Random Acts of Writing
Celebrates 8 Years!
things we write about a lot
famous people we namedrop often
1. Henry David Thoreau
2. Ted Andrews
3. Emily Dickinson
4. Alice in Wonderland
from which people visit
1. United States
5. United Kingdom
by the ten thousands,
the total number of visits
to this blog since 2010
reasons we keep doing this
1. creative outlet
2. a writer’s gotta write, write, write
3. having a voice
4. shared experiences
5. finding common ground
6. meeting other cool bloggers
Thank YOU for being part of the history of Random Acts of Writing! I feel very blessed to have had such a diverse and creative community in which to share my musings for the past eight years, and look forward to more good things to come!
Celebrate and Sing Along!
Photo ©2018, Jen Payne
One of the most inspiring art exhibits I’ve seen in recent years was called “Suddenly This Overview.” On display at the Guggenheim in New York, it featured 250 small sculptures by artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss. The sculptures were made of a pale gray, unfired clay, and were presented individually on white pedestals around the curving spiral ramp of the museum. Clean, Times New Roman captions explained Pythagoras Marveling at His Theorem, Jesus Walks on Water, the Fish Are Amazed, and (my favorite) Mr. Spock Looks at His Home Planet Vulcanus and Is a Bit Sad That He Can’t Have Any Feelings.
At the time, I was in the middle of a blogging challenge to write a poem a day for the month of April – National Poetry Month. A friend asked what it felt like to write a blog post every day, and I couldn’t help but think of the Fischli/Weiss exhibit.
In an interview with Artspace, Weiss explained “The intention was to accumulate various important and unimportant events in the history of mankind and of the planet—moments in the fields of technology, fairy tales, civilization, film, sports, commerce, education, sex, biblical history, nature, and entertainment.”
That’s a sweeping, broad source of inspiration for them—and for us! (Aren’t those the very things WE write about, think about, create about?)
One of the Fischli/Weiss sculptures was a plain block of clay entitled Without Words. Their starting point, perhaps — a blank page of clay onto which they were challenged to put their thoughts and ideas. It’s that place we all start when we first listen to our own inspirations—what will we create today?
Blogging is like that block of clay. It gives us a place to start and a medium to shape into whatever our Muse suggests — a poem a day, for example. A book review. A photo essay. Random musings about mankind and the planet.
A blog can no more sit idle than that block of clay. It’s very nature is to be used, shaped, molded. To be a vessel for our creative efforts is its raison d’être.
All we need to do is show up…and shape it.
Photos of Without Words and A Copy of Jack Kerouac’s Typewriter by Jen Payne from “Suddenly This Overview,” by Peter Fischli and David Weiss at the Guggenheim Museum, April 2016. David Weiss quote from “The Pleasures of Misuse: An Interview With the Irreverent Swiss Artist Duo Fischli/Weiss,” Artspace, February 2016. (https://tinyurl.com/yc6cz5yh)
In addition to blogging, Jen Payne is the author of LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, and the new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind. Both books are available for purchase from Three Chairs Publishing.
We sit, five of us, naked
around the meeting table
in the office of the men
who arrive, late, in suits and ties,
and we laugh at how silly it is —
smart women, business women,
and these men
insisting their way
as we play along, again
he calls me
a little girl
and we laugh
Later, in the lobby,
as I hold up a bedsheet
to my hide my self
I see across the room
the lover who loved
with shouts and shoves,
he smiles and we laugh,
embrace like old friends,
then he shape-shifts
bear, fox, jackal, demon
holds a fist up to my face
And I wake up
their train window filmstrip
ever so briefly
I am a part of all that I have met
and they of me
resurfacing to remind
and retell stories
I almost forgot.
©2018, Jen Payne with a nod to Lord Tennyson. Photo courtesy of Pexels.
you don’t need
the workaday world
to tell you a storm’s coming
from this south-facing beach
the sidewinder waves
are forecast enough
a pock-marked sand
spares little for grounded gull
or me, here and searching
the whites of brants and buffleheads
flash distress along the surf
or just fair warning…..I cannot tell
one soul, solo
floats the unseen current
too far out to save
this is no fit place to be alone
my prayer, my worry
If you like this poem, you’ll LOVE Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, the new book by Jen Payne. Click here to buy your copy today! Poem + Photo ©2018, Jen Payne
When I told a friend last spring that I was writing a poem a day for National Poetry Month, she asked me how I found the inspiration for 30 poems.
“It’s like rummaging around in a junk drawer,” I told her. “You’re bound to put your hands on something!”
And sure enough, in April, I found inspiration from a seagull, bugs, a haiku class, a trip to the Dollar Store, and pizza. Among other things. (See the full tally here.)
Now granted, they are not all masterpieces. But that’s not the point. Like any writing challenge — NaNoWriMo, HistNoWriMo, SciFiWriMo — the goal is simply to get into the habit of writing.
“Simply” of course being somewhat of an issue if you are lacking inspiration. Which brings us back to that junk drawer. There are so many things in your junk drawer – think about it!
the first time you rode a bike
your best friend from kindergarten
what you had for breakfast
your first kiss
last night’s dream
what you saw on a hike last weekend
your favorite painting
the song you can’t get out of your head (and why)
an object sitting on your coffee table
So, GO! Rummage around — see what you can find. Reach way far back if you have to…and then CREATE! Describe, elaborate, enumerate, paint a picture with words (or even paint if you are so inclined). It doesn’t have to be perfect…as Nike says, JUST DO IT!
Here is some evidence of rummaging. This quirky little poem showed up from a post-it note I found on my desk one morning:
The note says (Chinese Food)
but it is random
out of context on a piece of paper
in a stack of papers
at least 2 months passed
my past included (Chinese Food)
and with whom?
and what is the purpose
of this little clue
set out for me to follow
too early even for General Tso,
though I never met him personally
rumor has it, he was a press man…
as a proponent of the written word
do you think he rose early
to consider form and function,
rhyme, reason and rice —
like this poet now hungry
for the pork fried variety at 6?
But a fair warning about rummaging…you have to be brave. You have to be brave because you never know what you’re going to find in that drawer. Sometimes, it will be as benign as a post-it note about Chinese take-out. Other times, you may pull out a ghost, some long lost memory that needs to see the light of day.
Hans Christian Anderson is credited with saying: “Everything you look at can become a fairy tale, you can get a story from everything you touch.”
Ultimately, isn’t that our job as creatives? Telling the story. No matter our medium — poetry, painting, prose — we are charged with the task of putting our hands on the story and sharing it with others.
So, get in there! Rummage around for the inspiration. Reach way far back if you have to…and then TELL THE STORY!
You can read more of Jen Payne’s poetry in her new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind available from Three Chairs Publishing.
Who wants transparency when you can have magic? Who wants prose when you can have poetry?
– The Crown (Edward, Duke of Windsor)