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An update from our fifty-seventh Writing Workshop

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday, February 5th, plus some of the output published below

Summary & mini-challenges: This week’s Writing Workshop was a little different from usual. After the regularly scheduled writing journal reading, William launched into a new structure for writing workshop. Starting us off, William played a Beethoven composition that he challenged the group to think of as a dialogue between two characters. After discussing what the group thought about the music, William challenged the group to write a short piece inspired by the music they had just heard. Next, William played part of Mahler’s first symphony and challenged the writers to think of nature and the shimmery, ethereal aspect of the piece. We heard from several of the writers, who were inspired to write about subjects as disparate as space ships, morning mist, and birds beckoning someone to get out of their bed. The next piece of music William played was Liszt’s 1st piano concerto, beautifully played by Yuja Wang. William then pulled the sheet music for what Yuja was playing, and invited the writers to take a look at the patterns on the screen, whether or not they could read music. Particularly, William invited the writers to think about what was happening on the left and right hands, and how they could incorporate something similar into their writing. What followed after the piece of music was an interesting discussion of what sort of stories the music made the workshop participants think of. Then the writers were given another time period in which to explore these ideas on the page.

The participants: Agatha, Lena, Yueling, Alexandra, Peri, Lauren, Kelby, Anya, Ananya, Elbert, Iago, Kate, Saanvi


Peri Gordon
Peri Gordon, 11
Sherman Oaks, CA

Flash Fiction Pieces

Peri Gordon, 12


An army, approaching slowly and with menace. A single person, with a quiet soul and a desire for a tranquil life. The army’s boots thud over miles and miles of empty wasteland. They are a black spot in the distance, yet their shadow looms large over she who is persecuted. Cold and careless, they trudge on, prepared to do their job accurately. Their victim’s pure, golden heart is weighed down with dread, sadness, and solitude. She does not want a fight. But she must fight back, for herself and her home. She loses.


The tree’s smooth, shiny bark is cool to the touch. It climbs into the sky. At the base of a tree is a young man who has nothing but himself. A pine cone rolls to his feet. A squirrel darts past. The man is at peace with nature. Perhaps he is even content with it. But then, in his mind, he hears the call of a life in the kingdom. The royal trumpets, the golden gates. Instead of trees, spires and turrets. Instead of wet earth, smooth roads. Home. Welcoming. Society. In his mind, he makes amends. He is beckoned forward and embraced. He runs home, loved and cared for. But it is just a dream. That life is over, long gone. The man opens his eyes. He is in a brand new wonderland. Green leaves climb into the sky. Clouds drift by. All of nature is in harmony. He can live with that. It is grand; it is wonderful; he is alone, but not alone.


Ariel leapt from challenge to challenge, contest to contest, place to place, stretching out the grasping hand that was her soul and reaching for the stars. Never content, never ready to settle down, she floated from North America to Africa to Australia, chasing her dreams, which were always growing and changing. Her brother, Clarence, knew what he wanted: a calm life with a happy family and a steady income. “Be happy, be content, and stay in place,” he told Ariel, so afraid she would leave him behind. Perhaps she already had. As his life went on in a linear fashion, she leapt and danced and proved her worth, grasping, reaching, and climbing, with a singing, shining self.

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