I’m an activist. I can’t help it. I see ‘what could be’ and move towards it with all my might. That’s probably why it took over 20 years of hearing the same refrain from my husband AND my mom, “You should write a book”, for me to start writing.
Maybe it’s different for other writers. But for me, writing is a discipline. One I’m not very disciplined at. I paid for an online writing class last May. But cold hard cash couldn’t seem to get me started. (Money's never been a motivator.) My friend, Dawn (who’s always keen to learn and is always looking for ways to grow that big, beautiful creative streak of hers) decided in December to take the class, too. So we started it together.
Even so, (sorry Dawn), by January it took a back seat – again - to activist pursuits. I could say I can’t help it. It’s how I’m wired. But when, at the end of a satisfying day of vision-driven activity, I sit down to think about what I need to do next to move towards ‘what could be’, I remember writing. And somewhere in the back of my brain (perhaps the part that’s connected to my heart) a wispy thread of a thought tries to break into my consciousness. Something I’m not quite able to grasp: some seed of unformed idea; some remnant of untapped wisdom; some fissure that might crack open a new reality...if I could only let go of ‘could’ and ‘should’ and my idealistic activist visions long enough to sit still and reflect on what is. And, if I’m brave enough, to give my imagination over to what isn’t.
Maybe that’s all this writing class is. An opportunity to see ‘what could be’ if I would just sit still and let go.
Don't be too harsh to these poems until they're typed. I always think typescript lends some sort of certainty: at least, if the things are bad then, they appear to be bad with conviction.
Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet
Our first assignment in Write Your Life Story class:
Write about an experience of the first time you entered a place.
Do it in 15 minutes.
Don’t edit as you go.
Read it to someone who will 1) tell you what they like about it and 2) tell you what more they’d like to know.
We did it.
We enjoyed it.
I hope you do, too.
what Becky wrote
Oh the wonder of it all! Weaving our way through the crowds – the happy crowds – as my Dad, Mom, little brother and little me enter The Magic Kingdom. We went to Disneyland so many times while I was growing up that the experiences have merged in my memory as a single delightful event.
“Here! Here!” screams Dee, dragging my Mom into the candy shop on Main Street. He’d spied the round rainbow suckers that were bigger than his head.
“Where do you wanna go, Beck?” asks my Dad with that deep, slow Midwestern accent of his.
“You know.” I reply with my eyes fixed on the castle in the distance. “The tea cups.” (It had always been my favorite ride. Spinning round and round until dizzy with laughing I begged, “1 more time!”)
Buying us each a sucker (not quite as big as our heads), Dad gathered us up and steered us into the colonial blue and white theater where we watched as President Lincoln gave that speech of his that seemed to have the power to bring tears to my eyes, though I was too young to understand why.
Blinking in the light of the sun, feeling the joy of a bright blue day we couldn’t help but laugh out loud as Dee and I shouted together, “Tea cups!” and ran towards the castle gate.
I didn’t know where to stand to not be seen. Heavy dark curtains fell around me. My heart was in my throat and thumped like a drum in my ears. Anticipation and excitement filled the air inside my enclosed space. I had never been a surprise at a surprise party before. I felt both honored and emotional. The vision of my cousin entering the family-friend-filled hall and seeing him for the first time in four years brought a tear to my eye. Deafening roars of “Surprise” and “Happy Birthday” were my cue– pulling me out of my melancholy state. I take the unrehearsed step from behind the curtain and tripped into the unsuspecting arms of the man I had once shared a playpen with.