Writing Exercise Gets Personal

Yesterday at a meeting with my writers’ group we were doing our usual creative exercises.  We have a book that gives us ideas such as “The song I still hear in my head…” and that’s the starter. Go! Writer for eight minutes and see what happens. Then we take turns reading our writings aloud and marvel at what different paths we took with the exercise. We laugh a lot and once in a rare while (like yesterday) we shed a tear or two.

Yesterday’s “prompt” was a variation on the old stand-by: if the house was on fire and you could only grab three things from your bookshelf, what would they be? Here’s what I wrote:

If I could keep only three things from my bookshelf I would choose SOPHIE’S CHOICE because it was while reading that story that I saw the clarity and complexity of good writing. I would also take a coffee table book about New York City–a place I love and a place where I always feel at home.

And here I began to struggle–those two things seemed pretty trite as did my motives for choosing them. What else?

Finally I would take a box filled with memories of L–the journal I begged him to write his personal thoughts in (instead of always leaving me written instructions about how to change the furnace filter, etc.); the CD with his voice talking to me–laughing with me–about all the adventures we shared on the trips we took; letters I would write to him (and that he saved) when we fought and were struggling as a couple–letters that promised to do better and that shout how deeply insecure I was about why this man could possibly love me. And if I could write him a letter today what would it say? I would apologize for all the wasted time when the truth I now know is that I was loved beyond my wildest dreams by a man that I adored in return.

Cue the tears that are half sad and half joyous knowing that I had the best and that brings me comfort every day.






4 thoughts on “Writing Exercise Gets Personal

  1. You wrote this wrote one day after my husband, Gary, died. We had been married for 39 years. It’s early days for me of course and I think most of the time I am still in a state of disbelief. My friends tell me how proud they are of me at how strong I am being. I go out socially, I laugh, I make jokes, and I do not cry when I am with them. So when I am with them I truly am being strong. When I’m alone however my grief is intense and I welcome that intensity. I need it and my “meltdowns” bring me welcome relief. I started reading your blog last week and have read it right from the beginning. There are so many things you say that describe to a T how I am feeling or thinking and am not able to articulate. Thank you so much for sharing your journey.

    1. Dear Mary Lou, First let me add my sympathies to the chorus of support already surrounding you. The journey you have begun will not be easy but I have discovered over the last couple of years that it can be incredibly enlightening! I have just returned from a travel tour with a group of strangers and I noticed while I was on this trip that I seemed to be channeling L–his warmth, his humor, his natural ability to make others feel important and ‘seen/heard’ and I had this moment when I realized how much a part of me he has become–sounds like a topic for a new blog entry so stay tuned. Take care of you. I do believe that giving friends the illusion of strength also gives them the gift of being more free in expressing their memories and thoughts of your husband. I know that has been my experience–and I know he would have loved knowing those he cared for so deeply on this earth were sharing laughter and memories with me. All best, Anna

  2. Beautiful… How much angst we go through because of our insecurities, and wish we had more enjoyed what we had, before we lost it. I follow all your posts. You have impressed me (sometimes overwhelmed me a bit with all you seemed to be accomplishing.) I’m now into the third year (we’re about on the same track), but just beginning to realize the depths of my feelings and loss, and that this is the way it is going to be. I sense you are at this point as well. It is a long journey.

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