“Writing in the Dark” 2006

I think this will be the funniest to those who have lived in AK (or somewhere) enough to be familiar with the whole “dry-cabin” lifestyle.

This is the result of a 10-minute writing exercise at a workshop I attended a few weeks ago. It was really fun: I was off eating good food, writing and listening from 9-4 one Saturday. Great fun.

For this one, the guy directing introduced the idea of “Claytomancy,” which he called a form of divination based on the odd words or phrases we overhear and/or stick with us. I haven’t been able to find that word anywhere else, but it’s an interesting idea.

He made the assumption that we, as a group of writers, would have these trails of words circulating in our minds, and passing out 3×5 cards asked us to write either a phrase that’s been on our minds or 3 individual words that have been sticking with us. Then he collected and redistributed them.

My phrase was “He was afraid of plumbing.”

Plumbing was one of those things he knew he’d never understand. The dank dripping darkness that never left the slimy pipes of his imagination.

He would never open those cabinet doors. The trash can was available to the cat, the dog, the children, because he couldn’t bring himself to open those doors under the sink. He only knew the boiler room existed because it would wake, dragon-like, to periodically shake the house.

He would have jumped off a bridge to escape his torment– but didn’t know what would meet him in the river.

That’s why he moved to a dry cabin: to get away from the plumbing.

Turns out this line was from the workshop leader, and after living in Unalaska w/o plumbing for 15-20 years, and only having running water for about 2 years (he even refused to use it at first), he said in the end that this all was truer than he cared to admit.

And sorry to anybody else who doesn’t find this funny– maybe it’s a “you had to be there” moment, where the youngest person in the group is trying to read something ridiculous to a group of strangers, straight-faced.

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