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Prompt: What do you want more than anything else in the world? What do you love, or what do you hate? Find a character, like yourself, who will want something or not want something, with all his heart. Give him running orders. Shoot him off. The follow as fast as you can go. The character, in his great love, or hate, will rush you to the end of the story. The zest and gusto of his need, and there is zest in hate as well as in love, will fire the landscape and raise the temperature of your typewriter thirty degrees.

Prompt is from Zen in the Art of Writing, The Joy of Writing, by Ray Bradbury.

Josie held her face pressed up against the store window, fingers splayed and tips grabbing, and her breath frosted a kiss on the glass.

It was beautiful.

The frame was a glossed black that looked too heavy to carry in the little red wagon beside her. There were more keys for letters than she knew how to make words with, and though the price tag dangling off the spacebar was a jumble of numbers she couldn’t see from the street, the metal stretching between heavy iron parts looked like it was made of silver, or a white elfin gold.

She wanted it and breathed a huff of a kiss that covered her view.

Hurry, quick—Josie reached up and ran her arm across it to create a viewing circle again.

The typewriter was gone from her circle, and in its place a man larger than Santa, beard sharper than Satan’s, stood. He gestured wildly at her, his potholder hands pushing towards her. As they swooped close to the glass, Josie stepped back and placed one little white shoe in a puddle of grey snow. She could have sworn the glass bent as he pushed his hands towards it.

He was a magician.

Through the glass she could hear his voice, a faraway echo from a sealed dungeon, shouting, “Go on! Off with you!” He kept moving his hands towards her, pitched her step by step further into the dirty town snow until she turned on her heel and ran.

Around the edge of his belly, though, Josie had caught a glimpse of it, silver winking her a goodbye.

Thoughts: This isn’t finished but I don’t know how to finish it. I barely knew how to start it, but it was a start, even if one that could be torn down and stacked back up again.

This exercise, though, is a great one. It’s harder than it may seem, at least for me, and one I’d want to try again. The thing about reading just the prompt without the essay to go beside it is that Ray Bradbury (I typed “great Bradbury”—he is great, too) isn’t just skilled at storytelling, but at motivating, as well. I read The Joy of Writing, and thought, “Gee, Mr. Bradbury, I don’t think I can do any of that, but I sure will try.”

And I thought until I threw out so many ideas and landed on an image of a little girl, face pressed against the glass.

Maybe I will rewrite it again later, and maybe I will get five steps further. In terms of writing, as it stands now, it has examples of what is the best and what is the worst of my writing. I will have to battle with them at another time.

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My magnetic poetry board at work. A few are from my coworkers, Andy, such as “bake every wet month” and “who will taste blue garden” and “treat your heart as another happy vacation machine”. I like them.

I need to use this board more often.

I shall clear it and start afresh.

It’s been years since I’ve felt like I could call myself a writer.

When I was younger, back when I was in high school, it was all I could do. Stopping writing was like stopping breathing; stopping would be to give up my sanity and fall into something darker. Writing was the smell of fresh air on a Spring morning, the sun rising after a storm, the place I could go to find something fantastical. Between reading and writing, I lived a different life.

I went to college and wrote as much as was necessary, and occasionally some more. The last thing I remember writing (of my own) was my “Big Thing” project for my last writing class in college. I still want it to be a book. But you have to write to have a book.

I graduated a little under three years ago.

Since then, I have written brief Harry Potter fanfiction, and scribbled images and plots on the backs of napkins and post-it notes, and scattered them throughout all the writing journals I have piled up in boxes, on the bookshelf, and even on the kitchen table.

But I am not a writer.

I need to find my writer’s voice, that passion that I know is hiding, somewhere, inside of me.

I used to be passionate about so many things. I wrote every day, once—I was a writer. I spoke Portuguese to a level of fluency most don’t know without being raised in it—I was gifted with a language. I exercised over two hours a day and, although I’d never look like the people in magazines, I was fit—I was the best image of me I can remember. I was a reader, a traveller, a person willing to do almost anything but jump out of an airplane.

Now, I’m subject to mild panic attacks, too comfortable sitting at home, and still won’t jump out of an airplane.

But I’ll start small. I’ll start with mile runs and daily exercise. I’ll start with reading every chance I get. Writing with whatever time I have—because what else is time good for?

I have the ideas. I have the skills hiding inside me, subdued and dusty but there, still. I just need to have the diligence. That is what this is. My exercise in writing and maybe something more. A reawakening of sorts.

Hello, world.

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