This past week has been a hefty one. And now its time to get back to normal, or whatever passes for normal, at the moment. I feel that for the past couple of days, what I’ve been trying to do is play catch-up. I haven’t succeeded all that well. Yet, I’ve also gained in some areas.
For instance, one of the prompts I responded to was a new and different poetic form. Actually two very distinct forms of poetry together. It felt a bit like attempting a foreign language, without the advantage of a translation dictionary. Trying to learn by ear, sort of speak. My first attempts didn’t do much but muddy the waters, and I finally gave up altogether. Just wrote the poem that was circling in my brain.
Posted it and then went to look at what the other writers had done. By the time I hit the fourth response, I could hear the poem building in my head. So, I wrote it. And that felt good. I’m fairly certain that what I ended up with was not a great example of the new form, but it felt good just getting close to that. And in the attempt, learning something new and something I will definitely attempt to do again.
Trying something new is difficult. Moving outside ones comfort zone always is, but if we are to continue to grow, we must occasionally push ourselves to do so. I felt that doing the first poem, in the more familiar mode, somehow opened a door, one that allowed me to find the second piece. It allowed me to relax and see what was right there in front of me as I looked at those first few responses and at least find some understanding in what was being asked of me.
The most important aspect in all of this was that once I actually finished that attempt, I found a whole new perspective to my own story. Much as learning a new language gives one a wider range of vocabulary, doing the new form gave me a wider ranging view of what had been tangling me up for months. One I obviously needed.
That is not to say I wouldn’t have stumbled into that wider view in some other fashion. I very well could have. But, I have no idea how long that might have taken me. For right now, I’m just grateful I tried the new form and found exactly what I needed in this moment.
Perhaps opening the window to that new way of speaking, brought with it some badly needed fresh air. Made new connections in old material, thus changing the whole, or at least a good chunk of it. And in that process brought an element of peace that had been sorely missing. Not a bad result for a first try.
What may be more important in all of this, is the desire to continue to open more windows. I have been doing this blog for over two years, since August of 2008. My intent, when I started it, was to simply utilize the knowledge I had gained by keeping a personal journal for twenty years and encouraging others in that pursuit. That is what I did before I was retired on disability.
Many, if not most of the essays you will find here, concern themselves with that topic. What I now have in mind is something a bit new and different. I know that some who come here, actually keep a journal. There are many who do not. I would like to propose that on one day a week, I actually offer journal writing prompts. Things that will actually get individuals on the page and hopefully keep them there.
This is not public writing. It is a personal ongoing dialogue with oneself. And I have lots of ideas on how to maintain just such a dialogue. But for right now, I’d be interested in knowing if there would be any interest in such an endeavor.
No one would be asked to reveal any of that personal writing, but we could surely discuss the issues and problems that definitely arise during that process. That doesn’t mean you can’t share if you choose to do so, that choice should always remain in your own hands. You would share it on your own blog and simply leave a URL for us to locate whatever you choose to share.
Here’s the question: Are you interested in doing this? Using the weekly prompts I would offer and then coming back here to discuss how it went and if you had problems responding to the prompt? This is definitely a path of self-exploration, but it would also entail supporting one another while doing so. I’d really like to know if there would be some amount of interest in doing such a thing. So please let me know in the comments section below. And definitely leave questions if you have them. Thanks.
Sounds interesting, Elizabeth! I would probably (depending on how time issues are in my life) take part. I am sure you would have good ideas, and I like your suggested way of handling it. By the way, interestingly enough, a poetry prompt of today (you perhaps noticed already) had to do with stepping outside of your comfort zone!
Mary, I hadn’t read it yet before I wrote this. The idea of doing prompts specifically aimed at journaling has occured to me several times. Just that this time it stuck around. But, I also wanted to see if there would be any interest in such a thing. I did offer prompts on another site for about four months. I was the only one who ever responded to them. So this time I figured I would test the waters first. Thanks for the encouragement,
Elizabeth, maybe you should promote your site somewhere. I used to be naive enough to think that people would really visit my site for being a good site. Might come back to it on their own. Not so. Sadly. You have a good concept. You have to find the right people.
Mary, I am not sure how to go about doing that. This was a feeler to find out if people were interested. This site has had fifty hits in the last two days. I would say that would suggest that people who do come here are not interested in this suggestion. Don’t feel bad, it was just an idea, and maybe I need to consider different avenures. I’m glad I at least made the suggestion. Something else may arise, a different window or door. Thanks for your concern,
Interesting idea…what if we did a cooperative version? Anyone could offer a journal prompt and we could share or not as a group. I don’t know technically how that would work–different blog? your blog?–but might be a way to expand the community and generate widerspread response to this.
I was inspired greatly by this post–it reflects beautifully much of what we have shared recently.
Hi Jane, thanks for the comment, and some of our recent conversation certainly went into this post. However, there would definitely have to be a central location and it was my intent that this blog would suffice for that. I have four blogs altogether and starting a fifth at this point is not viable for me at this time. But, I like your idea, and would be more than happy to receive additional prompts from anyone who cared to send them to me via email. And of course, that includes yourself. This is very familiar territory for me and the site would need some administration. Thanks for the suggestion and the new window of possibilities,
A very good idea. Am trying to increase my writing time: but find that a journal becomes a complaints commentary and that is NOT good for my depressive constitution. So prompts may fit the bill…
That makes it four in number, the yays, are growing. I think this just might work. A small goup is better than none at all. Thanks Susan, I have to make some plans, but you will be hearing from me,
Wow, back to normal? Where is that? Or is it all normal? Sometimes I feel my personal life, inside myself is like a Halloween party, but it is my favorite holiday!
Pumpkins and such….
Trying something new. I returned home filled with lots of ideas about trying something new. Opening a door. How do we know when we are ready to try something new? Leave the place of safety, jump head long into the unknown pond. The amazing thins is that at this time it seems all signs are point in this direction.
I found a quote by Vaclar Havel this week, “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
And I am amazed at how “clear” you are in what you have learned in this experience. Usually it takes time for me to “know,” it seems I work longer in the “dark.” But work I do.
Before I had left I had started a large work, and all week I have been trying to clear the deck. To “finish”, before I allow myself to begin exploring new ideas. In the back of my consciousness is full of ideas bubbling in the cauldron.
And I read that you have designated “finish” as very important to your process.
(I just looked outside, and the sky is amazing. Filled with clouds, and very dark in the west, but illuminated in the North, ominous. Change is here.)
And you say, “I found what I needed in this moment.” Verifying to me that we do have exactly what we need. It is here, all the time, but sometimes we don’t recognize it.
Opening the window to fresh air. I like that, it is perfect “New connections in old material, thus changing the whole.” I hope you won’t mind if I use that or something like it. It is also perfect. Yes it is the same old materials,but used in different ways, finding new pathways, exploring the unknown, creating a new record.
I love your idea of a journal prompt.
It is said, with painting, the more autobiographical you are– the more universal. I find many parallels between painting and writing, or maybe it is all the same. There is language, and there is visual language….
Annell, welcome back. There is so much in your comment, I’m not sure where to begin, so I’ll just start and hope for the best:
1. My ex had a workbench in the basement. But, before he could begin a new project, he had to clear the space, put everything in its proper place, and eventually that became the project and all else sort of faded. He would buy things for the new project, but that meant finding space for them and eventually the whole thing became a visious circle of avoidance.
2. You ask when one is to know that it is time to open the window and allow the new air to enter. And then give me that wonderful quote that tells you the answer. I ask the Universe if this is a good idea, and then look for confirmation, and it usually comes rather swiftly. Example: recently read someone else’s writing about ‘cooking’ with her grandmother’s words. It reminded me that I have my Mother’s journal. I looked through it, but couldn’t quite figure out what to do. So, went on with other things. Then stumbled onto a poem by Sharon Olds in which she writes about reading her father’s diary. Went back to my Mother’s journal and found something on the first page. Have the beginning draft of a poem that just might become a series.
3. You ask where and what is normal? I’ve written about it and my only answer is that for me, Normal is right where I am, in any given moment. It might not be for anyone else, but that’s because they are in their own Normal, lol.
4. I will be starting the prompts the week following the Angiogram (19th of this month). You clinched it, thanks.
5. And yes, painting, writing, any creative endeavor is all the same language, just done in different dialects and the more biographical the more Universal it can be and usually is.
Thanks Annell, you woke me up this morning. Wow! It’s a beautiful fall day full of color and words.
Forgive the typos in my comment. My fingers are sleepy early in the morning.
No problem, as a former writing instructor I have years of practice interpreting, lol. I understood.
I don’t think I would respond to this like I do to the poetry prompts, but only because I already use my blog as a journal. OTOH, writing prompts are always useful. I’ll give it a bash.
Thanks Tilly Bud, this is personal writing so we wouldn’t always be responding to the prompts. We would, however, be discussing the problems and issues that arise from such writing, and each person is free to share what they write on their own blogs, when they feel free to do so, leaving a URL here in the comments section for everyone to take a look at. I’m pretty sure I’ll be starting the week after next.