Raising the Dead: Breakthrough Tip for the week of 2/202017

I taught two writing workshops last weekend at the Desert Nights, Rising Stars writing conference. I planned on working with bringing writing alive in the second workshop: Raising the Dead. My students wanted something different. They didn’t tell me directly. As they read from the first free-writing exercise we did, I heard their longing for time to write. (Perfect living example of Show, don’t Tell.)

The Dead were their stories, their poetry, their essays. And the only miracle workers in the room were the students themselves. It was no less a miracle that they knew that. We wrote more. They read. We told the stories of our beloved Dead. I thought about all of you and how, when you send us writing, I feel like I can draw a deep breath.

Here is your prompt: I descend to the place of death. There is more light than I expected. I make myself look around – and I find: 


Cin Norris sent her response to last week’s prompt, The Writing Road. How do you follow it?

I have just followed a road known only to me. It is a hard road, not only in regards to the burdens borne along the way, but hard in texture, hard to traverse. The only reason I could only see the beginning was because I knew where to look. The first few feet are cunningly hidden; to foil the lazy and the merely curious. Each step reveals only the next, to test your temerity and ability to welcome surprise in your life. A steep and crooked path through the pines—sometimes the path is in the creek bed, dry at the end of autumn. One must step carefully in those shifting sands. Fresh breezes are cool, nearly chilly in the shade of the trees; enough to wish for longer sleeves. Then in the meadows, the harvest sun burns valiantly and the chill of the breeze is longed for. Each in its turn.

The road is known only to me. I had heard there was gold in them thar hills, and had peeked into all the hollow places only to find it eluded me, much as the path does, when I find myself following butterflies or puffs of dandelion seeds. Perhaps it was a path that was not made for following, more of a guideline, like serving sizes or speed limits.

From granite boulder to shadow shrouded copse, I wandered my path. Or at least near it. I vaguely felt that something must be at the end of it, but could not conceive of such an ending. I had seen a lake here once, long ago, but I didn’t think that could be it. The wind stirs the treetops, sounding like the coming in of the tide of the Pacific Ocean. Like the sound a seashell makes when you hold it to your ear. Strolling and climbing and forcing my way down that hard road with no end, I try to be mindful of the life and unlimited inspiration around me.

It can be difficult when all I can focus on are the stickers in my socks.


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