"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The wonder of putting pen to paper

A long, long time ago, I purchased a copy of A Writer's Book of Days by Judy Reeves (my friend from the Southern California Writers Conference). It's a lovely collection of writing advice, along with a writing prompt for each day. I read the book, loved the advice, but couldn't bring myself to tackle the prompts.

Until now.

Judy has released a new edition of the WBoD, which got a great review in O.C. Writers*, so I dug out my old original, turned to January 1 and thought, eh, why not try these prompts? And why wait until January? 

So on August 17, I began with "Write about a Sunday afternoon."

I'm now almost through January and it is nothing like I thought it would be. I believed I'd turn every prompt into some kind of "Dear Diary" entry, where I would make each session about me and my life. That would bore me to tears and I probably could not finish the prompts under those conditions.

Instead, it feels like magic.


When I open the book in the morning, I look at the prompt, nestle into the pillows on the daybed in my office, and set the tip of my pen onto the paper. And I never know what's going to come out until it appears. Sometimes I am writing a diary entry. Some prompts end up as essays on life, spirituality, whatever. Fiction, both flash and pieces of the book I'm writing, come along. What surprises me most are the poems.

Who knew?

None of them are perfect, and they're not meant to be. They're the motor oil to my engine, the grease in my cogs, the lubricant that energizes my creative soul. They are my reminder that I write because it is a joy and a privilege to do so. 

Here's a link to Judy's book, via Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore (because we should support our indies): https://www.mystgalaxy.com/book/9781577319368

And here's a poem. The prompt is "Write about leaving."

It is spring and
    the tree puts out leaves.
It is leaving.
In the fall, the leaves turn color, turn brown
   They leave the tree.
I do not have leaves,
   But I extend the tender shoots
      Of who I am,
        Kindness and cruelty,
           Healing and pain,
             Creativity and sloth.
I watch the tree and do not kid myself.
My shoots are not infinite,
   And someday, I too, shall be leaving.

*Link to the review at OC Writers: https://oc-writers.com/2020/08/17/marissas-take-on-a-writers-book-of-days-a-spirited-companion-lively-muse-for-the-writing-life-revised-edition-by-judy-reeves/

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