I have a new routine to start my work day. It’s a chance to center my mind, while doing a little mental stretching to prepare it. Sometimes, the exercise relates to the office job; others, my personal writing. On Monday, it was the latter.
It a last bit of preface, I’ll segue to a common question writers get: “Where do you get your ideas?” Usually, I haven’t a clue, but I know exactly where this piece originated. I looked at the window and the word “a’sliver” came to mind as a creative synonym for “ajar”. Mundane origin? Perhaps. Occasionally, the magic in writing is simply a curtained alcove in Emerald City with an old man hiding there*.
*Even then, when you look carefully, you might see the trailing remnants of real magic as they flee from prying eyes
Anyway, I challenged myself to work it into a little something, and as I sat in my office listening to the sounds of morning and watching the world through a window, the following flowed out. Less stream-of-consciousness writing….and more of a leak. (how’s that for a sales pitch?)
Window sits a’sliver just enough For filtered birdcalls to enter the room But perhaps not the heat A whispered wind whistles in Squeezing through a narrowed crack It cannot force wider open Sun chases behind them Sending shadowed wings to dance upon my wall Wafted air disturbing doldrum days Trees glow in verdant hues Awash with shadow and light Dancing brightly fro and to Asphalt rhythms drone in time Rubbered wheels, frictioned warm Click-kicking out stones The staccato bark of greeting dogs Heedless of rhyme or melody A mixed meter only they measure
Stylistically, it’s a bit of a mess.
- I went back and added some punctuation. Then I deleted most of it because the Reader probably doesn’t need it. There’s a reason that lonely country roads don’t have traffic signs.
- There’s no consistency of rhyme or rhythm. I’m not talking about A-B-A-B structure or anything like that. But structure, like punctuation, is a guide to the Reader that helps make reading easier.
- Should this piece be leading to something—does it have a point? Or is it simply a bunch of description in search of action? <shrugs>
And yet, style doesn’t matter here. It’s just an exercise. An experiment really, and one with two purposes. First, to try some interesting (to me) ways to write. There are the made-up words (a’sliver, click-kicking), the reversal of common phrases (fro and to), and alliteration (mixed meter only they measure). It’s a little like adding a new ingredient to an old recipe. Sometimes the flavor improves.
Second, provide evocative phrases that stimulate the senses: specifically sight and hearing. I wanted to see what I could accomplish in brief phrases. I particularly liked the idea of the wind failing to force a window open, as well as car tires “Click-kicking out stones”.
It’s a quick exercise, and one that brings a little peace and joy to my day. And that’s enough. I encourage you to find something similar to keep that writing brain engaged. Good luck with your writing!
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© Michael Wallevand, June 2021