As mentioned in last week’s post On Writing and Community, I’m trying a variety of approaches to help improve and inspire my writing. I am a writer by profession, but it’s a very different style of writing than the kind that speaks from my heart. It’s writing for someone else and by extension, prescriptive and academic. This blog, and my book are about opening my heart and embracing the art of writing. They are, as so eloquently described by Dani Shapiro, about “court[ing] my demons” and inviting “them onto the page so that [I’m] grappling with some of the most fundamental questions that haunt [me].”
While writing is anything but a science, it is a skill, one that I’m hoping to improve and fully espouse. As such, I believe there are formula and methods of practicing that help us to grow and learn. Arguably the most important is doing, the practice of trying and stretching one’s comfort zone. While this blog has proved an important outlet, it also offers accountability. It’s a place I feel obliged to visit often. It keeps me practicing.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to put it to work. I’m starting to work my way through the memoir writing prompts in Natalie Goldberg’s book Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir. To keep me going, I’ll post my efforts here. I hope you’ll indulge me, and please feel free to critique and offer insight.
Here are Nathalie’s rules: Write for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, grammar. Be specific. Don’t cross out. (Or in this case, don’t delete.) Just keep writing.
I am looking at
My room. There are two bright, big and open windows that open up the outside of my back yard. It’s grey out there. The rain is pattering down, I can hear it falling, and believe it’s bringing the promise of May flowers. I’m hopeful because I really can’t make much of this grey. It reminds me too much of my mood.
My room is a giant mess at the moment. I’m cosy in bed, the comforter is a balled up mess of comfort. Next to sits an opened book, quietly calling my name. I’m content with my favourite devices, my iPhone and my MacBook.
On the dresser directly across from is a pile of socks. Why can I never find the pairs? It’s an ongoing irritant, those pesky missing socks. It’s drives me crazy, because it feels like a project that is never complete.
Next to the pile of socks are two of my most favourite items in this space. Baby pictures of my boys. The one of my second son is from just hours after he was born. It’s a creamy white frame, with a white boy and cross hanging importantly from the top. Just below the picture, one where he is nestled completely in white: the white of his hospital gown and the sheets that covered my bed, it reads: “Forever held close in the love of the Lord from this day on.” Every time I look at this photo, I’m hit with a swell of powerful memories, and a longing so deep for another baby. F0r another moment such as that one. I covet it, it’s one of my happiest memories.
On the other side of the dresser sit our wedding photos. Two of them. One of me, and one of my husband. I’m struck in this moment how that dresser holds the symbols of everything I cherish, on display as a reminder for me everyday. Those photos, all four of them, symbolize happy beginnings, hope, and wonder. As I gaze at them thoughtfully, I’m filled with contentment for the life that I lead, and for the blessings I’m so fortunate to have.
Sitting proudly between these photos are three wooden blocks, together they read: C loves J. Simple, but profound. Particularly placed as they are between these photographs. Until this moment, I never considered the significance of their placement, and how this is the centrepiece of my bedroom. A place that we designed to be an oasis from our hectic lives when we first built this house.
I’m hitting publish now. I won’t edit or refine. I’m publishing it just as I wrote it, as a stream of consciousness. I have to admit, I feel a bit vulnerable about it, but I think this is a good exercise.