This spring, I took a writing class offered through Write Around Portland. It was called “Prompt” because each week we would meet and write for a limited amount of time–usually somewhere between 2-8 minutes–to a number of different prompts. As the school year grinds to a start and I have less time to write, I will be featuring excerpts from my writing class in lieu of the weekly essay.
One of the rules of Prompt writing is that you are to “assume fiction.” And so this is partly me, but I was also thinking of Molly Ringwald when I wrote this. I heard an interview where she talked about how she wrote for years before publishing because when she did publish, she wanted it to be good.
I do my best writing in the morning. I like the quiet, the breaking darkness and the chill in the air. I look out my back door as I write, watching the shapes emerge in the backyard. First, my face is reflected in the glass, then the trees and the fence become visible as light seeps into the sky. But I’ve always like times best when everyone was asleep.
As a teenager, I stayed up later than my parents and brother, listening to music, puttering about in my room. The silence of the night freed me from the task of having to be me and I felt myself relax as the hours went on, dropping deeper into my work. Now, I wake early, on the tail end of the night, and slip into a sweater and then my chair. I have things to do. The day is before me, but for a few minutes this time is for me and the characters I’ve created.
I like to read about authors and how they write. The haphazard process for this one, the structure of another’s routine. Sometimes, when I am writing, I think of the Catholic women, going to mass every morning before slipping off to their jobs, or home to feed their families. I understand the attraction of the ritual. The daily need to be in a specific place at a specific time saying specific things.
If I miss a few mornings writing, I get jittery, filled with the words that need to escape me, to make it onto the paper. No one pays me to write; there is no reason to continue doing it. But here I sit, morning after morning, weaving characters and plots together into something different from myself. After writing, I set down my pen, spent, and gaze into the sunlight of another day.