Wednesday, October 27, 2010

So good for you it's scary

I filled out the questionnaire yesterday while waiting in the doctor's office for my checkup.  You know, that questionnaire, the list of your diseases and unhealthy personal habits.  I got to the bottom of the sheet of paper and turned it over, looking in vain for the most important of questions for a writer's health -- are you writing regularly?  Well, are you?  Do you, like me, sometimes need an incentive to write?  Or do you perhaps need something to ponder while you wait, something to distract you this Halloween season while the phlebotomist -- a sanitized modern vampire disguised as a pleasant-faced young woman in pastel blue scrubs -- draws the last drop of blood from your body?  I suggest Judy Reeves's A Writer's Book of Days, a compilation of those, yes, dreaded and scary writing prompts.

I've had an aversion to prompts for years, but in Reeves's case, the only scary part is how good they are.  Writing friend Robin Y. recommended this book to me and insisted we work on one together.  Then she set her cell phone timer for fifteen minutes.  The results amazed me.  Okay, lightning doesn't strike every time, but every time there's another page and a half in my notebook.  (Reeves urges you to write by hand, on paper -- love it!)  And besides the magically evocative prompts, she offers practical advice and gossipy tidbits about famous writers and their habits.  In honor of the season, I'm quoting an excerpt suggested by her September 10 prompt -- "a list of her hungers."

"She hungered for hunger, fearing satiation above all things.  To be satisfied, to rest, was death to her.  So she pushed away lover after lover, dissecting the faults of each, picking each to the bones.  So she yielded to the urge to leave here and go there, moving on before the terrible moment of consummation.  Her penultimate hunger was for money, the money to pursue the other hungers.  And the only way to amass the money she needed, the only way that wouldn't interfere with following those other hungers, she realized, playing with the thought until its horror receded, was to kill.  To kill the selfish people standing between her and the hungers she longed for.  So that, in the end, she hungered for blood."

A Writer's Book of Days is widely available in bookstores or through links on her website,  Happy Halloween!

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