This is a creative writing exercise I learned in a class with Pam Houston, who is not only a fabulous writer but is also a kick ass workshop leader and inspirer. She says nice things, and she gives feedback that is not only helpful but honest. And, she’s funny as hell.

I signed up for Pam’s generative class (meaning: something that would help me generate some new work) through the Santa Fe Workshop. Fist pump the SFW. I needed a break from photography classes and lectures; not that I have stopped loving photography. No way. I just felt like writing with no particular place to go. Cue the Chuck Berry…

The Abecedarian exercise is this: write a story comprising 26 sentences. Each sentence must begin with a letter of the alphabet. In sequential order. We had the option of skipping the X or the Z, but not both.

I am doing more writing these days than I’ve done in maybe two years or so. Just little snippets (or, as Pam calls them, glimmers). Exercises. Fun stuff. And I’m making photographs. I believe that if the creativity pipe is open, there’s a freer flow. What’s true of plumbing is so very often true of life.

So, here’s my Abecedarian. None of it is true. I made it all up. Except probably it happened, in one way or another. And for sure there are a bunch of Alice Sparkes out there.

Alice Sparke is a grand master of narcissistic injury.

Believe me, insult her in some way and you’re Luca Brasi, asleep with the fishes.

Cath, dear sweet Catholic Cath of the Peter Pan collar and the cat named Mr. Darcy, is Alice’s latest victim.


Except for her undying devotion to the late Sylvia Plath,” I say, “Alice disapproves of women with sex lives.”

Fortunately, this is all rearview mirror stuff for me, as it has been years since Alice Sparke pronounced me an “indecent woman”.

Geez Louise, I had no idea Alice’d be offended by the possibility of my dating,” says Cath.

How to explain sociopathy to a woman who wears a Peter Pan collar?

I want to help Cath.

Just hug her and say, “Alice Sparke is the Donald Trump of central Ohio, and none of this is about you.”

Kenyon College, where Alice Sparke holds court (also known as tenure) as a Plath scholar, really ought to know it’s harboring a lunatic in its poetry department.

Long ago, or so it feels to me now with the hindsight of 500 miles between me and Gambier, Ohio, I was the harlot du jour.

My crime was wanton whoopie with one Nick Lopez who, unbeknownst to me, was the object of the longing of Alice’s very own loins.

Never pegged Alice Sparke for a Latin lover type.

One-night stand, not exactly a Latin lover, and the best part of a drab holiday party and a couple too many Kentucky Mules.

Possibly, I *may* have gloated to Alice that I was back in the saddle, so to speak.

Quite frankly I had no idea that Alice lusted for the Senor.

Really, I had no idea Alice lusted.

So now Cath has triggered the storm of Sparke and she’s fearful of departmental deplatforming.

Tom Roseman — remember him? — well, he told me Alice will make sure my work never gets into The Kenyon Review again,” Cath says.

Under the circumstances, I suspect Tom is probably right,” I say.

Vindictive bee-yotch,” says Cath, in a rare use of her version of a swear word.

Well, actually, what I really mean is, Well, fuck her,” she adds.

Xanax helps, Cath, ” I suggest, certain sweet Cath hasn’t a clue where to get hold of Big Pharma’s finest contribution to post-modernism.

You meet an Alice Sparke but once in your life if you’re lucky, twice if you’re unwise.

And then you run, fast as Jack Rabbit.

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