James Rose writes impromptu stories at the Invermere Farmers market. Photo by Lorene Keitch

Clickety clack originals

James Rose fundraising for upcoming race through writing original one-page stories at farmers’ market

In the distance you hear a clackety clack. It’s noisy at the Invermere Farmers and Artists Market with all the chatting and shopping going on, but the clickety click clacking captures your attention. You follow it to its source and find James Rose plunking away on his typewriter and filling a page with the contents of his imagination mingled with the name and dreams of his latest customer.

“They hear the clacking, and they come from all over,” the writer said. “The best marketing I have found is the clack clack clack that is so alien to most people under the age of 20 and a blast from the past for the boomer generation and their parents.”

At his table, a single crisp page emerges from his turquoise typewriter. Moments earlier it had been blank, but now it’s filled with a fanciful vision for his reader to inhabit. Extracted from the typewriter and fading from Mr. Rose’s memory, the one-of-kind story exists only for the reader for whom it was created.

In one story, a young customer who was wearing a Cars hat was transformed into a race car driver. In another, a man who was going on a retreat to clear his mind left with a story about accomplishing his intention.

“All the stories I write I try to make them funny and interesting and never dark. They’re not dark at all,” Mr. Rose said.

When a couple about to celebrate their anniversary asked for a story about how they would spend their special day, he asked them to tell him about themselves.

“This woman in particular was a keen hiker, so I wrote a story about how they walked up a mountain, they overcame some perilous danger, and blah, blah, blah,” he said. “What I’ve come to appreciate is that people love story. They have, I think, a huge amount of tolerance for story, whatever wackiness or silliness, and if they’re in the story it’s that much better too.”

Mr. Rose doesn’t get intimidated staring at the blank piece of paper as his customers wait expectantly to be amazed.

“My mind has been able to overcome not knowing what to write and just doing it on the spot. I don’t give myself a chance to procrastinate or overthink it… It just kind of comes out,” he said.

As for not being able to backspace or delete a single letter he types – because typewriters don’t allow for any erasing – he said: “I deal with the pressure by giving myself permission to be OK with making mistakes and handing over a document to a donee that is more often than not imperfect.”

Mr. Rose came up with the idea for his Saturday Morning Stories when he didn’t qualify for the New York City Marathon but learned he could race in November 2019 anyway if he came up with a $2,620 USD donation for Team for Kids, a running group that supports youth.

So far this summer, his Saturday Morning Stories – which he offers by donation – and other fundraising efforts have allowed him to raise 80 per cent of his fundraising goal.

To help Mr. Rose cover his Team for Kids donation, visit him at the market to collect your own short story or leave a donation for him at www.runwithtfk.org/Profile/PublicPage/76020.

While writing uses his head, Mr. Rose said running helps him switch off his thoughts and get back to himself.

“I’ve never felt worse after a run,” he said. “There’s never a reason not to go.”

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