The best writing group I’ve ever been a part of wasn’t an official writing group. In fact, I didn’t realize it was a writing group until reading Claire Curtis’ article “The Rules of Writing Group,” in which she explains the rules of a writing group, including its ideal size: three people.
For the month of September, I decided not to have any sweets.
It all started with a friend of mine, Cana. Her family spends each September breaking the sweet-tooth habit, having spent the summer eating many, many sweets. A serious sweet-tooth myself, I thought this sounded like a good idea. So we did it together.
I might as well mention that I fast from sweets every Lent. We don’t fast on Sundays during Lent, though, as per tradition, so you get a break every once in awhile. Not so with Cana’s family. Go big or go home, I guess. In fact, if you have a sweet, you have to add an extra day to the end of your fast. This is Serious Business. But once I told her I’d do it with her, there was no going back.
My mother made a fresh loaf often, and I have many fond memories of coming home to the warm scent of bread permeating in the house. This was especially common in the fall, as the leaves turned red and we went off to school. I would walk through the door, the cool scent of rain and rotting leaves behind me, only to be hit by the heat of the oven. I’d bound into the kitchen and cut off a heel of bread, still hot, soft inside with crunchy crust.
I associate bread, good bread, with home as much as anything else.
Kate DiCamillo is the award-winning writer of the some of the most poignant pieces of children’s literature: Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. In researching her writing process, I discovered that her entire process is best summarized in the following quote:
“You just have to find a way to write and then rewrite, and then rewrite, and then rewrite…”
I eat the same thing for breakfast almost every day: coffee with milk and a bowl of Bob’s Red Mill oatmeal with two kinds of raisins, peanut butter, and half of a banana. The oatmeal varies occasionally, of course. Sometimes the cafeteria doesn’t have bananas. On Saturday, I’ll have a piece of bread and maybe an apple. On Sunday, the cafeteria doesn’t open until late, so I have a bowl of instant oatmeal (Apple-rosemary-cheddar flavored! It’s better than it sounds.) and a cup of coffee before I go to church.
I have found that I am more eloquent when I write than when I speak. Now, if you have ever heard me speak, or have any common sense, this will not surprise you. I tend to speak just below the speed of light with the lovely, un-enunciated accent of the Northwest, full of jumbled ideas and desperate thoughts. Thus the blank page is marked with a sense of relief; I can erase jumbled words, delete inarticulate opinions, and present myself, five drafts later, as a person who knows the subject they speak about.
To some extent, I’ve always written for a specific audience. During my time as a writer, I’ve focused on three types of writing – essays, letters, and blogs – and each type of writing varies in tone and content.
The air suffocates with the promise of rain. Heat clings to your body. You’re drenched in sweat. Clouds build in the distance, marble castles in the sky, growing nearer and larger and darker as the hours pass. The anticipation sits on your soul. Time stands still.
Such is the nature of waiting, though rarely is it felt so physically. Yet it was present last weekend.