I’m excited to jumpstart a monthly Writing Craft Book Club in January of 2024. For the introductory price of a 6 (or 9) oz pour, read a select portion of a craft book (or better still, the whole of it) from a curated list. Each month I will provide writing Prompts n’ Ponders specifically for the craft book of the month.
Third Thursdays! Come hang out with a group of fellow scriveners who are on the same page and enjoy robust conversation and writing sprints.
The preliminary ART OF WRITING BOOK LIST for 2024 (subject to change) can be found HERE.
This is for novices and advanced writers alike. If you own the book, dust that baby off and come have some fun!
FOR EACH MONTH’S CLUB HANGOUT, SCHEDULE HERE
Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird is first up. Want to give it a spin? Stay tuned.
James and I made a quick getaway to the Smoky Mountains for our anniversary weekend. We hiked into waterfalls and sauntered along quiet trails canopied by vibrant trees and magical light. Narrow, winding roads lead us dinner at the Apple Barn. Brother-in-law Richard built a bonfire and my sister Deb baked a sponge cake topped with our mother’s peaches. We snuggled under blankets and let the whispers of the night gather round while we edged close to the fire. Now back to our Nashville home to write like crazy during my favorite time of the year—no matter what part of the country we happen to be in.
It’s been especially warm here in Middle Tennessee, so I’m thrilled that a cold snap arrived. Not everyone is. But for writers, the change of season is especially delicious, an invitation for tucking away with our pages. I just found this piece written years ago:
While stirring milk and honey into a cup of Earl Grey, the rhythmical clinking of the spoon sets the cadence for memories of recent hikes and nights under the stars, laughter with good friends these past weeks. I stand at the kitchen island, not sure of what to do next. My summer favorites are stored away with sleeveless blouses and strappy sandals. My stirring changes direction, the swirl of tea. Ebony perches expectantly, not quite sitting, waiting near the bar stool, she stares up at me expectant. Tail wagging. What now?
“Good question, sweet girl,” I say patting her head. She looks long at the leash hanging on a hook by the door. I have so much work to do. Office chores long put off so I can be outdoors. “We’ll go for a w-a-l-k when the day warms a bit.”
My mind lingers on summer dreams and expectations left unrealized, and now the clouds are heavy and the wind sharp. I watch tardy leaves and snowflakes playing chase around the yard. A flock of starlings on their way south alight in the back pecking at the last of the crab apples that fell after we’d raked and cleaned up. What a mess, these crab apples. I’m glad now that some were left. I step closer to the window to watch the tiny birds so busy about their task. They are focused, clear on what they are to be doing. I’m enchanted by them and a little melancholy too.
Just yesterday my hands knew what to do in that dark lovely soil, tugging out crowded roots, spading up, making room, and bedding down. My lower back says I’m ready to slow and tuck into a new and different cadence, but my heart is resistant. I wish for more days of flight, of clarity, of soaking every ounce of sunshine while riding bikes, hiking, jogging, gathering wildflowers, bare toes along a riverbank.
The snow is falling heavy now, sticking to blades of grass, the red willows, blanketing the flower beds. I set the teaspoon on a napkin and take a sip. The peppery spice tickles the back of my throat. Needs another a splash of milk. The workday is calling with its pressing deadlines, but I want to stall it a moment longer. My soul needs time to shift. I have somewhere I want to be. Someone I want to be. I open my journal.
It’s not of the fancy variety. This journal is beat, corners turned, ink smudged. Loose pages are stuck in here and there, nested like twigs and leaves. Flipping through pages, I skim back over recent entries and re-remember the many delights, as well as the trying and painful ones. What a solid little storehouse of treasures I find here, this collection of scribbled bits, arrows, lists, and half-baked thoughts. Only for me now. One day, I’ll sift and sort and borrow phrases from here and there, and with heavy revisions, discover something for others too. Soon. But not yet.
For now, I turn my back to the desk, crossing the hardwood floor with cup and journal to the golden overstuffed chair with cushions that broke down far too soon for the price we paid. Making it perfect. The dog echoes my thoughts as she flops down with a sigh in front of the fire. I tuck my feet up, wrap in a woolen throw. Ah, my favorite pen. It’s just the right weight and feels as lovely upon this new page as stepping into fresh fallen snow.
I step into the pages, boots sinking into the soft earth. I shed a layer and tiptoe down wooded paths, leaving my moccasins on the bank, I cross a mountain stream, slipping only once. The day warms, the seasons shift in this magical journey, and now in petticoats, I visit the old playhouse in the willows where we played as little girls before venturing on just past the meadow, around the giant ponderosa, through a stand of white trunked aspen trees… until I find it. There. I climb the branches of a secret treehouse. The ritual is to knock and wait a moment before tentatively open the small door, one through which I must bend low to enter in. I crawl in on hands and knees and look around. Just as I left it. A sunbeam sprinkles the light with shimmers. I tidy with a branch broom and perch on an old tree stump finding all manner of green things still in bloom. Outside the sky and birds. And I am here. Hello, friend. This heart, this voice. This imagination is mine, simpler, less harried, more open to possibility. I brush my palm across a page.
Writing Prompt Idea:
Bella Grace, Issue 37 featured “Fictional Places We’d Like to Visit” from reader responses. It’s a wonderful read to reawaken one’s imagination to fantastical places. Print copies can be purchased at a local Barnes and Noble store near you, or online at BellaGraceMagazine.com.
Would you like to have coffee in Stars Hollow or sit by a fire in The Shire? What about a snuggle in Rose Hill Cottage from the movie, “The Holiday”? Would your favorite fictional place be tucked away in Rivendell, the Starship Enterprise, or perhaps walking through a Wardrobe?
Tell me about such a place. Go for 10 minutes!