“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived.”
– Henry David Thoreau
– Henry David Thoreau
If there is a special Hell for writers it would be in the forced contemplation of their own works.
– John Dos Passos
I pulled my laundry from the tumble dryer, dropped everything onto the living room sofa and began to fold. As I reached into the pile I pulled out something that looked remarkably like my favourite merino wool jumper, only smaller, much smaller. In my haste to get all my laundry done in one go, I forgot to sort things and in it went. My fluffy jumper, which once had long sleeves that I could lose my hands in resembled something one would dress a barbie doll in, only it might be a bit tight on her…
Have you every done something totally daft and avoidable through haste? Have you ever ruined or broken something special to you? How did you feel and why was it special? In the case of my jumper, it was warm and I had bought it on a shopping trip with my Mom. Not a huge deal, I know, but that instant I realised what I had done, I felt like a total donut, pillowcase, numpty, airhead, Homer, you name it…
Writing Prompt: Doh!
A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure.
~Henry David Thoreau
When I sat at my computer, the blank screen in Word taunted me. I rested my hands on the keyboard, fingers at the ready, twitching to be set loose on the keys. I waited. Nothing happened.
I began to think of things troubling me, of relationships I’m worried about, about the future. Too much, I thought, it’s all a wee bit too much for a Sunday evening.
I closed my eyes and began to type. I hit delete more than once. I tried again. Thank God for the ability to create drafts before it all goes out into the world.
Ok, I though, someone save me. At that precise moment, my eyes wandered around the desk and rested on “Chambers Handy Dictionary”. That’s it! I thought. I opened the book and chose a random word, then a few more in arbitrary pages. Here is my list.
furtive, quibble, stringent, constrict, masquerade
I’ve decided to start a piece based on these words. Pick up a dictionary, select five words at random and make them work together to create a theme. From there, who knows where the idea may travel.
Example: She looked up and gave him a furtive look. From where he sat, he seemed serene, but she, having known him for so many years recognised the masquerade. He was angry. Although she had no desire to quibble with him, she wanted to make peace. To accuse him of hiding his emotions would no doubt bring them out, but to wait until he was calm again was the wiser, if not immediately gratifying choice. No, she would have to wait, let him count to ten, then approach in a day or so.
She wanted to march up to him and shake him out of his mask of calm, to accuse him, to provoke a reaction, but she would be stringent with herself for her and his own good. Nothing good would come of dragging out their dispute for all to see. She rehersed the scene in her head for half an hour, shouting in her head what she most wanted to say to him, until she was worked up. She was stifled, and the repression of her feelings towards him at that moment served only to constrict her breathing. No, this would not do, she thought. I have to have my say.
She stood and wandered towards his desk, ready for a fight. Upon reaching it, he looked up and offered her a neutral, though slightly questioning look. “Yeah?” he said. There was no aggression there.
“Uh,” she started, but faltered. “I’m making some coffees for everyone. You want one?” She said.
“Nope. Thanks, though.” He said.
“Ok, just checking.” She said and made her way towards the kitchen. Whew, she thought, that was a close one. As she reached the kitchen, she thanked God for decaf and self control. Maybe I’m the one who needs time, she sighed…
Writing Prompt: Putting Words in the Blender
The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.
I gave the book one last flick. Drew out my pen and began to write.
“Dear reader, you’ve just wandered into an experiment. The book in your hands had been left intentionally in the hope that someone like yourself will be curious enough to open it. I’m hoping you’ll read and enjoy this book and leave it for someone else. If so, please visit www.spreadingtheword.wordpress.com and let us know what you thought, and more importantly, where you’ve left the book for others.
The purpose of the experiment is twofold. 1. To spread good books around. 2. To see how long the trail will go and where the book will travel next.
If you’re not inclined to read this book, please leave it for someone else.
Thanks, and happy reading.”
I wrapped the book in clear plastic against the elements and wandered into Princes Street gardens. Near the top of the path facing the castle there is a row of benches. I looked around and sensing no one near me, deposited the book on a bench.
If you head over to www.spreadingtheword.wordpress.com you can see which books have gone, where they’ve been left and which are next. I’ll be hoping that this works and curious to see what happens next. I’d encourage others to try the same and drop me a line. Let me know the book and where is was left and I’ll add a page to the site in order to track progress. Good luck.
There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes.
~William Makepeace Thackeray
If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that’s read by persons who move their lips when they’re reading to themselves.
I’ve been awake since 2am. My cat stayed curled up at my side as I stroked her black fur. After an hour, I rose, put on a jumper and made myself hot chocolate. I’ve been watching Frasier for the past 30 minutes and I think that and the hot chocolate are working.
When I have insomnia, it gives me a chance to think about things outside of work. Friends, family, practical matters. Right now, I’m considering selling my house and moving back into the city centre (currently in the burbs). I miss the buzz of being able to walk out the door and into a crowded street, to get lost and wander new districts I’ve not had the time to explore. Commuting doesn’t lend itself to spontaneity.
When I lived in San Francisco, I used to step out onto Stockton Street and stroll aimlessly around the city. Sometimes, I’d end up at the Marina, looking at the gorgeous houses along the Bay, listening to the sea lions of Pier 39 and take in the sights and smells of the fishermen at night. At other times, I’d head up the hill towards North Beach. In the early hours, you could smell fresh coffee coming from the dozens of cafes on Columbus Street near the church in the square.
These days, I wish I could find new, random, as yet unexplored places in Edinburgh. I know how easy it is for one to take the things around them for granted; to not take advantage of the activities and beauty a place has to offer. Someday soon, I’m going to wander the city and night, see what happens when the sun goes down and take in the experiences that come with the dawn. For now, at last, I’m tired and am heading up to my bed and hope that sleep soon follows.
Writing Prompt: The Midnight Hour