I was one of those kids who liked tracing things, especially letters. I loved reading and I remember walking about learning my spelling list words. In primary school I won merit certificates for my imaginative stories. I kept diaries or I tried, and I discovered the joys of pen pals when a friend moved away. I have a collection of paper, stationery and pens. I don’t write letters as often as I used to, but I still have a few pen pals, love dabbling in creative correspondence, mail art and mail tag.
Sadly, creative writing more or less stopped at high school. I kept the odd poem or essay and put a very cool pen pal ad in Countdown magazine. It wasn’t quite as instantaneous as social media but the letter box was crammed with letters for weeks! In fact for years I exchanged letters with friends regularly and have a box full of journals, letters and cards. I rummage through them occasionally, purging bits here and there.
Writing became more important when I went overseas. Phoning was expensive and internet non existent, so I sent postcards, letters and non digital photos! Learning another language heightened my love of reading and writing. I only recall snippets of learning my first language but the impact of learning French remains strong indeed. Once I got it, I was hooked! That incredible click between understanding nothing, then suddenly everything is clear, with the added bonus of more books to read!
Surprisingly, this is when I rediscovered my love of creative writing. I always take care to write correctly, however, writing in French allowed me a freedom from learned constraints and a whole new language structure to play with. I participated in workshops and quickly moved on to running them and studying creative writing at uni. It was a glorious floating in my bubble time, not without the daily nitty gritty, but wonderful nevertheless.
So now that I am feeling linguistically nostalgic and not remembering why I started writing this...well, not completely. Sharing some of ourselves and learning more about others makes the creative process and experience powerful. It gives it life and that is something we can all use more of. A breath of creative life, zest and energy.
I am always seeking out new perspectives.
I have a tendency of overthinking situations and often feel like I’ve missed something, that I’m over invested, over talking, over emotional, over acting... all of which leads to me and others, feeling overwhelmed!
I listened to a meditation this week titled doing the best they can, from https://www.facebook.com/bodyandsoulretreats/
with Kelly Hine which shared the following thoughts;
“All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgment and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.” ~Brené Brown
Everyone is doing the best that they can with the understanding and resources they have. Adopting this belief changes our relationship to ourselves and to others.
Deepak Chopra said, “People are doing the best that they can from their own level of consciousness.
This was helpful because I am living with teenagers in isolation.
I am full of assumptions, judgments, shoulds, why nots and lots of feeling disregarded and I just don’t get it!
I’m not even sure what is right or wrong anymore...does it really matter if they sleep all day, stay up or night and not help much?
Does it REALLY MATTER? And if it does, who does it matter to?
It doesn’t matter for them, it only seems to matter to me.
I’m the one letting myself be weighed down by feelings of sadness and disappointment.
I mean if we are all happier and quieter doing our own thing, it’s obviously easier and nicer for everyone.
Can I get by with minimums? Yes I can. Do I have to do everything for them? No I don’t.
Can I see the positives? Yes I can, we are all safe, sound, comfortable and as well as can be expected.
I don’t want to make excuses for laziness or a lack of consideration.
I do want to let them live and learn. As a parent that means giving the benefit of the doubt, accepting, adapting, allowing...myself as much as them! It isn’t easy but if I look through a different lens and focus on the positive, on love, on what I have, what I’m grateful for, all the rest seems obsolete.
Before too long they will fly free back into the world. They’ll get it right, make mistakes and figure it out as they go. So for now I’LL DO MY BEST to enjoy my hibernating zombie vampire teenagers in all their adolescent glory!
This week it's all about lists.
Lists are marvelous things and provide endless fodder for all kinds of writing. Answer them quickly or take your time to ponder.
This is only the beginning!
In a time before internet, social media and blogging, Victorians liked to amuse themselves by playing parlour games, one of which was questionnaires. These were recorded in a confession album and some became quite famous, like this one by the French writer Marcel Proust. (Have a look here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proust_Questionnaire if you are interested in Proust's responses)
Here is Proust’s Questionnaire:
1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
2. What is your greatest fear?
3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
5. Which living person do you most admire?
6. What is your greatest extravagance?
7. What is your current state of mind?
8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
9. On what occasion do you lie?
10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
11. Which living person do you most despise?
12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
16. When and where were you happiest?
17. Which talent would you most like to have?
18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it
19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what
would it be?
21. Where would you most like to live?
22. What is your most treasured possession?
23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
24. What is your favourite occupation?
25. What is your most marked characteristic?
26. What do you most value in your friends?
27. Who are your favourite writers?
28. Who is your hero of fiction?
29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
30. Who are your heroes in real life?
31. What are your favourite names?
32. What is it that you most dislike?
33. What is your greatest regret?
34. How would you like to die?
35. What is your motto?
I have written so many lists over the years, some quite ordinary, others more creative. Here are two from 2008 I believe.
Use the list titles to write your own.
What to bring to a creative writing workshop
Bring hopes and desires but leave any expectations under the mat. Bring all your senses and something precious. Strange objects and weird photos are handy. Fountain pens make writing feel special…bring different ones in case you don’t know which colour to choose. Bring paper or a notebook, scissors and glue, a scarf to keep your neck warm, something delicious to share and a favourite teacup. Bring a lucky charm. Bring your own writing to read or someone else’s, an old book, some music and a candle. Bring plenty of answers and a few questions.
Things to do while watching a sunset
Listen to a man playing bagpipes.
Marvel at the wonder of it all.
Stare at the horizon.
Wish you could do this everyday.
Search for dust trails.
Say a little prayer.
Write a list of things to do while watching a sunset.
Collect something from nature.
Hug a tree.
Close your eyes and see what smells you recognise.
Do a little dance.
Sip some sweet tea or wine.
Smile like an idiot.
Read some poetry.
This mind map was made in January and all things considered, apart from travel and road trips, I'm doing OK.
If 2020 isn't looking quite like I imagined, there are also many magical things I'm doing that may not have come about without 'isolation'. It is a different kind of adventure, maybe one of those choose your own types...
I'm thinking about...
I don't have...
Before I was...
Today I am...
Tomorrow I will be...
Treat yourself to a little time for this one. Take a strawberry (or some other yummy delight), find somewhere comfy to sit and with your eyes closed;
Take 5 minutes just to feel and smell your berry
Open your eyes and take another 5 minutes to look closely at your berry and to slowly eat and savour your berry.
Now take 5 minutes or more to write about your berry experience.
Make it a short and sweet Haiku or write as you like.
A haiku is a short Japanese poem that describes a physical moment with emotion and subtlety. It consists of 3 lines and 17 syllables, usually 5 syllables in the 1st and 3rd line and 7 in the 2nd line.
As we settle deeper into isolation I am keeping the focus as relaxed, positive and creative as possible.
Even so, I’m hit regularly by emotional waves of frustration and sadness that tumble me about, try to pull me under and leave me gasping for air.
Writing is one of the many ways I push through.
Behind the playful creative writing prompts of Amotissé,(find them here) I am journaling, participating in creative challenges, setting myself tasks, making new rituals and what I hope will be memorable moments.
I am doing things I wouldn’t have done if it weren’t for being in isolation right now, valuable things.
This time is an unexpected, involuntary and strange gift.
I feel happy to share with you whatever peculiar and wondrous fruits we may find along the way.
· I am… grab an A4 sheet of paper, cardboard or your journal, write I AM…in the centre, grab some old magazines and newspapers, find words that describe you, cut them out and paste them onto your page. Take a photo and attach it to a group post.
· April is letter-writing month and being in isolation is a perfect time to send some snail mail love!
1. Write a letter to someone you haven’t contacted for a long time. Decorate the envelope, stamp and send. Take a photo of the process or the envelope ready to post and then share it on the Amotisse group page.
2. In moments like these, many of us need a little boost, a sign that we are not alone. So write a letter, a message of love and hope for a stranger. Use some fancy paper, a fountain pen and maybe even add a sprig of lavender. Most importantly, write some beautiful words, wish them well. Pop it in an envelope and address with For whoever finds this or whatever you feel appropriate, then get creative and place it somewhere likely to be found such as: in a random letterbox, under some windscreen wipers, under a shop door, in someone’s trolley. Again, take a photo before you deliver it and share it with the group.
Our feet carry us around, support our weight and keep us grounded and connected with the earth.
Trace around your foot, decorate it and describe your relationship with your feet.
Take a photo and share it in a post.
My breath is challenged by the pace of the world,
as if it's following suite or falling into step beside it...
enough to leave me panting,
gasping for air.
And yet, my breath is nothing like that.
It is surprisingly calm,
with the occasional deep sigh and accompanying shoulder shrug.
There is something grounding and reassuring in this reposed rhythm.
It is the only thing I am absolutely sure of...
I will continue to breathe.
I cannot not breathe.
No matter how erratic the world may be,
I will continue to breathe.
For me, it seems there is not much difference between wondering and wandering. It has always helped me find inspiration. Creative dabbling is good for the soul, I couldn't imagine life without it and often surprise myself by what I come up with.