I Went to a Writing Group Today - November 27th, 2019

A writing group the day before Thanksgiving? Yes, of course. And the prompt isn't what you would expect.


I thought I might try something a little different today. I usually write interesting little stories. They often turn into something in between fairy tales and fantasy, which I like. But it's good to expand and try things, to push the edges and see where they actually are. This type of writing group is a perfect place to do that.

Each person has a different voice in their writing. Each person has certain tendencies, in tense, point-of-view, subject, sentence structure, everything. It's hard to break out of that. And to get better sometimes we need to.

There's one woman in the group that writes in this voice that's first person with some autobiography, but it sounds different. It's like a narrator doing a monologue. I've thought about giving that a try, so today I did.

The prompt was "cemetery."

- - - - - - -

We spend our lives ignoring our own mortality. Maybe it's more than that, maybe we spend our lives hiding from our own mortality.

We hide from it until we no longer can, until we can no longer deceive ourselves, and awareness is thrust upon us.

There are moments of clarity, I've had a few. Like in 2008 when I was standing with my back against an ice wall on a six inch ledge, staring 2,000 feet down and waiting for an avalanche. Or in 2015 when I was told I was going to die while vomiting blood over the edge of an unadorned deathbed in Kenya.

On Thursdays I get a chiropractic adjustment to keep my deformed C1 vertebrae from sliding into my brainstem. Afterward, sometimes, I take a walk through a cemetery nearby. I look at the graves and headstones and wonder.

I wonder if they ignored their mortality, if they tried to hide from it. I wonder what adventures they had, and what regrets. Did they have a close call, and what became of it? What dreams did they leave unfulfilled? What did they suffer, and love, and lose, and leave behind?

I wonder what those answers will be when it's my headstone that someone is staring at, wondering what my life had been. What dreams will I, leave unfulfilled?

- - - - - - -

It felt weird writing that, but people seemed to like it.

Something about what will I leave behind may have been better at the end.

I've really neglected my health for the last few weeks, or a bit longer. I've been getting it back in hand over the last week, but my body's still trying to catch up and recover. My cognitive abilities are slightly slowed. An eleven-year-old Russian student noticed this morning when we were writing together that I was writing a little slow, she didn't mind though.

But, even on a day like that, there's so much value in leaning in. In driving through a storm to a writing group the day before Thanksgiving and doing a writing exercise in a voice I've never tried before, and then publishing it online just before I go to bed to rest before teaching tomorrow morning. Of course I threw in a few other things, like learning about Moral Foundations Theory, researching great painters and taking in the movie "Loving Vincent", and other various reading and watching.

Ah life, sweet and sour life. Sweet in your plethora of ever expanding possibilities for discovery, and sour in your infinite complexity. Sweet in your opportunity, and sour in the decisive nature of your actuality.

________________________________________________

Read more of Jeff's thoughts at: http://www.jeffreyalexandermartin.com/

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