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An update from our thirty-sixth Writing Workshop!

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday March 13, plus some of the output published below

"Nowhere is the haphazard and disruptive strangeness of veering perhaps more evident than in the space of literature. Veering involves all sorts of turns, funny and dark and revisionary. Indeed... in a sense veering is what literature is." -Nicholas Royle, literary critic

This week's Writing Workshop on the art of veering (defined as a sudden change of direction) offered us a sneak peak of author, PhD candidate, and Stone Soup Lecturer Conner Bassett's upcoming workshop series. We focused on four main types of veering: "the volta", or poetic turn, "peripeteia," or a sudden reversal in fortune/change in circumstance, "anagorisis," or the moment a character discovers who/what they are, and "metamorphosis," or a literal change in form. For each type of veering there were a multitude of examples within and outside of literature, including Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," James Wright's poem, "Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota," the movement of Cubism, Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, and Ovid's Metamorphosis, among many others. By workshop's end, we had mastered four new key terms with which to impress our friends, and been inspired, once more, to write! Although everyone wrote something, those who read their work aloud were Rachael, Ismini, Olivia Z, Julia, Sierra, Liam, Peri, Enni, and Lindsay.

The Challenge: Using one or more of the four main types of veering, write a story or poem that either changes genre, tone, mood, &/or plot halfway through, or, in which one character changes their mind &/or physical form. You can edit an older piece of writing or start something new!

The Participants: Ismini, Georgia, Madeline K, Peri, Leo, Kaidyn, Julia A, Reese, Lindsay, Helen, Ava, Lucy K, Pranjoli, Liam, Margaret, Lena, Samantha, Eve, Lina, Sierra, Nami, Rachael, Maggie, Sophie, Anya, Tegan, Noa, Elbert, Ruhi, Olivia Z, Charlotte K, Sage, Anna, Angela, Tilly, Yasmine, Lucy R, Emma B, Enni, Olivia S, Charlotte M, Jonathan L., Nova


Peri Gordon
Peri Gordon, 11
Sherman Oaks, CA

Haven

Peri Gordon, 11

Peaceful nights

Sitting by the ocean, resting on the shore,

Watching the moon’s pull capture the waves

And release them

Peaceful days

Watching the tranquil silhouette of a dove

As it overlaps, from my angle, with the sun

Serene sunrise, serene sunset

The breeze of summer dawn

Or the chill of winter dusk

The sound of the seagulls,

The salt of the seawater

Overlapping with the sane sound of spring

Or the calm cool of autumn

 

But when you’re bursting with anger

And hate for humankind

Sometimes, the fury can’t be drained

By temporary peace

So I leave.


Liam Hancock, 13
Danville, CA

Pedestrians

Liam Hancock, 13

I sat on the porch where I always sit, wringing sweat from my hands and squinting through the shimmery hot air. Across the street, Miss Reynolds scurried around her front yard in a frilly sunhat, undaunted by the suffocating heat and painted like a tribal warrior, sunscreen unceremoniously streaked across her shriveled old skin. Above the both of us, a clear day was speckled with wisps for clouds and the sun spread its warm embrace across the blue sky like something straight out of the Toy Story intro credits.

From a distance, I could briefly make out the deafening rumble of the trucks as they passed by, their tail ends dragging across the gravel, stereos blasting with hard rock that shook our windows, drivers screeching, whooping, laughing as they went along.

Miss Reynolds only briefly acknowledged the din with a deep scowl that spread fault lines of wrinkles across her face before returning to her garden with a new urgency. She crossed the crinkled brown grass quickly on shaky legs, water swishing from her can and gathering in brown puddles as she went, ripping through stands of poppies and rosemary bushes that I knew she’d been fostering for years, decades even. At her age, centuries weren’t out of the question.

“Miss Reynolds?” I called questioningly. “What’s… uh, you okay over there?”

Alarmed, her grey eyes shot up from beneath the brim of her gardening hat, searching my face as if she’d forgotten I was there. “Young’uns,” she cursed beneath her breath. No sooner did she resume her frantic disassembly of the front garden. “Young’uns and their guns’uns, and they’s trucks’ns. Nobody’s got my flowers, you see? Remember that, Velma. ‘Member it when they come.”

I bit my lip, learning further back on my palms. “I think it’s better if you head back inside,” I urged her. “Cool down a bit?”

“Guns’uns and trucks’uns,” she chanted. It had become some sort of disjointed kind of song. “They’s a big’uns and small’uns, child’uns and wild’uns.”

I was just about ready to get up and call the Dementia Center-- for the sixth time this month, of course-- when the rumbling picked up again. I tilted my head, trying to decipher the skull-crushing music through the jostling of the tires through the scraping of bumpers along a low gravel road through Miss Reynolds’ mumbling, practically yelling now.

The strangeness of it all finally worked some movement back into my stiff legs. I stumbled to my feet and tripped down the shallow front steps. Now, the noxious fumes of gas and exhaust was sharp and heavy over the street. Above us, the wisps of clouds, which hadn’t changed one bit, looked somehow different to me.

“Those aren’t clouds…” I whispered to myself, panic fluttering in my chest.

“It’s smoke!” Miss Reynolds growled, having appeared, pressed against the picket fence with a bundle of flowers and weeds tucked under her arm.

She had no more time to explain before the sound of booming punk rock broke our hazy stillness and a fleet of heavyset trucks swerved through the tree line. Terrified, my gaze flew up to that plain, clear Toy Story sky, indifferently gleaming far above the grumbling engines and blasting rock music and somehow still beautiful despite how little it cared if I lived or died.


Lina Kim, 11
Weston, FL

The King's Error

Lina Kim, 11

Long ago, King Richard ruled the kingdom of Jurdenta. He was respected by all. He was very generous. He would donate food and gold to homeless shelters and orphanages, he would care for animals, and he would cheer up small children. He was widely known throughout the country.

But soon, he grew bitter. All this giving, and what did he get? Nothing! Nothing except for the smiles on children’s faces, and jumping animals, and love and joy all around . . . But he didn’t realize it. He stopped helping. More and more people grew hungry. Homeless shelters weren’t getting enough money to support the ones inside. King Richard lost popularity.

Very few were able to be happy after that. Very few thought there was a chance. One of the few was a young girl named Meadowlark. Another was her sibling, Florizel. Florizel wasn’t a boy, nor a girl, nor even a human. They were a cat. A non binary cat. Did I mention they can speak?

One day, Meadowlark decided to confront the king.

“Maybe he’s lonely,” Meadowlark considered. Florizel meowed in reply.

“Or maybe . . . Do you have any other ideas?” Meadowlark asked. Florizel meowed again in protest. They meowed and meowed, but could not seem to form words. Meadowlark knelt down in front of them.

“Are you okay, Florizel?” she asked worriedly. Florizel only meowed. Little did they know that Florizel was losing their power because it was always the king who gave them the ability to talk. King Richard always would play with Florizel.

The two companions walked up the hill— Well, Meadowlark carried Florizel. They were in lazy mode that day— and started the long journey to the king’s castle.

The first day, they tromped through a muddy forest. By the time the sun began to set, they had reached the edge of the forest. Meadowlark rolled out a sleeping bag and Florizel curled up on their small pillow, also packed in a small bag. In the morning, Meadowlark quickly ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and fed Florizel some cat food. They packed their stuff and swiftly set off.

That second day, they crossed the wide fields of crops carefully to avoid trampling the crops. It was a couple hours trip on horseback . . . But of course, Meadowlark did not own a horse, nor did she know how to ride one. They stopped about three fourths of the way into the field and layed out the sleeping bag and pillow. Florizel meowed sadly. They missed speaking. They nuzzled Meadowlark with their nose and drifted off to sleep.

The third day, they finished walking through the field. The huge castle was in view, but it wasn’t vibrantly decorated as it used to be. It was a dull stone gray with none of the usual golden embellishments or red banners. Meadowlark nervously stepped towards the two large wooden doors, holding Florizel.

Why had I chosen to come? she thought panickedly, her heart beating wildly. She started to turn around.

“King R—” Florizel started. The word dissolved into incoherent purrs. But that was all Meadowlark needed. She turned towards the doors again and knocked.

Silence.

Of course, she thought. How would the King know I’m down here? He’s probably cooped up in his room.

Looking up at the castle, she looked at the small stone bricks jutting out of the wall and had an idea.

A very dangerous idea.

***

Two minutes later, Meadowlark was five feet above the ground, clinging to the stone bricks. Her foot slipped. She yelped and steadied herself. There’s no giving up now.

Perhaps an hour later she was reaching a high window, trying not to look down. She climbed up onto the ledge and knocked on the window. It slid open and a grumpy looking King Richard stood behind it. His face suddenly turned shocked.

“H-how— who are you?” he asked, struggling to compose himself.

“Meadowlark,” she said. “Remember Florizel?”

“The— the talking cat? Why, yes, of course I remember them— but—”

“They're right down there,” Meadowlark said, pointing downwards. She wobbled.

“Em— come in,” King Richard said, opening the window farther. Meadowlark clambered inside.

“Why are you so grumpy and sad?” Meadowlark asked.

“I— I’m not grumpy!” he protested.

“Uh-huh, sure,” Meadowlark said doubtfully. “Why haven’t you been coming over to play with Florizel? They can’t speak anymore!”

King Richard’s mouth dropped open. “Well, I— I never expected you would really want me to—“

“Of course we wanted you to come!” Meadowlark cut in. “Father’s been so lonely since mom passed away. You know that. You were a friend to him, and now— who else does he have? Of course he has me, but he also needs someone like him.”

“I— I’ll reconsider,” King Richard said distractedly. “But right now I have a lot of things to correct. Now, child, come.”

King Richard led Meadowlark downstairs. They stepped out the door and Florizel leapt up from their sitting position. King Richard crouched down to stroke their soft fur.

As soon as hand and fur made contact, Florizel said, “Finally! I can talk!” Meadowlark whooped and hugged Florizel.

The king realized his mistakes and righted them. Now, orphanages and homeless shelters could take care of the kids there. Both animals and humans were happier. And King Richard realized that the greatest gift is love and joy.


Elbert Park, 9
Palo Alto, CA

Chat room: Doggo Gets Electrocuted By Electrocute

Elbert Park, 9

ElecCordPro: I think it’s better if this guy gets out of here; what is he doiiiinnnnnnngggggg he’s pushing the cords for some reason
noobthenoob23: l�l
ElecCordPro: Dis guy will electrocut himself now
ilikelife: Ooooooo
doggo_the_doggo_official: Yay, send video clip
doggo_the_doggo_official: This will be fun
doggo_the_doggo_official: First vid of man being electrocuted ilikelife: who knows, it might not be a man
ElecCordPro: No, it is not a man
ilikelife: um
doggo_the_doggo_official: hmm
noobthenoob23: Stream on insta?
ElecCordPro: idk
noobthenoob23: I wonder which noob this is: there are 100,000,000 noobs worldwide (im #23)
ElecCordPro: loooooool
doggo_the_doggo_official: um… im waiting
ElecCordPro, the server owner, has changed the server title to “Doggo electrocute by electrocute”
ElecCordPro: https://instagr.am/H5i9b8n8G3
doggo_the_doggo_official: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ElecCordPro: Shared
{dog_gets_electrocuted_tragically_by_electrocute.mp4}
doggo_the_doggo_official has left the server.
doggo_the_doggo_official has changed their status: � � Doggo
ElecCordPro: Wait a sec… Doggo is not dead?
doggo_the_doggo_official has rejoined the server.
doggo_the_doggo_official: ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
ElecCordPro: omg that is a miracle
doggo_the_doggo_official has changed their status: WOOOOOO WHAT A
MIRACLE
ElecCordPro: I’ll close the server but… wow just setup another one- I want to archive and make history
ElecCordPro has archived the server

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