The writer’s cat and the dish of strawberries

Become a Write-a-thon sponsor and support the Clarion West Writers Workshop.

The cat was sitting peacefully on the table, a dish of fresh strawberries by her paws.

I snapped the picture.

A minute later, the crash: Glass bowl in pieces on the patio pavers, strawberries among the shards. Cat, still sitting peacefully on the table, now facing me.

“So what?” she seemed to ask.

As I crawled around under the table, carefully picking up the pieces of glass, I was thinking about the importance of the first line of a story, or the first page of a book.

Do you start with the peaceful cat and berries? With the defiant cat among the broken glass and spoiled fruit? Or with the broken bowl and berries, no perpetrator in sight?

Yes, it’s the fourth week of the Clarion West Write-a-thon, and every domestic disaster is fodder for fiction. I’m working on the second of my three pledged short stories (which is not about strawberries). Clarion West Board Chair Kelley Eskridge has challenged the 142 people writing to raise funds for the organization to each bring in an additional sponsor, via PayPal or check, this week.

Will you become my next sponsor? If you’re local, I’ll bring you the next bowl of strawberries from the garden. Before the cat gets it.

If you write speculative fiction…

Join the writers of the Clarion West community for the 2011 Clarion West Write-a-thon (June 19 through July 21)

Is there a speculative fiction writing project you want to get finished? Started? Submitted to a magazine, agent or publisher?

If so, I want to invite you to join the writers of the Clarion West community for the 2011 Clarion West Write-a-thon (June 19 through July 21). It’s a great way to challenge yourself to meet your writing goals — while raising money to sustain one of the nation’s foremost programs for speculative fiction.

People have used the Write-a-thon to start novels, to experiment with new writing techniques, to complete works-in-progress, and to polish and submit stories for publication. Last year author Michael Swanwick wrote flash fiction pieces that featured his donors as characters — and we expect there’ll be more such playfulness this year.

If you join the Clarion West online forums (, you can report on your progress and talk with other Write-a-thon participants.

Here’s how to get involved:

  1. Register for Write-a-thon and create your profile page. Use the profile to tell people about yourself and your Write-a-thon goals, and  post a short excerpt from your fiction.
  2. When the Write-a-thon starts on June 19, ask friends to visit your page and donate to support your writing goals and the Clarion West program.
  3. Start writing! You’ll have until July 21 to meet your goals.

You’ll find complete information on the 2011 Clarion West Write-a-thon at

Our goal this year is to involve 100 writers, attract 270 donors, and spark the creation and publication of some outstanding fiction. Please join us!

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