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Exercise Wednesday: Wakey! Wakey!

March 28, 2012

Morning. Either you love it, can’t wait to get started, jump on the new day and just beat the living crud out of it. Or maybe you’re one of those who feels robbed each time the alarm rings, as the sleep that you cherish is viciously ripped from you by the onslaught of light, chirping birds, and (worst of all) morning people.

Either way, a morning wake-up call is a part of anyone’s days for as long as they live. Shaking off nightly sleep is a tradition as old as existence itself. Everyone does it, whether they want to or not.

And that includes your characters (or you, if it’s a memoir). So today’s episode is simple. Write what morning’s like for your character. What do they do, think, feel, smell, drink, eat, pursue, or avoid.

Time limit: 25 minutes

(Full disclosure: I stole this prompt from writing coach Jamie Morris of Woodstream Writers, while I was at a recent all-day writing event. She’s okay with it, though.)

One Comment
  1. Chris Hamilton permalink
    March 28, 2012 6:05 am

    Two thirty-five. After sixteen years, you’d think someone gets used to the two-thirty-five wakeup.

    You don’t. You go to bed at eight o’clock, except when you don’t. Drink lots of coffee and nap in the afternoon. That’s what happens when you get up every day at two thirty-five.

    You also don’t sleep with your wife. Especially when she’s sick. You shower in the spare bathroom and keep a dresser and some hanging clothes in the closet in the office. You set up the coffee the night before and you make as little noise as possible.

    And you leave as quickly as possible, so you don’t have to worry about waking her.

    She sleeps a lot now, but if you wake her up, sometimes she can’t sleep and that screws her up for a couple days.

    You look in on her when you’re on your way back from the other bathroom because her mornings are numbered, and now looking in on her is a finite and valuable thing.

    And then you leave. The car’s parked outside so you don’t wake her with the garage-door opener. So you get in and put on the station you work at and listen to George Noury talk about how aliens and the government might be using the electrical wires that run through every neighborhood to spy on normal citizens. And you listen to people take him seriously.

    Talk radio is sometimes seen as humanity’s zoo. People who stay up all night are seen as less than normal. Put the two together and realize that these people drive, go to the same restaurants as you, and even live in your neighborhood, and it’s pretty scary.

    The coffee’s leftover from yesterday this morning, so I fill my supermug and pop it in the microwave while I break down my laptop to take to work. I check the scores first. The Mets lost. And the sun will come up. Neither is a shock.

    While I wait for the laptop to shut down, I check my Blackberry for anything new or different that might change what we do.


    This morning, we will interview Florida’s junior Senator, Barbara Horan. She’s instructed us not to ask certain questions. It’s well-known that we will ask anything we’re told not to. She has to know it’s coming.

    As I get in the car, the phone rings. This time of morning, it can only be one of two people. I smile as I see who it is.

    “Hey,” she says. She is Catherine Burke, my on-air partner for sixteen years—the most engaging pain in the ass I’ve ever met.


    “I’m getting bagels. What do you want?”

    I take in a long breath and let it out. I run because of an evil alliance between her and my wife. My main impetus to keep weight off isn’t the health problems that accrue—it’s the crap I will get at work from my pain-in-the-ass partner.

    There will be no reciprocity of abuse over gained weight. At forty-six, she still has the metabolism of an eighteen-year-old. Bitch. She’ll come in with one of those cinammon crunch bagels and make orgasm noises while she eats it in front of me. I will have a protein shake and be completely silent—the noise any lovers she might attract make while she makes her orgasm noises.

    She will taunt me. I will pretend to be mad—mostly pretend. It’s what we do. It’s part of what makes work fun.

    “I want twelve of the cinnamon ones.”

    “You bring bigger pants with you?”

    “I brought a circus tent. Why do you torture me that way?”

    She laughed. Musical, her laughter is—one of the primary reasons I like my job. “Because I am a mean, evil person who takes delight in the discomfort of others.”

    “I knew it.”

    She laughed again. “See you at work.”

    What I didn’t know is that it was the last day at work before everything changed.

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