August 28, 2009
Today I rushed to the Kennedy Center to get stuck there during a rain. Black clouds sailed into view. Lightning flashed. The storm approached rapidly, but I made it ahead of the rain. Naughty fellow, rushing away from my office instead of back towards it, risking spending more than a lunch hour away from work.
I stood under the towering eve on the Kennedy’s Potomac side, rain pouring just beyond me, my mind full of thoughts and ideas, and decided it was time to start writing regularly. Finally! I thought, why not approach writing like I tell my wife and children to approach a big job: subdivide it. Don’t aim for a novel, a short story or an essay. Only commit to write one good sentence per day. If I write two or two hundred, o.k. My commitment, however, is one. The Julie and Julia project blog and movie inspires me. It tells the story of a stymied writer not writing, depressed, unfulfilled. She makes a public (blogged) commitment to cook through The Art of French Cooking in one year. For me, I will write one decent sentence a day.
As the rain gushed around me, so did ideas in my brain. I toyed with names for the project, (the blog?). The Sentence A Day Club (SAD?! Oh brother!). The Sentence Per Day club? How about 365 Sentences Per Year? Per annum? 365 PA/PY? It is a little depressing to lack the imagination at the moment to even conjure a name I like.
Then, just like clockwork, it happened. I no sooner decided on a small, doable goal, when my mind races head to other things, bigger than just writing a sentence. I realized that I do lots of literary things. I read books. I read magazines. I read papers. This dyed-in-the-wool fiction reader is even reading essays, biographies and histories. I memorize poems. I study favorite writers (Robert Burns, E.B. White). I even host, with my wife, literary events like a Burns Night last January and her Poetry Birthday Party in December. I realized I was inadvertently putting myself through a sort of Remedial Literary Review 101 and somehow wanted to make it a part of the Daily Sentence.
Again, I wondered what I’d call this project? I admire writers who pair words that don’t seem to belong together and decided to use the word Word juxtaposed with another word. Word Kaleidoscope? Word Bag? Word Bar? How about Word Picnic? That comes the closest to what I’m thinking of. A project, whether blog or journal, that, like a picnic basket I can fill with lots of scrumptious things, fine soft cheeses, a fresh baguette, wine, a tin of smoked sardines, fresh tomatoes and fruit, a flask of scotch, plus cleverly packed implements: plates, glasses, a corkscrew, utensils, salt and pepper shakers, tablecloth, cloth napkins. Maybe more. Then people can look into this basket and find sentences, hopefully good ones. And more: books I’m reading, poems I’m memorizing, reflections, ideas.
I first thought of making it a blog. I considered a plain version, no photos or cleverness except with words. Since my job isn’t totally private, however (I work in the public sector), I needed to think through it. I liked the blog idea because it adds the public twist I know I’ll need to make this commitment stick, but maybe there’s another way, at least for now. Here are the rules I set for the project:
1. I will use Google Sites. No blog for now. Not sure why. Just no.
2. I am attempting to find a way to publicly commit to writing. Sort of a mini vow with a handful of witnesses.
3. I will write at least one good sentence per day. Like cleaning one small corner of a messy room.
4. I will not discuss any subject I wouldn’t want to be associated with publicly.
5. I will discuss things I see, read, and experience except for specific work-related or employer policies or practices.
6. I will not, at least at first, make any effort to publicize the site. I’ll be held accountable by my wife, my children, and possibly a nephew or three. I’ll give them access to it and let them read it or not as they choose. Just knowing they could is what matters.
Word Picnic (bag, bar, kaleidoscope, smorgasbord)
The Life Literary
The Sentence a Day Club
Sentence Per Day