Posted by: mew | December 16, 2009

freewrite no. 1

Finally, I have my response to that first freewrite prompt.  If you’d like to read a previous freewrite on a different subject, there’s also this one, of which I’m rather fond.  I’m not thrilled with how this turned out, but that’s the reality of freewriting.  Sometimes you break through to something really great; sometimes it’s the practice itself that counts.

I did not edit these at all.  Freewrites sometimes come out a little messy, especially the punctuation, spelling, grammar.  That stuff isn’t important, because you can easily clean it up later.  I left the writing exactly as it came out on the page so that those of you interested in doing your own freewrites may see an actual one, not the spruced-up-for-publication version that might make all of our perfectionists come out of our souls’ rehab units to criticize whatever we manage to produce before the timer sounds.

Without further ado, here is the first half of the exercise, based on the prompt “I know”:

I know that in this dark blue time, my pen sometimes gets stuck.  My feet freeze solid to the ground.  Tendrils of hair turn silver & let their thorns grow wooden & stiff.  I can hear them now, scratching at my temples, longing to get in there where it’s warm and the blood burbles along, talking to itself.

What am I babbling about now?  I might as well be talking to myself.  I know I don’t really know anything anymore.  It’s late, late, & all that newly-hatched spring chicken confidence has faded, leaving only this bird whose wary eyes tell her feet when to run.

I know I’m resisting this exercise.  I know I’ve been avoiding the page.  The sky is grey & tired, & everyone wants to avoid pain.  The dry stems rattle against each other in the wind, saying absolutely nothing.

In the fullness of summer, every breeze’s caress sparked a hundred mysterious whispers, undecipherable perhaps, but heavy with portent.  My path was marked with color.  Wild grape vines dangled down to me, & saplings rose up in my wake.  I just knew I was moments from understanding the secret of life, the meaning of the universe.  If I spoke aloud, I’d be lifted up into the blue dome to melt into infinity.  Infinity, I knew like an old friend.  Infinity I knew as a window of blue behind the parallel power lines.

If I speak now, words go straight up through the branches into the grey, quickly get lost in cloud bank and disperse at a hint from the moonlight.  My voice is less substantial than smoke.

That happens sometimes.

But such spaces have opened up in my forest!  The sky is not a window anymore.  I know it is me who is the window, with a cold wind rattling the frame, a wind that has covered a continent and will not stop.  It will keep on going, pass right through me on its way to the ocean storm.  I will know only the clean space that it leaves behind — my eyes are wide open.

And here’s my follow-up, based on the prompt “I don’t know”:

I don’t know is my twin.  I don’t know is the easiest thing for everybody concerned.  I don’t know how to get it together.  I don’t know non-attachment — yet.

I don’t know why the mud at the bottom of the lake should be so soft & slimy, or why touching it with my bare toes makes tears leak from the corners of the sky.  I don’t know why I can walk into a room & light up like a radar screen, even against my will, & why I could tell you how he’s feeling & how she’s feeling, why he’s nursing his fifth drink so early on, why she can’t leave the buffet table, why her smile doesn’t quite cover up the dark edge anymore, why his outline wobbles as he turns away from her in mid-sentence.

I don’t know why humanity doesn’t make us all just weep all the damn time — or why when I wrote that my face birthed a secret smile.

I wanted suddenly to laugh and laugh again, & dance like a little girl again, & shout to the things living in the slime at the bottom of the lake, & shout to the weepy corners of the sky, & shout to the drunken man & shout to the woman with her mouth full, & shout to the scared ones & the manipulated ones, & shout to the hardened ones & the brittle ones, & shout to me too, to my secret self that knows what that ridiculous smile is all about, shout “Hey, I don’t know for sure yet — But don’t you think, don’t you wonder if, it might all be a game?”

“I don’t know” is home.  “I don’t know” has razor-sharp teeth.  “I don’t know” is sane, the sanest thing I know.

Whew.  Let me just say, it is harder than I thought it would be to press publish on an unedited freewrite.  Almost like inviting the world to have a look at your worst rough draft, just for a laugh.  I’m hoping it won’t be as difficult to read as it was to publish.

If you’ve done a freewrite on prompt no. 1, please won’t you let me know in the comments?  I’d love some company in this wide-open, rough-draft space.

Oh, and the photos are mine, too.



  1. wow! 🙂
    i get it! i got it before, but i get it even better now.
    i like it a lot! there are several fine observations in there that you captured that made me smile too- really, this is a *fantastic* example.

    i tried this immediately when the prompt was announced and put it down as quickly as i picked it up- i am more motivated to try this again- will do so tonight!

    • I’m so glad, elsa 🙂 You never know what exactly will come out when you set the pen to paper. If it motivates you, I think it definitely qualifies as successful 🙂

  2. Enjoyed this very much.
    Meredith… good writing is a gateway to a larger mystery.

    • gemma, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m always searching out that “larger mystery,” it seems.

  3. I used to look in the mirror and see one me on the left and another me on the right. Now there’s only me being. Oh, I sway a little now and then. 🙂

    The true feminine is a little wickedness that delights …

    • I sway and stumble as if in a high wind 🙂 — but still trying to settle on the middle way. And I truly appreciate your comment, Mark.

  4. wow. I think it is powerful stuff you just shared…words that show how deeply connected you are…how deeply empathetic you feel.

    • Aw, brandi, thank you. I honestly think the writing sounds more powerful and deep than I usually feel or share in day-to-day life. I’m a big fan of keeping the drama on the page, in the art, where it belongs… instead of spilling it at the dinner table, for instance 😉

  5. So inspiring! Thank you!

  6. M! hope you are well and fully enjoying the season!
    i just wanted you to know that i plan to do this ex with my husaband- we almost did last wednesday night but he and my son suddenly became violently ill- stomach virus.
    i am so glad it is over!
    anyway, will let you know how it goes soon

    • Aw, elsa, I’m glad it’s over, too. That stomach virus sounds terrible. Take care of yourself! There are always more writing exercises 😉

  7. your writing is beautiiful and raw here… I will be back to learn from you… winter blessings, roxanne

    • Thank you, roxanne. “Raw” is a wonderful description of how it felt to me. I felt especially raw and exposed when posting it on the blog.

      Winter blessings to you, as well. 🙂 (I love that expression!)

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