Anti-Social Workshop

Anti-Social Workshop

around the workshop table

the seats were so crowded

it was impossible to sit

without physical contact 

with the person on either side

not to sit at the table

would be seen as


not wanting to be part of the group

one would fail to be

a full participant

outsiders weren’t wanted

at this table of outsiders


who stiffened

when their person space was

infringed upon

forced into unwanted close company 

with one another

more time was spent

apologizing for being squeezed

than was spent on the workshop

all that was produced 

was frustration

at the lack of respect

for personal boundaries

& a disregard one another’s opinions

As you might guess this piece was written well before the pandemic. It was also the writing workshop that made me decide never to go to a workshop held in a bar, restaurant or even someone’s home. This one was in a private room with a curved booth banquette around a large round table. A table that could sit ten people – as long as they didn’t have coats, shoulder-bags/knapsacks, iPads, writing pads, or elbows. There were twelve of us including the facilitator.

Oh yes – we all expected to order drinks of some sort to allow free use of the space. Fortunately the beverages could be floated in the air over the table so there no risk of spilling them on our hand-outs, iPads or writing pads. 

There was jostling for positions at the table as late-comers arrived. Thus a six hour workshop was reduced to five – no make that four with time lost to the delivery of libations & the need of the facilitator to repeat things said while various people missed what was said due to turning of cellphones that rang while things were being said.

It was also at this workshop that one participant said to another, who had said the piece lacked clarity – ‘you aren’t the target audience.’ Sigh. At the first ‘let’s stretch our legs’ I went to a nearby coffee shop & opted not to return. I’m guess I’m an overly sensitive faux-poet not willing to suffer for art.

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#NaNoWriMo with #Gravy

On Tuesday I hit my, so far, NaNoWriMo best ever with over 4100 words. Let me tell you, I was amazed as the words kept coming and coming. I find one thing that happens around the 2000 word mark is I decide I can squeeze another 500 words out of this scene. Then when I’ve done that I take break, come back and add yet another 500.


Once I’ve hit 3000 I aim for another 500 while the iron is hot. On Tuesday I went to the Write-In at Time Capsule and added another 1000+ words. I can thank the nachos there for the added salty push – I thank the chef for agreeing to make me a half serving.


The momentum was helped because this was a scene I’ve been wanting to write and the time came – not that I always write according to story time line. My first 500 words had little description of Teresa so I fleshed her out – the fringe jacket created everything else that followed about her – the beer for breakfast – the smoking. I love it when a scene and a character writes itself so clearly.


You’ll also see some of my laziness – I do have a name somewhere for the camera guy but didn’t want to go to my notes to find it. R V is another forgotten named character – she was the resident psychic for the reality show and was  killed in an auto accident the day before.


I think it was the day before but I’m not sure of that either. One of the last things I usually do is work on the time line – nail down day by day where each scene falls to make sure I’m consistent with when events can happen. Maybe I’ll post more of the gravy interview week.perfect nano sample

Dan looked around the restaurant for Teresa Dunlop. There were more people there than he had expected or a lunch time crowd at a small town eatery. Eight tables with people at five of them already. Mostly couples and some families with children.

A waitress noticed him and camera man standing there. “Sit anywhere. That is if no one else is already sitting there. Window table free.” she nodded in that generally direction.

“Do you know Teresa Dunlop? I was supposed to meet her here.”

The waitress did a fast look around. “Nope can’t say as she’s here. Take that table though she can’t miss you if she shows up.”

They sat at the table. Camera man beside him. They was five minutes early. Dan glanced at the notes about Teresa on his phone. Married twice, no children, worked at various jobs, currently single, unemployed, trained as dental hygienist, worked as hair-dresser, lived in Halifax for several years before moving back to Stellerton to look after ailing parent. Parent passed away two years ago.

“Get you guys something while you are waiting?” waitress asked. “Beer?”

“Coffee will be fine.” Lunch was too early for him for alcohol. Unless they had any Keifers. Not professional.

“Same here. Milk if you got it.” camera said.

The waitress brought their coffees. “You must be with that TV show that’s in town. The camera man is a dead giveaway.”

“That’s right.”

“Down right sad about R V. I’d met her a couple of times. Funny how you can be here one day and gone the next.”

“Yes.” he stirred cream into his coffee.

“Wonder that she didn’t see it coming, though. Her being psychic and all that. Maybe you can’t see yourself in the picture, right?”


She went to another table.

His sipped the coffee. It was weak. A table emptied, then another.

“Looks like you’ve been stood up.” waitress came over with the coffee pot. “Top you guys up?”

“Not just yet for me. Too much coffee on an empty stomach isn’t good for me.” He looked over the menu. “I’ll have the soup.”

“Chicken noodle today.”

“Sounds good and a … grilled cheese. Whole wheat.”

“White only. But it’s enriched.”


“Bacon burger and fries for me.” camera said. “The works.”

This was the sort of lunch his mother used to serve when they traveled. She’d always bring a hot plate and grilled cheese was easy and fast. He’d had a craving for it since checking in to the Arms.

He checked his phone for the time and Teresa was thirty minutes late. He figured she wasn’t going to show up.

The waitress brought his soup and sandwich and camera’s burger.


The chicken noodle was out of a can. Either that or the chef was able to duplicate that look and taste. It was salty. The sandwich was hot, the cheese was mild, tasteless and it had to be those processed slices not real cheese. He waved to the waitress.

“How’s the burger?”

“Filling.” Camera said. “Fries are decent. Needs something.”

“Yes?” she brought the coffeepot to the table. “Ready for this.”

“Yeah, sure. Do you have any hot sauce?”

“No.” she shrugged.

“What about dips for the wings?” camera asked.

“Oh yeah. There’s the spicy one. I’ll have to charge extra you for it though.”


“Dan James!” a woman called from the door, entering and walking to his table. She was about five four, though the fringe on her leather jacket made her look taller. Her tight jeans were tucked into the tops of tight dark red leather boots that came half way up her calves. Tufts of hair in a variety of reds, blues and blonds weren’t tamed by the Jay’s baseball cap she had pulled on her head. She bumped one of the tables on her way.

He stood to meet her. “Teresa Dunlop?”

“I’m she and she needs another drink. A Molson’s, Heather.” she shouted to the waitress as she sat. “A cold one this time, too.” She she slung her fringed purse on the empty chair opposite camera, pulled off her scruffy fringed jacket and sat. “They know me here.” She grinned at camera.

“This is my crew for the interview. Camera camera.”

She reached across the table to shake camera’s hand and knocked over Dan’s cup of coffee.

The waitress put a the beer on the table along with a glass and gave Dan his hot sauce.

“I’ll get a cloth for that.” she grimaced at the spilled coffee.

Teresa took a swig out of the bottle then poured the rest into the glass. “That first one tastes best out of the bottle. You have to decide what’s more important being a lady or having the right taste.”

Another waitress came over to wipe the table down. They lifted their food to make it easier for her.

The waitress brought a plate of fries with a dollop of gravy splashed in the middle of it and put in front of Teresa.

“Thanks Heather.”

“It’s Barbra.” the waitress said timidly. “Heather’s been these two months having her baby.”

“Sorry to hear that. Guess I should look closer. Thanks Barbra.” She ate a couple of fries, had another swallow of her beer. “Look Dan I gotta have a smoke. Can’t do that indoors anymore. I’ll be right back. Bring me another Heather.” she called to the waitress.

“Mind if I join you,” camera asked.

“Sure! Nothing worse than smokin’ alone unless it’s drinkin’ alone.” She got a package of Export A cigarettes out of her purse. “You not takin’ that with you?” she asked gesturing to his camera. “Mighty small isn’t it?”

“Should I?” camera asked Dan. “It’s your interview.”

“Sure why not.”

They stood on the sidewalk a few feet from the door. Teresa puffing, taking and pointing here and there. Someone stopped to talk to her and she introduced them to camera. She flicked her cigarette into the street, slipped her arm under camera’s and they came back into the Diner.

“I gotta take a quick, you know, to the ladies. I’ll be right back. Heather can you reheat this for me.”

The waitress took the plate of fries into the kitchen.

“You’ll have your work cut out for you with this one.” camera said.

“She have anything to say out there?”
“Telling me who lived where. She did want to know you were single. I told her you weren’t in the market just now.”

A microwave dinged and waitress put the reheated fries in front of Teresa as she sat back down.

“There. So where do we start Danny Boy.”

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo



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