I’ve mentioned my writing group, but haven’t done an in-depth post on them. Until now, that is!
The idea to start a writing community came about after I met Peter at work last year. He was a new hire, and during the usual awkward introductions managers like making a room full of people do, I found out he was a writer. Not only that, but he was a member of a writer’s guild. After the meet and greet, I immediately spoke to him about my passion for writing. He wanted me to edit a short he had written the next day and we became friends from there.
But crossing paths with writers in the fresh batch of temps didn’t stop there.
As a Team Lead, I was assigned a group of temps to assist me in working a region of Alberta. My region was South, so any city, town, village, and hamlet south of Calgary was our responsibility. Since the training for the job was akin to drinking from the fire hose, making sure my group had proper support at all times was specifically my responsibility. It made writing on breaks much harder.
Worse, it made the hatchlings assigned to me curious.
While I’m open that I’m a writer, I don’t like talking about my work. It’s in part because I’m private, and in part because I believe in letting my work speak for itself. I know as writers we’re all at different stages in our journeys, but nothing irritates me more than writers who only talk about their work. As in, they don’t actually have anything done. The thought of being “one of those guys” drives me bonkers, so I work hard at avoiding it.
However, some defences are meant to be breached.
My new teammate Lisa was especially outgoing and friendly, so when she opened up to me that she had a novel on the backburner, I was pleasantly surprised. There was another writer in my midst!
I can’t speak for every writer, but I know when I connect with another scribe, I feel at ease, comfortable in my creative skin. It becomes easier to share my work. Lisa and I also have a similar ridiculous, over-the-top, and inappropriate sense of humour, so that helped. A lot.
Through working together with everyone at my day job, I realized that quite of a few of us were writers. Normally, you’ll find people in my technical profession on the nerdy side, but not too many with the compulsion to write. Usually, mixing logical and creative work together is just like trying to mix water and oil. So, since so many of us were coincidentally writers, and we ended up sharing our work with each other anyways, I decided that summer it would be time to start the Scribe’s Society.
The first meeting took place in a small café not far from my place, the members a mixture of co-workers and friends. Honestly, co-workers who became friends through writing, which I couldn’t be happier about.
I laid out the guidelines. This was a group to not only be creative, but to work towards completing weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly challenges to make us all better writers. It would also be a group to gain information about the publishing industry, to support each other with personal projects, and most importantly, a safe place to share work.
From there, I grabbed everyone’s names and their preferred writing genre. The first challenge was a genre swap. Members selected genres for each other, the point being to give another member a style they wouldn’t traditionally select on their own.
And, boy, did I ever get challenged when Neil picked mine.
Before I mention his selection, I must explain Neil.
I don’t think he’s human. Not seriously, mind you. I don’t think he’s an alien. But he may as well be a Space Man. Click here to bear witness. (This wasn’t scripted. He left the house without shoes on when he went off screen. We had to call him back.)
With a side helping of: “It should be in Egypt. It doesn’t have to be. But if you can …”
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know what the last great slapstick novel was. Let’s face it – it’s not a genre for literature. And Egypt? He was only supposed to select a genre, and he didn’t even really do that. What was with the tacked-on location on top of it?
But dammit, I’m prideful and can’t back down!
So, I took up the challenge and wrote one of the most ridiculous and possibly offensive things I’ve ever written, buzzed off energy drinks while listening to Boney M.’s Greatest Hits on a Saturday night.
Yeah. I bet you’re jealous.
Read below for my completed challenge. Please keep in mind I did this in the same vein as Mel Brooks’ style. None of this was actually meant to be offensive, accurate, or taken remotely seriously.
Expect more Scribe's Society challenges in the near future!
Working 9 to 5 24/7
The sun was a burning inferno in the sky, blazing across the arid desert, scorching man and beast alike. The only thing that offered no complaint was the sand, minuscule and insignificant, but not as insignificant as the slaves currently working stone.
Grumbling, a trio of Jews stared up at the pyramid.
It was an impressive sight. Tons of rock, building ever-skyward, surrounded by pulleys, scaffolding, and men. Many, many men. Some free, but most enslaved, and would be until the day they died.
A scream cut through the air.
The trio’s gaze shifted over to the left. They saw Abraham tumble end over end down the sloped incline of the pyramid. He came to a sliding stop when he hit the sand, and exploded.
“Jesus Christ, another one!” Billy exclaimed.
“Who?” Mel asked.
“Ah, never mind,” Billy waved the older slave off.
“Who’d have guessed Jews could do that before being enslaved?” Jerry asked. “I don’t remember anyone doing that before being rounded off and sold.”
“How do you even know you can do it?” Billy asked. “Not like you can practice.”
“You just do it, I guess.” Jerry shrugged his lanky shoulders.
Mel nodded cryptically. “God works in mysterious ways.”
“More like a slave will do anything to get out of work!” A voice thundered. They didn’t have to turn around to see the slave driver Ramessu, or to know his arm was cranking back to issue a lash from the three-tailed whip. Their skin split simultaneously. “Pray to your false god for vitality! Now move those stones!”
The trio hissed through their teeth, giving side-long glares at Ramessu, blood running down their sun-burned backs. When they saw his arm reaching back again, they raised their hands up in surrender and hurried to get geared up, cursing in Yiddish under their breath.
The men grabbed a pickaxe, a weighted belt, and rope to later fasten into a simple and mostly ineffective safety harness since they weren’t tied down to anything but occasionally each other. Moving with haste, they scurried to their work stations under the slave driver’s watchful eye.
A flurry of orders being shouted caught the men’s attention. Carts of fresh stone were being pulled in by camels and Jews in the distance. They groaned, knowing full well what that meant.
Mel’s skin flushed. His hand clenched tightly around the pickaxe, his face screwed into a look of dire concentration. He took in a deep breath and! - farted loudly.
“Goddamit, Mel!” Billy exclaimed.
“Yeah,” Jerry waved his hands frantically trying to get the smell of rotten potato pancakes to disperse. “What the hell was that for?”
The older man sighed, defeated. “I tried to explode.”
Ramessu laughed at the Jew’s united despair. “Orders call for work under the moon and starlight if the next level isn’t finished before the Sun-god enters Nut’s mouth!”
Jerry and Billy snickered.
“How can they make fun of God when they think the sun sets and rises when one of their gods gets eaten by some giant broad?” Mel asked, throwing his hands up in the air. The axe slipped from his hands, becoming airborne. Then it landed on another Jew, who promptly exploded into a fine red mist, spraying Ramessu.
The slave driver rubbed his eyes with his massive forearm. “MY GUYLINER!” He exclaimed, pulling his stained arm from his face. Lifting his head, he stared down Mel. “YOU, SLAVE! GET OVER HERE!” Ramessu’s arm reared back again as he took a step forward. The large man slipped in a puddle of blood, flipping backwards head-first into a cart. His whip, in turn, cracked the camel pulling the cart. The creature reared back too, throwing its rider onto Ramessu’s up-skirted bottom. Spilling over, the cart emptied its contents in a tumble, leaving the rider straddling Ramessu.
With a shriek, Ramessu flung the rider off of him, pulling his tunic down to its respectable mid-thigh length. Meanwhile, the rider crashed into the camel’s rump. Wide-eyed with a head up its ass, the camel tore off.
“Stop that camel!” roared another slave driver, brandishing his whip promisingly. And so, the three slaves unwillingly jumped in front of the errant sodomized beast.
Catching a hoof to the forehead was the shortest of the three, Billy. He fell into the sand, but did not explode. Instead, he was trampled.
Screaming, Jerry and Mel backed away as the slave drivers grabbed the reins of the distracted creature. The rider removed himself from his steed’s anus, covered in not-chocolate-pudding. The caked rider removed his tunic, wiping his face while stumbling and bumbling in repulsion.
Coming to the rider’s relief was Ramessu, throwing a bucket of water at the man. Caught in surprise, the man flew back as if struck by a wave from Leviathan itself. He knocked into one of the men restraining the camel, who in turn forcefully face-planted into the beast’s chest. This, paired with the fact the creature had one less man to keep it in place, spurned the camel into another frenzy.
If camels could release a battle cry, this was it.
Jerry and Mel bolted out of the warpath, whips be damned. Their crushed friend was a testament to it was better to be alive and scarred than at the bottom of a camel’s hoof.
With a mad dash, the desert animal propelled itself forward, cart flipping back upright, knocking over the slave drivers in its vicinity. They rolled underneath the cart as the large wheels pulled them under. The beast kept moving until it encountered more of its labouring kin, exciting them to do much the same.
Soon, the desert was full of raging, spitting camels throwing their riders and cargo. The slaves and their drivers were caught in mass hysteria. Some tried to flee, and others to set up a parameter to trap the beasts. Either way, all of the attention in the world was not Jerry and Mel.
“Jerry!” Mel exclaimed. “Quick, let’s get the hell out of here!”
“What do we do?!”
“To the Nile!” Mel yelled, pointing. “We’ll make a run for it!”
So the two ran like they should have when the slavers first captured them many months ago. Except now they weren’t tied to family members and friends who had already perished. They were freer than they had been in ages.
Finally, they were almost at the riverbed, almost to actual freedom! They leapt over thrushes and bushes and weeds, the water getting closer and closer!
“Ah!” Jerry yelped, stumbling.
“What is it?” Mel panted.
Jerry shook his head. “Nothing, I just stubbed my toe-”
And Mel was showered in Jerry soup as the man exploded.
Holding back tears, Mel turned away from the remains of his friend and continued his run for the Nile, slipping and sliding the whole way. When at last he reached the water’s edge, he flung himself into the river with a great belly flop.
He dog-paddled to the point of near-exhaustion, having to roll onto his back and float down the river so he wouldn’t drown. After moments of peace, he crashed into a peculiar bundle of reeds and cattails. Sputtering, he spun upright in the water and investigated.
Pulling aside the plants on top, he saw that it was a basket. He opened it and saw a baby boy. Mel’s eyes misted at the sight of something so sweet and innocent simply left to float to certain death. It reminded him of his own situation. He had to save this child!
But then, a great clawed hand batted him across the face. Mel’s head snapped back, his vision smeared in blood as a great hairy creature wearing a tie and hat roared: “THAT’S MY PIC-AH-NIC BASKET!” Promptly, Mel’s throat was ripped out by the monstrosity. He sank in Nile, watching the beast walk away with the basket in hand.
The slave balled his fists one last time, farting weakly. While he did not explode, a crocodile floated to the surface, belly-up and dead. In seconds, he joined it in the afterlife, and was reunited with his fallen friends and family, finally truly free.