Have you ever wondered how writers “get better” at writing? There is only one way: write.
But there are exercises that help you get faster and just stream the consciousness. Every once in a while I get out my box of words. I’ve written about this box in this post earlier this year.
This evening I pulled out that box to “exercise” a little bit. I pulled some random words from the box and picked a prompt sentence started writing. Here are the words and the sentence is the first of my piece.
turns royal as the sun sets
pink sapphires as big as a fist
lose your fear
slipped beneath the waves
overcome by curiosity
lit up the night as if it were an unoccupied
straddling the line between total fear and complete awe
it thrashes me
mysterious creature rustling
a snapping fire
beauty weaves into
I did not use all of them or use them in their entirety (nor do you need to or keep the same tense, obviously), but I used most and wrote for only 15 minutes (and then I edited just for tense). So here it is:
I tried for a minute not to hear those words. Words have this tradition of navigating the chambers of the heart. They are harsh, crushing, slipping beneath waves and waves of emotions. And sometimes you hear something in somebody’s voice…
I imagined him as he said he was, watching his parent’s house until they returned from France, relaxing on the couch, next to “my Lucy,” he had said.
My heart dropped. My Lucy. I didn’t know, at first, what he meant and I was silent and in my head I was replaying our time together; the hockey game and the hours and hours of time that first night. Four am and we were still awake. He laughs now and says, “My dog. Lucy’s my dog.” And I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. I imagined his face is the same it was when he said he didn’t believe I wasn’t hungry and gave me another slice of pizza anyway. I imagine that even as he says, “I’ll call you. I promise.” I remain silent and so he repeats, “I will call you.”
And it is then that I am overcome with curiosity. I wanted to know what made him him.
I look out the window instead. To the west. There is nothing but a strangely luminous string of red taillights. The stars light the night as if it were unoccupied, when only hours ago I had watched the sky turn royal as the sun set. By myself. I want him to see this. I want to show him this sky and say, Look at the moon. Doesn’t it look like a pink sapphire the size of a fist? Doesn’t it glow with—
“I’ll call you, Crystal. I will. Tomorrow. Count on it.”
I think he is saying this more for himself than for me. I think he is saying this over and over like a mantra: if he says it enough, he’ll do it. I think it is then that I know I wasn’t anything but a brief, snapping fire for him, something bright and moving and tangible. But a fire can also crackle and spit embers and ashes. And I want to. The feeling thrashes me. I like to imagine that I am a mysterious creature he wanted to know because when I was with him, I felt like I was straddling the line between fear and awe. It was a new feeling for me. Like being lost even with a map; a frustrating thing, but elating. You can find the best things without the help of a map.
“Okay.” I close my eyes. It’s easier this way. And I know that the little amount of fear I feel is going to be woven into the beauty of how I’m meant to be. Without him.
If you like it and want to try it, please do and then show me in the comments, because I’d love to read it!
Remember: free write for 15 minutes with this. And most important: DON’T THINK!