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Résumé: Letters and notes, e-mail messages, newspaper articles, poetry, blog posts and comments, business proposals, promotional material, journal entries, essays, and, when this exercise is complete, 100 words.
I seem to have a mental block when it comes to writing fiction, and in fact have written nothing that wasn’t truth (or based on truth) since creative writing assignments in high school. Ancient history.
Curious: Does this block stem from an innate inability to “lie” (though I greedily devour others’ “lies”)? Perhaps fear of failure? Relentless comparison of self with others? Ease of intimidation?
Hopefully this exercise will enlighten.
Some days, I wonder how anything ever gets
in this world. I mean, seriously – between passing the buck, walking on eggshells, covering our collective butts, skirting the issues, and trying not to step on anyone’s toes, so much of our precious time seems to be wasted on stumbling around in awkward circles instead of actually going anywhere or accomplishing anything.
Some days, any attempt to change – to progress – feels like trying to run through a waist-deep sea of sticky molasses, sluggish and messy, the dark creature from your nightmares bearing down on you as the sea thickens.
She was tall and thin, wearing attractive dark rimmed rectangular glasses and a crisply tailored belted overcoat atop impeccably styled clothing, and approached the counter briskly.
"I'll have a Venti half caf, double shot, two pump sugarfree vanilla, nonfat, extra hot, no whip, Mocha."
The barista nodded as she scribbled cryptic notes on a paper cup and repeated, "Venti half caf, double shot, two pump sugarfree vanilla, nonfat, extra hot, no whip, Mocha."
A card was presented and swiped. Then it was his turn.
He fumbled in his pocket for loose change.
"Er, a small coffee, please."
The barista sighed.
Spider. Spidercat. My little love.
Two things about me, before Spider: I was adamantly certain I was NOT a cat person, and I was never overly comfortable with physical affection. But Spider’s sweetness infiltrated and transformed me, in spite of myself.
She’s sleeping in a sunny window now, all warm chocolate brown fur and velvety softness, perhaps dreaming of the squirrels scampering through the yard, just out of reach. It’s all I can do not to wake her, to see her green eyes open and hear that rumbling purr as she stretches contentedly.
But I let her sleep.
My worst enemy?
I had to think about that for awhile, as I always imagine that beyond my circle of friends I inspire nothing more than disinterest - at worst, mild dislike - rather than hatred.
What would an enemy do? They could be cruel, or say hurtful things to and about me. They might go out of their way to sabotage my efforts. They may well set up impossible standards, then judge and criticize me harshly when I didn’t live up to their expectations.
Turns out, I am my own worst enemy.
Am I alone? Perhaps it’s the same for you…
What if, as an experiment, whenever you opened your mouth to speak, you
about the effect your words might have
about how what you say might be heard
about how you would feel in the listener’s place
Most of the time, even after thinking, you’d probably continue to speak. And it would be ok.
But maybe... sometimes... the thoughts you had about the words you were about to say might motivate you...
to say something kinder or gentler
or, to say nothing at all
I might just give it a try.
I slept poorly last night. Persistent aches and pains in my leg and back made it difficult to get comfortable, so what should have been a time of peace and restoration was in reality a long and frustrating session of tossing and turning and being awake far more than asleep.
Unfortunately, I have discovered that inspiration and creativity don’t manifest themselves all that clearly to a tired brain - at least, not to
tired brain. So I’m afraid today’s entry will be a token - words strung together to make up a quota.
Guess they can’t all be gems.
I still have the two Berlitz Pocket Guides for Europe and the Greek Islands, bought at age 19 when working retail and dreaming I didn't. I would sit on a wooden bench in the mall during lunch breaks, enraptured by the sturdy little volumes full of promise - pictures and facts and vacation tips - believing that some day they would go with me on the vacation of my dreams.
That was back in 1986. The now sadly out of date guides have moved with me seven times within the same city.
Unfortunately, we still haven’t made it to Europe.
It’s unnerving, to say the least, to remember a place you
visit, that’s no longer there. The disturbing thought that what was once real and solid and tangible has disappeared - that though your own feet stood on that floor and your own eyes marveled at the amazing panorama beyond those windows and you snapped photo after photo of the city of your dreams, the once defined space you briefly occupied is...
- is unbelievable. The heartbreaking question as to
is unanswerable. The notion that had it been another time,
you might have been there when
, is unimaginable.
Stores full of new books are wonderful places, but prowling through stacks of secondhand books at a thrift store or yard sale satisfies the soul on a whole different level. It’s the thrill of the hunt - knowing that even though they may be loosely organized into broad categories, there’s no formula or marketing plan dictating what you will find. It’s the luck of the draw - which particular house move or spring cleaning shifted those particular volumes to that particular location. It’s the risk - knowing that you
come away empty handed, disappointed... but you
find a treasure!
I once ate a picnic lunch with friends in the sand dunes in Oregon on a windy day. It seemed like a good idea at the time (famous last words); needless to say, I wouldn't recommend it. (Yogurt tastes far better smooth rather than grainy, and ham sandwiches don't benefit from the added crunch.) But the dunes are amazing, and despite our unfortunate meal I could have spent the entire day walking them, sliding down them, watching them shift before my eyes. So, lesson learned: sand in your food, not so much... sand in your shoes, an experience to remember.
"Call me what you will," the voice says, calm, confident. "The Monkey on Your Back, Your Personal Demon, The Thorn In Your Side - makes no difference to me. I have no feelings to hurt. Struggle with me, fight me if you wish, but I am a part of you, and I'm not going anywhere. You may quiet me for a time, think you've tamed me into submission, but don't be fooled. When you're weakest - tired, stressed, emotional - that's when I'll show my face, offering familiar, numbing comfort.
"But it's your choice whether or not to take it."
...that surprise patch of flowering strawberry plants we discovered last week in the back yard
The Writer's Book of Matches – 1,001 prompts to ignite your fiction
...several boxes in the garage full of books awaiting rediscovery
...lunch with a friend at Japanese Village planned for two weeks from now
...two curled wrought iron hooks, mounted on either side of our front door, ready to receive hanging flower baskets
...a three day long weekend upcoming, with time to spend however we wish
...a gorgeous pocket size pearl embossed blank book tucked in my bag to capture future inspiration
I have slept through some terribly embarrassing dreams about some highly unlikely individuals.
The stuff of said dreams would never actually occur in my waking life, nor have I ever given such events a moment’s conscious thought, which makes me marvel at the depths of the subconscious my dream self is apparently willing to plumb to find fodder for its amusement.
Yet I cannot believe that I alone have experienced this situation. I am certain this happens to others.
If this is true, then I wonder if anyone unlikely has ever had such dreams about me!
And then one day it arrived, bursting onto the scene with a flourish and startling their collective unconsciousness with its unexpected vibrancy. Suddenly even the simplest things seemed profound and delightful - greens were greener, the blue sky stretched for miles and the air smelled like warm honey. A feeling of hope - they'd forgotten about hope while bundled up against that long stretch of gray dankness - infused their spirits and brought joy to their hearts as they lifted their appreciative faces to the sun in anticipation. That day the world woke up and smiled again. Summer was coming.
Writing can be a scary prospect. To start with, many of us struggle with our own inner critic - that persistent voice whispering, "You have no imagination and no creativity," and, "Nothing you do will ever be good enough or worth anyone’s time." Then, when that voice is silenced (or at least muffled), comes the fear of exposure - of your thoughts, manner of expression, skill level - to others' criticism, their ridicule, or (perhaps worse?) indifference. So many roadblocks! But... persisting past the struggles to find that perfect word or turn of phrase that’s just
? Makes it all worthwhile.
Today we saw a sign along the highway advertising an upcoming event. Above the words "FAMILY FUN FAIR" the sign read, "CHILDREN AND APPLE PIE." We wondered, laughing hysterically, whether they would be a good combination! Knowing that a picture is worth a thousand words (or in this case, one hundred), I took the camera out on the way back in the hope of capturing the laugh for posterity. We couldn't pull over, so I snapped a picture from the moving vehicle, and while it actually turned out to be surprisingly clear, the best line didn’t show up properly! Argh.
A recipe for morning:
Unclip the lid on the white glazed canister full of glistening chocolate brown beans. Lean forward slightly to breathe in their intoxicating fragrance. Transfer some into the grinder, one scoop for every cup, and press the button to allow the razor-sharp blades to do their work. Brew the fine powder with clear water and let the aroma tantalize as the heady scent filters through the house. Pour the dark silky liquid into a mug and take a sip - ouch! - but not too soon. Warm your hands, drink in the goodness, and prepare for the day.
I believe I just had an insight into why - in part, at least - I struggle with writing fiction.
Even though I recognize that tension and conflict draw in and hook the reader, I don't know how to bring a character into the world and then allow bad things to happen to them.
I suspect that my desire for only good and beautiful and pleasant things for my characters would make my stories very dull.
So how does a writer let go... permit the characters to tell their story... without trying to control the process?
I must give this more thought.
This is a generalization, of course, but it seems as though we human beings are hard-wired to avoid doing the right thing until forced, at the last possible moment, into a corner.
Take recycling, for instance. Think of all the years of waste and careless consumption by a good part of the world that now results in a need for austerity. Or, on an individual level, the person who cuts back on fatty food, or alcohol, or salt - but only after being diagnosed with a related malady.
It would appear that moderation and balance may be learned, not built in.
What if you - what if every one of us - not only endeavored to tread lightly, taking care not to damage or destroy... but also made every effort to intentionally leave things better than they were when we found them?
What if you - what if every one of us - not only treated others the way we ourselves would wish to be treated... but also went the extra mile to deliberately bring goodness and beauty into others' lives?
What if you - what if every one of us - not only existed... but also lived mindfully?
How wonderful it could be!
I will remember the Serenity Prayer when I feel insecure about my physical appearance.
There are things within my control which I can change - my weight, hair colour and style, the clothes I wear, how I groom myself, and so on.
On another level, if I really wanted to, I could even change certain aspects of my looks in more drastic ways via surgery.
But some things - my body type, hair texture, height, shoe size - are here to stay. They're part of who I am and
need to be accepted.
I will not waste another moment wishing things were different.
I'm not feeling deep, so I'll write about how swithering saved money.
We now live in a place that allows us to have a barbecue. We found one the other day - nothing too special, but within our budget - but couldn't make a decision. We went back a couple of times to look, but for whatever reason never bought it.
Today we went back, and didn't see any at the entrance where they'd been featured. Oh, no! We hurried to the barbecue section and were relieved to find plenty - plus, they were now $30 less!
Yay for swithering!
I am on a quest for The Perfect Journal.
It must be refillable. It must be leather. It must have a pen loop. It must have a closure, whether snap or tab or tie. It must be no bigger than 9" by 6" (portability is very important), but not so small that writing becomes difficult. Colour is negotiable, as is cover design.
Many come close, but none fully satisfy.
(Yes, as a matter of fact, I
given this a tremendous amount of thought. Truth be told, I may actually spend more time questing than I do actually
I am feeling rather nostalgic this evening, as I spent much of today sorting through boxes of things decades old, saved by the me that was.
I came across reports I'd written, crafts I'd partially completed, exams I'd taken, details and photos of events I’d organized. All of this "stuff" was definitely mine, yet in many cases I found it difficult or impossible to recall the time when it was relevant.
This led me to ponder, somewhat wistfully, the countless things I've produced throughout my years that mattered once, but no longer have a place, or sometimes even a memory.
It's rapidly nearing the end of an extremely busy day, and this is the first chance I've had to tackle my 100 words.
At one point I thought of writing about the ocean, since I spent part of today's lunch break on a bench near the harbour watching sailboats and float planes. Then I thought I might write of expectations, fear of failure, and worry about one's ability to live up to others' hopes.
Either might have been good. Unfortunately, evening finds me with a very tired brain and no inspiration, so today's piece will have to be a cheat.
We loved seeing them every few days as they walked in the square outside our office window. An elderly couple, one stooped over a walker, is not an uncommon sight in this city - but these two, garbed in identical dramatic outfits that went farther than simple matching windbreakers, stood out. Some days each sported a metallic silver coat and jauntily angled scarlet tam. Other times, head to toe matching plaid. Seeing their spunky getups always brought smiles to each of our faces.
We didn't see the two of them for a long time... then, one day, just the wife.
I've always loved monkeys. As a child I desperately wanted one as a pet, even though I was told that they were dirty and smelly and would bite. My sock monkey "Charlie" was my favourite toy, and I was devastated when he was lost in a move (though when I was a young adult my grandma gifted me with a new Charlie monkey, which is still in my possession). Though I'm not much of a collector, I do have several of the wise trio of "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" monkeys around my home.
I nearly took a tumble down a flight of stairs today, and had it happened, it would have been a nasty fall indeed.
After my heart stopped racing, the non-event got me thinking about the incredible precariousness of existence, and how amazing it is, really, that tragedy doesn't strike us daily. After all, we take a risk each time we cross the street, or take the stairs, or get behind the wheel of a car… yet thankfully, most of us are able to go about the business of everyday life with little thought, and no adverse consequence.
Most of us.
To celebrate the start of a new weekend, we had dinner together this evening - a delicious meal of hot green tea, sushi, and edamame sprinkled with coarse salt - at our current favourite Japanese restaurant. Both the food and the experience were lovely in themselves, but the whole evening was made perfect when a small plate of icy cold sweet orange slices and grapes was presented to us, followed by cubes of juicy watermelon, as a surprise treat to end our meal. We left the restaurant with a smile, feeling happy and content. Sometimes little kindnesses mean so much.
It's already been confirmed to me on many occasions that I dream in colour (though why that would even be in question, I'll never understand - why wouldn't I, or anyone, dream in colour?) - but I've now learned something new: I am able to dream smells! Last night I very clearly dream smelled the most lovely sweet, fruity aroma, so real and intense that it actually woke me. I thought perhaps there might be something in the room whose scent had filtered its way into my dreams, but no... there was no explanation for the aroma. A new experience for me!
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