This week's Tinderbox meeting produced some really interesting pieces after a 25 minute free-write with members. We decided to delve into the idea of our first impressions of ourselves - and then we turned it all around and wrote about someone ELSE'S first impression of us. Some of us wrote from the point of view of relatives, friends, pets. Some of us wrote about our very young selves - even birth memories! Some of us wrote from the perspective of mothers filled with hopes for their children. Some wrote about the desires in their adult lives. Some wrote from the point of view of a secondary character of their current fiction project, seeing the main character through fresh eyes. It was FANTASTIC! And I want to share some of this revealing work because we all left feeling so revitalized! And...well...kinda naked.
Vulnerable is good in writing. (tweet that)
In that spirit, I've offered to publish my own, unedited piece here today to give courage to the others who will share their writing with you in the next few days.
This piece is written from the point of view of my maternal grandfather shortly after my premature birth and the loss of my twin sister. It's pretty stark. I cried when I read it for the group. It's amazing how our grief connects us. The experience of putting words to these emotions was powerful, emotions and thoughts I imagine coming from my grandfather that will absolutely make their way into my current fiction. But more than that, they reveal ME to MYSELF. That's the magic of a good prompt to strip us of our excuses and get us unblocked so the EXPRESSION flows and we discover the unique voice we have to bring to the world!
If your creativity is blocked, maybe take a chance on this writing prompt. I'd love to hear how it works for you. ...More things will be revealed!
So, enjoy. But grab a hankie, dude. xo
By Kimberly Brock
Children are supposed to be gifts, but they aren’t supposed to be angels. They aren’t supposed to be saviors. This little girl came into the world, barely a wisp of life, barely breathing, entirely the wrong color, the color of desperation. She is a gasp.
I watch her mother and grandmother wrestle over the death of dreams and they look at this child like she will be a magician. They expect her to open her eyes and see them as they wish they were, not as they are. The need her to suckle and grow on their love, dependent and full of tireless appreciation. They need her to make up for disappointment and death. Instead, she is sickly. She is limp. She is feverish and fitful and uncompromising in her misery. She will not be their joy and they want to shake her until she is compliant.
Instead, she sucks all the air from the room and still struggles to breathe. She gives them weeks with no sleep. She demands more than their grief can provide. She cries. She is weak. She is failing to thrive. They are failing. I watch them wrap her too tightly in soft blankets that overheat her skinny, strange body. They are trying to make her a fat, happy Gerber baby and angry that she can’t make the best of what they have to offer, all their best efforts and she hates them. They are not what she wants and they’re mortified.
She is a lonely thing. She is my own holy trial by fire and the great love of my life. I know because she quiets when I rock her through the night. I pat her bottom til she stops bleating and even as her sweet, warm breath makes my neck sweat, I think she will die, too. I think nothing we have to give will ever fill her up. She is grief. She is a black hole that asks everything and throws our incompetence and guilt back at us. She is greedy and terrible and beautiful in her selfishness.
I wish I could take her, bundle her, get her in my truck, tucked on the seat. We’d drive far from here. We would find the light some place that would warm our blood, away from graves and ice storms and cold women. We would fill our bellies with biscuits and butter and watch crows on wires, talking and cackling. Her first smile was with me. I want to hear her laugh at those crows. I want her to grow up wise as those birds, sharp and slick and black. I want her to fly away from here. I want her to take a deep, deep breath and grow in all directions until she is larger than all of us. Until she won’t fit in that impossibly small hole in the ground.
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