Last Drink Bird Head (examples and discussion)

The Last Drink Bird Head exercise  actually spawned an anthology to promote literacy in 2009. Eric Schaller’s illustration above (inset) sparked it–along with an initial entry by Matthew Cheney (text consultant on Wonderbook). (The main illo above is by Scott Eagle.) Curious to see where it might lead, I sent the very sample instructions “Last Drink Bird Head–don’t think, just write, under 500 words–to over 70 great writers, and got amazing responses–and enough material for a book. This automatic writing exercise sparked everything from surreal to very logical realism. If you’ve done the exercise, here are some samples from the book. All proceeds went to the ProLiteracy charity.

The point of the exercise is to allow your subconscious and your creative imagination to write without fear of editorializing by your technical imagination. What could be more absurd than the words Last Drink Bird Head? How could you possibly begin to get too serious, and thus perhaps tighten up, with such a prompt? There’s no right or wrong way to do this exercise.


Absurd-grotesque – by World Fantasy Award winner Ekaterina Sedia

Country-Western – by the iconic NYT bestseller Peter Straub

“Doubles” – by World Fantasy Award finalist Cat Rambo

Epistolary – by Crawford Award winner Genevieve Valentine

Mythical – by Rhysling Award winner Sonya Taaffe

Surreal – by Wonderbook author Jeff VanderMeer


(Art by Scott Eagle)