Fittingly, for the first WRTSHP of 2012 we will explore the concept of THE RETURN. 

Think dyspepsia. Think fashion repeating on itself. Think Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey. Think Back to the Future. Think exchanging those presents that didn’t fit or were just plain hideous. Think Return Point and Point of No Return. Think the dead will rise and the risen will fall and all those other wonderful, creepy thoughts one can think when the day is short and the night is long. Think Turn and Re-Turn. Think unending movie sequels.

And once you have thought all of these things, remember to pack a notebook and pen and bring them both to Hom at 6:30pm on Wed, January 11th. I promise you’ll enjoy yourself.

Oh! We’re moving to a new schedule this year (every other Wed) so if you can make it - make it! If you can’t, mark your calendar for the second Wed after that. Remember your New Years Resolution was to write more (wasn’t it?) So why not stick to it? 

See you then, ladies and gents! And a Happy 2012 to you too!


It’s a new year. Time for a new WRTSHP! 

We’re all resolved. Resolved to be fitter, smarter, and better read, more efficient, and less wasteful. We’re resolved to be better people, optimal people, people at our peaks. 

And why not? Winter is the perfect time to get cozy by the hearth and finish those unfinished projects, focus inward and maybe even feel satisfied for once. 

So, come! Join us on January 11th, 6:30-8:30pm for some writing exercises, beverages and of course ping pong at Hom in Downtown Charleston.

Return home that evening with something new that you made from the contents of your own brain in your hands and wave it at your spouse, your pets. Scream, “I made this from the contents of my own brain!” and then collapse on the couch full of satisfaction and the tiniest, happy inkling that you might actually be a genius.



“Traditionally, magicians refuse to reveal the methods behind their tricks to the audience. Reasons for secrecy include the following:

-Exposure is claimed to "kill” magic as an artform and transforms it into mere intellectual puzzles and riddles. It is argued that once the secret of a trick is revealed to a person, that one can no longer fully enjoy subsequent performances of that magic, as the amazement is missing. Sometimes the secret is so simple that the audience feels let down, and feels disappointed it was taken in so easily.

-Keeping the secrets preserves the mystery of professional magicians.

Membership in professional magicians’ organizations often requires a solemn commitment to the Magician’s Oath never to reveal the secrets of magic to non-magicians. The Magician’s Oath may vary, but typically takes the following or similar form:

“As a magician I promise never to reveal the secret of any illusion to a non-magician, unless that one swears to uphold the Magician’s Oath in turn. I promise never to perform any illusion for any non-magician without first practicing the effect until I can perform it well enough to maintain the illusion of magic.”

Once sworn to the Oath, one is considered a magician, and is expected to live up to this promise. Magicians who reveal secrets, either purposely or through insufficient practice, may find that other magicians are unwilling to teach them any more secrets.“

For the rest of the article go here.


Agatha Christie was famously accused of writing her mystery novels backwards. But, what is there to this accusation? All good mysteries, and in fact most good books, work up to a final BIG REVEAL. At some point in time you must know the end before you can know the beginning. And unlike professional stage magicians we are not sworn to secrecy.

So once again, let’s return to the character you’ve been working on this week.

1. In the last exercise we created a premature obituary. Reread over the details you sketched out. You may have chosen to write a slanted obituary. If so, keep in mind who it is who dislikes your character enough to write a fake obit.

2. Now, imagine your original character has met their untimely end, gone missing, or become embroiled in a mystery that is newsworthy. Write a brief description of said death, vanishing or mystery. Just a few lines.

3. Make a list of their love ones and their enemies, everyone they know, really. Next to each name write something that they stand to gain by your original character’s disappearance.

4. Look through this list and number from 1 to 10 the level of passion each of the people on this list feels for your character. 1 is strong love and dedication. 10 is vehement hatred. 5, of course, is neutral ambivalence.

5. Imagine now, if you were an investigator looking into the mysterious end of your character who would you suspect the most, the least? And how could you, as the writer, trick the reader without making them feel misled into finding the culprit in the end? The trail of clues should be peppered backwards through the story.

6. If you feel like a champion and today is really really a boring day, go ahead and take these notes you’ve made and try to outline a murder mystery short. If you’re done for the day, pat yourself, no, massage your shoulders a bit with your arms crossed, just like that. Think about how much more you know about your original character and the place they hold in the hearts of the other people that populate your story.

Some of us, just as with the Premature Obituaries of the day before, could benefit from creating a list like the one above featuring the people in OUR OWN lives. What would they gain/lose by our sudden disappearance? Not that I’m advising you to do this. Because that, dear friends, is dangerously close to sociopathic behavior.

But if you’re still inclined, remember to burn said paper in the fireplace, under the stovetop hood, in the leaf pile, or a hobo trash can fire. Depends on where you live.

Winter’s here, but it won’t be for long. So we’ve got to grab it, wring it with our pristine mitten paws and make it sing it’s outlandish, foreign tale of hibernation and rebirth to us here in the land of unmitigated, swampy in-between-seasons.

Every culture has it’s myths about the origin of the seasons. Whether it’s Amaterasu hiding in a cave or Persephone dragged to the underworld, someone stole our sun and the world mourns fertility’s loss. These stories read like the dossiers of bipolar gods and are a helluva lot more fun than Tolstoy (also full of snow.)

So come down to Hom, eat a burger, drink a drink, talk some talk, then write some write with us as we explore the many faces of winter (even the antipodean one.) 

You might go home with something on a piece of paper that is worthy of turning into an epic, or maybe you’ll just tack it to the fridge next to that crayola picture of an M-bird you’re nephew drew five years ago and you leave up because the kitchen would look lonely without it.

Bring your brain, a notepad, a pen, and if you’ve got it, a memory of distant snow.

Hōm Charleston 563 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403 View Map · Get Directions

Ham Hugs & Kola Kisses to those who showed up for WRTSHP 1 today @ Hope & Union!

We will see each other soon to write dangerously again. Stay posted for the next workshop… & tell your friends to come along, why doncha? 

There will be candy. And coffee. Fervour. And langour too. 

Nano info here. But NO ONE who showed today was a Wrimo. See? All really are welcome!

Watch on cnidarianway.tumblr.com

Mourir Auprès de Toi : Film by Spike Jonze and Leonard Cohen (the other one) 

The Secret Love Lives of Literature… Once again, only slighty NSFW. You make that call.

In honor of  WRTSHP 1 : Outlining a Novel at Hope & Union in Downtown Charleston from 4-7pm. TODAY! Hosted by Moi. Attended, hopefully, by Toi.

Bring a pad & pen & laptop. Bring a friend! Bring your favorite pet rock.


WRTSHP meetings will be on a two week holiday hiatus as I trek down to Florida to see family and friends. 

But stay tuned to the tumblr! New exercises will pop up every day or two. 

You know, for when you need to lock the office door and hide away from all the holiday cheer and family obligations. 

Eat well! Read well! Write well! And prepare yourselves for 2012. It’s going to be a doozy!

Today we rest - for tomorrow is WRTSHP : THRESHOLD! 

Click on the pic above for the deets. If you are in Charleston, try and stop by. The activities are continuous and quick. No worries if you are late. 

That said… it’s happy hour at Hom until 7pm so getting there early has its advantages too. And don’t forget there is ping pong in the back room for when we just can’t stay in our seats a second longer.


“Past life regression is a technique that uses hypnosis to recover what practitioners believe are memories of past lives or incarnations, though others regard them as fantasies or delusions. Past life regression is typically undertaken either in pursuit of a spiritual experience, or in a psychotherapeutic setting. Most advocates loosely adhere to beliefs about reincarnation, though religious traditions that incorporate reincarnation generally do not include the idea of repressed memories of past lives.

The technique used during past life regression involves the subject answering a series of questions while hypnotized to reveal identity and events of alleged past lives, a method similar to that used in recovered memory therapy and one that similarly misrepresents memory as a faithful recording of previous events rather than a constructed set of recollections. The use of hypnosis and suggestive questions makes the subject particularly likely to hold distorted or false memories. The source of the memories is more likely cryptomnesia and confabulations that combine past experiences, knowledge, imagination and suggestion or guidance from the hypnotist than recall of a previous existence. Once created, the memories are indistinguishable from memories based on events that occurred during the subject’s life. 

Scientific consensus is that the memories are the result of cryptomnesia, narratives created by the subconscious mind using imagination, forgotten information and suggestions from the therapist. Memories created under hypnosis are indistinguishable from actual memories and can be more vivid than factual memories. The greatest predictor of individuals reporting memories of past lives appears to be their beliefs about the existence in reincarnation - individuals who believe in reincarnation are more likely to report such memories, while sceptics or disbelievers are less so.”

For the full article go here.


As writers we are, in essence, constantly hypnotizing ourselves, going into trances, and creating confabulations on the page – taking the elements of our lives, the lives of those around us, and what we’ve ingested from books, film, hearsay, urban myth and combining them into new forms that may feel more real to us than the actual world.

1. Imagine the earliest memory of your character. Think back to a time when they were infants, before most of us remember anything. Consider this your hypnosis moment. Write a brief sketch of what that character remembers seeing and experiencing.

2. Read aloud. Everyone gets to ask questions about why this memory is important. You may find they ask questions that you don’t know the answer to. Go with the flow and answer freely. You might surprise yourself with how much more you know about the motivation of your character than you had thought. (If you are on your own rope in a loved one, stranger in a bar, or your goldfish, for this portion. Or, get REAL DEEP and interview your newly hypnotized self.)

Get comfortable with this part of your brain, the cryptomnesiac confabulatory trance dancing twirling dervish behind a locked door place.

Find it. Mark the path there with bread crumbs or whatnot and keep coming back, every day if you can. This is where the pre-writing comes from, the ideas and dreams that will, with hard work, become something someone somewhere will want to read.

Dreams without sleep.
Mass without weight.
Satisfaction without desire
Sight without light.
Death without life.

Sometimes it is the lack that defines.

This WRTSHP come explore lacunas and missing links. We’ll discuss Alan Weisman’s “World Without Us” and J.G. Ballard’s “The Drowned World.” We’ll talk the Book of Revelations, the atom bomb, Ragnarok, Night of the Living Dead, Kali’s dance of death, and all the ways man has envisioned his own demise.

And then we’ll re-vision the after. Because without an after there cannot be a before.

Hope to see you at Barsa, lovelies! Bring a friend. WRTSHP is in full swing again.



When: Wed Sept 26th 5:30-8:30pm

Where: Barsa, 58 Line St, Charleston, SC


As far as the origin of brides being carried across the threshold I’ve come across many, way too many, explanations of this custom.

  1. To ward off evil spirits that may grab at the succeptible young couple. Same with the petals and rice thrown at the couple.
  2. It’s super bad luck if the bride trips, so just fix that problem by having her be carried.
  3. It’s a throwback to captured or prize brides where they were carried into the house against their will. If you are placed there, then you cannot leave of your own volition (or so the thinking goes.)
  4. Thresh, or thatch matting on the floor was placed to keep it from being slippery. The bride was carried for her own safety.
  5. The tradition lived on as it was seemly for the bride to appear to be hesitant about entering the bed chamber. In this case, I guess the whole house now is a potential bed chamber.
  6. Go to HowStuffWorks for a few more explanations of weird wedding customs.


1. Take a few minutes to sketch out a brief description of two characters. Two women, two men, or a woman and a man. Hell, a raccoon and a kitten if you so desire. They do not need to be similar in age or race, location, creed, anything. These are two people. Give us what we need to get a general idea of who they are. Don’t forget to describe their personality. But be brief. Put each description on a separate page.

2. Imagine that these two people have been in a long term relationship. Anywhere from two to forty years together. You may feel that you’ve created an impossible couple. Don’t let this deter you.

4. On the bottom half of each character’s page write out two things. The first is what they think of the other person. What they love. What they hate. What they care about and what they don’t. The second is how they believe the other character sees them. Remember that few of us are good at either of these tasks when it comes to ourselves. We are often blind to what others think of us, or have distorted visions of ourselves.

Recognizing the misrepresentation and misinterpretation between two people in a relationship creates a palpable sense of tension which can be used to great success on the page… and usually leads to couples therapy in real life.

It is not uncommon for one person to feel that they are “carrying” the other in the relationship. But seldom does anyone feel that they are being “carried.” We’re just bad a seeing ourselves through other’s eyes.

So be nicer than usual today to your significant other/spiral fern/boston terrier. Where would you be without the other?


“By definition, obituaries should always be posthumous, But occasionally obituaries are published, either accidentally or intentionally, while the person concerned is still alive. Most are due to hoaxes, confusions between people with similar names, or the unexpected survival of someone who was close to death. Some others are published because of miscommunication between newspapers, family members and the funeral home, usually resulting in embarrassment for everyone involved.

Irish author Brendan Behan said that there is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary. In this regard, some people will seek to have an unsuspecting newspaper editor publish a premature death notice or obituary as a malicious hoax, perhaps to gain revenge on the "deceased”. To that end, nearly all newspapers now have policies requiring that death notices come from a reliable source (such as a funeral home), though even this has not stopped some pranksters such as Alan Abel.

Many news organizations have pre-written (or pre-edited video) obituaries on file for notable individuals who are still living, allowing detailed, authoritative, and lengthy obituaries to appear very quickly after their death. The Los Angeles Times’ obituary of Elizabeth Taylor, for example, was written in 1999 after three months of research, then often updated before the actress’ 2011 death. Sometimes the prewritten obituary’s subject outlives its author; an example is The New York Times’ obituary of Taylor, written by the newspaper’s theater critic Mel Gussow, who died in 2005.“

For full text go here.


In it’s own way a premature obituary is the outline of a person’s life, from birth to death - the high points mostly, but also the lows. We as writers should know all the points in our characters’ lives, even those outside the timeline of our stories. This is how we create a layered, natural and well-formed character on the page. Sometimes this means going on to envision what will happen to our characters even after the story has ended. 

 1.  Using either the same character for which you just wrote the earliest memory of (yesterday), or a current icon, or another character that has been haunting you as of late take a few minutes to list their worldly accomplishments. Don’t forget to list profession, marriage, children, awards, groups they were active with, hobbies, etc. 

 2. Write a premature obituary using this list, of no more than 200 words. Keep it neat and concise as if it were going in a local paper.

3. Now if all this isn’t gruesome and fun enough for you, feel free to spice it up and write it in a frenemy/business rival/backhanded compliment sort of way. Slant it, as much as you can, while still sticking to tone and format. Imagine this as the ultimate pay back for an imagined misdeed perpetrated on you by said "pillar of the community.”

A premature obit was published by a French paper during Alfred Nobel’s lifetime reading “The Merchant of Death is Dead” condemning him for his invention of dynamite. Seeing how the world would view his demise Nobel drew up a new last will and testament setting up a fund for, you guessed it, the Nobel Prize, and ever since then we’ve all liked him loads more.

So give writing a slanted obit a shot. But, you know, only if you feel like it. Otherwise look over your clear, clean 200 words and reflect to yourself, “damn, in the end a life really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans now, does it?”

And on that happy note - go out and enjoy your weekend! Tell a stranger at the dog park about this amazing obit you read today. Expound on how we only ever read about the Steve Jobs-es of the world and disregard the retired fighter pilot down the street. Then use your new catch phrase as seen above, “damn, in the end…hill of beans…yadda yadda.”

Best Invention Never Made


Exercise 2 : Best Invention Never Made

Often, the repercussions of our creations have more to do with the base instincts of users and less with the lofty ideals of creators. Think Youtube. Think Senators and their silly little Twitter Direct Messages. Think the internet, in general.

1. With that in mind write an idea for an invention that will revolutionize the way we will live. Pass your paper to the person next to you.

2. They will write the unforseen use of that invention and how it has changed the world 10yrs down the road. Be quick. You have 2-3 minutes, max.

3. Pass to the next person who will write a brief description of the world an additional 10yrs into the future, focusing on how it has been impacted. 2-3min.

4. Pass to the final person who will describe the massive counter reaction to the state of the world a further 10yrs down the line. 2-3min.

5. Share.

Think cowboys, centaurs, My Little Pony and Budweiser. Think Sherri S. Tepper and Grass, a planet where the horses ride the people. Think Black Beauty and National Velvet and what exactly are all those young girls doing getting all frothy and sweaty on the backs of muscular animals? Think carriage tours. Think children’s games (aych-oh-arr-ess-eee!) Think street drugs (how ever did heroin get that weird nickname?)

Think all of these things and come prepared to be confused. What this WRTSHP is really about is a mystery, even to me. But for a hint as to direction think Patty Smith Group and Maplethorpe and a certain autobio that came out last year.

Be prepared to offer up bits of yourself. Be prepared to set them free, like wild european horses, into the nuclear savannah of Chernobyl. See what a few generations of radiation and human nonintervention will do.

Mark your calendars! Wed, Feb 8th from 6:30pm at Hom in downtown Charleston. (And, as always, bring a pen, a pad, and your brain. For bonus points, bring a friend.)

If you’re so inclined, Facebook Invite here.

Our eyes are not designed as camera lenses. We see nothing as a whole - nothing as truly life sized. Instead our brain puts the patchwork together for us.

This WRTSHP come contemplate the impossibility of seeing the whole at once. Take the opportunity to look at what you’ve been working on, be it your Camp NaNo novel or any other ongoing project (especially if you’re stuck) and let’s reevaluate from a ground level view.

Forest for the trees, y'all.

Hope to see you there! There’s plenty of parking in Avondale. Let’s see how WRTSHP’s first mtg off the peninsula goes. :)   Wed, Jun 20th, 5:00-8:00pm   Mellow Mushroom Avondale 19 Magnolia Road, Charleston, SC 29407 View Map · Get Directions