A Glimpse into Creative Writing

Wednesday, 24. November 2021

Miles Greene, a Grade 9 student at the Ecole, has had a pen in his hand for as long as he can remember, so it’s no surprise that he joined Melissa’s Creative Writing Intensive Week project this fall.

Miles describes himself as a ‘pondering type’ who asks big questions and uses writing as a method for investigating answers. He’s also a cynic, inspired by the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky, so he often finds himself drawn to dark, heavy themes. Over the course of the week, Miles produced a short story exploring addiction, mental illness, and suicide.

In Miles’ story, the reader enters the mind of an ill old man and bears witness to his suffering and eventual demise. A gritty tavern sets the scene, and a crow and a tapestry are rich sources of symbolism. The story isn’t what one might expect from this smiling 14-year-old author, but it achieves his goal of shining a light on the stigmatization of mental health issues.

Each day of the Intensive Week began with a writing prompt from Melissa before each writer delved into his or her own work. Students also shared their work and got feedback in the cozy atmosphere of Melissa’s living room. Miles appreciated the balance between the shared activities and the big chunks of independent work time. He had time to explore his topic in gruesome detail and was inspired both by Melissa and his peers. He hopes to submit his story to a journal or contest and would love to have a career in writing some day.

With his rich descriptions and carefully crafted sentences, it’s easy to imagine a bright future for this author of dark tales.

Read the opening scene from “Ropes of Woe Hang From the Ceiling” by Miles Greene:

There was a sickening scratch on the tavern window. A crow. It was a beautiful shimmering black and its polished feathers made the man think of his own pitiful reflection in a pitch black mirror. He softly swept his hand over the polished oak countertop. It must have been the only clean thing in a ten mile radius. The wood shone spotless, in steep contrast to the tattered floorboards and stained leather cushions which surrounded him. What a filthy world, he thought to himself. He wondered why he hadn’t removed himself from such filth entirely-- although --he knew the reason. The burning whiskey being dumped by the gallon down his throat was proof enough that amongst trash and filth, he was exactly where he belonged.

On the wall to his left hung a great tapestry. It was tattered, and nearing the point of being indistinguishable. But the man looked concentrated as he tried to comprehend the masses of dull and torn color. He saw a crowd of men. Well built and armed with large steel swords. They stood in military formation, ready and sturdy. Next to the men, was a vast tear in the fabric where one could only assume that some context was lost, but through the filter of melancholy and alcohol, the man assigned the tapestry an entirely new meaning. You see, the tear left only one boy, in his late teens, isolated and naked, separated from the army, their swords poised at him. A stain upon the tapestry, presumably of urine or spew or some sort of excrement from a lowly drunk who had once trod this tavern of filth, the same as the man sitting pitifully at the counter pouring glass upon glass of whatever alcohol he can get his hands on. Regardless, the stain left a solitary tear upon the cheek of the boy standing by his lonesome, covering his bare and frail frame with his own arms. The image nearly made the man sick as he thought of the tremendously depressing parallel between him and the boy.

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