This month’s writing prompts take inspiration from JM Coetzee’s Boyhood and Shannon Burns’ Childhood, a memoir of growing up in Adelaide. If you’re interested in sharing your work, please come and find Stories from the South on Facebook, and look for our “Creative Writing” thread.
“They live on a housing estate outside the town of Worcester, between the railway line and the National Road.” — Boyhood, Coetzee (page 3)
“Elizabeth North and its surrounding suburbs were developed in the mid-1950s on farming land north of Adelaide, as part of a careful postwar plan to industrialise South Australia and expand its economy.” — Childhood, Burns (page 7)
Draw a timeline/graph/chart showing events from your own childhood. These might be significant, or just what you can recall. Add locations to the timeline, as well as brief notes about people present.
“In winter he has to set out for school while it is still dark. With his lamp casting a halo before him, he rides through the mist, breasting its velvety softness, breathing it in, breathing it out, hearing nothing but the soft swish of his tyres. Some mornings the metal of the handlebars is so cold that his bare hands stick to it.” — Boyhood, Coetzee (page 66)
“I panic when I hear sirens. I believe that fire engines are screaming vehicles that roam the streets in the dead of night, driven by flaming firemen who set houses on fire.” — Childhood, Burns (page 19)
Choose an event from your timeline that stands out (for any reason). Write a few sentences about it in 3rd person (“he/she/they”), present tense (“is”). Pay particular attention to the senses as a way of bringing your scene to life.
“It is a magnificent first memory, trumping anything that poor Goldstein can dredge up. But is it true?” —Boyhood, Coetzee (page 36)
“This is what I think I know….” — Childhood, Burns (page 4)
Return to your event and add one object and one person to the scene that were not present in reality. In short, lie.
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