Dinner at EsalenA week-long writing workshop at Esalen with Cheryl Strayed and Pam Houston has brought me back to this blog. I want to write with regularity, and the “publish” button herein offers a small, satisfying structure. This won’t be the only place to write, but it’s a place. During the workshop, I remembered how writing can happen from several angles that are not romantic or monumental, just possible. My favorite exercise provided these rules:

Write a story of 26 sentences. First sentence begins with A, second with B…last with Z. 1 sentence has to contain only 1 word, another has to contain at least 100 words. You can choose to substitute X or Z if you like. Feel free to go from A-Z or Z-A.

Here is what I wrote:


After realizing I was no good at science I decided to pursue science. Because why study something I already knew? Chemistry was possible, at least. Do you know why? Every chemistry problem has a root in math. Forgiveness comes in the form of definite answers. Guess which class was my worst? Has to do with math and fiction. In other words, Biology. Just imagine zooming in toward a single cell versus zooming out into the universe. Kindness has nothing to do with how astronomy treats me. Like I am insignificant. My name is Jaime, spelled J-a-i-m-e. No doctor’s office has ever pronounced it correctly. Outside of California it would be more likely, but here they assume I’m a man from Mexico. Please, no apologies. Quintana Roo has lovely weather, for example. Rest assured, I am getting to a real story about science.┬áSenior year of high school I took an advanced biology class because I wanted to see a surprise live autopsy, which I did, and I distinctly remember driving to the hospital in my off-white renault with with a cigarette dangling from my lips feeling oddly giddy and, when I got to the hospital I noticed that there was no glass or any kind of separation between my class and the dead body and, although our teacher warned us that we should remember to breathe, a red-headed kid from our class completely forgot to do exactly that and passed out when the doctor took out the circle saw and started cutting into the chest of the corpse. Then we saw the inside of the lungs of this corpse, which had belonged to a person who smoked her whole life. Unsurprisingly, the lungs were pitch black. Very much made me want to quit smoking. With that, I left the hospital with a mysterious feeling. Xanadu. Yet dark. Zeal no more.


The reason why I liked this exercise was not because I thought the result was complete, but because the result brought up things I wouldn’t have thought to think about. The problem with writing is becoming your own obstacle, and I now have dozens of exercises that aim to avoid just that. More soon.

Post Navigation