The Melody of Panic by Pauline Turgeon

The feeling I get when I am on stage is what I imagine peering into a pool of rapacious piranhas would feel like. Fear alone keeps me standing upright. The lights are turned down low and the air is tinged with the subtle scent of the aging wood that frames the space. The small crowd is peppered with young people in their trendy dark-rimmed glasses, crocheted hats and chewed jeans. My right leg quivers along with my voice as I try to hold my notes.

Over several months, (we’ll call him) Balding Guitar Buddy, and I were accountable to our weekly guitar jams – far, far away from any semblance of an audience. Only one person to appraise the output of creativity, aside from my own biased misjudgment, was cathartic to me but the crippling fear of eating that critique sandwich in front of a hungry crowd has paralyzed me since I was 12. Balding Guitar Buddy has played in a band for ten years. He coaxes me as though it should be easy. The crushing self-doubt is too much to endure for an artful klutz like me.

Adulthood as a complete coward has taken its toll on my perception of the conquests suited to my potential. Balding Guitar Buddy plays the role of emotional pep squad. His perception of my abilities transported me into the temperature-controlled room (shrine) of the music store, where acoustic guitars hung in a coquettish line, begging to be caressed. “Money is just paper,” Balding Guitar Buddy said, “you’ll have this guitar for life.” She’s a Taylor 314 cutaway electric acoustic. I call her Nova.

I desperately want to believe that I can overcome my fear of being ostracized. The trepidation in my forward progression in music – in life – is becoming an obvious handicap. Thirty-eight years and I have only just begun to peel the fear away, one veneer at a time. The distance between the edge of the stage and the yawning void of flesh-eaters, is a tangle of rubber-coated cords. Below the entanglements are hints of glimmering life.

I play the first notes and feel the energy of the crowd feed the next notes and those after that. An all-encompassing stillness dissolves my uncertainty into the lilting of my song. The chaotic mane on my head begins to fall around my face, hiding eyes that surely look panicked.

“I’m doing this”, I say to myself as I peek through the tendrils at the crowd, determined to feed the piranhas. The decision to honour or to combat my fear is an ongoing crusade. Balding Guitar Buddy, Nova, and Fear help me stand, but only I call heads or tails on whether to cower or fight back.

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Meet Pauline!

My name is Pauline and I am ecstatic to be working with Grit Uplifted and all its members for the next several weeks. I, like Erin, am also a mature student at Western University and am nearing the end of my degree. Writing has always been my passion and what better way to connect with the community than to do what I love most? Wordsworth so poignantly said to “fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” Besides my role as mother to four incredible boys, I am on a journey – like most participants in the group, I suspect. I truly believe that self-discovery begins with words on a page. I’m excited to see what the future holds for myself as well as for the kind folks at Grit Uplifted. Every moment spent working on this project will have a significant impact on the road ahead and for that I am truly grateful.

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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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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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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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