I got my things and left is one of the best opening words ever written in prose.

Those are the first words of “House of Hunger”, a collection of short stories by Zimbabwean author, Dambudzo Marachera.

At the 2016 Ake Arts & Book Festival Fiction workshop, novelist and creative writing professor Helon Habila asked us to write a piece with those words as a prompt.

I got my things and left is one of the best opening words ever written in prose. Would you like to write with another House of Hunger prompt?
Helon Habila and I at the Ake Fiction Workshop

I wrote:

I got my things and left.

The man who delivered them didn’t say much.

Good thing they all fit into my truck, he said.

I wanted to find out more.

How could I ask him to describe the looks my children wore when he packed up my personal things and minimal furniture?

It was right before noon and she was at work. The weekend shift. Her favorite excuse for escaping the noise I create with the boys when we watched a game or two.

Did you ask what the big fight was?

None actually. We did not talk or argue. We looked after the boys, looked at the girls and did nothing more.

That is why I got my things and left.

So, that is how my piece ends.

I think it will be great to do another related writing exercise.

Here is what you need to do.

Create and share a piece with the continuing opening words from Marachera’s “House of Hunger”. The sun was coming up. I couldn’t think where to go.


Or write a six line poem with the following opening words in this order:







Try it! It is going to be so much fun.

I can’t wait to read what you come up with. Plus there is a prize (a novel by an African author) for the most creative piece.

What are you waiting for?




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