Sunday, September 6, 2020

40 Days, 40 Writes

Before I resumed the chalkboard poems in September, I was engaged in two other projects--one was reading: the Sealey Challenge to read poetry books in August, and one was writing: 40 Days, 40 Writes, designed to immerse you in daily writing practice. These projects overlapped and kept me very busy! And I recommend both!

Writing for 40 days again reminded me that the word "quarantine" refers to a 40-day period, a definition I encountered in various places as we all socially isolated starting in March. Ships had to stay docked for 40 days before passengers and crew could disembark during the Black Plague, though isolation periods for contagion existed long before that particular word came into use. One of the upcoming sessions at 40 Days, 40 Writes will use prompts created by writers during an earlier coronavirus quarantine session.

The new sessions start September 7, Labor Day--the basic session; September 14--a memoir session, and September 21--an alumni session for those who have done an earlier session. Programs are free, but you can donate. I recommend this for those who want to develop a daily writing practice as regular as a daily yoga practice or meditation practice, something you look forward to that also challenges you and helps you create your own rituals and/or insures you make time and space to write. Leader Robin sends little encouraging tips and reminders as you go, answers questions, and solves problems!

Since I have various forms of daily writing practice, I tended to use this as a freewriting opportunity, using the prompt and the suggested amount of time (in minutes that gradually increase) to explore what was on my mind and in my subconscious at the time of writing.

This alternated with times I read the prompt early and then mused on it during my walk to work and back, so the writing might be more rooted and planned by the time I physically wrote it down observing the time period.

Some of my writing came out in poem drafts, and I did notice a gradual readiness for new poems by the end of the 40 days, which may have been reinforced by all the reading during the Sealey Challenge! Of course, now I am writing poems about cryptids for a call for submissions from Jessy Randall, guest editing at Snakeskin! This one is the Kraken, aka Colossal Octopus by Pierre Denys de Montfort.

And now it is raining, though probably not for 40 days and 40 nights...

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