I think that one thing I don't see too often is what a person can't do. A way of living they can't get a hang of, no matter how hard they try - not necessarily being with someone they love that doesn't love them or being around a group of people who really can't be bothered... but a steady way of life, a consistent mode of character that you can't deviate from or that you can never attain. Interesting!
I once resolved to write a poem each day of the business week devoted to the senses - it didn't last long (duration withheld!), but it made me see what was around me in quite a different way. I've always been a sucker for olefactory reminiscence. I love being able to walk into my house and feel comforted because it smells like my grandmother's house (it took me YEARS to figure out what she uses, that woman never gives up a secret!) or remembering something so vividly out of the blue that it literally stops me in my tracks, all because of some smell that smacked me in the face. I think our senses, oddly enough, are highly taken for granted but can give us, if we appreciate them, a greater sense of the world around us.
Aaaaand onto The Big Window. (When talking about this blog with my friends, I think I actually try to put those capital letters into emphasis.) I will just say this: I REALLY LOVE JACK KAROUAC. I'm sure a lot of you have been to the bar with pictures of him alllllllllll over the wall - I'll buy you a drink if you can name that bar! Anyway, I enjoy this prompt because it really pushes active living, which inspires active thinking. Note: "Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea." How beautiful is that? Have you, as a writer, ever felt that middle eye, that place that if you just concentrate a little quieter and a bit less strenuously, that you might be able to spread that way of thinking across your entire brain, and then, just maybe, you might be amazing? Or, "Accept loss forever." Anyone who has ever lost anyone, or anything significant, gets that. It's not even a question. You just get it. And that's good writing. You feel the statement, you need to write what you see. You need to share.
That, I whole-heartedly believe, is the basis of a good writing prompt. It makes you realize that you truly do have something worthwhile to share. There are some pretty lame writing prompts out there that, while good at stretching that move-the-pen-across-the-paper muscle, don't really quarrel with restraint of personal issues or denial or unashamed joy. The things that come out of some certain writing prompts such as "pick an inatimate object in the room and write about it," which I won't even bother linking to becuase it'd just be an embarrassment because there are hundreds more like that on the site, can drum out some pretty cute poetry. Prompts are good for helping you figure out how to get started. You look at a chipped square of linoleum and wow, a poem about gnomes building a fort. Or something "deeper," whatever - some bit of words that you can fan the wet out of and know that you put a goodish amount of work into making. Okay. It can produce some writing that you are proud of because it's technically a nifty piece... But I think it will rarely say anything you weren't already looking for an excuse to say. That's okay, too. Some things need saying. But, I think, some of the surprisingly good better best poetry a person can write will come out of what they, the author, didn't direct themselves to write about. The nakedly honest.
What else can a writer be?
2 days ago