An Age Old Theme

It is Monday afternoon. There are seven young women waiting for me to share with them some pearls of wisdom about creative writing. But all I can really think right now is

My desk is a mess.

I am finding it nearly impossible to write today because my desk is a mess.

And let’s be honest. Those girls are not waiting for  pearls of wisdom. They need what we all need: time and space to write which Creative Writing Club gives them with no penalties, homework, or grades. We write and share. Eventually we’ll critique and expand. Later we’ll even publish. But for now, in the beginning, this our second week, we just all write on the same prompt and then share our stories after a half hour or so of writing. They can let their imaginations run wild and see, too, how the same prompt can lead in so many different directions.

Last week I gave them “Whoops,” said the doctor, “there seem to be triplets here” as the first line of their stories. Each took off in a different direction with varying points of view. Each resulting “story”–or first scribblings–was unique: a daughter moaning over hearing her mother tell the story of her and her sisters’ birth yet again; the discovery of abandoned triplets in an alley in a post-apocalyptic zombie world; a woman terrified at the thought of triplets; and mine a dog owner fretting over the smallness of the litter. We had great fun writing and sharing. I enjoy writing with them.

This week’s theme is a story retold. Imagine that your Romeo’s family is one of criminals–you choose the crime–and Juliet’s family is one of law and police. The girls are going strong. And my mind is blank. I really do not want to teach them so early about writer’s block. Yet, here I am.

Maybe I am too old or jaded for a Romeo and Juliet story, but I would prefer to think that the block is caused by my desk. Piled high with essays to grade, Scantrons to run, make-up quizzes, textbooks, workbooks, late passes, note pads, and file folders, there is little room left to write–or to think. Even now, my arms are unevenly resting on papers and planbooks just to reach the keyboard to write this. I want to clear it all away so I can begin, but by the time I clear it away, the writing time will have passed.

This is the dilemma, isn’t it? This is the age-old theme for writers. This is what inspired this blog in the first place. Finding the time and the space to write in the whirlwind world we’ve created for ourselves. Bills must be paid, laundry done, food made, dishes cleaned. How does one find–no, make–the time for creativity? Today, I am leaning precariously on a stack of summer reading reports (probably plagiarized) in order to write. I may not be writing on the prompt (of my own choosing), but at least I am writing.

And so are they. Once again they took their stories in all different directions and left the room with smiles on their faces. That’s today’s lesson: write, share, smile.

And eventually clean off the desk.

my desk


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