1 The constraints: 1) No more than
one hour. 2) No more than 20 lines.
The result ? Genius or Not.

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13 April 2011

By Anthony Banks | 2011 April 13

Idea for the beginning of a story.

A seven-year old boy and his father mope around the house, trying to think of ways to entertain themselves. They are limited in what they can do because the mother is upstairs in her room meditating, and they know that if they make even the slightest noise they will disturb her and thus incur her wrath. The beginning of the first chapter is really an evocation of atmosphere in the house, the garden, the street. The entire scene is pervaded by the vibrations emanating from the mother’s room. By meditating she is trying to rid herself of all her agonies and while she is meditating these agonies get an hour-pass to wander freely beyond the confines of her conscience. So they go and torment the husband and boy for a while.

Hélène Cixous once taught a writing course which she opened with a lecture called ‘We Need a Dead Woman to Begin.’ It must be ten or twelve years since I read that lecture but that phrase has always stuck in my mind. I’m sure she meant it to be ironic to some degree, but I’ve always felt it had a literal truth to it. I, as a male writer, certainly feel I need a dead woman. Dead in at least some sense. An absent woman, a void that needs to be filled. Or, in the case of this story, a woman whose presence – selfish, spiteful – needs to be removed in order to allow the story to begin.

Writing, Hélène Cixous, Story ideas

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