by Mazzy Adams
As part of my Creative Writing studies, I completed numerous ‘Quick Writing’ exercises based on various verbal prompts and images. Here’s one of those prompts and my response to it:
Every day of the week, between 7:00 am and 8:00 am, Vince and Jack arrived at the park bench with their newspapers. Every day they grunted a greeting, sat, and read. Every day, between 8:00 am and 9:00 am, as one finished reading his newspaper, he would fold it, tuck it under his arm, stand, mumble a farewell and leave.
Sometimes Jack left first. Sometimes Vince left first.
Jack didn’t know Vince was an inventor whose ingenious creations languished for want of entrepreneurial investment. Vince didn’t know Jack was a lonely millionaire who intended to bequeath his millions to an animal shelter because he had no family and no friends.
Vince could have become like a brother to Jack. Jack could have enabled millions of people to benefit from Vince’s inventions.
Could have, should have, would have … didn’t.
All because of the one thing they did share … a failure to communicate.
Never underestimate the value of a good discussion.
I sat down intending to write this blog on a totally unrelated topic (to do with ‘the individuality of your voice’) when the memory of this particular writing exercise sat down beside me, tapped my heart, then rapped me over the head like a rolled up newspaper and suggested I use it instead.
So, I suspect that, for whatever reason, someone out there needs another kind of prompt: my gentle encouragement to connect.
Perhaps there is someone you’ve wanted to chat to for ages and, for whatever reason, you haven’t managed it yet. Why wait? Pick up the phone and call them. Better still, invite them to join you for coffee, or a walk in the park.
Perhaps you need encouragement to connect with like-minded people, or, say, to attend a writers’ conference. That can be a great place for good discussions. (It just so happens that the Omega Writers Conference is on in Sydney in October. Have you booked yet?)
Perhaps there is a letter you’ve been meaning to send. One that will break the ice so your writing/publishing/networking boat moves forward? Today might be the right day to put pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard and make that connection. (Preaching to myself here!)
Perhaps you need encouragement to connect with someone who can help you in some other way. Honestly, I find it so difficult to ask for help. I’ve been more thoroughly inculcated with the message that it is ‘more blessed to give than to receive’ than the one that says ‘ask and you will receive’. Perhaps that underscored the problem I created for Jack and Vince in a moment of quick writing madness back in 2012.
Back then, I needed encouragement to find and join a writing critique group. Back then, someone I had never met in person invited me to come along and join in regular discussions about writing. And back then … I did it. I went to meet five strangers … and received five wonderful friends. (Thanks, Nola, for initiating that connection.) I’ll never underestimate the value of creative, fun-filled shenanigans again!
There is no doubt in my mind that discussing the pros and cons of my writing with other writers has helped me hone my craft. Doing the same for them has … helped me hone my craft! (‘More blessed to give than receive’ still rings true.) There is immense value in the mutual support offered by groups like Christian Writers Downunder. Being connected really does help.
I think I’ll finish this post with a ‘homework’ exercise our writing critique group tackled in April, 2014, one that I’d filed beside my story of Vince and Jack. Our prompt was, ‘What does your writing group mean to you?’ Perhaps you could share your response to that question as a comment below. Here’s what I wrote:
Quirky Quills is
larger than individual idiosyncrasies;
the sum of corporate wisdom;
the strength of forged metal alloys;
the flexibility of seasoned allies;
a cohesive, healing ecclesia;
a hug for brain and heart;
a canvas prepared for inspiration;
brushes dipped in holy ink;
a catalyst for action;
a treasure-trove of friendship;
a creative, vocal ensemble with
an infinite, lyrical repertoire;
and the heartbeat of my social redemption.
So ... why not try to make that new connection? (And if you happen to connect with a millionaire called Jack who has money to bequeath struggling authors, please, by all means, feel free to introduce us.)