6.05.2009

What Are You Looking For?

I have a book called A Writer’s Book of Days. It’s one of several books I have that are dedicated to the craft of writing. Many of them provide basic writing prompts (e.g., “Write a poem about the end of something”) and/or exercises aimed at practicing one or another element of writing. I have to admit that I use these books to, for lack of a better term, “trick” myself into writing something. I guess the real trick is to use the prompt or exercise as a jumping off point from the conscious, day-to-day world, into the subconscious (or if I’m lucky, the unconscious) world where interesting words, images, sounds, and ideas lurk below the surface. If I can get to that world, The Words come.

I have learned that, in order for The Words to come, I need to be writing on a regular basis. If I sit down to write - even if what I write on a given day is uninspired drivel - it somehow wakes the Muse and notifies her that I am available. If keep writing over the course of days, weeks, months, and if I pay attention, the Muse is very generous. Sometimes, just one word of a two-page response to a prompt will shimmer on the page, and I’ll know there’s a poem in or around it. Often, The Words come in a flood so that I am scrambling around looking for my notebook to capture them before they are gone. Indeed, sometimes I feel more like a medium than a writer.

At any rate, for today’s post, I thought I would just write on one of the prompts from A Writer’s Book of Days. Today’s prompt is: What are you looking for?

--A few ideas for simple, healthy, tasty meals for a family that do not involve ground beef, canned tomatoes, buns, or noodles, and whose names do not include the words “finger,” “bite,” “chunk” or “nugget.”
--An answer to the problem of suffering.
--A way to introduce A Girl Named Finch into my poetry. A Girl Named Finch is a character my kids and I dreamed up one summer. We sat on my mom’s swing looking out at the lake and told each other stories about A Girl Named Finch. She keeps coming back to me in free-writes and in dreams, so there must be more to tell about her. But the Muse hasn’t sent those words yet.
--Several poets to join a weekly writing group that meets on Mondays near South-of-the-River. Locals, please do spread the word.
--Fairies. (I know, I know..... but I keep looking just in case).
--An e-mail from a fellow writer containing the humor piece he’s working on.
--A quiet room, a big stack of paper, and time, time, time.
--The blue ring from the Fisher Price stacking toy we’ve had since The Bean was a baby. I’ve been looking for it for seven years, and haven’t found it even in the course of two moves. Where is the darn thing?! It can’t have just disappeared! (Say it with me now: “Let go, goon!").
--A website/blog/publication that gives voice to the ideas, questions, and thoughtful issue analysis of moderate and liberal Catholics. Please do share if you know of one.
--A family history. I have bits and pieces from both sides of my family, but there are lots of gaps and unknowns; and I know that’s where the good stories are.
--A good book to read. I mean really good.
--On any given day at any given time you can be sure I am looking for: one or all of my children, my cell phone, the scissors, the thermometer, my calendar, a tissue, the house key, and/or the fingernail clippers.
--Yoda’s lightsaber. (Sigh. Long story).


What are you looking for?


P.S. For those who are interested, here are a few more books on writing craft that I have found useful:

For prompts, exercises & the like:
A Writer’s Book of Days - by Judy Reeves
The Practice of Poetry - by Robin Behn
In the Palm of Your Hand - by Steve Kowit
What If? - by Ann Bernays and Pamela Painter
Writing Fiction - by Janet Burroway

For philosophies of writing/creativity:
Bird by Bird - by Anne Lamott (bonus: it’s hilarious!)
Writing Down the Bones - Natalie Goldberg
Becoming a Writer - Dorothea Brande

For both:
The Artist’s Way - by Julia Cameron (suitable for any area of creativity, not just writing)]

2 comments:

ljchicago said...

The white towels we received when we got married.

My husband's yearbooks.

The yellow piece from the toy Aunt L. gave the baby just 6 days ago.

My black swim skirt.

An uninterrupted night's sleep.

jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.