A dastardly writing task for you and me.

Find something that you wrote a few weeks ago. It doesn’t matter if it is a long piece or a short piece. Now look at that piece and rewrite it, but as you copy it down you need to change the setting and the time of the piece. See if that knocks loose any creativity or presents some sudden challenge that you now need to overcome.

Take all the time you need.


3 thoughts on “Alteration

  1. “Which one will it be sir?” gestured a tall, graying man towards a stack up books lying on the table in front of him.

    In front of him were neatly stacked books featuring different types of opportunities that tried to grab your attention with some unrelated illustration on the cover. In fact the first book I grabbed had an image of a man climbing a ladder wearing ripped denim jeans, no shoes, and a half buttoned flannel shirt that was suppose to teach me how to climb to the next emotional level. Another pictured the back of a girl sitting in a wooden Adirondack chair facing the ocean watching the setting sun representing a life without fear. As tempting as it would be to sit on the beach as fearless as this woman was, I know for a fact that there is nothing scary about a setting sun or a relaxing day of digging your toes into the sand. In fact if I could be on that beach right now I would…

    A soft grunt interrupted my thoughts and the man spoke, “Why don’t you just grab one of each if you are so unsure of what the answer is to your future.” I watched as he gathered a copy of each pamphlet and followed his eyes as they scanned the room of people sitting in their chairs patiently waiting to be called. I hastily grabbed them from his hands and sat in one of the vacant chairs across the room.

    When I looked around the room there were people of all different professions and ages. Some were in uniforms, both blue and red, holding pamphlets about overcoming death and coping in a dangerous situation. Others were dressed in three piece suits that had fancy technology of I Pads and Surfaces on their laps with leather bound briefcases with their initials monogrammed on them by their sides. All of them had a reason to be there and were doing whatever they could to hide their emotional pain or ticks or indiscretions. Some had pamphlets inside of pamphlets in order to hide their true intentions of coming to this office. I could feel as their stares burned looking at me trying to decipher what horrible thing lead me to sit in their company.

    My eyes landed on a younger fellow whose fingers rhythmically bounced off his thigh and was intensely reading a book entitled, “Your Addiction if Hurting Your Family.” Addiction, I wish my problems were as simple as addiction. As I looked down and frantically flipped through the books on addiction, cheating and divorce, self esteem, death, hope, love and abuse I began to panic that one book could not simply categorize my issues and pushed them onto the floor running for the exit. I inhaled a long and hard breath of fresh air as the door closed behind me. What was I doing here? This place was not going to have the answer to my problems. I don’t know what the answer is, I just know that it isn’t here and isn’t in a self help office. The pressure placed on you to face your short comings made me feel like Alice falling down the Rabbit Hole hearing the Red Queen tell Alice. “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Well right now that impossible thing was more than six and I could fill a book with the things that I was afraid to face in that office.

    • I like the adjustments you made to keep within the structure of the task. I read this along with your other version, side by side, and very much enjoyed the composition.

      Thanks for joining the free write campaign!

    • I tried to re-write a nonfiction scene from when I first entered Ukraine. Changing it from the foreign parking of a hotel to a shipyard in America in the past. Interesting how changing just a few minor words changed the scene almost entirely.


      Sixty-one people stood behind an open cart with slumped shoulders and a zombielike disposition as they moved slowly in small circular patterns in the shipyard. A gangly man of six feet barked orders at us from the loading zone but no one moved toward him. He motioned with his hands, big wide gestures, and this made the volunteers nearest the cart take a few steps away rather than closer. Finally, with a natural ease of using pantomime as a means of communication, he pretended to lift a heavy object and then lowered it slowly onto the edge of the cart.

      ‘Help!’ He shouted and shook the imaginary box in his hand.

      After an awkward pause I lifted the satchel from my shoulders and handed it over to my wife. ‘God dammit,’ I said as I rolled up the sleeves of my button-down shirt and tucked my ink-black tie between some buttons. I grabbed hold of the splintered wood at the edge of the cart and crawled up, dusting my pants with pieces of hay and dirt.

      ‘Igor!’ He shouted as he shook my hand. ‘Charles.’ I returned and he instantly disappeared deeper into the maze of cargo. Without any prior knowledge of how this was going to work out we seemed to fall in to a easy pattern. He grabbed cases from the back and moved them to the middle. From there I would carry them to the edge.

      I had lined up a few on the edge and the group, all sixty of them, looked up at me with bloodshot, emotionless eyes.

      ‘These aren’t feathers we’re hauling.’ My anger had replaced my lethargy. ‘Guys, you two, get over here and take these down. Put them in the corner.’ My tie came free from its place between buttons as I motioned to the empty corner. The group became immediately reactionary and volunteers lined up at the base of the truck.

      ‘Good, great. Yeah, we’re going to just fireman this right into the corner. Awesome, thanks.’ I tucked my tie back into my shirt.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s