Saturday, 10 March 2018

Something Produced in Twenty Minutes

A few months ago, I entered a writing competition for young writers in high schools across Canada. I didn't hear about the competition until the week of the deadline, and I didn't have that week to really concentrate on anything. So what I ended up doing was something really exciting.

The competition ended at six in the evening my time. I had musical practice that day, and got home at five forty. I wrote my entry in sixteen minutes and submitted it just before the time ran out. It was an extremely exhilarating experience. I had barely enough time to check my grammar, and I knew it was very unlikely I'd actually win anything, but I forced myself to come out of my shell and write something for the first time in months and months, and for that reason I have no regrets.

I didn't win or make it to the finalists, and I thought it would be interesting to post it here, as though it is very obviously not my best or my most polished work, it was a wonderful learning experience and showed me that I can beat writer's block and produce when put under pressure.

The writing prompt was to write the first page of a novel that takes place in Canada in one hundred and fifty years. I had been toying with a dystopian novel idea at the back of my mind for a while before I heard about the competition, so I used that to create my four hundred word mess.



It all started because people were bored. We needed something to entertain ourselves; now that the population had dwindled down because of the drownings on island provinces and that we had built machines that would reconstruct the cities after the fires. People had nothing to do. We started getting restless. We started wondering if we should do something about the smoldering world around us.

And so the government introduced Masks. Devices full of chemicals that when placed on the mouth and inhaled would transport the wearer into a land completely of their own, where in their mind they would be an average person from 150 years ago, where they would be completely submerged in a safe, fake life just before all of the wars and destruction and death.

At first, people were only allowed small doses at a time. But, they began craving more and more. It was easier to hide in an ignorant bliss than to face the horror that was their reality. Our reality. My reality.

I distinctly remember the first time I put on my Mask, on my twelfth birthday. The first time everyone is put under, the chemicals being pumped through them are so strong and toxic that it takes only a few seconds for blood pressure to rise and for every muscle in the body to go into spasm. For me, for some reason, it took more time than usual for them to kick in. I remember that after they tore the Mask from my face, they wrote my name down on a clipboard that contained only a few other names. I tried to get a closer look, but they took it away before I could see anything else.

I still haven’t succumbed to living under the Mask yet. I hardly see a lot of my friends anymore because they have grown accustomed to the drugs and chemicals, and it’s almost as if they rely on them now to survive. They have to have their fix of the past.

If I look outside the window of my apartment, the streets are deserted. No one sees the point of going outside anymore. Smog clouds the horizon and it always looks as if we are in a field of ash. And no one cares, because no one needs to. Everyone is contented as long as they are under the Mask. We are placid.

We are safe.


I am planning to edit this one day and make it, you know, good, but I am still proud I managed to write something in the short time I gave myself. It was a reminder that I could still write and that I still had passion left in me that I thought had left me. 

If you haven't had time to write in a while, I dare you to give yourself twenty minutes to write as much as you can about whatever you want, and no matter what comes out, be proud of yourself for returning to something you love and enjoy. 

Most of my writing now is done through writing music now, and I'd love to one day pluck up the courage to post some of my songs on this blog. Until then, I'll push myself to write whenever I possibly can.



  1. Oooh, I like the premise of this! It kind of reminds me of when I read Brave New World and the book's concept of soma. If you ever need a beta reader, let me know! I'd be honored to critique this. ^.^

    xoxo Abigail Lennah | ups & downs

  2. Oooh, I like the premise of this! It kind of reminds me of when I read Brave New World and the book's concept of soma. If you ever need a beta reader, let me know! I'd be honored to critique this. ^.^
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  3. Yes, time really has passed us so quickly. Keep writing!