2020 Writing Exercise Series #83: Erasing "The Purity of the Turf" 3

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" 3

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. Bobbing About
  2. An Opprobrious Remark 
  3. Bit of a Snob

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

Erasure Selection:

from "The Purity of the Turf"

“If I might make a suggestion, sir.”

I eyed Jeeves with interest. I don’t know that I’d ever seen him look so nearly excited.

“You’ve got something up your sleeve?”

“I have, sir.”


“That precisely describes it, sir. I think I may confidently assert that we have the winner of the Choir Boys’ Handicap under this very roof, sir. Harold, the page-boy.”

“Page-boy? Do you mean the tubby little chap in buttons one sees bobbing about here and there? Why, dash it, Jeeves, nobody has a greater respect for your knowledge of form than I have, but I’m hanged if I can see Harold catching the judge’s eye. He’s practically circular, and every time I’ve seen him he’s been leaning up against something half-asleep.”

“He receives thirty yards, sir, and could win from scratch. The boy is a flier.”

“How do you know?”

Jeeves coughed, and there was a dreamy look in his eye.

“I was as much astonished as yourself, sir, when I first became aware of the lad’s capabilities. I happened to pursue him one morning with the intention of fetching him a clip on the side of the head——”

“Great Scott, Jeeves! You!”

“Yes, sir. The boy is of an outspoken disposition, and had made an opprobrious remark respecting my personal appearance.”

“What did he say about your appearance?”

“I have forgotten, sir,” said Jeeves, with a touch of austerity. “But it was opprobrious. I endeavoured to correct him, but he outdistanced me by yards and made good his escape.”

“But, I say, Jeeves, this is sensational. And yet—if he’s such a sprinter, why hasn’t anybody in the village found it out? Surely he plays with the other boys?”

“No, sir. As his lordship’s page boy, Harold does not mix with the village lads.”

“Bit of a snob, what?”

“He is somewhat acutely alive to the existence of class distinctions, sir.”

If you'd like some background music to write to, try Austrian composer Ferdinand Rebay's Sonatas for Flute and Guitar.