Wednesday, November 7, 2012

750 Words: Week 3

I was mad at you, so I washed the dishes. It was too late to wash them, and the room was dark and cold, but I had to clean because it was all a mess. I scrubbed the salad bowl and the frying pan until I saw a little scratch forming, silver in the light, like an airplane slicing through the deep blue, leaving its mark. I scrubbed each spoon until it squeaked and I brushed my dirty thumb over it again until it was time for another good washing. I stacked the dishes high, desperately trying to give each plate room to dry and breathe but there wasn't any room, so I dried them and put them away. The kitchen was spotless when I was done and you were still silent in the dark of our bedroom. It wasn't until I started to scrub the bathtub that I heard your voice, startling me even though it was small. You always break the silence. Even when I am neurotic and cleaning - everything my fault - you always call me back to bed. 


I am trying to get in the habit of writing more fiction when I can, especially young adult fiction. In order to improve our writing, we have to practice the kind of writing we want to write. My morning pages function as a great push to write fiction -- detached fiction. The idea is to set the timer for just a few minutes and post a very incomplete, rough draft piece of fiction. Try experimenting with all different kinds of writing in your morning pages, I truly believe it gets the creative juices flowing.

Cassie buried her thumb in her fingers, a habit that linked her to her father. He was a writer who wrote methodically by resting his left wrist bare on the table. He held his thumb tucked under folded fingers, occasionally squeezing tightly so that his veins and hand resembled a clenched fist. Cassie, like her father, was always told she looked angry.

“How did you expect me to react to this?” She said.

“Not like this, Cassie,” her mother said. Her voice was quiet and even. A lump was forming in Cassie’s throat.

“You promised. You promised I could finish out the school year with my friends. Dad doesn't even know their names, you know that right?”

“It’s not up to me, honey. I tried to--”

“Forget it. Seriously, just drop it. I’m sure Karl has already.” Cassie knew the knife she was holding in her words now. She didn't care. She wanted it to hurt.

“Karl has nothing to do with this. Your father is the one who insisted. You’re going to have to cooperate and that’s all there is to it. It’s only for one year, and then you can move back with--”

“--with you and your new family?” Cassie’s voice was growing wild and hysterical now, but her eyes were still and focused on her mother’s new diamond ring. It seemed out of place on her bony finger. Her mother looked at the floor and tightened her lips. Cassie knew that she was wounded, but she didn't apologize. All she cared about now were her friends – her real family, and Karl could go to hell. She thought about him and his step-daughter and how they both smelled like stale food and cigarettes. She thought about his lifeless eyes as he watched another episode of Ice Road Truckers in the dark, his pasty skin illumined by the television. Karl is a loser.


"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 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. you have inspired me to keep a journal of just morning pages. thank you. with three children and a household to manage i sometimes forget to take time to write.

    also, adding you to my favorite reads list on my blog ;)

  2. Elizabeth, wow! It is such an encouragement to hear that you've started your morning pages. And I am honored to be included on your reads list :) You're on mine as well!


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