Good morning! Whew, it’s been a minute since I’ve been here during my morning writing time — for the past several years, when the dark comes in Nov-Dec, I get very quiet and hibernate-y; all I want to do is be warm and comfortable and quiet. Slowly, the Mr. and I are creating warm spaces in a house that hasn’t been kept warm for a long time, it seems. Lots of baking sweet potatoes helps warm a house. Quiet, thrummy music. Candles help, too. And space heaters, thermal curtains. Rugs, too, once they come our way.
The other thing that happens during this time is that I’m less pulled to put words out — there are moments when I get tired of words. Does this happen to you? Words are among my favorite and least favorite things, and there are times when I am overwhelmed by their limitations, how very much language can’t do. Sometimes I need to put it down, rest both of us, me and words, forgive us for what we can’t communicate exactly right, or at all.
If I had more time this morning, I’d share more with you about this, which is kind of paradoxical, I guess. The Fall Writing Ourselves Whole workshops have finished — Write Whole ended before I went away to New Mexico, and Declaring Our Erotic ended just last week; both groups made up of strong writers who were ready and willing to go deep. I continue to be grateful. At some point, I’ll be able to write about how bits of each writer’s work (I mean, each of the several hundred folks I’ve written with over the last many years) will linger with me, become part of the literature of this life: what an extraordinary gift.
A prompt for today, and a write: Take a few minutes and create a vertical list of common nouns, like cows, mud, cat hair. (If you like, you can also include proper nounds, like Dad or Las Vegas, and emotion words, too: joy, rage). Let yourself come up with a list of 7-10, and try to just write whatever comes to mind — don’t think about it too much.
Once you have your list, then write before each of these words the phrase, I have (or She/Ze/He Has or You Have) more than a lifetime’s supply of…
You’ll end up with 7-10 prompts, such as, I have more than a lifetime’s supply of postcards. Adjust the prompts so that they make grammatical sense to you — if one doesn’t make logical sense, that might be a good one to use as your writing prompt today! Let yourself be chosen by one of these prompts, and write for 10-20 minutes, following your writing wherever it seems to want you to go. (Remember, you can always change the prompts in any way that’s interesting for you, even ones you create: add a not in there, if you like: You don’t have more than a lifetime’s supply of…)
Here’s a write I did in response to this prompt last summer, with the MedEd Writers:
I have more than a lifetime’s supply of dust. It piles thick in all my corners, curling like waves, drifting and spinning, hoarding my dead cells, the dog hair, the garden dust and eyelashes and bits of killed bugs and dander and pollen and more — more bits and pieces of places and things I don’t even want to think about. I let it spool and crawl into clumps and plush, furred balls beneath my bed, behind the couch, or to the side of the old fridge, the one that only works most days and holds all of Cary’s beer.
Cary doesn’t mind the dust so much — except when it starts to encroach on his things, coating over his remotes, his game controls, softening the surface of his monitors, and curling like rabbit fur behind his table top CPUs. Then his face gets kind of reddish behind his long shaggy blond beard and he comes downstairs to where I’m curled up in a ratty crocheted afghan that my grandma made me the year I turned thirteen (which was more than a decade ago, of course, so most of my grandma’s blue and green pattern has faded to a grayish-tan) and he stands between me and our housemate’s big TV so I cant see who Jerry Springer’s about to bring out to abuse, and Cary holds out a rag and some spray can of something and says C’mon, Shelley — can’t you just clean up one time? He’s quiet, patient and furious and exhausted. I kind of shake my head and look around, through him, to the awful screen, til he pads away again, leaving the rag and can on the bottom step, like maybe I’ll do something with it when I get up.
Thank you for the ways you let yourself rest — and for the ways you pick yourself up again, and let others help. Thank you for your words, even all the ones you keep inside.