Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Writing Kind of Day....

I write a lot on normal days. Blogging, posting on forums and Yahoo loops, composing e-mails, journal writing, keeping minutes as secretary of our area's art council, grading essays, etc. This semester I've also been writing weekly grammar tutorials that are ending up around 6-7 pages each for a class at Cuyamaca. Today I did all of that stuff (including finishing a tutorial on sentence components), but I also wrote creatively, something I don't usually do.

I write the occasional poem -- or start one, at least -- and that was my goal when I picked up my poetry journal and stuffed it into my bag this morning. The middle boys were having their last day of standardized testing in San Diego (E finished yesterday with the rest of the high schoolers), so after dropping them off at our Class Day venue that is doubling as our testing site, B and I headed to the Starbucks just up the street where we've spent a lot of time this week. B pulled out his schoolwork and jumped into his math book immediately while I read today's Bible Book Club reading (Leviticus 8). After I finished reading and pondering the chapter and as B moved onto his copywork (the "Venite" from Morning Prayer in the 1928 BCP), I pulled out my poetry journal and started writing in pencil about an idea I had. I thought first about fleshing out the details by writing in prose first, then reducing to a free verse poem, and then perhaps to a set poetry form. So I wrote and wrote the prose telling of my story: a young woman, a follower of Christ and what she saw and experienced on Good Friday -- her reaction to Christ (called only "He" and "Him" throughout the story) and her feelings as the familiar events unfolded. I got this idea from last weekend's Bible conference which focused on what first-century Christians would have known/noticed culturally about the Scriptures that we miss twenty centuries later. I wrote five pages of very cramped lines, and by noon when B and I had to leave to pick up the boys, B had been long done with his work (and was listening to my iPod for amusement) and I was only at the centurion claiming "This must have been the Son of God!" I perused the gospel accounts of the crucifixion, working in details where they seemed to fit while keeping my unnamed character's emotions expressed as each event occurred. I still have a long way to go with it, and now I also have a great deal of prose in my poetry journal (I don't like mixing genres!), but I have the beginnings of the first story I've written in a very long time. It will need a lot of work, but I think I may even be able to use part of it in my book. Perhaps. And I'll have something to "workshop" next month when our writing group gets together for an all-day edit-fest.

Then after getting home, as I thumbed through the final pages of my first Victoria magazine in years, I savored even the advertisements. One of my favorite parts of the magazine is the writing on the last page: always some wonderful musings on gardening, seasons, personalities, entertaining, etc. Delightful stuff. And although this particular final page was about chippers (the noisome things we feed our dead branches into to make mulch), the main point of the piece was that chippers, in her part of the country, herald spring. Another lightbulb moment struck me: I've been wanting to write a piece on our town. Actually, it wasn't my idea at all, but it's our "assignment, should we choose to accept it" from our writing group, with the chance of publication in our town's monthly newspaper. Aha! I can write about the arrival of spring! So I seated myself on the porch steps with yellow legal pad and my trusted mahogany dip pen and inspiration-giving sepia ink, and after selecting and copying a few choice quotes from my dependable Barlett's, I started in, writing of everything that came to mind: daffodils, flowering plums, purple irises, and the gardening discoveries I made this week when I finally took a gander into my winter-worn flower beds and returned with pruners in hand to rid the beds of winter and welcome spring. I have far more material than there is room in the paper, so I will need some judicious editing and revision. (And I will need to type it up and run copies for next Tuesday's writers' meeting.)

So I wrote a lot today. Two creative works in one day when I rarely write one a year? Extraordinary. But I hope it will be the beginning of a creative streak. I would love to have one of those. I've heard about them but have never experienced one. But with our school routine picking back up tomorrow with all four kids home and gathered around the school table, I may not have the time to invest into creativity. But perhaps I will. We'll see.

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