I don’t notice my dog growing old,
the way his eyes are cloudy
or how his hips stiffen up and how
hard it can be to stand up.
I don’t notice how he falls
down the stairs in the
dark or how he stumbles
when he leaps across a
small creek or how he struggles
to jump up into the truck.
I don’t notice when he doesn’t
join me in bed during the night
prefering to stay on the
couch alone with an old bone.
I don’t notice when he’s still
there in the early morning
and I put the kettle on, trying not
to panic, watching him for a
tail wag or an open
eye or something
I’m not ready
And he opens his eyes and I notice how he lights up seeing me next to him on the couch with my mug of coffee starting the day together like any other.
Writing prompts for specificity.
Exercises in specificity:
Use a simple sentence, eg. Ken was angry.
Ask HOW SO? Write with more details, eg. Ken snapped at the cashier.
Ask WHY? Discover why he’s so angry, eg. Ken snapped at the cashier in the cashmere sweater that looked like the one his wife had dropped off at the Goodwill last month.
The goal is to get more specific for each emotion, show it in action and the cause. Be more detailed. Find the unique story behind your intial statement. Find the strangeness, idiosyncracy, empathy and troubles.Let that one sentence take you somewhere unexpected.
Writing Prompts: For each of the following sentences, expand until a story comes out that feels complete and full of such details.
– Kendra was angry.
– Mick was disturbed.
– Rodney saw no way out.
– Tarik felt alive.
Start with one of the above examples and rewrite for 10 minutes.
If doing this at home alone, pick one line that lingers from your rewrite. Come back to it another day and add another three sentences.
If in a classroom, everyone writes up a sentence of theirs onto a scrap of paper, scrunch it up and put it in a hat, container.
Pick one out, read it aloud, then all freewrite three sentences from same first line. Share.
Why do we do this? It’s a great lesson in developing characters and scenes. So, freewriting is playful, generative, and amazing to see how we all imagine and explore in our own ways. The best part for me was seeing how in class we all took the line given and how our imaginations took such unique and individual paths.
Ungrounded yet camping. Sleeping in a truck yet I’m paying for the flat in town. Essays written and needing to be rewritten. Editing. Prose and poems combined. Campfires. Sleepy foggy mornings. Cat on a pillow. Cat in a tree. Cat out and about. Cat back for dinner. Dogs play sleep nap sleep eat play nap sleep deep. Dog on a pillow. Purring cats. Guilt at not working enough. Never enough. I need to let myself take time off, play nap sleep eat come back for dinner. I’m driven. Furiously working inside my head if not on the computer. Taking in ideas, gaining momentum, hungry for conversations to help me grow as a writer and as usual wanting more than is here in front of me. Dog on a pillow. Cat on my head. Waking up in a truck by a river in the fog needing coffee wanting to write but nothing to say beyond how this summer is different when the sun shines and you have goals and you get to laugh and play by rivers with friends in the muggy heat and full belly and it’s time for a nap but instead I do laundry and think about critical theory in my sleep.