Instead, I found myself re-reading this blog post, and all the comments – the supportive, and the horribly judgmental. And then this condemnatory post by another mother, and her two back-pedaling posts (at least there’s that), and again all the comments.
Then I read posts on Facebook about the Sandy Hook shootings, watched videos from various politicians and talking heads – some making abrupt and conscious about-faces in their thinking on various policies (gun control, free speech, mental illness, health care), and others clearly gearing up to fight the same, old, tired, useless battles.
I couldn’t sit down and write this post, because all that wanted to come out is how mother-effing heartbroken I am. Not just for the children and adults who lost their lives. Not just for the young man who was so broken inside that he felt the need, or perhaps a demented sense of justification, to enact such a vicious attack on children, children in their SCHOOL. Not just for the parents who will never know life without grief again. Not just for the community, or all of us who have been shaken to the core.
I am also heartbroken that in our need to make sense of things, to find our footing, we so often choose division, and sides, and anger, and finger pointing, and posturing, and witty memes, and bluster instead of being able to sit with this discomfort long enough – the sadness, the grief, the terror, the fear – so that wisdom might naturally arise out of our collective pain. Something sane and measured and kind.
Because folks? This isn’t about violent movies or video games, this isn’t about guns or bad parenting, this isn’t about a broken mental healthcare system, or evil people. It is all of those things and none of those things. It is something deeper, more fundamental, and we have to do the work to dig down to the roots, and we must have patience as we do so. We must be kind and thoughtful in our dialogue. And by kind, I do not mean yielding where we know in our hearts we must not yield. One can keep the heart soft while maintaining a strong back, and that is our responsibility as human beings.
I would apologize for hijacking this post, but I would dishonor myself by not letting out what wants to come out today. And I must ask you to keep your comments to expressions of grief and sympathy because I’m not of a mind to tolerate a debate over this or that issue in my comment section. Not today.
Yes, you still get a word of course. I don’t think we need to make it about this topic…even if I couldn’t bring myself to ignore it in the post. I found that Charles Dickens Christmas Book after all, so I’ll give you a word from that.
I had this realization the other day that the 100 word challenge on Velvet Verbosity started around this time several years ago. Trouble is, I can’t remember what year, and that original blog is long gone now. I think it was possibly 2006, and since that’s my best guess, I’m sticking to it.
So holy crap you guys, SIX YEARS! Just one more year before you all start getting itchy and run off with a new and shiny writing prompt. ;D
Anyway, thanks for coming back week after week. Thanks for the many hundreds of words you’ve submitted. Thanks for digging deep with me, making me laugh, shudder, and weep. I’ve really grown fond of all of you.
I’m into the thick of Christmas Spirit over here at the Verbosity household. We went to our favorite tree farm, trekked through snowy woods, and came home with the sweetest tree ever. Presents are piling up, holiday music is being played, hot chocolate is being sweetened with peppermint candies and cupped in hands, the fire has been crackling, cards have been sent, and the lights are all hung.
Little Man meets a snowman.
I like a little cheese with my Christmas tree farms.
You could be blindfolded and still walk out with a perfect tree.
We love our traditions. We do.
Personal touches of whimsy.
Somewhere in this house I have a Charles Dickens Christmas book, but we have a guest staying and it must be up on the third floor where he’s sleeping. I had to settle for Oliver Twist. The word is:
My dear word-nerdlings, the road to this week’s prompt was paved with good intentions. And then life happened, as it does, and here it is midnight and I’ve got to be up early. So come back tomorrow night around 10 p.m. EST for this week’s juicy prompt.
See you then!
I was smart this year, I didn’t announce to anyone that I would or wouldn’t be participating, just in case. Good thing, because once it became clear my work life would be changing pretty radically, I knew it would be mental suicide to even attempt NaNoWriMo. So yeah, there’s no novel sitting on my hard drive people. And I’m totally fine with that.
In other news, I noticed a little spike in Facebook followers yesterday. Can’t figure out where they came from, so if any of you new followers are reading this, I’m curious to know how you found the 100 Words Facebook page.
I’m not currently reading anything. Next week I’ll be starting The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood with my book club. If anyone is interested in doing a virtual book club discussion, let me know, that could be fun. In the meantime I decided to raid Mr. Verbosity’s literary bookshelf. He was an English Lit major in grad school, so he’s got quite a collection of high-brow books on writing, writing theory, poetry, and so on. I grabbed randomly and walked away with, The Lively Image: 4 Myths in Literature by Richard E. Hughes. And with the good old trusted point-the-finger method, your word this week is:
Ha! I find this terribly amusing. But, WHATEVER, write me 100 words dear word-nerdlings. I’m off to curl up in a chair with some hot chocolate.
P.S. Don’t forget to tell me in comments how you did in NaNoWriMo, and/or how you recently found 100 words.
My dear word-nerdlings, I hope you had a lovely holiday. We had a mellow gathering here at the Velvet Verbosity household. Just me and the kids. Mr. Verbosity was away at a family gathering I didn’t feel like going to, and my extended family were far away this year, so I seized the opportunity to spend some quiet, no-pressure time with my babies.
What a gift.
In other news, I’m adjusting to my new work with a small start-up company. It’s intense work, building something from the ground up, wondering and hoping if it will take flight and working every moment as though that’s a given. This also means no more work-at-home-in-my-pjs. It’s been a few years since I’ve had to commute to an office. I missed my car dates with NPR.
All of this has nothing to do with this week’s prompt. Just getting my head around the shifts in my life in the best way a blogger knows how.
Yesterday I picked up Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg again, because it’s just that kind of book. The kind you leave lying around on purpose because when you have just a minute or two you can open it to any page and get something useful. I opened to, Listening:
Writing, too, is ninety percent listening. You listen so deeply to the space around you that it fills you, and when you write, it pours out of you. If you can capture that reality around you, your writing needs nothing else. You don’t only listen to the person speaking to you across the table, but simultaneously listen to the air, the chair, and the door. And go beyond the door. Take in the sound of the season, the sound of the color coming in through the windows. Listen to the past, future, and present right where you are. Listen with your whole body, not only with your ears, but with your hands, your face, and the back of your neck.
Listening is receptivity. The deeper you can listen, the better you can write. You take in the way things are without judgment, and the next day you can write the truth about the way things are. Jack Kerouac in his list of prose essentials said, “Be submissive to everything. Open. Listening.” He also said, “No time for poetry, but exactly what is.” If you can capture the way things are, that’s all the poetry you’ll ever need.
Basically, if you want to become a good writer, you need to do three things. Read a lot, listen well and deeply, and write a lot. And don’t think too much. Just enter the heat of words and sounds and colored sensations and keep your pen moving across the page.
If you read good books, when you write, good books will come out of you. Maybe it’s not quite that easy, but if you want to learn something, go to the source. Basho, the great seventeenth century Haiku master, said, “If you want to know about a tree, to to the tree.” If you want to know poetry, read it, listen to it. Let those patterns and forms be imprinted in you. Don’t step away from poetry to analyze a poem with your logical mind. Enter poetry with your whole body. Dogen, a great Zen master, said, “If you walk in the mist, you get wet.” So just listen, read, and write. Little by little, you will come closer to what you need to say and express it through your voice.
So your word this week is:
You can choose to just use the word, or you could do a free write based on the instructions from Goldberg on listening. Up to you!