Today I led a little writing group for a couple of friends. We sat in the relative quiet of DeVargas Mall and wrote from several uniquely challenging prompts. Occasionally, the setting itself provided fodder, or at least comic relief. To begin, we gathered ourselves in a meditation that I used to prepare the first prompt, part of which entailed including a dog in the scene. Just as I uttered my instructions, my friends tittered, as a dog walked by behind me. Perfect.
As our session went on, we became aware of more dogs, all shapes and sizes, strolling by with people. Finally we spied the whole assembly of dogs and owners lined up on a platform at the mall’s center–free dog training class? Free nail clipping? We never learned. But as we were wrapping up our modest labors in word-craft, a little pooch–a Peekapoo, I’m guessing– trotted by, towing a family of attendants. He stopped a few yards away and got that look. As he squatted, I commented that he was about to wash the already-glossy stone the floor. But instead, he delivered solids; cute little chocolate-covered malt balls deposited at eight-inch intervals, as he excitedly wagged onward. Even for a pack animal, the mall is a lot of stimulation. (I was a teenager once; I remember.)
The writing varied from the personal to the just, plain silly. And the time limits (and distracting dog parade) exempted all from perfection. The point was to prime our pumps, and that we did.
The prompts included: a contemplation (by dwellers of the Norther Hemisphere) on Easter in Autumn; short eulogies using five provided words; a limerick about a Blue Schmoo; “His tombstone read UberProtoPanacea;” and a Haiku about any Broadway musical.
There is no right or wrong in these circles. If we digress from the original prompt as we follow where the creative energy takes us, all the better. Prompts are just launch pads; the trajectory from there is part of the juicy mystery.
One of the only rules in these gatherings is to minimize grimaces and disclaimers about one’s work or talent. So, when I felt charge of self-dissatisfaction building in the circle, I assigned an impromptu detour, a short portrait of each of us, as if written by someone else, about that feeling and our regard for our own writing.
I close with one of the responses, which, like much free writing, reaches beyond a mere prompt into soul-speak:
It’s never enough. She is capable of such beauty; she vomits beauty. But it’s never enough, just Bactine on a Broken Heart. It cannot slake her thirst for the cure for her human condition. And so she dismisses the Miracle of the flowers blooming from her footsteps. Is this humility or just the greed of the hopeless?
Keep living, loving, writing and dancing, everyone.