The thing is I hate writing exercises. I know. I know. Dancers limber up. Musicians play scales. Yogis salute the sun. We all need to warm up before diving in. Except not all of us. Not me. I hate writing exercises. (I also, for the record, used to hate playing scales)
Forgive me. I am a Type A. And I hate the dead-end feeling of an exercise. Words that don't result in a story or an essay or an article. What exactly is the point? If I'm going to sit down and focus my mind and churn out words onto a blank sheet of paper (urg…that is the worst, most difficult part of writing for me) then I want to have something to show for it.*
So this is how Miloslav came to life. He began as an exercise (write a list story). Incidentally I failed at the exercise (you try to write a list story! it's difficult!) but I got a good story out of it, which was my real goal all along. And it was just published in the latest issue of The New Quarterly. If you don't have a subscription, here's a handy list of shops that carry the mag.
Phillip and Jill are having trouble conceiving so in lieu of a baby, they hire a cleaning guy named Miloslav. He's a close-talker with a hearing aid and Philip instantly distrusts him. Miloslav is a story about urban ennui and isolation, the things we think we know but really don't, the lives we imagine for others.
*I'm not saying this is the right way to go about your writing life.