Writing 101: Be Brief

Be brief

You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.


Walking down the sidewalk I spot a letter crumpled in a ball on the ground next to the mailbox. I guess whoever wrote it changed their mind about mailing it. I open the envelope and read the letter inside. Turns out it’s a Dear John letter. Looks like it’s better off on the ground.

Writing 101: Serially Lost

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

This doesn’t need to be a depressing exercise; you can write about that time you lost the three-legged race at a picnic. What’s important is reflecting on this experience and what it meant for you — how it felt, why it happened, and what changed because of it.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.


It’s hard to believe I used to have so much spare time on my hands that I used to spend hours of it just reading or watching tv or playing video games. Used to be a time that I would sleep in until 1pm on Saturdays. My then boyfriend, now husband couldn’t comprehend how a person could sleep half the day away. It took some effort, had to get up once or twice to pee, but somehow I managed. So much sleeping in back in the day. I used to have time to do stuff after work like go to the gym or wander around the mall looking for nothing. Remember hanging out at the mall? There was even a time when I would plan my weekends around which bars or clubs I would go dancing at. It wasn’t unusual for me to start the evening at 10pm and dance until the lights came on. I was queen of the last call.

I remember what it was like to read a book until the early hours of the morning. Never mind the fact that I had to get up for work or school the next morning. I remember what it was like to play a video game so long and hard that I had calluses on my fingers and thumbs from those damned unpadded controllers. I know what it’s like to wear out a mouse just clicking away on some computer game or another. So many hours playing, reading, relaxing. So much time.

Spare time is a thing that doesn’t exist for me any more. Every moment of my waking day is accounted for. Wake up, prep for work, get the kids out the door, work, get everybody home, dinner, bedtime, rinse, repeat. I’ll be dammed if I can find the time to play a video game for any uninterrupted length of time. Gone are the days when I could hand my kid a disconnected controller and let him think he was playing along. He’s a smart cookie now, something about wanting to collect all the coins on his own has changed the way I game.

If I want to watch a tv show, it better be PVRd because I’ll be making frequent use of the pause button and it will take a minimum of three times as long to watch whatever I’m trying to watch. Read a book made of actual paper? Forget it. It doesn’t have any picture therefore before I even get half way down the first page I will have to answer 72 questions about why I’m reading a book with no pictures and “that doesn’t make any sense mama!”.

Now, if I sleep in until 7am I consider that a win. I listen to audio books while I wash dishes and commute to work, and I read review of all the latest games that come out, thinking wistfully about days gone by. My motto these days is to always be doing more than one thing at a time, that way everything gets done. Not well, mind you, but at least it’s done.

I pick my battles.

Writing 101 – Commit to a Writing Practice

Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

Nailing Brahms’ Hungarian Dance Number 5 on your alto sax. Making perfect pulled pork tacos. Drawing what you see. Or, writing a novel. Each requires that you make practice a habit.

Today, try free writing. To begin, empty your mind onto the page. Don’t censor yourself; don’t think. Just let go. Let the emotions or memories connected to your three songs carry you.

Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.


I don’t really have a favourite song above all others or a song that is most important in my life, but I do have favourite artists whose body of work speaks to my soul. Today I’m going to write about Michael Jackson, whose albums are a soundtrack to my youth. Aside from all the accusations that came his way towards the latter years (who knows what was true and what wasn’t), MJ was truly the most magnificent artist of a generation. His presence in my life as a provider of musical beauty is unparalleled, even among all of my other favourite artists whose music inspires me.

I don’t know if I can describe how even the first few bars of any given MJ song will stir up a nostalgia in me like nothing else can. Not only does hearing the first few notes of Rock With Me return me instantly to my childhood, but my mind actually travels into the music and senses every note and every chord straight to the fiber of my being. I have memorised every melody, every word, and even the words only MJ can spout will emanate from my lips like second nature (mamasay mamasa mamakusa – of course those aren’t the words but who cares, my soul will sing it how she pleases).

Every now and then I’ll come across a documentary or a recording of MJ, some studio clip that shows his process while creating the magic that is his music, and all I can tell you is that to hear him work is to hear angels singing, it to see a genius lay it down and tell it like it is. Michael Jackson’s music is perfection. Every note in its place. Every note, every lyric, every melody… absolutely perfect.

Sometimes when I hear his music on the radio, or when it pops up in my iPod playlist, I cry at how beautiful the sound is to my ears. Tears for how beautiful the music is, tears because the world will never see the likes of him again, and tears because I’m so thankful that I grew up as part of a generation of children who were witness to his genius.

I still remember the day he died. I was pregnant with the preshus, a few days into my maternity leave, waiting for the preshus to make his appearance. I had gone for a nap with my trusty twitter machine close by. One minute all was well with the world, the next minute I woke up to a world that was short one shining star. I’ll never forget, still half asleep, checking my twitter feed and watching it blow up with the news of his death. I couldn’t believe it. It was unbelievable, unthinkable. It was devastating, but it was true. The first thing I thought was “but I never got to see him in concert!”, then I thought, “how is it possible that my children will be born into a world where Michael Jackson is dead?”. Unthinkable. And true.

My son was born just a few short days later and every chance I get I play the king of pop for him. He doesn’t understand yet why I’m playing this music for him. And for the most part he just begs me to put on something he recognizes. But one day, when he’s older, I’m hoping he’ll appreciate the musical foundation I’m laying for him. He’ll hear a tune inspired by MJ and think “hey, I know that song” and my work with him will be done.

Don’t ask me which MJ song is my favourite, they’re all my favourite. Now excuse me while I go fire up my iPod. I’m gonna put my headphones in, turn the lights off and just feel the music. Let my soul rock out with the king of pop. And, for a few minutes, drift into a world where there is nothing but the sound, his sound, and all things will be perfect and beautiful.