She Sang in the Mornings

She sang in the mornings, but her evenings were dark and lonely. Curled in a corner by the bed, she shivered until early light put its fingers underneath the blinds and dragged pale stripes across the wooden floors. What was she, she wondered, that every night her bed lay empty? Why did she need to be bereft of the warm covers? She put her dog to bed every night – lifted the fleece blankets so that he could crawl under the cool sheets and round himself into a comfortable ball. For herself though, it was the foam pad covered in plaid that sat in the corner of her bedroom, tangled with a flannel blanket that she could not force herself to lay across her shoulders. In her footie pajamas of dancing polar bear fabric, she sat upright on the dog’s bed, leaning against a pillow propped up against the wall. And shivered. And slept fitfully.

She could have left a light on, but she did not.

She could have used an electric blanket, but she did not.

She could have slept in the bed, but…

In her tiny apartment, she sang in the mornings. She made breakfast for herself and her dog. She washed dishes, she vacuumed floors, she wrote poetry to the birds in the yard, eating the seed she put out for them.

In the afternoon, she shopped. She said hello and smiled at people. She came home and put away the shopping. She ate lunch. She read. She wrote more poetry and wrote music for it. She talked to her mother on the phone.

She sat in her chair and looked out of the window at the shadows slowly crawling towards her. She watched the news. She walked the dog, then fed him and herself. She read.

And this was her life. Pleasant and warm around her the way a shawl of fine, fine mohair was pleasant and warm; light, so light that she barely knew it was there.

But at night, it was heavy. Heavy and suffocating. When she fell asleep, her head against the pillow against the wall, she would often wake up with her breath lodged in her throat as though it was a solid thing that she had not chewed well enough. Shiver. Sleep. Startle. The rhythm of her nights. Shiver. Sleep. Startle. Bone-crushingly cold in a way that had nothing to do with the temperature of the room and everything to do with something she could not identify. And unidentified, it lingered.

What would she give to sleep again in her bed? She never knew because she never asked.

Why Experiment?

Mad ScientistIn #LitChat on Twitter today we had a great discussion about using fiction to persuade. During the conversation, which roamed everywhere, another writer and I virtually shook hands over the idea that all fiction is propaganda to some extent, since one can’t help selecting words that support one’s own viewpoint. My friend (Marc Nash) pointed out that no prose is neutral.

That struck me and so I thought I might try writing a paragraph to see how neutral I can get. This will be awhile in coming; I’m currently on a deadline for a story and working as a creative projects manager for a small nonprofit on an event they’re producing.

But – since I’m busy, why put this on my to-do list at all?

Because I think it’s good to experiment with writing. Try something you haven’t done before and see what you get out of it.

We spend a lot of time picking and choosing words and trying to get a few thousand of them on paper (so to speak) daily. It can be both relaxing and challenging to do something else like trying a different POV or writing on a subject you know little about, or writing something in someone else’s style.

For me, both writing and art are about the process. I live in the middle of creating rather than being enlivened by either the planning or the finished product. I think it’s because when I’m in the midst of it, I feel I’m learning the most about what I’m doing and who I am. And, if this is true, then experimenting with my writing can provide insights that struggles over more familiar territory can’t.

Do you experiment with writing? What have you tried and what have you learned?