day 2: Self-Designed Part-Time 7-Day From Scratch With a Little Bit of Crazy Mixed In Writing Residency

Is it just me, or are we all singing R.E.M. in our heads? Photo wikimedia.

It’s 6:20 a.m. Do you know where your children are? Two of mine are still asleep, and one is breaching the prohibition of talking to Mommy before 7 a.m.: Mom this is is an emergency! Can we close the sliding glass door because it’s cold in here. I’m rollin’ with it.

Yesterday I wrote about doing a brief, homegrown writing residency (I use the term loosely) with the goal of generating some new work, some intentional drafts. Prompts are coming from this book, which I recommend enthusiastically. My copy is battered and worn. It’s strung with memories — little notes from the kids, Sister’s first “E” (with several crossways lines), and notes to self (“midrashim – bible stories told from perspective of someone not given voice in the extant scripture”). But I digress.

Yesterday morning, I couldn’t find my copy of The Practice of Poetry, so I borrowed a title, “Another Failed Poem About ___________” (you can fill in the blank for yourself if you’re writing along).

This morning I went back to an old favorite from PofP called the cut-and-shuffle. The idea is to write a short scene (6-10 sentences) that is physically inactive or quiet; then write a physically active or emotionally charged scene. Then, alternating sentences from piece 1 and piece 2, begin to draft a poem.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the things that happen in our lives, perhaps by chance, perhaps not — things that seem accidental, but that can change our lives. Good luck, bad luck, love, illness, injury. You get the idea. My draft is titled “Fire.” The physically inactive scene is of a mother sewing, pricking her finger with a needle, tending to the small wound, and going on with her day. The physically active scene is of a fire that begins and burns unbeknownst to the mother. I used wikipedia to refresh my memory a bit about the chemical process of fire (I wouldn’t recommend wikipedia as the primary source for a graduate level thesis, but it’s pretty helpful for writing poems).

I can tell this draft will need to grow a bit, so that there’s more suspense and more at stake for the mother. Which reminds me of a story my friend told me about her friend, whose kids ran into the kitchen one summer day and yelled, “Mom, where’s the marshmallows?” The mom asked, “What do you need marshmallows for?” Their reply, “For the fire!”

Crazy stuff happens.

Now it’s almost time for me to switch out my Poet hat for my Mom hat. Have a great day, Reader, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow.

4 thoughts on “day 2: Self-Designed Part-Time 7-Day From Scratch With a Little Bit of Crazy Mixed In Writing Residency

  1. I love what your child considered an emergency! The other day C. interrupted b/c he was sure if he went out for a hamburger and didn’t ask if I wanted one that I would be mad. šŸ™‚

    Love this prompt and looking forward to the poem that grows from your draft!

    • “Hamburger” would rise a little high on my emergency meter than “close screen door.” But neither constitute an actual emergency in this poet’s opinion. Now, if the errand had been for Hagen Dazs it might be a different story.

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