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Our first Weekly Writing Workshop!

The Stone Soup Weekly Writing Workshop is open to all Stone Soup contributors and subscribers during the COVID-19-related school closures and shelter-in-place arrangements. Every Friday, we meet for one hour via Zoom to respond to a new writing challenge, write together in our virtual room, and then share what we have written with one another. At our first session on Friday April 3, we introduced ourselves, broke the ice by naming our favourite animal (if we had one!), and then got to work on a word challenge. Everyone in the room came up with a random favourite word, which we captured on our whiteboard, and then we got down to half an hour of serious writing.

The Writing Challenge: Write a story, poem, or other prose, using at least 5 of the words on the list!

The Words: orange, trustworthy, glass, scrapbook, future, luscious, garden, biography, grandfather, run, gallop, sniff, canter

The Participants: Lena (10), Anya (13), Liam (12), Eli (7), Jay (9), Abhi (11), Vivian (11), Anna (15), Lucy (12), Ma'ayan (11), Ever (10), Mico (13), Silas (10), Catherine (13), Stella (13)

We were so impressed by the writing the participants produced. From haunting poems and reflective prose to outer space adventure, free verse, and a tale of a fruit's imaginary life, it was just amazing what the workshop inspired, and incredible to see what polished work could emerge in such a short time. Read on for the great pleasure of reading some of our writers' work.

The Storyteller by Lena Aloise, 10

I descend the narrow staircase of my thoughts,
Slice the lock from the pirate’s chest of my mind,
But the treasure that lies amongst the settling dust,
Is not buttery golden coins,
Nor rough slices of glistening jade.
But the firm feeling against my palms,
The satisfaction pouring into my soul is but the same.
I pull a story from its cage,
Wrestle it under a thin coating of dreams.
Sprinkle gently with a handful of wishes,
Then part the mist surrounding and reveal a truth.
As I jump from the shores of the world I have crafted,
I dive into those perilous waters,
And return to the banks with something all new.

The Garden through the Mirror by Lena Aloise, 10

I stare back at an unfamiliar soul,
Through the portal of crystal glass.
Eyes two inky pools of brown,
Staring back into mine,
Swirling clouds of emotion,
My past, my future,
My fate.
Cover the room in a thick fog,
And from the misty tendrils,
I emerge,
Pushing through the uncertainty.
I wander through those narrow corridors,
Until I enter a world,
One of color,
Vibrant reds and oranges,
One of light,
Lucious rays that fill me with warmth.
A garden.
Spilling off their narrow stems,
Are the fruits of memory.
And the green shoots that sprout,
From the soil of knowledge,
Are those of triumph,
Those of success.
I run through the waving grasses of sorrow,
Nipping at my ankles,
The crimson droplets forming on my skin,
Are those of tearful memories.
And the soft breeze,
Gently tugging at my shoulder,
Whisking away the sharp pain.
Is that of stories.
This garden of my mind,
A scrapbook of my past,
My biography,
Not yet written.
A chamber of possibility,
Containing the keys to the doors,
Of who I can become.

Untitled, by Anya G., 13

It was a dark and cold night, a night when all wild things are best left to their sulking devices. It was the type of night where it might as well rain; it might as well pour, just to fill the vacancy of life and soul in the world.

However, the night had no effect on the young girl. At half-past ten, by the toll of the old grandfather clock in the parlor, which stood gathering dust in an untouched corner, she rose from bed, pushing her silk curtains open to admit the silver, luscious moonlight into her room, spilling across the floor; light; the opposite of a shadow.

And so she tiptoed down the great hall, past the looming oak doors that guarded her family from the menacing shadows of night. She slipped downstairs, just a flicker of light across the black shapes of furniture silhouetted in the night.

She could only contain her excitement for so long though, and upon reaching the great glass doors that led to the terrace, flung them open and flew into the night like a bird getting its first taste of fresh air.

It didn’t matter that the air was heavy with malice or that chilling whispers of the wind caused the hair on the end of her neck to stand up. It didn’t matter that the stone on the terrace was cold on her bare feet, cracked and invaded by damp moss. She ran, her blue nightgown trailing behind her. If she were a horse, her mane waving in her wake, the expanse of the front yard was her pasture, the promise of fresh green grass stretching on forever.

She reached the end of the yard, and paused, her breath coming in long gasps. Her cheeks were flushed from the run, her fingers tingling from the clawing cold of the night, but she had not accomplished her mission yet.

She jumped over the hedge that bordered the lawn, and winded her way through thorny bushes that snagged her gown, and ensnared her blond hair that flowed like a waterfall. And then she reached it, a small clearing in the bramble. She sat on the cold, firm soil, inhaling the sweet aroma of fresh earth.

She bent over into the bushes, moonlight splashing her face with an all-knowing light, and retrieved a lantern. Reaching over again, she produced a box of matches, and struck one. Once she had lit the lantern, it filled the space with a warm, orange light. It was a light that was like a piece of sweet candy melting on your tongue. It blossomed, like a beautiful flower found only in the most gorgeous garden, and banished the dark to the edges of the clearing.

And so the little girl sat there, the evil of the night and its hollow emptiness relinquished by her light, and she waited, as light and dark fought their battles, until morning came and the night retreated, forced into nothingness so long as daylight shone.

The Power of Art, by Jay N., 9

Something orange was coming from the sky. This was the moment of truth. This could influence the future forever.

Imagine all the regular people tending to their gardens, when the most historical event ever is happening. If we can pull this scene off then they will probably make a biography on us. I can just see it now, “The Famous Five.”  I was deep in thought when we got ambushed. The attacker smashed the protective glass and ran away.  Nooooo!

All that hope and all that desperation blown to smithereens.  We were all stunned for a second and then bolted.

The attacker was already hurling down the stars.  There was no catching him now.

But wait.

Suddenly somebody jumped out. It was their leader:  he used the power of art to draw himself a portal to capture this momentous product—the sun.

The Killer Monster by Eli N., 7

Grandfather run
biography garden gallop
sniff...orange canter glass
future scrapbook!
Trustworthy luscious!

My Grandfather’s Garden by Lucy Rados, 12

I sat in my grandfather’s garden, sniffing as the scents of flowers flooded around me. I was reading, when I saw a vibrant orange flower out of the corner of my eye. I had never noticed it before. Perhaps it had not been there. As I observed it, my grandfather came outside.

“Grandfather,” I asked. “What’s that orange flower over there?”

My grandfather studied it for a moment, before admitting, “I’m not sure. I’ve never seen luscious petals like those before.”

He called his friend, an expert botanist to ask. His friend came over quickly. Mug of tea in hand, the steam rising from it, he examined the flower. He took a long sip before saying,

“Looks like a begonia to me.”

I left that day, the image of the flower still crystal clear in my mind. I didn’t know it then, but that would be the last day I ever saw my grandfather, for he passed away later that week.

Years in the future, I visited my grandfather’s former house. The air was brisk; clouds covering the sky, making everything look downcast, like the earth’s way of remembering my grandfather. The garden was mostly changed; a feeling of newness hung around like dew, but in the corner, the orange flower was still there, standing out as beautiful as ever

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