Jelly Writers (March 2018)

Jelly Writers
2nd Tuesday of month, 6.30pm to 7.30pm
Jelly Studios, Broad St Mall
A group for adults who want to improve their creative writing. Join us for discussions of writing techniques, writing exercises and critiquing each other’s work. Please bring something to write with and something to write on.
Register here:

First exercise

Imagine coming home and finding everything has been replaced with identical copies.

That’s strange. The dust has been moved. Here and here and … here? The TV screen is clear. Has somebody been spring cleaning and not told me? Pretty unlikely as I would be the first to have a task to complete. There’s no scratch on the table mat. There was a scratch, wasn’t there? This is my house, isn’t it? Hello, is anyone here? I’m not sure what’s going on but it had better be a joke.

I look for something unique. Maybe one of the signed books. Terry’s dead so there’s no way they could get him to re-sign them. But do I remember what the signature looks like? Anyone could write a dedication in the front and I’d be none the wiser if it was the same as the original or not. “All the best, John” isn’t particularly distinctive.

The fridge. Is this all the same food? Are these the same apples? Why am I questioning this? I’m being stupid. How could all these things not be the ones I saw this morning before I left the house. There’s a good explanation for what I’m seeing, or not seeing. I must have moved the candles and the coasters on the mantlepiece. It’s not as if anyone’s been in. But how would I know?

I can’t sit down. I need to check the house for clues. I’ll not be able to sleep tonight if this doesn’t start making sense. I won’t be able to sleep anywhere. If this house isn’t safe and stable, then how an anywhere? I wouldn’t be able to trust anyone.

The clock matches my watch. It’s always been two minutes behind. Who would bother to set it right? Or has someone changed my watch? Is my house the same but I’m different?


Second exercise

Take an everyday setting and list all the things you would expect to see there. Write a story about the setting with one of the list items removed.

[[I chose Earley railway station and removed ‘passengers’]]

The train rumbles by without stopping, coach after empty coach. The wind of its passing blows the dry leaves on the platform but nobody notices apart from me, Only I am standing, waiting for the 8:36 to Reading this morning, which is late as usual. In fact, I seem to be the only person travelling to Reading at all.

The last coach goes past and I catch sight of the guard, a bored expression on his face. Not surprise or curiosity as to the absence of passengers but just plain boredom. I walked to the ticket office and asked Malcolm what was up today. he just shrugged and resumed his waiting.

The car park over the fence is empty, instead of full. I look up at the display and my train is another two minutes late. I can’t understand why if there is no one travelling today. What could be causing the delay?

I push the big blue button to talk to the help line. After a moment, a woman answers, a little impatiently. I ask where everybody is. Has there been an announcement that I’ve missed? She assures me that the Waterloo line is running normally and any problems would be announced over the tannoy.

“But where is everybody?” I insist.

“Maybe they are all on holiday,” she offers. A little sarcastically, if I’m not mistaken. Not what I would expect from a help line. Maybe she doesn’t know that there’s nobody here or on the train.

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