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“The aspiring poet is constantly lowering a bucket only half way down a well. coming up time and again with nothing but empty air. The frustration is immense. But you must keep doing it anyway. After many years of practice, the chain draws unexpectedly tight, and you have dipped into the waters that will continue to entice you back. You’ll have broken the skin on the pool of yourself.”
– SEAMUS HEANEY
Welcome to this regular slot each Wednesday, which I call Writers’ Well because: it’s intended to be a source of nourishment and inspiration for the writer in you, it expresses my belief that creative writing can benefit our well being on many levels, and…I love the above quote from Seamus Heaney. It gives me goosebumps every time. It also resonates with my own intention when leading writing workshops. It’s not about producing good writing, it’s about brave, real writing. Writing that goes down deep within to draw up something unexpected.
Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt (take about 15 mins in total) begins with completing the following sentence five times – ‘It was the first time…’
Now, for the next ten minutes or so choose one of those sentences, and expand on it… This is what I wrote:
May I introduce…the river Findhorn. I’m heading up to Scotland today – can’t wait!
It was the first time she’d spoken to the river. It didn’t feel like anything special. Actually it felt entirely natural, the most natural thing in the world. It didn’t occur to her until later that she may have been seen, overheard.
‘Help me,’ she’d begun. ‘Take this away.’
The immediate wordless response took her breath away. It was gone! She looked all around her. It must be a trick. Who? What? Nothing. But the sadness she’d arrived with really had disappeared. She began to giggle, and it felt like the rapids mimicked her joy as they rushed, white-tipped and wild, towards her. She began to sing, directing her song to the movement of the water, until her new lightness turned into a contented emptiness. She sat on a rock and watched; not anything in particular, just watched.
She began to play ‘what if’. What if I jumped in, where would it take me? What if I knew how to build a shelter and stayed for a night right here on the river bank? What if I could ask this rock to tell me all that it’s seen and heard? What if I were perched on the top of that tree, light as a bird – what would I see? What if being me weren’t so different from anybody else? What if I belonged? Fitted in…
The game stopped. She didn’t fit in, but just maybe that was a good thing. She stood, with new resolve, and bowed to the river. As she turned to walk uphill, back the way she’d come, it didn’t feel like she was climbing, for inside she was already ‘up’, and could see more clearly where she wanted to go.
If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here: