During all of my adult life, until her death five years ago, my Mom sent me a twenty-five dollar check for my birthday. Always with a card, sometimes with a note to get myself “something special.” I always tried to keep it out of the general fund, and get myself a meaningful gift with it. Still, around the time of my birthday, with my mother in mind, I pick out something special, “from Mom.” This year, I have a brand new source for writing ideas.
The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron is actually a compilation of three of his books, none of which I was familiar with before. From his introduction:
Writing is an act of hope. It is a means of carving order from chaos, of challenging one’s own beliefs and assumptions, of facing the world with eyes and heart wide open. Through writing, we declare a personal identity amid faceless anonymity. We find purpose and beauty and meaning even when the rational mind argues that none of these exist.
The book includes more than eight hundred writing prompts, all within lessons and discussion about particular aspects of writing, from forming the habit to developing characters and editing. I’m pleased to see that I have already worked through many of the ideas about delving into my personal history. I’m also happy to see that the author devotes one category to “Joy and Gratitude;” Those are things important to my mother, and ideas I’m working on in all areas of my life right now.
Write about a time when your creativity flowed…Try to describe the feeling. Describe, too, the circumstances…try to get to know your creative self a bit better.
My husband used to fall asleep right in the middle of an argument. It was the stress that caused it; sleep was his escape. You can only imagine the frustration it caused, and how he was made to regret not being able to keep his eyes open. Still, he didn’t seem able to change.
My escape – and often my salvation – is my creativity. When I am embarrassed or humiliated…when I am sad…when I see no way out of or around a bad situation, that is the rope that I cling to. I may go to the studio to immerse myself in paints and papers until all outside grievances are diminished. Or, I will write it out.
When I’m emotional – sad or frustrated, hurt or mad – the words flow. Old journals carry page after page of my righteous indignation at some affront; words and pictures outline every heartbreak. When I – in the middle of getting a divorce, my life upside-down already – received foreclosure papers for my little piece of property, I quickly whipped out a twenty-five page reply. When I was passed over for a raise at work, the first draft I wrote was eight pages of anger and recrimination that may have cost me my job if I had sent it without a drastic edit.
A few years ago, an unfortunate encounter at work resulted in a tearful middle-of-the-night writing spree that I published as a blog. It was widely read, and I received tremendous support and sympathy from all corners of the globe. However, it was also hurtful. I outlined the thoughtless behavior without mercy. Because I alone held the pen, there was no other viewpoint, no defense. Writing should never – at least not in the context that I do it – be used as a weapon. I’m more careful now.
I don’t know if it’s a good thing that my most creative outbursts are driven by life-shattering events, but there it is.