Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Elspeth's Writing Sheep

Silence. Darkness.

WRITER: (timidly) Hello?


WRITER: (louder) Hello?


WRITER: (even louder) Is anyone here?

There is the flash of a match being struck and a lantern lit in the distance. A white shape becomes visible.

SHEEP #1: Yes?

WRITER: Are you one of the writing sheep?

SHEEP #1: Yes.

WRITER: I thought you lived somewhere else.

SHEEP #2: (moving into the lantern's glow) We’re everywhere.

SHEEP #3:  If you need us, we will come.

SHEEP #1: That’s dangerously close to plagiarism.

SHEEP #2: It’s a phrase which has become part of the vernacular. It's  a huge compliment to the author of said phrase.

WRITER: Can they not handle the truth?

SHEEP #3: (pointing a hoof) Don’t start.

SHEEP #2: Ignore them. (takes a step forward) How can we help?

WRITER: I just wondered…

SHEEP #1: Don’t use that word.

WRITER: What word? Wondered?

SHEEP #1: No; just. 

SHEEP #2: We hate that word.

SHEEP #3: It clutters up manuscripts.

WRITER: Sorry.

SHEEP #1: Don’t worry. This is your first draft. ‘Just’ at will.

WRITER: I wondered what you get asked most often.

SHEEP #2: Our best bits of wisdom?

SHEEP #3: Our greatest hits?

SHEEP #1: Easy. Stop reading about writing and write.

WRITER: Excuse me?

SHEEP #2: Why? What did you do?

SHEEP #1: Did you leave a mess? Do we need a mop?

SHEEP #2: Have you ever noticed that the mop looks a lot like Uncle Murray?

SHEEP #1 & #3: Poor Uncle Murray.

WRITER: What happened?

SHEEP #1: It was a tragic case of A Fence Too Far. Well, too high, really.

SHEEP #2: We’ve digressed.

SHEEP #3: Sorry.

WRITER: You were saying…

SHEEP #1: Writers need to write. It sounds simplistic, but it’s not. It’s far easier to read about writing or write about writing --

SHEEP #2: Or talk about writing.

SHEEP #3: Don’t get me started. Get thee behind me, Facebook!

SHEEP #1: If you want to finish something, then finish it. Writing is work. 

SHEEP #2: Sometimes I think it was easier when writers were up in their chilly attics, pounding away on their typewriters.

SHEEP #1: Or dipping their pen nibs into bottles of ink.

SHEEP #3: Taking a break to warm their chilblained fingers before a flickering coal fire.

All three sheep sigh.

SHEEP #1: But now, you’re all posting status updates and commenting on blogs and tweeting and pinning and complaining you’ve got no time to write.

WRITER: But writers need to network.

SHEEP #2: Ah - but are you writing to network or networking to write?

WRITER: Wow. I've never thought about it like that before.

SHEEP #1: Of course you haven't. But we have. 

SHEEP #2: We’re the sheep.

SHEEP #3: Go away now. Write.

WRITER: Yes, sir. (Writer leaves)

                                                     Sheep #1 blows out the lantern. In the dark:

SHEEP #2: I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Elspeth Futcher is a bestselling author of murder mystery games and playwright. She has been the top selling author at since 2011. Her British games are published by Red Herring Games in the UK. Her latest game is "The Great British Bump Off?" Elspeth's 'writing sheep' are a continuing feature in the European writers' magazine Elias and also appear on this blog from time to time. Connect with her on Twitter at @elspethwrites or on Facebook at Elspeth Futcher, Author.


  1. I think this might be one of those times when its best to follow the sheep! Great post! And oh so true, bah......

  2. Absolutely bloody brilliant, Elspeth. I love and follow this blog, but that is it for me. There are many hundreds of bloggers writing about writing and thousands of writers reading and reacting to the blogs. It makes for a strangely incestuous salon.

    Well, back to work--writing.

  3. Hmm? Oh, I fell asleep counting those sheep (but only after I finished reading your post). Bedtime for me, and my little lamb. I'll read, I mean write, tomorrow.

  4. I love the way you get an important message across. I think a lot of us will get more writing done today. (smile)

  5. Unfortunately, writers need to eat, too

  6. Edith; The sheep would agree with you!

    Larry; It *is* strange, isn't it? Thanks for your bloody kind words about my post. The sheep are waving.

    Elle;The sheep forgive you - we know all about time differences!

    LD; Thanks!

    Maryann; The sheep will smile. Sheepishly.

    Christopher; Of course they do.

  7. Elspeth - How very delightful to have you back!!! Those sheep are so wise too. The only way to really get writing accomplished is to just do it. Whoops! Sorry, Sheep - another "borrowed" phrase.

    Oh, and sheep - you left a mess here last time you visited. It's not my job to mop up after you. Please, a few moments of your time to clean up... ;-)

  8. Margot; As a longtime and treasured friend, you are allowed to tease the sheep. Thanks so much for commenting. I think I miss you most of all.

  9. Hahaha. Must go write. About sheep maybe. :)

  10. This was such a joy, and in that sheep's clothing you hid such wisdom. Well done, Elspeth!

  11. Dani; The sheep would approve.

    Kathryn; Thank you!

  12. LOVE this, Elspeth. Funny and true!

  13. As a spinner, I thoroughly approve of this post. Not ba-a-a-ad at all. ;)

  14. Lovely to have you and the sheep back!

  15. Thank you for this post! It was great :)

    I put a link to this post up on my blog:

    It was just what I needed to get going again!


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