A few things I learned about myself while completing my self-imposed daily writing challenge:
1. I actually can write at night. I’m used to getting the majority of my writing done in the AM. I like to wake up earlier than my kiddo, drink coffee in silence, and write. That’s my favorite time. But it’s not the only time. Most of the June writing I did was at night, 10-11 PM, because I’ve been using the mornings to blog and complete my teaching work so my boy and I can spend as much time outside as possible. I used to think I was too tired to write at night, or at least that I liked writing in the morning better. I won’t lean on that excuse again.
2. I can write every day. That’s the duh lesson, right? It was an important one for me to learn. I don’t have to wait for the topic or subject or image or line or title or feeling. I can conjure it, call it in to work whenever I feel like it. I can babble nonsense until something substantial comes out, then concentrate on that and delete the nonsense without feeling like I wasted time. No time writing is wasted time.
3. The more days in a row that I wrote, the easier it became to get to the page/screen each night. I expected the opposite. I expected that I would grow complacent and relax my own rules, or that my momentum would wane near the final third of the month, which is around when I’ve given up on previous poem-a-day challenges.
4. I am obsessed with animals. There are animals–owls, deer, rabbits, birds, fish, and so many snakes–in at least 3/4 of what I wrote in June.
5. I didn’t expect to write about some of the things I wrote about, and these unexpected topics that came to me almost always had something to do with place–this specific place that I’ve moved back to, and my childhood memories of it that expand and color the experiences that made me come back.
6. I am writing a book that I didn’t think I was writing yet.
This list of lessons is much more important to me than to you, but if nothing else, I hope you’ll consider a daily writing practice just to see what you can make out of it. I’m considering writing every day in August, then taking September off, then again in October, and so on, alternating months. I’ve already written in July, but I’m not pressuring myself to write daily. Talk to me in the comments about your experiences with daily writing challenges, pretty please.
Here is another sample of the flash nonfiction I produced in June. This one is called
Wish for my two-year-old son
The world is round as your biggest dimple, deeper, and there are more than two halves. That you never feel like only two halves because you are endless—now that you’ve fought to be here, tiny incubator alien to top-of-the-slide champion of the playground boy, you have no limits, no seams, no cut marks. Your mother’s eyes, your father’s jaw. Later, perhaps, your mother’s fear, your father’s rage—only no, please. That we are not factors, either of us, in your greatness or your faults. That you are an inventor, an emotional scientist, your morning you-found-me! wonder-smile never outgrown. Your inheritance is words and grief. Refuse it, those bad-word halves. That I can live up to you, teach you this bone work without too much bloodshed: Even the smallest person is more than the sum of his par(en)ts.