Saturday, May 15, 2010

Writing practice

I'm reading another book by Natalie Goldberg. This one is specifically about writing memoir. The short chapters give writing practice exercises a lot like Writing Down the Bones did, but this time it's all about describing yourself and your memories. She instructs readers to "pick up the pen and kick some ass...write down who you were, who you are, and what you remember."



I'll share one example. The writing prompt on page 14 is to "Tell me what you will miss when you die." Hm. Not a topic I think about often. Believing in eternity is usually an excuse for me to dismiss questions like this with vague notions of "heaven will better than I can even imagine!" And that's where the topic ends. Time to change the subject. Other than hazy images of clouds and harps and rainbows and lollipops, how do I visualize any kind of comparison?

Of course, writing this and sharing it publicly makes me think all kinds of extreme things. If I should meet an untimely demise, this list will carry more weight and people will scour it for clues about me (typical Emily-dramatization, I'm afraid). Oh the pressure to make a comprehensive and accurate list! But I'm writing topics to come back to. These few things that come springing to mind when I picture myself on my deathbed, or from some alternate reality, carry a lot of importance to me. Probably good topics to elaborate on in future writing.

Here's my response.

What will you miss when you die?

Strawberry shortcake.

The smell of a mowed lawn.

Heat from a campfire.

Sister.

Soft blankets and clean sheets.

Bubble baths.

Husband's hugs and kisses.

Love notes.

My dad's laugh.

My mom's voice.

Pets.

Mooshy and Sheepy.

Smelling salt water in a breeze off the bay.

The way a sunburn makes my freckles glow.

Bon Jovi (my heart pumping as soon as I hear the intro to "Livin' on a Prayer").

My garden.

Long daylight hours in summer.

Endorphins after working out.

Coffee shops.

Moments I pause and think, "this is temporary. I'm here right now, but I won't always be. Soon this current moment will exist only as a memory. Whatever I can't stand will soon end; whatever I'm looking forward to will soon be here. Time is incremental and this place and experience are finite."

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