Wednesday, October 24, 2012

750 words: Week 1

On 4th of July when I was in 7th grade, we left the race track early and couldn't see the fireworks because sheets of rain enclosed the empty fields. I remember mothers and fathers miserably dragging coolers and lawn chairs through the flooded streets - drooping hats and sunken blankets wrapped around soaked clothing, desperate attempts to keep dry in a downpour of water. I remember children racing their friends to the parking lot, screaming and laughing because their hands were empty and they were free to run without the weight of pulling anything behind them. My Aunt Wanda moved closer to us that year, and earlier I had bragged to her all night that our fireworks were the best in the whole world, and that she wouldn't ever see fireworks like this in Baltimore. I remember the lipstick on her teeth when she smiled at me; she often had smeared lipstick but I never said anything because I kind of liked that about her. She wasn't put together like all the old women in Pinehurst. Somehow neither of us were upset that the fireworks had been rained out, and we both ran to the car, laughing in gulps of rain and slipping on puddles of mud. We finally made it back to the house and stripped our wet layers to dry in front of the fireplace. We spent the rest of that night telling stories about rainstorms until it was late and I was too tired to tell if I was dreaming up words or hearing bits of conversation. Before my Aunt Wanda walked out the front door, I sat up and noticed her pants were still hanging in front of the fireplace. "Aren't you going to take your pants, Aunt Wanda?" I said. She laughed and said, "it's late, I'm just going to drive home and hope I don't get stopped!" I remember knowing in that moment that I loved her very much.


Mrs. Black was short with white hair. She had orange, leather skin because of the tanning bed or so my mother told me. Her teeth were perfectly straight and white making it obvious they were fake, and when she scolded me for talking I couldn't help but stare at them. She wore black pants and a light blouse every day, except for the one time I saw her at the grocery store with my mother. She wore a white visor and a tennis skirt, and I tried to cover up my horror that I had seen a teacher outside of school, her alligator skin, naked knees and all. What surprised me most was that she looked kind and softer than under those fluorescent lights, and ever since that day she smiled when she saw me at school, reminding me of our little secret. 

"Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground -- you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it's going to get. Tidiness makes me think of held breath of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move." -- Anne Lamott

As writers, we have to push past the fear of perfectionism and just write. If we want to become better writers, we must practice writing the kind of fiction or nonfiction we want to write. The idea behind 750 words comes from a book called The Artist's Way and the use of morning pages. Morning pages are stream of consciousness writing to exercise creativity and teach you to get in the habit of writing at least three pages a day.The idea is to clear your mind, allowing for a free flow of ideas for the rest of the day and to free yourself from getting stuck on editing or anything else that may stifle creativity.This writing is a great tool against writer's block, but I struggle with writing a quick draft and clicking publish. That's why every Wednesday, I'm going to post at least one (part or whole) of my 750 word writing exercises from my week. I am currently using writing prompts from Natalie Goldberg's book, Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir. I would love for you to join me! Feel free to grab the image below and post a link of your own 750 word exercise posts in the comments. Click here to see all 750 word posts.


  1. I love this idea, I don't know if it Motherhood or just life but I once wrote a lot and loved it and now I barely can craft a coherent sentence. I hope to see more and maybe join in.

  2. Yes, I know the feeling.. haha, not the craziness of motherhood, but definitely life getting in the way of writing. I'm trying to hold myself accountable as best I can. I hope you do join in, Ellie! :)

  3. thank you! I Hope you join in one week ;)

  4. i have this book on memoir and have been meaning to use it - thanks for the nudge, mollie. love your stories.

  5. Abby, thanks for reading, I love reading all of your posts! And glad I could remind you.. it's a fabulous book :)

  6. Ah...refreshing, thank you so much! Your post has definitely inspired me! I post on my blog once a week, but once wrote stories all the time. Like Ellie, I too think life and all that goes with it has taken center stage. I'm so looking forward to getting back into writing short stories...thanks to you;-))


"Pleasant words are [like] honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Proverbs 16:24