Sunday, December 28, 2008

2009 Prompts 28-December-2008

Pretty well every day now, at noon, I am sure there is a breeze.

At night, on the bare boards of the deserted girls' bedroom.

Darling, this letter is secret. That means secret, equals US Top Secret.

Though brilliantly sunny, Saturday morning was overcoat weather.

The father, the son, light a candle, kneel, and pray to ghosts.

If you really want to hear about it.

Perhaps the Cape Town Express passes in the next valley, a tree sways, a butterfly, a bird rises, and the air moves.

It is thirty-six years to the day since our wedding.

One night some twenty years ago.

Much later, the air in my hut shifts.

I hear you whispering, "This is the wind, the wind down a long valley."

The facts at hand presumably speak for themselves

Finally, the last one to know, I found out about my wife's affair.

At times, frankly, I find it slim pickings

There are many unsuitable jobs for a particularly private person; Agony Aunt, for example,

Rexler, the man who wrote all those books on theatre

What do you do about death? In this case the death of an old father?

I almost began, "My Dear Child"

This is him, making their packed lunches, two packed lunches; what could be simpler?

The birds chirped away, "Phweet, Phweet."

This is all bollocks, lies. No. Well, if it's the truth it's that GOVT ISSUE economical kind, or it's "spin".

Dizzy with perplexities, seduced by a restless spirit.

I was lying on the sofa, under a duvet with the kids, one each side.

There were, in all, six white people who lived at Sego Desert Lake

This is a sad tale about a stripeless zebra, a hyena who never laughed and a lion in a swiss zoo who wanted to learn to yodel and swim with dolphins.

Yes I knew the guy. We were kids together in Chicago.

He was a hard kid, a thin, tough body, and fire in the belly, quick to react

Saturday, December 27, 2008

2009 Prompts. 27-Dec-2008

Do NOT Blink!


Late August, given heavy rain and sun

I am growing old but I remember, Jenny kissed me.

By the punnet

Once there was a road here and carts passed

and that has made all the difference

I hear horns, and calling, out in the frost

We are in the business of chocolate

No time to see, in broad daylight

The echo and the blood-lust of a train

Once I was a girl, then drip, a boy became

Ah, distinctly, I remember, it was a hot August night

Some new trick, some trap

And in their turn were they fucked up, remember that


When ghosts walked the earth

An audio tape will accompany this book

And every April they would paint it pink

And I have known the eyes already, every one

and its flesh was sweet

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day Prompts

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet

In love with the chaplain

Dew on a spider's web

Desire and excitement are not the great fires

There was a tree down

I wouldn't thank you for a valentine

It's tough being a boy; all those girl mechanics whistling


I will keep on translating. What else is there?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Prompts, 22nd

Down by one of the fish-houses

We took turns at laying an ear on the rail

I am safe but the land is darkening

Behind everything, in little villages, in garages

Let us set off for somewhere

I have crossed the border

No dream kitchen, just the fire

The birds are massing; the sky is black

Early morning, Fairhaven, Massachusetts

A fox in the chickens

I bought some fresh potatoes

I love to go out when the weather is undecided

Nothing but blackberries

Every year you say it isn't worth the trouble

Gleaming machines

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Almost Xmas Prompts

This is dangerous; it should not be left near children


Hold it up to the light

Like a crow fallen down a chimney

In a boat without oars

A bud

Rise bird, hop branch to branch and reach the sky


it is a cold, fatty, evening

The barrows are here, the nets, but the men are gone

I have seen it, over and over and over and over

I look from the train. Two boys play football in a muddy field

What if this road never ended?

I would like to be milk

He dropped in darkness from the moving, clanking train

Problems with Fish

I have a low fire

Wild Geese flying low, smoke curling

Friday, December 19, 2008

Prompts, Friday

What they are not about is pain

Zena has taken the dogs away

One thousand five hundred houses


There's a difference between being a survivor and surviving

Bloody Murder

Some New Ambush

The White Road

The Scent of Cinnamon

Various Communications from Down Under

Too ugly to be a Possum

and you will know that you have lost her

Kenna's Dilemma

Is it worth anything on Ebay?

I am not yet born, hear me!

He's broken every law there is

When fishes flew and forests walked

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday Prompts 21:25

Ivory, Peacocks

Nodding by the fire

I leant on a gate

Today we have the naming of parts

Don't ask ME!

Oh, I have slipped the pull of earth

For a journey, a journey, such a long journey

Small lawns, small people, and echoing TVs

Only the monstrous anger

They've closed the new road, try the valley


No prayers, no bells

Bloody men are like bloody scooters

I got on a half-empty train


We walked all day through a tall, swaying heat

His black heart

He did not wear his scarlet coat

I have been so great a lover

The sky is good for flying, Mrs Jones

Among long-discarded vestments

I remember, I remember



Done Mine

Finished at 20:35 (36 minutes)

a few typos.

Posted corrected version at 20:43 (605 words)

Thursday Evening Blast - 1

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees

What is this life if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare?

Now I was young and easy

The ploughman, slowly home

The sea is calm tonight

Stop all the clocks, cut of the telephone

Who can remember Arram?

and miles to go before I sleep

Everyone suddenly burst out singing

When you are old and grey and watching reality TV


Once I stole a bloke's Honda

There is some corner, let me sit there quiet

Firewood, iron, and cheap tin trays


Now I am an old man, disgusting in Lycra

And seeing how I am not quite appreciated

Butting through the channel

The Ballistics Blog


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Great Stuff Happening in BC

We've had a few ex-members return, and a fresh influx of keen newbies.

The grid has been revamped and there's a new guide to critiquing in January.

And there are GREAT special offers for 3-month, 6-month and Annual memberships

03 Months Save £18

06 Months Save 25%

12 Months save a whopping 50%

These figures apply to BC-PRO

BC Standard

03 Months Save £12

06 Months Save 25%

12 Months save 50%

We will also have a members-only, virtually-free, area, a "Boot Camp Annexe" for those who want to talk craft and writing intelligently but don't want or need the writing-critting regime.

Drop in at

Say hello, ask whatever questions you like. Browse and see a list of links to hundreds of Boot Camper stories available on the web.

Alternatively email

alex.keegan (at) btinternet (dot) com



Wednesday Prompts

My father, booting home. It rains.

You're twelve, thirteen, the door is locked.

Outside, there is nothing that I need

There you go again, diving in

A sand-box

Mummy, mummy, there's an armoured tank in the front room!

You can blame many things on ABBA

Somewhere on the streets of Paris

I will cut my hair too short and speak too loud

Frankie's gotta blade

So what IS this thing with Flamingos, the one-leg thing?

In an easy, uncomplicated way


My father shot the Christmas roast, and then turned to us

Here is a bird that will never be

I decide and feel everything begin to simmer

I may be the Mayor of Bombay

Swimming up the Amazon, patient.

I am a child. They bury me.

They were at my table, talking. They are dead.

Monday, December 15, 2008


It begins as a creaking, a sort of ache


The skyline bristles, the sky behind is red


The gate will not rest

Grave men, who when near death, see with a sharper light

The magic of the persistent question

I am not sure if I'm still here

The without eye, the tongue within

There are walls that stand and walls that will crumble

Why the giraffe? Why the elephant?

He pulls at the cloth and cups spill

Sucking the decayed breasts of death

There are leaves on the water, but the water is pink

He spreads his knees, he laughs

OK, let's go!

The soot that falls from dead cold chimneys

The ship of fools is in dock

Falling and Flying are the same: only the landing is different

My father in my mirror

Black book, blank book, blank look

A Hanging

Whose woods are these?


A confederacy of the delusional


I me a traveler, a simple soul, and quiet


That Easter I was late leaving, things to tidy up


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Further Clarification

I hear tonight that someone, "Rafiki" has noted that TLC was "a temporarily free forum" and that I was only at WD to recruit members.

Does this dummy not think that had I wanted to be sneaky I would not have published that fact publicly?

Yes a non-charging TLC was temporary, but the onset of Writers Dock charging was SONNY's idea. Writers Dock today AFTER I had left, announced they would be charging for membership of TLC. WD brought in charges for new members three months ago and wanted me to charge for TLC at the rate of thirty pounds a month. That was delayed for one reason only; because I told Sonny to wait until TLC members began to score hits and win prizes.

So to clarify. The charging was at the behest of the owner of Writers Dock and it was me who delayed the imposition of the charge.

The ten weeks work, the articles, the stories, the critiques (I have critiqued every single story and flash posted) was completely free.

TLC members have already posted about how much they learned and how disappointed they are.

I repeat I was NOT banned. I left because the situation was impossible.

Alex Keegan

Writers Dock

This morning I decided to leave Writers Dock.

Shortly I will post to explain why.

But I think it's important to clarify something.

Over the years Boot Camp has waxed and waned. It gets newcomers, people develop and leave to:

Have a baby
Start an MA or MFA
Write a novel


BC has always need around 24 members so that at any time 12-18 are active. We work intensely, brilliantly, successfully.

This last eighteen months I took my eye off the ball while renovating the chapel in Wales and the membership slipped. The place was still working (it still is today) but it felt lifeless.

I was a dormant member at Writers Dock, dormant, because frankly it was a very amateurish place run by amateurs, for amateurs. But there were a few souls there who wanted Writers Dock to be more and they had a new section for critiquing critiques, and that's MY kind of country.

So, as Cheesepuff, a membership I'd had since 2005, I began to post.

As is standard in these cases, certain baboons on certain rocks began to bare their teeth, but Sonny, the owner of the site confided in me that the site was struggling and atrophying and needed something like Boot Camp.

I set up an open forum "Tough Love Central" then a closed group "Tough Love Writing Group 1" and a third forum "Story Week 1", another "Story Follow-up" and a fifth for Flashes.

In just ten weeks we trebled the size of the membership

Below are the statistics. Appreciate this is from scratch in a partly-hostile environment.


10 (08) Initial membership/True Membership
29 (24) Current Membership/True Membership

00,460 Threads (46 per week)
05,553 Posts (555 per week)
44,491 Views (4,490 per week)
01,447 New Writing Prompts (145 per week)

00,087 New Flashes (9 per week)
00,085 New Stories (9 per week)
00,004 New Stories not yet posted
00,005 Other Stories

00,181 Total Stories (18 per week)
00,975 Total Critiques (incl professional stories) (98 per week)
00,616 STORY Critiques (61 per week)
00,328 Flash Responses/Crits (33 per week)
00,007 Story Full critiques per-story average (7.25)
00,004 Crit Responses per Flash average (3.77)

00,018 Craft Threads
00,004 Professional Stories Discussed
00,003 Craft Articles (NEW)
00,003 Craft Articles (OLD)
00,002 Writing Exercises

00,129 Submissions
00,024 Rejections
00,100 Stories Circulating
00,014 Hits
00,001 Major Prize Finalist
00,001 Notes
00,005 Publications

However, when an individual was castigated by a Draconian moderator for using a TLC prompt, I pointed out (not remotely flaming) why the castigation was wrong. The baboons rose up, as they always do. However, reading the various posts in WD you'd be forgiven for imagining that I had sent nasty emails or private messages. I did not. Not one. My privileges as a moderator were removed, so I told Sonny I would be leaving as soon as I had removed my stories, my articles and the Boot Camp grid.

I hear tonight that someone, "Rafiki" has noted that TLC was "a temporarily free forum" and that I was only at WD to recruit members.

Yes it was, but the onset of charges was SONNY's idea. WD brought in charges for new members three months ago and wanted me to charge for TLC at the rate of thirty pounds a month. That was delayed for one reason only; because I told Sonny to wait until TLC members began to score hits and win prizes.

So to clarify. The charging was at the behest of the owner of Writers Dock and it was me who delayed the imposition of the charge.

I've left WD (they blocked my ID immediately and have not allowed me to remove my personal files) and I have not solicited any WD member and suggested they join Boot Camp

Alex Keegan



Friday, December 12, 2008

URLs for Radio Interviews

Interview starts 2:08:18 in.

BBC Radio Berkshire

Interview starts about 30 minutes 24 seconds in

Southern Counties Breakfast ran something every day. Friday's is

and the interview starts 42 mins : 29 seconds in

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Radio Interviews & Vanessa Gebbie's Blog

I'm on a few radio stations tomorrow (see below)

an also on Vanessa Gebbie's Blog

BBC Radio Berkshire between 0720 and 0800


BBC Radio Solent at approximately 0815

I'm also on

BBC Southern Counties Radio, some time between 7 & 10

Another Interview

I will be on BBC RADIO BERKSHIRE's Breakfast Show tomorrow, Friday 12th December, the twentieth anniversary of the Clapham Crash.

Time to be confirmed.


Monday, December 08, 2008


There's a long interview of mine being run over five days on BBC Southern Counties Radio

Fred Marden's early-morning show (0700-0900)

I suspect that interview will focus on the Clapham Crash (Dec 12th 1988) and maybe the writing will get a mention on Friday.

A much more detailed interview starts soon on Vanessa Gebbie's Blog, starting Friday 12th and running for a number of days

Thursday, December 04, 2008



A man thinks, of a wall.

He might rush - another man would rush - dash out for bricks, come back, realise he didn't buy cement, rush out again. What bricks? Does it matter? Do they matter? Just bricks, you know, bricks. A wall is a wall is a wall.

And cement. You need cement, I guess. And you end up with some sort of wall.

No, this man, he thinks. Why a wall? What kind of wall? A wall for shade, or in the shade? Straight, curved, straight and curved? Ornate, or a plain-Joe wall, red-bricked, solid, neat white pointing. What kind of foundations? How deep, how wide, single brick or doubled? Spaces? Ties? What does the wall want? What will the wall say?

Will people look, say, "Nice wall!" or will the wall merely protect, watch backs and small people picnic on fine grass before it? Will they breathe out as the flop before the wall; drop onto blankets, sigh, feeling something is solid here, and the view, the view, the wall behind them, a mother's skirt they don't know they hold?

Brick. Red is usual, but there are many browns, yellows, grey. Or stone, should we think stone? Brick and Stone? Stone & Brick? Are we looking ahead, thinking of sticky-footed ivy, tacked trellises, roses, Russian vines? What shall the wall carry? Does the wall need to look good now (but one day it will be beautiful) or can we have a bare wall, an under-garment, because we know what comes next, a year, two, ten, a century on? If a wall is ugly now, will they leave it to become beautiful? If we make it pretty now, will it last to become beautiful? Is pretty now death for his wall?

Or perhaps he can hide his will-be-beautiful-one-day wall. Make the wall of a house, the house of a street, the street a village (but he knows it's all about his wall). He can laugh, "It's just a wall. A wall is a wall is a wall," and avoid those questions, refuse to talk when people say, but it feels more than just a wall, did you?

He has always been fascinated by walls. Tall red walls round English country gardens, dry walls across Bronteian moors. Neat yellow-bricked and fawn walls in tidy gardens, walls under green, surrounding old orchards, marble walls and steel walls, and walls of ice, even water-walls.

Inner walls and outer walls, thick walls, thin. Speedy walls and slapdash, crusty walls, lath-and-plaster, crumbling walls, rubble.

Once he looked at walls without seeing. A wall is a wall is a wall. Then one day - was he in love, was it hot? something was different - he just felt things, felt the way walls were, sensed the way walls are, how walls would be. And he started drawing his walls. To be frank, he drew walls poorly. He sketched, he caricatured, he misrepresented. He painted a little, but he was not an artist. He took photographs, read about walls in books, watched films about walls, listened to the radio, but mostly he just lived with walls, learned how to touch them, sense their breathing, understand where they had come from, rubble and mud, shepherds' bones, clay, chiselled ash, flint, horse-hair.

Now he is ready, a wall calls, a wall waits.

He sits in the sun. If a wall was here, just so, like this, here would be a pleasant spot. He feels a wall coming to him. He is desperate to begin, but he will not rush. He will not even imagine.

Instead, he drinks a little wine. He eats a little cheese. He breaks bread.

And pyramids, temples, Berlin, all float in the air. He sees brethren, ropes and pulleys, a barn flying upright (another burning, screams), and castles battered, undermined, and peace walls and ghetto walls, graffiti, paper, lacquer, hotel walls, a black, shining wall in the Capitol, names, names, names, and he breathes softly, a shepherd, a mason, a joiner, a poet, a man. He nibbles, sips, and then the wall begins to whisper, "I am ready. I will be."

692 words

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell: "Outliers-the Story of Success" 7:44am

I read an article by Malcolm Gladwell about the time it takes to be very good at anything (10,000 Hours) and that tied in with my beliefs about the sheer VOLUME we have to produce to gain mastery of our writing.

Beginners and intermediates take a lot of convincing over this. I say quantity begets quality but so much of “common-knowledge” suggests the opposite.

Anyway, I had to buy Gladwell’s book, even though we’re broke and I picked up his book “Blink” which is just as good a read. In Blink, Gladwell talks about instant decision-making and how it works, why it’s often brilliantly effective. But in there is much more including how easy it is to change people’s moods AND behaviour merely by salting a conversation with key words. That was, frankly, a bit scary, as was the tests that can show, even for those of us who believe race and colour is irrelevant, just what in-built biases we have.

These books are really excellent, great reads, stimulating, but also, VERY important for serious writers.