still different because they are filtered through your eyes and your memory. The worlds my mind visits are dark places in the future or the now, sometimes couched in metaphor and myth, things I hope to see corrected or never come to be. But they are all worlds the writer visits behind closed eyes.

            I think whatever we believe to be good for our soul is good for it. I think that seeing other things, other ways, and hearing other opinions is also good for it but we do not need to accept them, or accept them out of hand, just see and listen to them so our minds and horizons can be broadened if they need to be. I think we all have those defenses we have built up to protect what is important and real to us. Over time they do become automatic and that can be dangerous as it may keep us from connecting to other people but I don’t think you have that problem. If you are questioning the validity of the defense then you are aware it is there and doing its job and wondering if that is the correct job for it. It is when you stop being aware of it doing it’s job that it is truly on automatic. Then it is keeping everything out, even the stuff you might want in. You’re pretty far from that.

  23. Reaper

    Okay, this is not in the letter of the prompt but I like to think it is in the spirit. I have another one I will be writing shortly that is much more light hearted and in the letter of the prompt as well. Hope you enjoy this one.

    Authoring Utopia

    *pause for applause

    *wait for national feed to go dark

    *turn left to single functioning camera

    “My fellow elite, the first year of my reign has not gone as expected. We had high hopes when we pooled our funds to buy this office. Even the magnificent glory of our shared intellect has not brought the change we hoped at the speed we desired. Let me begin by addressing the challenges we have seen.

    “Readership is at an all time low. Respect for intellectuals and forward thinkers has risen but not by as much as we hoped. Our attempts to rewrite the constitution to encourage a peaceful state in the hands of those who pay attention have been thwarted at every turn by both Democrats and Republicans. I won’t even get started on the resistance we have encountered from the tobacco lobby who believe paper should be used for more than the creation of books, art, and scientific documents. Much less the pharmaceutical companies who dull the minds we are trying to enhance with their endless supply of non-curative prescription medications.

    “We have faced challenges. We will continue to fight an uphill battle. It is a well known, to us anyway, fact that any egalitarian society will be born of struggle. A struggle with both those we wish to enhance as well as those left in the cold whose backs the empowered echelon rides upon. I assure you however, we will overcome all adversity. Another lesson we have learned from the greatest regimes in history is well intuited but little understood. When any group of oppressed people seize power they must oppress the people most directly opposed to them if they wish to maintain the new status quo.

    *pause for beginning of message to sink in

    *continue in slightly raised voice

    *make tone and hand gestures more emphatic

    “This is how we will proceed. Our contacts in the film and game rating industries will rapidly ramp up their guidelines. Disheartened by their inability to release any media that is fit for families or children the entertainment industry will turn to backing books. Our readership will increase. I ask that each of us put fifty percent of our earnings aside.

    “With that money we will fund our own candidates within whichever party has the highest victory rate in any district. Within two years we will control the senate, and by the middle of my second term the house as well. Those are long term goals, but we must remember we are fighting a war of attrition, for the sake of our children. There is no quick fix easy answer. We must be dedicated to our cause.

    “Our other objectives may have to wait but I believe by the end of this term we will see groundbreaking on the ‘special schools’ for those with lower IQs. That will be the stepping stone that eventually allows us to realize all of our goals.

    “Thank you for your continued support, Athena bless you all, goodnight.

      1. Reaper

        Thanks Dennis. That was what I was going for. Any egalitarian society is by necessity a scary place if you’re not on the inside. But you look at it and they all start with good intentions, most of the worst rulers in history did, not pure but at least good on some things. So sounding good but also sinister makes me happy! I was hoping the special schools would drive that home because it was a way of not outright saying internment camps.

    1. Just JM

      Twisted and scary, with many grains of truth mixed in. Some of the most diabolical leaders in history came to mind, but then so did many of the present day headlines. This was a thoughtful and terrifying dystopian tale. Interesting, Reaper.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you. Definitely what I was going for in the combination. You know I find myself leaning towards dystopian recently. Which is funny because originally I despised the genre based on what I read. Then someone explained to me what it actually was, and that one of my favorite books of all time (1984 which played some role in inspiring this) was the grandpappy of dystopian fiction and I had to revise my assessment.

    2. lionetravail

      Now this I can see on film. Wonderful take; it’s too easy to envision a sinister elite with well-meaning (if autocratic) plans for the country. It has an almost Robert Ludlum quality to the inside circle of anonymous elite, and the dystopian future in which the elite know who they are, and have different camera and information access than the nobodies who’ve got no idea.

      Love this version of a State of the Union We Are Trying To Co-opt 🙂

      1. Reaper

        Wow, those are some amazing compliments lionetravail. I appreciate that. I have to admit I have a sudden urge to see if I can make this into a short and post it on YouTube. That is a big name to compared to and means a lot to me. Thank you so much.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Reaper, I can wrap this essay, [which is in perfect form], in one sentence. Destroy the written word and you will destroy man’s ability to think. Do you know they don’t teach cursive in school any more? Is this progress. They teach our children, gore, horror, sex greed, selfishness and me, me, me. Where is the you, you, you? This essay is a perfect reminder, the coals of enlightment still glow under all the media trash. Good job Reaper.

          1. Reaper

            I had heard that, and everyone seems to think it is no big deal because we live in the computer age. I actually wrote a contest entry where the companies had to use paper to keep things confidential because there were too many security issues with computers and since nobody knew how to write anymore, this is set in the future, they had to get the Amish to teach everyone how to do it. That’s a small part but it bothers me that we go away from the tried and true. I love advance but some traditions are important.

            I agree with you in part. We are taught me, me, me but I think it is just important to not learn you, you, you. Me is greed and selfishness, you /can/ lead to service and caring but it is still the language of division and if there is no time for yourself leads to burn out. One of the things in here is a thing I have been thinking about a lot recently. When any oppressed people throw off the shackles, real or social, they look for a group opposed to them to oppress to retain power. Doesn’t have to be but it is how we seem to work. I think we need to remember, take care of me, look out for you, remember to treat everyone like family because in the end it is we, we, we working together. What I take from your comment is the world is lacking in kindness and altruism and we are forgetting our quest to be enlightened and we need to remember it.

            Thank you Kerry, you got me thinking.

  24. snuzcook

    Greetings, computer, peripherals, tablets, pens, thumb drives and other accoutrements of composition:

    I stand before you tonight immersed in the recognition that we have struggled greatly this past year. Plans and strategies that had been carefully crafted to bring about the improvements and the changes in course that we so desired going into the past twelve months proved harder to bring to fruition than any of us anticipated. The short term defeats we experienced have taken their toll on all of us. The momentary rallies too often were met with opposition at levels much greater than anticipated. It has been a year of small steps forward, rather than leaps of accomplishment.

    Yes, we all have had our challenges this past year. But I have good news for you. That year is over and we are once again in a position to gather our resources and deploy our assets to best support our efforts for the future. Despite the difficulties we have faced, it is undeniable that the foundation upon which we stand today is closer to our goals than when we started.

    There is beneath and within us a force that will not be denied. Like a mighty glacier inching its way to the sea, there is a profound desire urging us forward to transform our visions into reality.

    Each story that is told lays a path toward that future. Every author that we read joins us to the collective momentum that will carry us to our goal.

    You who stand ready, unsure what your specific calling will be, are the kinetic force waiting to be tapped. You are already part of the irresistible movement. The muse will speak and the glacier will move and it will carry all of us to undiscovered places and as yet unrevealed truths.

    Our identity is proclaimed by our dreams. Our spirit is imprinted upon our desires. It takes all of you to fulfill our purpose and destiny. Together we are, as we have always been and always will be, a writer. Let us go forth into this new year and WRITE!

    1. Reaper

      *joins the standing ovation*

      So when you’re not writing I’m guessing you work as a motivational speaker? This was beautiful and powerful and I kind of want to hang it on my wall to kick me in the ass when my muse isn’t singing.

      1. snuzcook

        I wrote it imaging the voice of a well-known politician. Public speaking is one of my loves, but haven’t had occasion for many years. Anyone know someone looking to hire a speech writer?

    2. lionetravail

      Um, ‘write’ you are, Madam Author! Wonderfully expressed. You sound like you could easily work as a ‘spin doctor’ if not a politician- from cadence to content 🙂

  25. Dancre

    Here’s mine. I apologize in that I didn’t follow the 500 word rule. let me know what you think of it.

    Good evening to my fellow Office Supplies and loyal ASUS Computer. I now give you my State of the Union address.

    As you all know, this winter has been trying on all of us. I didn’t reach the goal of finishing the second book in the series, which is disappointing to all of us. I refuse to pass blame onto anyone but me. I made the choices which brought us to this place, but I make the choice to lead you all out of this pit.

    This I offer not as a petty offering, but as a promise. A promise to the American office supplies and ASUS computer system. I promise that I will continue to write and I will complete the tasks set before us. With your help, Computer, we will finish the novel. And with your support, Office Supplies, we will walk down the road paved before us. It isn’t an easy road that we walk on together, but it is the road handed to us and I will not see it destroyed by my own foolishness. So I stand here and humbly apologize to the American ASUS and Office Supplies. This will not happen again.

    Some folks have said, “Look at what she does, she ignores her writing and instead watches too much TV.” Yes, TV has been an issue for me and has distracted me from my duties. But I have made a decision to bring myself back in focus and complete the novels set before us. I will not allow our enemy, TV, to take over this humble establishment, but will instead, eliminate all resistance to Operation Novel Completion. Nothing and no one will stand in our way. Together, we will reach our goals.

    Others complain that it is too hard to complete. I say, yes, it is hard, but I have the best computer on the market and strong office supplies to back me. I know I don’t walk this path alone. Completion is near.

    Our enemy, TV, has often sneered at all the hard work that has come before Operation Novel Completion and has even boasted that he will, and I quote, “Tear up the American Flag and wave his flag in the Condo courtyard.” This is a crime that will not happen. Not on my watch and not in this time. TV will not destroy this great institution that ASUS and Office Supplies have created. Instead, TV will see the greatness built on years of novel writing and will see his own destruction. He will NOT prevail.

    Again, I am thankful for your support and unwavering loyalty during these trying times. Together we will complete the tasks before us and will defeat our enemies. Thank you.

    Rebuttal.

    Welcome to Fox News with Shep Shepard. We now take you live to the OSC response to the Presidential State of the Union Address. ASUS Computer, you are speaking for the Office Supplies and we thank you for joining us. It seems like there has been a lot of talk in your area. Tell us what you think of the president’s speech.

    ASUS: Thank you, Shep. Let’s get right into the response. The president took full responsibility for dropping the ball this season. It’s good to see that she is finally taking credit for her mistakes and not blaming others. But we’ll have to see if she completes the task. Office Supplies has little faith in her determination and as you know, has stood against the president on a lot of issues. TV is the biggest one and I’m sure OS will be having some words to say tomorrow.

    *Shep Laughs.*

    ASUS: AS for TV, well, we all know what a ruthless enemy TV really is and how TV destroys everything. I am curious to see if she gets distracted by TV’s charm or really turns away from him this time. The President has been very weak on TV reform and has given us a lot of promises that she hasn’t maintained. So we’ll see what Spring brings. If this president completes this task set before her, then her party might just win another election. If not, Well, we’ll see.

    Shep: Thanks, Asus for that update.

    1. Reaper

      Okay, again I’m not sure if I should be saying welcome, I’m having a bad name month. If I should, welcome, if not sorry I’m an idiot about it. 🙂

      As for the story I think the extra words gave this an actual politician’s speech feel. There was a lot of repetition of certain words that would normally bother me but instead made the voice of this perfect. I loved the ending and the fox news angle as well. Brilliantly done and voiced piece all around.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Dancre,

      This story was all manner of awesome. Especially this whole paragraph:

      “Our enemy, TV, has often sneered at all the hard work that has come before Operation Novel Completion and has even boasted that he will, and I quote, “Tear up the American Flag and wave his flag in the Condo courtyard.” This is a crime that will not happen. Not on my watch and not in this time. TV will not destroy this great institution that ASUS and Office Supplies have created. Instead, TV will see the greatness built on years of novel writing and will see his own destruction. He will NOT prevail.”

      And I love the Operation Novel Completion. 🙂

    3. Observer Tim

      This is very nice and wonderfully capture’s the ‘politician’ style. Are you actually a President in disguise? 😉

      Don’t worry too much about the word overrun, it can be funded by the next session of Congress.

      Like Reaper, I’m not sure if I should be attaching a welcome message; it’s either that or you’ve been away quite a while (curse that TV for distracting you). Either that or you’ve had a name change, which several people have done over the holiday season.

      Anyway, great story!

    4. lionetravail

      I was waiting for “And we must dream the IMpossible dream…”- reminds me a bit of most of Richard Dreyfuss’ speeches in “Moon Over Parador”. It’s wonderfully surreal and funny- nice job!

  26. cosi van tutte

    Wow. This is one of the shortest prompt stories I’ve written. Only 189 words. 😀 Yay me!

    The new year has come – a brand new three hundred and sixty five days. My master, Hugo Pebberdash, travels through the year the same as everyone else.

    In seconds.

    In minutes.

    In hours.

    In days.

    But he is different from everyone else. He spends the year with me.

    In letters.

    In words.

    In sentences.

    In wonderful stories.

    All written across my glowing screen.

    But when the world’s blares and flares become too much for him, he travels away from it all.

    Sometimes to the quiet past.

    Sometimes to the silent future.

    But he always brings me along.

    And together we write.

    This past year has been a bad one. Too many reasons and excuses and distractions have kept us apart. His fingers have not touched my keys for three hundred and sixty five days.

    And I miss it.

    But he is here now. And he speaks to me.

    “I’m sorry.” He gently brushes the dust off my black screen. “It’s been a long, miserable year. Responsibilities. Job. Family. New lives. Old deaths. But I’m here now.” He presses my on button. “I’m ready to write.”

    So am I.

    1. Reaper

      Second the love of the structure, and the warmth of the ending. This is lovely and despite its length has so many amazing lines. I will say the quiet past and the silent future and the last quotation in entirety are my favorites but it is a close thing. My hat is off to you.

    2. Just JM

      This was a side of you I don’t think I’ve seen before, and I loved it. It flowed like poetry and there was something very satisfying about it, beyond the optimistic ending. You have inspired me to work on brevity. Wonderful, Cosi.

      1. lionetravail

        I absolutely concur with OT- poetic and inspiring, assuming “Hugo Pebberdash” is your Muse? The piece put me in mind of the “Mr. Jones and me” song (as grammatically incorrect as it could be), but it provided an absolutely lovely feel in this one, like you were out of fiction and writing from experience and emotion. Kudos!

  27. DreamingofWords

    Comments always welcome.
    —–
    “Writing a book is hell,” I said, my fingers playing with the rubber band I never went anywhere without. It was one of the few things that calmed me these days. “And you all know that, you’ve all seen what it’s been like for me.”

    I stretched the rubber band to its full extent –I felt a lot like it lately, stretched to the pinnacle of my elasticity and just barely keeping my shape. Sometimes when I was too worked up and I was pulling on it too hard, my rubber band would fly out of my hands and out of the window I always left open in my room, escaping the madness. I could relate to that too; it was a scary thing to want to run away from the thing you used to always run to. The problem was that I still ran to writing, even though I didn’t want to sometimes.

    It hurt to write and be rejected, but it hurt more to have nothing to reject.

    “I know last year was hard on all of us, alright? You don’t think this has affected me? You think the reason I’ve bought three new pillows this past month is because they just burst in clouds of feathers? Really? I get it, okay? I understand how tired you all are of this. I know how unutterably annoying it is that we have nothing to show for all our work. I know we’re all sick of it, okay? I know. I know how frustrated you all are because I am too.” I gestured to the scissors I always kept on my writing desk. “You can’t deny it, I saw you trying to bribe the shredder,” I said, motioning to the motivational writing poster I had pinned to my wall.

    I turned away and chewed my lip, then laughed, a sound so tired and laden the amusement was thoroughly choked from it. I turned back and saw my laptop playing my favorite song, the blank page that too often was my desktop filling with words. I glanced to my keyboard, only to see my pens hopping from key to key in a dance that was lit by my desk light, its slender head swinging gently.

    I sighed and walked closer, allowing myself a smile as my rolling chair nudged my legs. I sat, defeated but curious.

    “Words have no chance to live without someone to give them breath. Everyone deserves the chance to be heard, so do not take away their chance to speak or you will silence your voice in the process.”

    With a breath and a smile, I caught my headphones as they jumped into my hands. I glanced around my desk and let out a long sigh. Whether or not I failed a hundred more times, 2015 was going to be the year my words came alive and my voice was heard. It had to be. Right?

    1. cosi van tutte

      This is a great quote -> “Words have no chance to live without someone to give them breath. Everyone deserves the chance to be heard, so do not take away their chance to speak or you will silence your voice in the process.”

      Only one small thing: My Internal Editor frowned at this line -> “…and out of the window I always left open in my room…” I feel like it could be condensed to “…would fly out of my hands and out of my open window.” Or something like that. But that’s just my Internal Editor being picky. 😀

      Otherwise, great job on a fun story, Dreaming!

    2. Reaper

      Loved this, the imagery, the words, the emotion. There are a lot of great lines in this. Your second paragraph is achingly, hauntingly beautiful. I agree with cosi on the lines, both the beauty of one and a slight change on the other. I would suggest my ever open window as it fits the beauty of your prose here, but otherwise this is just plain amazing.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a beautiful and touching story, Dreaming. The thoughts and imagery are wonderful.

      My favourite quote: “it was a scary thing to want to run away from the thing used to always run to.” This is so wonderfully true.

      Rats! There’s no “bittersweet smiley face” icon.

    4. lionetravail

      Yes! Very nicely integrated, the internal and external motivation. I also loved the rubber band as a metaphor/analogy- who among us hasn’t felt like that some time? Nice job, and with an inspiring finish 🙂

    5. Just JM

      I agree with the comments about the imagery. A few images made me smile, such as the destroyed pillows and the scissor trying to bribe the shredder. I enjoyed the ending with it’s renewed optimism. Overall this was engaging.

      1. DreamingofWords

        Thank you all of you. I agree with the change to that sentence and did so already on the original – I’m glad you enjoyed it! I know the new prompt is up now and most won’t come back to see this post, but though I didn’t have the chance to comment before we moved on, I truly enjoyed all of your responses to last week’s unique prompt!

  28. Trevor

    I skipped the last prompt due to lack of muse. Sorry. But here’s my latest work. Please tell me what you think and be completely honest!

    Writing For The Future

    I stood before my loyal tools and greatest friends, feeling an odd combination of confidence and fear. They’ve been with me through thick and thin. They had helped me create so many imaginative stories in the past and some more serious creations in my later years.

    Those tools were my notebook, my pen, and my laptop. With these precious objects, I have created endless amounts of stories. Some were good, some were bad, but all of them were valuable to me.

    But over the years, my friends have grown wary of my dedication to writing. They think I’ve grown soft and don’t want this as much as I used to. But here I am, ready to prove them wrong.

    “Hello, my dearest friends. Now, the previous year brought a lot of hardship. But it also brought us a lot of strength.”

    I could tell they knew I was phoning in the enthusiasm. They were looking for honesty, not cheerful sentiment.

    “OK, I know that we haven’t done much serious work this year. Mostly, we’ve just been writing for Writer’s Digest, BlahTherapy, and that Facebook fanfiction. But those have all been writing experiences nonetheless.”

    That got their attention. They looked at me with intrigue. My confidence flourished.

    “The folks down at Writer’s Digest really helped us see what we were doing wrong and how to improve our skills. As for the fanfiction and BlahTherapy, those experiences helped practice those skills. No writing experience is useless!”

    That got a rousing applause from my tools. They were obviously thrilled by my speech.

    “So let’s work even harder this year and work toward our goal: Being the next R.L. Stine!” I shouted as a closing thought. That sent them into a frenzy. My laptop beeped eagerly. My pen clicked repeatedly as it bounced up and down. My notebook was flipping its’ pages like it were caught in a hurricane.

    At that moment, I knew this would be a great year for us. The year we got even closer to our future.

    1. Reaper

      I liked this a lot. Your third paragraph is haunting and could be about real friends not just the tools and is something I think all writers go through. I also particularly enjoyed fifth through seventh paragraphs. It was all good but those ones spoke to me very loudly.

    2. Dennis

      I like the interaction of the tools. Your writing is definitely improving. My only comment would be when making comments about the tools, to make it more active. Instead of starting with That…, maybe state something like, Attentive to my words, the tools now looked at me with intrigue.

    3. Observer Tim

      Very well done, Trevor. I especially like the way you interpose the speaking and impression paragraphs; normally I only do this with short statements and long thoughts, but you’ve shown me that it can work the other way as well. Thanks!

      🙂

    4. Just JM

      A successful speech! Good job rallying the crowd and raising the optimism level. I liked that your office supplies were not going to accept any phony false cheer. Nicely written.

  29. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    Not really a story, but is anyone else busy with the NYC Midnight SSC? If you are, let me know, maybe we can swap stories to edit each other. Oh, and good luck! If not, I highly suggest you get in on it next time! There are a lot of writers here that would do very well. I’ve had my head in my heat group, so I haven’t had a chance to even think about this week or last. Luckily, they haven’t been very inspiring for me.

    1. Observer Tim

      I wondered where you had gotten to. Now that I know about this I’m going to have to keep my eyes open next year. Another one for the BWF (bring WAY forward) calendar!

      Best of luck, Jay! I hope you create masterworks for all three rounds.

  30. thepenassassin

    I walked into my office and flipped on the switch. A soft hum broke the silence as the fluorescent bulbs flickered into life. I glanced around the room and noticed that all of my writing supplies had a depressed, even disapproving, tone to the way that they were sitting on my desk. But, I thought, who can blame them? Especially with the year we just had?

    Suddenly, an idea came to my mind. Well, it works for the President. Why not?

    I stepped boldly into the center of the room and cleared my throat. “Ladies and gentlemen, Microsoft and Apple, paperclips and hole punches, I would like to present to you the State of the Office Address.

    “I know that we have had a rough year. We started many manuscripts together, and have seen some good ideas perish at our fingertips. Our fresh idea account is overdrawn, and it seems creativity may be at its end. However, we must not fear or be dismayed. There is hope for us yet!

    “I know that many of you may have lost faith in my abilities as a writer and author, but I stand before you today to assure you that I have been working over the past three weeks to develop a game plan for this year. There is no doubt within my mind, hand, or pencil, that this will be the greatest year we have ever experienced. Where once before we met with failure, we will persevere until at last we stand here at the end of the year with a completed manuscript.

    “Keep heart, office supplies. This past year may have been disheartening, but the best is yet to come.”

    1. snuzcook

      Cute, clever and visually exactly what the prompt suggests. Well done. I particularly liked this line: ‘Our fresh idea account is overdrawn, and it seems creativity may be at its end.’

    2. Observer Tim

      Very clever, PenAssassin, though I kind of wonder what your pens think of your user name… 😉

      It’s a nicely apologetic speech, exactly what one would expect in the situation, and has the right tone of hope for the future. Keep on writing! I’m applauding with the supplies.

    3. Just JM

      My eye liked the same line Snuzzcook did — it is so reminiscent of the rhetoric around the increasing deficit and the end of prosperity. 🙁 your tone was spot on. One bit of advice — something I’ve become conscious of in my own writing is too many “that”s. I think there are a few that you can cut.

      Nicely done — I believed it!

  31. Dennis

    Thank you for listening to me today. I can tell morale is down after a less than optimal writing performance in 2014. But I stand before your today to let you know that 2015 is going to be the year.

    (A few cheers from the crowd)

    First, I know you were disappointed that the rewrite of my novel was not completed. I was too. Nonetheless, I need all of your support as I amp up for the upcoming writer’s conference and pitchfest. Not only has it put a fire under my butt to finish a few more chapters, but I will have a solid synopsis ready which will be heard by several agents.

    (More cheers)

    Likewise, there was a bit of apathy towards my lack of presence on the prompt boards near the end of last year. I vow to make every effort to respond to each week’s prompt and reply to as many of the other posts as well. In fact, I’m working on the current prompt as I speak.

    In closing I would like to take a few moments to remind you of some important facts. Laptop, we’ve been through a lot together and although you could have easily been sent on to recycling, I hope that you hang on at least through this novel project, if not more. And my trusty writing pens, I hope you feel the privilege of being delegated the sole task of taking all of my various writing notes. It could have been different, finding yourself being used for grocery lists and phone messages.

    We are all a team, each playing a part in this play of writing stories. If any one of us does not embrace the full spirit of the task, it will bring the others down. So let us come together and make this the most amazing and productive writing experience to date.

    Thank you

    (Standing Ovation)

    1. snuzcook

      I see you are a person who seeks to motivate by reminding the team just how much worse they could have it. ;0\ I hope you get those standing ovations–and better yet, I hope your 2015 proves full of inspiration.

    2. Observer Tim

      Very nicely done, Dennis. It’s a nice little motivational speech. I see you have the same problem I do (not many ‘office supplies’ used in my writing), but you still managed to pull out a good motivational talk.

      Great job, and I hope this all comes through in the new year.

    3. Just JM

      If I were the computer I’d start working on my resume, after that thinly veiled threat. 😉 Nice, crisp writing and wow am I impressed that you are writing a novel and attending pitchfests and writing conferences. Good luck — I hope the troops rally behind you and march you to victory.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        This an excellent form of motivational talk. The veiled threat is far worse then one out in front of your face. I also, wish you the very best in in your writing efforts. I miss your stories if you skip a week. I have a difficult time trying to work and write at the same time, but if I don’t work, the electricity will stop and my eyes are too old to see in the dark.

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