2020 Writing Exercise Series #67: Erasing "The Purity of the Turf" 1

The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

Erasing "The Purity of the Turf" 1

For today's exercise we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise, because erasures can be a blast!

For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following selection of P.G. Wodehouse's short story "The Purity of the Turf". You remember AskJeeves.com? These Wodehouse stories are where that Jeeves originally found his fame, as well as the idea of a valet/butler being called Jeeves.

An Erasure/Blackout is really simple: you take the given text and remove many words to make it your own new piece. One way to go about the erasure that I like to do is to copy the text and paste it twice into your document before you start erasing or blacking out (in MS Word set the text background color to black), that way if you get further into the erasure and decide you want a somewhat different tone or direction, it's easy to go to the unaltered version and make the erasure/black-out piece smoother. Another tip is to look for recurring words, in this example 'bingo' occurs multiple times and could be a good touchstone for your piece.

If you insist on fiction, write a piece with one of the three titles taken from this section:

  1.  "At a Pretty Low Ebb" 
  2. "Decanting his Anguished Soul" 
  3. ""I Am Not Made Out of Marble"" (so the poem title is in quotations)

Today's excerpt is a little short so keep that in mind when composing your erasure.

Erasure Selection:

from "The Purity of the Turf"

WHEN the thing was over, I made my mind up.

“Jeeves,” I said.


“Never again! The strain is too great. I don’t say I shall chuck betting altogether: if I get hold of a good thing for one of the big races no doubt I shall have my bit on as aforetime: but you won’t catch me mixing myself up with one of these minor country meetings again. They’re too hot.”

“I think perhaps you are right, sir,” said Jeeves.

It was young Bingo Little who lured me into the thing. About the third week of my visit at Twing Hall he blew into my bedroom one morning while I was toying with a bit of breakfast and thinking of this and that.

“Bertie!” he said, in an earnest kind of voice.

I decided to take a firm line from the start. Young Bingo, if you remember, was at a pretty low ebb at about this juncture. He had not only failed to put his finances on a sound basis over the recent Sermon Handicap, but had also discovered that Cynthia Wick loved another. These things had jarred the unfortunate mutt, and he had developed a habit of dropping in on me at all hours and decanting his anguished soul on me. I could stand this all right after dinner, and even after lunch; but before breakfast, no. We Woosters are amiability itself, but there is a limit.

“Now look here, old friend,” I said. “I know your bally heart is broken and all that, and at some future time I shall be delighted to hear all about it, but——”

“I didn’t come to talk about that.”

“No? Good egg!”

“The past,” said young Bingo, “is dead. Let us say no more about it.”


“I have been wounded to the very depths of my soul, but don’t speak about it.”

“I won’t.”

“Ignore it. Forget it.”


I hadn’t seen him so dashed reasonable for weeks.

“What I came to see you about this morning, Bertie,” he said, fishing a sheet of paper out of his pocket, “was to ask if you would care to come in on another little flutter.”

If there is one thing we Woosters are simply dripping with, it is sporting blood. I bolted the rest of my sausage, and sat up and took notice.

“Proceed,” I said. “You interest me strangely, old bird.”

Bingo laid the paper on the bed.

“On Monday week,” he said, “you may or may not know, the annual village school-treat takes place. Lord Wickhammersley lends the Hall grounds for the purpose. There will be games, and a conjurer, and coconut shies, and tea in a tent. And also sports.”

“I know. Cynthia was telling me.”

Young Bingo winced.

“Would you mind not mentioning that name? I am not made of marble.”


“Well, as I was saying, this jamboree is slated for Monday week. The question is, Are we on?”

“How do you mean, ‘Are we on’?”

“I am referring to the sports. Steggles did so well out of the Sermon Handicap that he has decided to make a book on these sports. Punters can be accommodated at ante-post odds or starting price, according to their preference.”

Steggles, I don’t know if you remember, was one of the gang of youths who were reading for some examination or other with old Heppenstall down at the Vicarage. He was the fellow who had promoted the Sermon Handicap. A bird of considerable enterprise and vast riches, being the only son of one of the biggest bookies in London, but no pal of mine. I never liked the chap. He was a ferret-faced egg with a shifty eye and not a few pimples. On the whole, a nasty growth.

“I think we ought to look into it,” said young Bingo.

I pressed the bell. “I’ll consult Jeeves. I don’t touch any sporting proposition without his advice. Jeeves,” I said, as he drifted in, “rally round.”


“Stand by. We want your advice.”

“Very good, sir.”

“State your case, Bingo.”

Bingo stated his case.

If you'd like some background music to write to, try lofi Godfather J-Dilla's collection Vol. 2: Vintage.