My kids have been making Christmas wish lists. A dog features high on the list for both of them. Someday. Maybe.
What would be on your writing wish list? Create a list of the pieces you would like to have written. What essays, articles, stories, poems, plays are on your list? Go ahead, name them all – how will they know to come if you don’t call them?
Winter Star, photo by Stacy Jaffe
This is one of my favourite Zen stories I’ve come across. I changed it to winter, for today’s prompt, but really, this could happen any time of the year.
Two monks were once travelling together in winter. A heavy snow was falling. Coming around a bend, they met an old woman, unable to cross a river.
‘Come on,’ said the first monk. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her across the river.
The second monk said nothing. He did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. ‘We monks don’t go near females,’ he said. ‘It is dangerous. Why did you do that?’
‘I left the woman by the river,’ the first monk said. ‘Why are you still carrying her?’
What have you left by the river? What are you still carrying?
Lake Reflections, photo credit – Brian Beeghly
For all the glitter and cheer in the air, December can also be a season of shadows and stillness. In the north, it is the depth of winter, the quietest part of the year, the tree limbs are empty, the gardens have few offerings.
Can you make space today for the shadows? Not to chase them away with bright cheer, but to acknowledge their role in life’s rich pageant? What happens when you sit in their stillness?
What is the texture of December? How does it feel against your cheek? In the palm of your hand? In the back of your throat?
I came across the phrase evergreen questions on Rachel Cole’s blog. Evergreen questions are those with ever changing, ever evolving answers. Each time you ask them, you learn something new about something old. Rachel Cole’s signature evergreen question is ‘What are you truly hungry for?’
Today, I offer you a forest of evergreen writing questions. In the spirit of one tree bohemia, choose one to lounge under for a while. Stare up at the branches, breathe in the scent of the pine needles, examine the geometry of a pine cone, and, of course, write.
- Why do you write?
- Who is your muse?
- Who is your audience?
- Which writers speak to you as if to a dear friend over tea? What do they say?
- Who are the writers or artists you’d like to shadow for a day,a week, a month? What do you think you could learn from them?
- Where do you write?
- Where are you when you write?
- What happens when you write?
South Boulder Creek Trail, photo by Brian Beeghly
Choose an image. Tell the story.
Can you revisit one holiday that you wish had somehow turned out differently? Looking back now, through the lens of time, is there anything new that you notice or realise about that memory?
How has its meaning shifted with years and experience?