June 24, 2019

Monday June 24,

Lately, I have been practicing piano in a hurried way. I am already a questionable piano player, and while rushing is better than not practicing at all, I am sitting down today with one goal in mind: to play slowly. For however much time I allot, I will play slowly. I will think about what I am playing. 

            The same approach works for writing. Go slowly. Think about the words you are using to create a world. Think about description. Think about the senses. Even if you have only 20 minutes to write each day, move slowly through that 20 minutes. See if that feels differently than your other writing days.

            To encourage you to think about what you are writing – and this is going to take more than 20 minutes – for this week’s prompt I ask that you write 800-1000 words, but do so by devising your own language. This is a challenging prompt. But it will get you thinking, and it will encourage you to move slowly through your piece. Because you’ll be working out the puzzle as you go.

It can be a language of recipes, measures, measurements: Mix ½ cup of fury, ½ cup of indignation, ¾ teaspoon of jealousy and ¼ cup of dread, combine and set aside. The phone alarm beeps, you hurry out the door in your flowered Talbots skirt and new M. Gemi green loafers, grabbing a last-minute look in the mirror to make sure the pinch of mascara you rolled on your eyes this morning isn’t smudged, the dab of your lipstick is within the lines. You stride, composed, into Plan B to see your mother waiting on the bench seat. Even though you are five minutes early. She was 10. “You’re a half a pound of late is what you are,” she says. The restaurant is dark, darker than usual, they haven’t turned up the lights to 80 watts lunchtime from 30 night, and you haven’t made the jump to kilowatts and lumens yet.  You sit down in a booth and look at her as she begins her list of complaints and you wonder, ‘why do I do this every week?” You pay the bill and mix ¾ teaspoon regret for all the things you didn’t say with ½ teaspoon of guilt for feeling that way. 

And so on. 

There are potential languages everywhere we go: the language of signs, the language of directions, the language of libraries, the language of groceries. Have fun. Think. Play. Write.

And, as usual, next Monday when you have a prompt to share, share it with someone. If you are one of my workshop students, of course share it with me.

— Jane