After spending much coveted time with her, I find I miss her terribly. We keep in close communication by phone and e-mail. Having been absorbed with Joan's illness and recovery; first from surgery, then from a very serious case of pneumonia, I found my well for writing and thinking creatively virtually dried up. As I get back into the swing of daily chores, catching up on postponed business, and enjoying family, creative writing still hasn't gained its place at the top of my "tudu" list — but I'm working on it.
As part of one of the lessons in the writing workshops I give, I introduce a few tricks for awakening the muse or stimulating the imagination. One of them, adapted from an assignment in a creative writing class I took many years ago, is one Joan and I enjoyed doing together. The original assignment was to take five random words (given by the instructor) and working them into a paragraph, and then developing it into a story.
What fun it is to string five random, unrelated words into a paragraph that makes sense. Or to write a piece of flash-fiction from a descriptive title as a prompt. Another way to stimulate the muse is to look at a picture or photo and write a story about it. During Joan's recovery, she and I took turns picking five random words and then, to make it even more challenging, wrote a sentence that contained them all. It was so much fun because my sister is a very talented writer. Since I've been home, we've continued the game by giving each other 5 words, then e-mailing back our sentences.
For example, here is the first word list I gave my sister via e-mail. Hiding, Hostage, Majestic, Suggest, Thousand.
Here is the sentence she made: The game you suggest sounds like it might be a thousand times more fun than hiding in the majestic mountains where we were taken hostage.
Taking time out from working on various workshops I'm presenting in the next two months, I occasionally invite my muse to come and play. For example. Here are five random words I pulled from glancing around the office: Bunnies, Calendar, Water, Challenge, and Doctor (try to put them all into an opening sentence.)
Now let's see what my muse can do with that!
The doctor checked his calendar, before accepting the challenge to rescue the water-logged bunnies.
Now here are five random words (picked from glancing at various papers and brochures near my desk). See what you can do in one sentence... or a paragraph as seed for a story.
Complete, Saddle, Price, Mission, Soar
Have fun with words.