Weekly Check-in – Erin

Today was my first time participating in the group, and I can already tell that it’s going to be one of the highlights of my week over the next few months. I have a feeling many of the other writers I met today feel the same. What a rare treasure it is to be in the same room as so many others who share your passion for language and storytelling.

During check-in, I got a small glimpse inside the lives of a room full of strangers, who have been kind enough to welcome my group mate, Pauline, and I into the space, and we shared how writing has impacted our week (even if it’s the nagging guilt we might feel if we weren’t able to write anything). The nicest part about a creative writing group, if you ask me, is the time, space, and encouragement to just write. As a full-time student and mom, I consider those three things to be a luxury, and I don’t take them for granted.

Meg is a terrific facilitator, and offered engaging prompts to the group. My favourite was the second one, where she read an excerpt from a novel I hadn’t heard of, and asked us to either respond directly to the excerpt or create our own resolution to any of the number of conflicts the narrator was experiencing. Since the focus this week was on plot, creating conflicts for our characters is a necessary tool, and one I have been practicing in my writing courses this semester. It’s interesting when the crossover becomes apparent. I believe this experience will compliment what I am studying in the classroom, and vice versa. Overall, it was a great introduction to Grit Uplifted, and I’m looking forward to next week already!

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WHERE WE HAVE TO GO: A 13 Year Old’s perspective by Ashley Diana Wren

This is my second monologue that I have ever written in the Saturday Writing Group. This was a really interesting and painful exercise for me to write. But I did it and thats what matters. I do hope you enjoy <3 GRIT UPLIFTED EXERCISE : OCTOBER 14th/ 2017 WRITING PROMPT: Freewrite a response based on the Where We Have To Go excerpt by Lauren Kirshner

I really am perplexed. Here I am cleaning the gerbil cage and all I have to think about is me growing up. How much will it impact me if dad
Goes back to Crashing Waves? Will my life come tumbling down? I am just wondering what is going on between my parents? Why are they arguing so much?
Am I the mistake or issue of the problem? Or dad isn’t getting any and he is going through his midlife crisis? “No tomatoes” for daddy, huh?
I feel my whole world is changing. Me going through puberty. My parents screaming and shouting. Where is my life really going?
My mother is just in her “denial” stage, while my dad doesn’t know what the fuck he wants. Everything is just a routine for him.
And me going through my adolescence and here I am thinking. Will I get a decent husband who won’t cheat like dad? Will my mother be able to “move forward” with her life?
I still feel what dad is doing is covert abuse. Not just to me, but also to my mother. He is really pushing his “toxic masculinity” and “authority figure” bullshit.
I am thinking that I am going to need some support. Next time I go to school, I’ll ask for resources to help myself and mom.

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UNICORN TATTOOS by ASHLEY DIANA WREN

For my readers, this was my first exercise from Saturday doing Plot. This is a first for me. I have never written something like this. And yes. I am impressed with myself. I hope you enjoy <3 GRIT UPLIFTED EXERCISE: Use one of these two scenarios to develop a plot. OPTION 1: Two very opposite people wanting the same tattoo. OPTION 2: A person through a horrible misunderstanding loses their work and an unfortunate series of events happens. I chose OPTION 1 and created this piece titled UNICORN TATTOOS. I was not aware how the group was going to take it. But I loved the support that I received.

It’s just another regular day at Manson’s tattoo parlor.
John is the first client that Manson is going to take. John came in to get a Unicorn Tattoo and he is just talking to the receptionist.
“I would like my unicorn to be fully black and just have a red horn on its head.”
Suddenly, footsteps are heard from behind. A tall woman with blonde hair appears and cuts the conversation.
“Bitch, did you just say that you are getting a tattoo of a unicorn? You are a dude! Unicorn tattoos are for lesbians.”
The receptionist asks her for her name. The woman identifies herself as Sylvanas.
“Remember when I came here, I asked Manson about getting the Gender Unicorn?”
John feels upset. He turns around to Sylvanas and tell her, “We are both of the same spectrum. We should not be fighting for a stupid
Unicorn tattoo. And you shouldn’t be stereotyping people or making assumptions. How about I make a deal with you?”
Sylvanas does a 360. She realizes that what she did was wrong.
“I apologize”, she says.
John then discloses to Sylvanas that he is a trans-man who always identified as a lesbian since a lifetime long ago.
Sylvanas goes totally red in the face.
John offers to get the receptionist to draw a new double unicorn pattern. The one will be his vision, while the other will be Sylvanas.
Sylvanas is shocked.
John pays for both his and her tattoos.
Sylvanas asks John for a dinner date. Who knows maybe these two people who were mad about each other with their tattoo situation, might end
Up being an item?

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Meet Erin!

EA Hi, everyone!
My name is Erin, and I am a second year mature student at Western University, pursuing an Honors Specialization in English Language & Literature with a Creative Writing minor. This semester, I am taking a community engaged learning course called, Creativity and the Local, where I will have the honour of working with Grit Uplifted for a 10-week period. As a writer, this is significant because I believe in the healing power of creative expression. I look forward to sharing my experiences and knowledge, and to learning from others.

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UNTITLED by Ashley Diana Wren

I am an avid book and film collector. And today, I come with no agenda. I am just looking around the flea market like an alien visitor
From another planet. I just entered Pacific Mall in Markham. I can see the people here are more diverse and not WASPS.
This makes me feel much safer. The melting pot of different races and not just Caucasians with their white privilege and their frigidity.
Flea markets should be just like this. Diverse and not just one race, or religion. You can see the Sikhs in their turbans, the polite Asian women with their warm
And welcoming smiles.
And with the flea market vendors you can bargain. Normal store vendors are too hard headed, I feel.
Suddenly, I notice a sign. 6 for $20. And these are just movies that came out of the theatre. I ask the vendor to test these movies so I know they are of good quality and have subtitles.
Its my OCD. I cannot watch a movie or tv show without the subtitles for the life of me.
I also notice at the back of the vendor, the tv show section. I ask him to pass me the “ZOO” box sets based on the James Patterson book. He only has two. I notice he must have forgotten to place a price. I look at how many episodes each boxset has. 13 each. I ask him if $25 can be enough. He agrees. I am pleased
I leave the flea market and go to sit by the fountain.
I am pleased from my visit today. I feel I need to gather my thoughts and just sit there looking at the water for a bit.

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PLANET PONTIX by Ashley Diana Wren

PIECE NO 1. – OCTOBER 30th/ 2017
To my readers, this was the second exercise we did at writing class on Saturday. I know when I wrote this I had my main character Emmeline in my head. Also Emmeline is a real little girl. She is my chosen aunt’s daughter. This is dedicated to Emmy and Grayson her brother. But hope you all enjoy <3
GRIT UPLIFTED EXERCISE: Write a sci-fi scene. Invent a character and have them move in a sci-fi setting and describe what he/she sees.

Emmeline stepped within the green glowing portal. This cetacean, gelatinous wormhole was so long that Emmeline came out the other side dizzy. She looked into
Her fanny pack to see if she had any head pills.
And then, she felt a hit on her head.
“Ouch,” she cried, “What the fork?”
She looked up and seemed very amazed. This planet seemed to have such lush vegetation and was very colorful.
Suddenly, she saw this creature come to her. “You, Emmeline. Me, Lloyd.”
“Say what? And how do you know my name?”, she asked.
“Also what kind of creature are you?”
“One question at a time, Emmeline,” Lloyd answered. “Welcome to the Planet Pontix. This is a planet that we have conquered after the Cat Lords invaded Earth.
And I am a Gerbilloyd. Number 101023.”
“Wow,” Emmeline exclaimed, “No wonder, your planet looks like an exact replica of our gardens with the carrots, turnips, and seeds. So how do you know my name then, Lloyd?”
Lloyd replied, “We are a race of telepathic sentient species. We’ve learned to tap into the human mind since our Lord Neferset taught us during our Earth years. “
Suddenly, Lloyd pressed on one of the stones in the path where we were standing.
“You see, Emmeline! We are not the typical rodents that you live with in your farm. Look into this screen!”
Emmeline looked on the screen.
Lloyd began narrating, “See. This is the year where you were on Earth. 2017. Once you stepped within the portal, you are here. 3017. A 1000-year time jump.
But you are here for a purpose.”

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GIBBONS PARK PAGAN FESTIVAL by Ashley Diana Wren

PIECE NO 2. – OCTOBER 30th/ 2017

This is my first piece from my writing class this week. Hope you enjoy <3 I know I have a lot of Pagan and Wiccan friends in my facebook list.
GRIT UPLIFTED SETTING EXERCISE : A place where we’ve been recently. Outdoor or Indoors. Describe the setting and give it a mood.

The trees had eyes. Their elongated branches were curving to welcome their guests hugging them as next of kin. The vendors are all formed as a pentagram of souls to
Sell their witchy products. The grass was indeed greener on this side, and as fertile as the Mother Goddess predicted on this day.
The park was filled with its minions of the Gods and Goddesses of Olympus and the Devil’s Spawn. Some of these people, especially the supernatural setting of this celebration. We were so
Aware of Samhain approaching only a month from now. We began cackling like modern witches and warlocks cackling in this hot day. At least we weren’t burning during the Crucible era of the Witch Trials in Salem. The children were enjoying their time at the park. The trees were acting as protectors with their Cyclopean eyes.
In a corner of the park, a friend of mine, was doing Tarot Readings. People were in awe whether we, the generation of the Illuminati, were actually for real. If we could actually predict the future and if we could actually read hands.
My friend suddenly asked me if I could do a coffee reading. I didn’t want to burn and create sacrilege to such a majestic and beautiful pasture of a park. So, she made the coffee herself. The incensuous smells attracted a bunch of others and I let her drink her coffee. She flipped the cup and I then read her fortune. I wonder if what I told her has come true, as in most cases it does.

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LEVIATHAN by Ashley Diana Wren

I am Leviathan, the Giant Sea Serpent in the Ocean of Tethys. I have been living in these waters for eons, and yet no one has ever caught a site of me. Us, sea serpents,
Have our elongated necks and curves in our body, and we are scaly. We carry our Okeanistres, that are our turquoise rattly tails.
We swim and float through underground caves and holes throughout the Pangean Pipes of our enormous, fiery planet. How we survive, we don’t know. And yet, we are founding all
Corners of the world.
Hell, I have my cousin Nessie basking in the castle rocks of Edinburgh in Loch Ness. My older brother Champ is king of the true Canadian North ruling the murky waters of Lake Champlain.
And then, I have my younger brother, the Ogopogo-Mbembe rising in the elusive, mysterious jungles of Tanzania in Mighty Africa.
My cave, where I live in the middle of the ocean, is filled with colourful coral reefs and a variety of minerals and stones, such as Pink Syanite, amethysts and quartzs.
I usually take a ride with the Oceanids, who are the nymphs in my plateau. They carry me with the help of the Hippocampuses with their massive, golden chariots.
And it’s very easy for me to sustain myself. I don’t like eating the small fish. I’d rather consume krill and plankton.

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RECOVERY by Ashley Diana Wren

PIECE NO 4. – September 23rd/2017
I attended the group for the first time on September 23rd/2017. I found it very beneficial for both my healing journey and my journey as an aspiring author. I am submitting this first piece that I shared yesterday.

RECOVERY by Ashley Diana Wren
Recovery is essential for us survivors. And recovery can take multiple turns.
You can do recovery on a physical level, on a counseling level, or even as self-care.
On a physical level, you can formulate your recovery starting with walking. Walking helps your limbic system to maintain a healthy brain. Secondly, if you advised to
Take medications by your doctor that is an added portion. Thirdly, maintaining a healthy diet and making sure to “nourish” our bodies not only in a spiritual or emotional level, but also
Physically.
Counsellors can or may be your “best friends” during your recovery. You voice your concerns to your counselor and then create a plan. You either use the CBT route which is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or DBT, which is the Dialectical Route. Counsellors can help you recover from trauma and they can also help you with identifying your life goal’s and do your best to “move forward”.
“Self-care” is also essential during recovery. Learning to listen to our bodies and knowing when and what our limitations are. Learning to take time for ourselves as much as we are “social animals” as suggested by Charles Darwin. Learning how to balance our lives from this “online” generation, as opposed to how we were conditioned.

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The Mouse Trap by Victor Doxtator

Wendell sat on a log and blew an elongated cloud of cigarette smoke into the air. It disintegrated immediately, like a bomb blowing up. While Bert and Sammy chatted like squirrels, Wendell took inventory of what he accomplished today. Yes, he worked for Mrs. Campbell, yes, he’s here in the jungle with Bert and Sammy, and he got the bag of coffee, and yes, he’s getting the peace he wanted. He nodded and grinned while his squinty eyes lost sight of all that surrounded him.

Meanwhile, from the top of the riverbank, the group of twelve received their orders and began their descent. They formed themselves into a large tipped over C formation which ensured they would capture their prey. No one would escape and Sargent Brennan would make sure of that. He received his squad of twelve and now it was their chance to show that the force was right in investing in a superior group of men. They were well trained, well equipped and capable of taking on a small mission in some far away land. They were trained in hand to hand combat, riot control, street gang violence and small weapons tactics. They had their: explosives expert, computer expert, mechanical expert, Karate master, Ace Native tracker, and sniper. Sargent Brennan was an ex-Canadian Army specialist and only his superiors know what’s in his classified dossier. Needless to say, Sargent Brennan was overjoyed when his Captain Eugene W. Plum told him the Mayor and the council caved and they were going to approve the million dollar request for the additional officers. “It pays to be a bully,” the captain said, and Sargent Brennan would lead the S.W.A.T. team. It was now time to prove themselves.

Wendell put his shoes on and raised himself to walk and find a suitable washroom. They were using a spot a little more than ten feet away, to their left, away from where they entered the clearing. There had been a light dusting of snow and the wind was slowing – the calm before the storm. He could hear clearly, for the river and its banks act as a funnel to sound. Wendell moved up the bank, chose a spot to relieve himself and was doing so when, he thought he heard a branch break. He listened. Another twig snapped. His senses went to red alert. The thing about being a hobo and moving around in some dangerous places is, you get sensitive to what’s around you, especially when you’re hiding out. He hurried himself and slid back down the bank. Bert and Sammy were giggling when he took a seat on the log. They were enjoying their after-eats smoke. Wendell pushed back his pumpkin coloured toque. His expression was serious.

“Hey guys, someone’s coming. I heard twigs snap from the left side of the bank. I don’t think it’s an animal; they’d have our scent by now. The wind’s going up thata way.”

Bert and Sammy’s smiles disappeared. Their jaws tightened. They looked upriver and knew Wendell wasn’t joking. They never joke about this stuff. Hobos have been attacked and been beaten badly by town residents who wanted to scare them outta town. If people were sneaking in on them, they were prepared to run. Bert and Sammy rose quickly.
“OK, it’s time to go back to the shelter anyway,” Wendell said.

Sammy began shoveling mounds of snow on the fire. It hissed and a grey plume of smoke rose from it. “Are we leaving the last bottle here? And what about our sleeping bags?” Sammy asked.

“Yeah, we’ll be back tomorrow, maybe. Cover it and leave the bags stashed under the sticks and leaves and snow.”

Sammy ran over and grabbed it, “Heck no, I’m taking it, just in case we don’t come back.”
He stuffed it under his armpit then danced around for doing so. The cold bottle was too much for him so he jammed it into his coat pocket.

Bert whispered loudly and pointed with his thumb, “Hey guys, someone’s coming from up river too. Man, they’re heavy, twigs are snapping.” He fumbled with his toque while pushing it up.

They looked into each other’s eyes and realized they may be in for some real trouble.

“Who’s gonna look for three hobos down here, eh? Well I suppose it doesn’t have to be the Coppers, it can be the Civvies – get the fuck outta here party. That group brings baseball bats and axe handles and iron crow bars. I don’t wanna see that group. Let’s move,” Wendell said.

“Damn, they’re coming down from the top too. It sounds like they got us surrounded. What we gonna do? We ain’t even done nothin’,” Sammy said. His face wrinkled with worry, his pupils dilated and he looked like he was about to cry.

“I know Sammy, but sometimes people don’t want people livin’ free in this free country of ours,” Wendell said.

Bert and Wendell’s heartbeat pounded out. They were beginning to get dizzy in thought.

“There’s only one thing to do. We got our clubs, we fight,” Bert said.

“Like the famous Musketeers eh? We’re a little too old and tipsy to do that. I have another plan,” Wendell said. “Are our sleeping bags still wrapped up tight in their plastic?”

Bert looked at Wendell questioningly, “Yeah, but this is no time to take a snooze.”

“Grab them.”

A voice boomed out: Alright you bunch of bums, this is Sargent Brennan of the Police Department. We know you’re down there. We’re coming in so don’t try anything foolish. You are completely surrounded and we come heavily armed.

Sammy, Bert and Wendell froze. They looked at each other.

“Coppers,” Bert whispered.

“We know they’re not stupid,” Sammy added.

Bert and Wendell rolled their eyes while looking at each other.

“Sammy, you listen to too much gossip,” Bert said.

“Bring the bags and follow me,” Wendell said. He bent over as he left.

Bert and Sammy grabbed the wrapped sleeping bags and followed Wendell down to the water’s edge, also bent in a crouch. Bert looked at Wendell and said, “Oh, you’re not thinking…?”

“Yup, it’s exactly what I’m thinking.”

“But we’ll freeze to death. We can’t run to the shelter in wet clothes. We’ll get peemonie.”

“Stay here then,” Wendell said.

He grabbed one of the bagged sleeping bags and jumped into the river. Bert and Sammy looked at each other, eyes wide and mouths dropped open.

“All for one…,” Bert said. He took a tight hold on his bundle and jumped into the cold flowing river, followed shortly by Sammy.

Sargent Brennan stepped into the clearing. A big muscular man dressed in black. He quickly searched the area for anyone who tried to hide. He had his officers move in to scan ground zero. More officers arrived into the clearing from above the bank, batons out and ready, and then the rest of his team emerged upriver and moved into the clearing, batons out and ready. Together they combed the area in search of the “bums” that were supposed to be collecting here and were probably into the alcohol and drugs.

“Damn,” the Sargent said “we didn’t get a chance to use our new clubs, I mean batons.”
He turned to face his men. “But this mission was a success. We circled them and had them locked in. Who knew they would be stupid enough to jump into the river. We’ll pick up their dead bodies somewhere down river. Damn, now I gotta ask the chief to ask the Mayor and council for money to buy a boat.”

A half mile upriver, Wendell, Bert and Sammy emerged from the water to step on a slick and slippery river bank. Wendell worked his way up and held out his hand for Bert to grab and he was pulled up then Bert did the same for Sammy. They moved up the slick bank until they were on firm ground. They knew it wouldn’t be long before the cold would really start to sting.

“All right guys, we have to undress,” Wendell said.

“What! Are you fucking crazy!” Bert shouted.

“No Bert, we have to get outta these wet clothes. We get out our sleeping bags and wrap these around us. They’re still dry, they’re in the plastic. When we stash our stuff that’s what the plastic is for, to keep them dry, right?”

“Sounds good, Wendell, and we run like it’s breakfast time back to the shelter. We sign in and ask to go up to our locker to change,” Sammy said.

“Right, Sammy. If they ask about the sleeping bags, we tell them we’re wet and a homeowner let us have these old things. The owner saw that big truck hit that huge puddle of water at the curb and drenched us. Since its winter, the person gave us these to wrap around us. We shucked our clothes because we were freezing in them. They won’t ask any more than that.”

“Right,” Bert and Sammy said.

The three mouseketeers walked quickly away from the river. They made their way down the streets, wrapped in cool dry sleeping bags to the city’s shelter. They signed in and got their bed and hot meal for the night. Afterwards, they took a hot shower and jumped into bed and fell asleep. Now they’re safe and comfortable. The shelter’s man in charge didn’t seem the least bit surprised when he signed them in. Over the years he’s seen it all.

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