Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weekend Inspiration

How was your weekend?  I hope it was either entirely relaxing or entirely exhilarating--or something equally wonderful.  Mine was filled with good things like a meal shared with friends, a morning of watching my nephews play basketball, and a long hike through the snow in a beautiful forest near the ocean.  It was also a weekend of some serious face time with the two beasties you see in the photo above.  If you are new to The Magpie's Fancy, please allow me to introduce Scout and Dill.  As I sit on the sofa typing this post, they are asleep--Dill on the cushion beside me, snoring slightly, and Scout on the coffee table.  They may be sleeping now, but often when I am writing they are wide awake, staring at me just like you see them in the photograph.  Sometimes it seems they are willing me to write more, or maybe just to write better.  It can be unnerving, but mostly I appreciate the support.  

Speaking of writing and support, I have been loving all the emails I've been getting from folks who are playing along with the Freewrite Friday exercises.  Your feedback is incredibly inspiring.  The photo of the notebook above and the map below were sent to me by Jenner.  She has promised to send her color exercise along, too.  I can't wait to read it!  I love that her map has no words, but does have lovely paws and feet and hearts.    

Oh, and I was so excited to receive a color exercise from the amazing and talented Vicki Archer of French Essence.  Vicki's blog and her books, My French Life and French Essence, are sources of great inspiration for me, and it's a joy to share her writing exercise with you.  If you haven't tried this one yet, perhaps Vicki will inspire you:


If my colour had a mood it would be a happy one. If my colour had a face it would be smiling, it would be a bright shiny smile that would light up the darkest of glooms. My colour is the hue of my childhood and the tone of my adolescence.

Memories bounce back to life - people, places and objects come quickly to mind when I imagine my colour. My childhood bedroom was a little girl's dream to wake up in; nasty nightmares and grizzly thoughts would banish as soon as my eyes opened. My spirits would lift as the familiar came into focus.

Milestones were marked by my colour - my first and only role on the stage, my first kiss, my first valentine... my first child. My colour is as soft as a newborn's cheek and as strong as an evening sunset. My colour is as sweet as candy and as bitter as cough elixir. My colour is as loud and sharp as the flash of fireworks that light up the night sky. My colour is as long as a bolt of silk and as smooth as a reel of thread. My colour is as fragrant as the rose that flowers and perfumes my springtime.

You already colour is pink.

Vicki Archer
January 2011

Wishing you a week of inspiration and adventure.  xo Gigi

Friday, January 28, 2011

Freewrite Friday: The Rules of the Game

Today I have a new exercise for you and an update on the Color Exercise.  

Take a leap of faith with me and try this exercise.  It's one I made up for myself one week when I needed to write a new poem for a reading I'd been asked to give.  This one's called  The Rules of the Game:

  • At the top of a fresh page in your notebook, write "THE RULES OF THE GAME"
  • Now, think of a game you played as a child.  It may be a game you still play now or it may be one you haven't played in decades, but it must be one you learned to play as a child or adolescent.  It should be one that you have strong memories of playing.  It could be a board game, like Clue, or a sport, like football or kickball.  It could even be a social game like Spin the Bottle.  That would be great for this exercise.
  • Think about how you felt when you played the game.  Who did you play with?  Did you like the game?  Were you good at it or terrible?  Did you understand all the rules or were they always confusing to you?  Did you like the people you played with?  Did anyone cheat?  Where did you play it?  How did you feel when you won?  When you lost?  How often did you play?  What other associations does it call up for you when you think of it?  (For example, when I think of Monopoly, I think of a neighbor boy who always cheated at Monopoly.  He drank Coke straight out of a 2-litre bottle, and he'd belch while we played.  What nasty associations, but how rich for a writing exercise!)  Let yourself remember as much as possible about the game and your surroundings when you played.  Tap into all five of your senses.  Did you eat while you played?  Did anyone get into arguments?  How do you feel now when you think of the game?
  • Now, imagine you are writing out the rules of the game for someone else to follow.  Write everything as if it is a hard and fast rule.  The important thing to remember is that these are not the "official" rules.  You can get wild with them.  In fact, you should get wild with them.  For example, if I were writing the rules for Clue, I might begin like this: "1) All players must pick a character.  Only one player may be Miss Scarlet.  Everyone will secretly want to be her, but only one player--the oldest and bossiest girl in the room--may be Miss Scarlet.  2) If any player disputes this for more than five minutes, she must be forced to play Mrs. White from now until the end of time.  3) If there is a cute boy in the room, he must play Professor Plum.  4) The girl playing Miss Scarlet must secretly dream that Miss Scarlet and Professor Plum are in love and planning to elope after this stupid game is finished."
  • You might find that the rules leap from the game itself to your associations with the game.  For example, if I were writing the rules for Monopoly, I'd be making some serious rules about burping neighbor boys who cheat.
  • You might also find that the rules leap right out of the past: "The girl playing Miss Scarlet must grow up to be an investment banker who marries and divorces five men in her quest to find the real Professor Plum."
  • I'm writing about this in a joking way here, but the rules can be quite serious.  For example, maybe one of the people you used to play this game with is no longer alive.  The rules might become rules about how to survive without him/her.  That's what happened with my poem the first time I tried this exercise.  I'm not saying this exercise has these results every single time I do it, but I am saying that you can use it to jump start either a poem or a piece of prose that just might surprise you.  Also, there's no need to turn this into a poem.  It's a great exercise for prose, too.  I just happen to write a lot of poems.  In fact, you can read the poem I wrote here.  If you do, you'll see what I mean about letting yourself get wild with the game rules.  Just remember that the poem has been revised significantly from the original freewrite, which I've lost, sadly.
  • One of the reasons I think this exercise can really work is because it taps into childhood, that time when we were building relationships and learning to negotiate rules, both written and unwritten, spoken and unspoken.  We were watching carefully, learning how the world works, learning our own strengths and limitations, and learning, too, that even with rules, most games, like life, aren't always fair.
  • Take risks with this; write from your gut.  No burping, though.  Let me know how it goes.

Color Exercise Inspiration
The talented m. heart from Secret Notebooks, Wild Pages has shared her Color Exercise.  Read on for inspiration:  

The springtime sky was a cobalt bowl holding young leaves who stole their hue from the skin of Granny Smiths. It was kick-off-your-shoes weather, the grass a bright, inviting carpet, the whole park suddenly drunk on sweet chlorophyll. Beneath the spreading branches of an ancient Elm an old woman dozed on a park bench painted the color of fir trees on a gray afternoon, and a young mother tugged her toddler off the lawn by his soft, pale wrist, glancing scoldingly at the soiled knees of his pants as she hoisted him upright. At the sight of them Ishya squeezed her armload of library books a little tighter against her chest, a quick, sharp pang of envy rising from her gut and spreading its prickly heat towards her face. 
"Don't look back, don't look back, don't look back" and she didn't, rounding a corner instead and disappearing behind a bank of dense, leafy shrubs whose every bud was waiting, impatiently, to bloom

Thanks to everyone who is playing along and trying out these exercises.  Some of them may feel odd or uncomfortable or even just plain hard.  I hope so.  Writing well is never (well, almost never) easy.  But as my friend Christine says, "It's hard because it's worth it."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Touching Base: The Color and The Map

Hello, friends.  Thanks for all your comments and emails about last week's Freewrite Friday exercise.  I thought I'd share some of my own color exercise (part of the writing and one of the photos) with you.  

If you feel like sharing any of your Freewrite Friday work here on the blog, please feel free to send it to me.  Beneath the color exercise you'll find a couple of photos of the map exercise.  Thanks, Karen and Polly, for letting me share them!

Excerpt from Gigi's Color Exercise

The hiss of steam pulls you back from a daze.  There's the rattle of bone china, the cracked saucer unsteady in your hand, the paper napkins machine-stamped with daisies, the cream and sugar cubes, dry vanilla biscuits, and all that chatter to endure.  You stare at the women's teeth as they smile and take tiny bites.  One woman--you've been told she's your great aunt--dips the corner of her crustless sandwich into her cup once, twice before she tastes it.  Her movements are as measured and precise as the pearls around her neck.  Winter sunlight slants through the lace curtains.  Outside is snow and ice and the thrill of a long, slippery hill, but here in the house there's the tick of the clock, its moon face mocking you as your great aunt's pale parchment hands pour each lady a second cup.

Here are maps by Polly and Karen.  I've loved hearing about and seeing some of the maps people have made!  As you can see from these very different examples, there's no one way to do this exercise, which is part of why I love it.  Whatever will lead you into a rich writing session is what you're looking for.  I haven't read Karen's exercise, but I did get a peek at Polly's, and I was amazed by how richly detailed it was.  I wonder if she'll let us see some of it here on the blog.  :)  No pressure!  I just loved what you wrote. 
Polly's Map

Karen's Map

Looking forward to Friday.  I'll have a very straightforward exercise designed to get your pen moving and your heart pumping.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Night Travel

Nights when the snows came the little girl would lie wide awake in her bed and let her vision blur until moonlight, snowflakes, branches, and shadows conspired to carry her far away.  On those nights her bed was a raft in the middle of a sea shimmering with purple fish, or a carpet flying high above the blazing desert, or the back of a dragon to which she clung as the great beast cut through clouds.

Nothing about those nights was ordinary.  There were caves to explore, ancient relics to discover, kingdoms to reach before dawn.  And over time the little girl learned, as she traveled through the dark, that to be alone isn't always lonely, and the company of one's own thoughts can be a fine thing, indeed.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Freewrite Friday: The Color

Welcome back!  I've heard from so many of you over the past two weeks here on the blog, on facebook, and in emails.  Thank you for you comments, questions, and enthusiasm.  Remember, too, that if you post any exercises you've written on your own blog, you can give me the url for the post and I'll be happy to share it here.  Please feel free to pop in and let us know how the exercise went for you, too.  You can even share a favorite sentence or two in the comments.

Some folks told me that they fell right into last week's map exercise and the time flew by.  Others said it was a struggle to stay focused.  If you're having a hard time staying on track, or if you get stuck during an exercise, don't lose faith!  Keep writing.  Remember how I mentioned that kitchen timer of mine?  It's true that I'll often set it for twenty minutes or thirty minutes just before I begin to write.  That doesn't mean I can't write for longer.  I can write for an hour or two, if the spirit moves me.  What the kitchen timer does is keep me glued in the chair for at least thirty minutes no matter what.  If I get stuck or frustrated, I simply keep my hand moving across the page.  I'll even write, "I'm stuck, I'm stuck, I'm stuck" or "I don't know what to write next.  I really don't know what to write next."  And I'll scribble things like that for as long as I need to.  What happens is that my brain gets sick of writing silly stuff and kicks itself back into gear.  It's a trick I play on myself, and it really, really works.  Distraction is the plague of our age, and it can be tough to really focus on only one thing.  I turn off my cell phone ringer and any other electronic device that might buzz or bell or ring.  I also stay away from my computer during a freewrite session.  The temptation to check email or facebook or a hundred other naughty things is just too great.  For those thirty minutes it's just me and my pen and my notebook.  

If you've tried all this and it's still not working for you, invite a friend over.  Not just any friend.  Make it a friend (or two or three) who also likes to write or thinks she might like to write.  One of you set the timer and then go!  Afterwards, if you feel like it, you can share what you've written.  I've belonged to many a writing group over the years, and there's something about sitting in a little circle with like-minded souls that can really make some magic.  If you try this idea, please let me know how it goes.  In a week or two, we're going to do a collaborative exercise that will help you feel a little bit like you're in a virtual writing group.

Early 18th c. color wheel.  Image found here.

The Color

Like last week's exercise, this one begins with a warm-up.  Think of a color.  It may be one you really love, one you dislike, one that puts you in a certain mood, or one that you associate with a particular person, time, or place.  Whatever color you choose, make it one that matters to you.

Spend a good half an hour to an hour (or longer, if you can) noticing things that are that color.  They may be things in your house, things at work, at the grocery store--wherever.  You might even want to take a walk to look for your color.  If you feel like it, jot down things you see in your notebook; include the small details.  

In addition to things that you see, you may even want to think about sounds you hear or things you smell or taste that remind you of the color.  Does that sound a little crazy?  Let yourself play.  What is the color of a horn blaring?  What is the color of a long gulp of cold water?  Things we can't see at all can feel like colors.  That's why they call it the blues and why when we get angry we see red.  Synesthesia is the name for this crossover of senses, and it is a beautiful writing tool.

So, after you've sought out your color, now comes the freewrite.  Your instructions are simple, but you may find them challenging to follow.  Open your notebook and write for twenty minutes (or more) about your color without ever saying its name.  If your color is blue, you are going to show blue without ever writing the word "blue."  You may want to simply describe the things you've been seeing.

If you have time during the week, try this same exercise with another color.  Does it trigger a memory for you?  A scene?  Let that memory come into your writing.  Show the color as vividly as you can using as many of your senses as you can.  

Several people told me that when they tried the map exercise last week they were surprised to find that even though all they were doing was describing a journey, their piece of writing took on a tone and an emotion.  This same thing can happen with the color exercise.  Have fun, and please let me know how it goes.

P.S. For you photographers out there, you could pair this exercise with a photography exercise.  Imagine a series of brown photos, a series of whites, a series of pinks, etc. . . .   


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


As some of you know, my word for the year is grace.  Matthew 7:7 reads, "Seek, and ye shall find."  Well,  all I had to do was type the word, and already grace has arrived this year in many forms, including intense conversations with smart and inspiring people, real paper notes and emails from dear friends, links and features online from beautiful prairiegirl and amazing Bine, wonderful enthusiasm about the Freewrite Series from lovely people like Robin and Karen, and incredible support from my husband in more ways than I can count.            

And then this morning, while I was scrubbing out the bathtub, grace arrived right on my doorstep in the form of a package from my sister-in-law (and fellow magpie) Cate.  Cate and I share many traits, including a passion for paper, an obsession with all things sparkly, and a love of crafting with--you guessed it--paper that is sparkly.  So when I opened the package to discover a glittery gift inside, I almost didn't want to open it.  It was that pretty.  See the polka dots on the paper?  Those are lovely flocked circles underneath the glitter.  Sigh.

But open the gift I did, and what was inside?  Eternal grace, of course.  Cate had read my word-for-the-year post, and she sent me some grace of my very own to begin the new year right.  What a gift she is.  

Thank you so much for your emails and comments about the Freewrite Series.  I've been hearing interesting stories about the map exercise, and I look forward to hearing more this coming Friday when I post the next exercise.  Please feel free to stop by and join in any time it strikes your fancy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Freewrite Friday: The Map

Welcome back.  I'm glad you've come!  If you missed the first post in this series, you can find it here.  

I'm calling these inspiration sessions Freewrite Fridays, because I want you to think of them as a time and a place where you can free your mind.  These exercises won't be about editing and polishing.  Instead, they will be about mining for gold.  We'll generate new material (I'll be doing the exercises right along with you), and see how far we can take our imaginations.  Hopefully, you'll find that you explore places and ideas in your writing that you never have before.  As we go along, I'll start sharing some exercises for revising and shaping your writing, but for now, we'll focus on generating ideas.    

A few nuts and bolts before we begin:
  • If a little editor usually sits on your shoulder when you write, whispering and hissing in your ear, filling you with doubt, flick him (or her) off your shoulder right now.  Good writing is about process.  I will say this again and again.  Revising plays an important role in that process, as does editing, but not right now, not while generating ideas.  This part of the process is about playing.  Who can play when there's an annoying editor telling us everything we do is wrong or silly or not good enough?  
  • Please feel free to share thoughts about your writing process in the comments section of each post.  I'd love to hear how it's going for you, and if you have writing questions, I can answer them there, too.
  • While this isn't a formal class, and you won't be sending me your exercises, if you have a blog of your own and you ever feel like posting something you've written on your blog (even a scan or photo of your notebook pages), please let me know you've done it so I can provide a link!
  • I have made a little sidebar badge for Freewrite Fridays.  You're welcome to grab it from my sidebar and bring it on over to your blog, if you'd like to share these sessions with your own readers.
  • Last but not least, I will often ask you to begin a writing exercise by doing something other than writing.  Think of it as warming up your brain.  You wouldn't begin a run without stretching out and warming up first, right?  Sometimes we get nowhere when we just sit down and tell ourselves to write.  But when we listen to a piece of music first or go outside and take a photo of a gnarled apple tree or go to the kitchen and read through a gingerbread recipe, our brain warms up.  We aren't thinking, "Write, dammit!"  That can be the best time to sit down with pen in hand.
Okay, on to the first exercise!

This exercise begins with a warm-up that is incredibly fun (and sometimes quite eye-opening) to do.  Note, too, that it can be done all at once, or you can do the warm-up one day and the writing on another day. 
  • Grab your writing notebook or just a few sheets of paper and some colored pencils, crayons, pens, or whatever you've got.
  • Let your brain wander back through journeys you have taken in your life.  I don't necessarily mean that grand tour of Europe you took when you were 20 or your backpacking trip along the Appalachian Trail.  I mean journeys great and small, including the drive through dairy farms every summer to visit your grandparents up north; or the shortcut through the field you used to take when you were eight to buy Sugar Daddys and Sweet Tarts at the corner store; or the half-hour commute to work you've made twice a day, five days a week for the past fifteen years; or even the path through your house from the sofa in the living room to the cookie jar in the kitchen.  That's a journey of a few yards, but for some of us it holds great significance.
  • Now, let your brain choose one journey that is important to you.  It doesn't matter why it is important.  The reasons for its importance may be positive or negative--or a combination of the two.  It only matters that it has significance in your life.
  • Now, in your writing notebook or, if you prefer, on a separate sheet of paper, draw a map of the journey.  Do not consult a "real" map to make sure you're correct.  Do not worry about scale or accuracy.  Do not worry if it looks good or bad.  Take some time with your map.  When I've done this exercise in the past, I've started in pencil and then drawn over that with pens or colored pencils.  Be sure to show your starting and ending points, and all the in-betweens that matter to you.  If a particular sign or landmark is important to you, mark it, label it, show its importance on the map.  If one part of the journey is long but feels short (or vice versa), show that on the map.  If one part feels dangerous, show that, too! Just think of old explorers' maps with their warnings that "Here be monsters" out in the vast ocean.  
  • Make your map as detailed as you want.  As you draw, think about why this journey matters to you.  Is it because of what is at the end of the journey or is it because of the journey itself?  Maybe it's both.  Let your thoughts on this become part of the map.  Remember, it doesn't matter how perfect the map looks.  It's nobody's but yours.  When you're finished, you might not have a map that someone else could follow with any luck, but you will have a map that feels quite accurate and true to your own memories and emotions.  
  • Now for the writing!  Try to give yourself a good half hour or more for this.  I sometimes set my kitchen timer.  When you free-write, remember not to judge the writing.  Just keep going; let the pen move.  Don't worry about grammar, spelling, or punctuation at this point.
  • Write a description of your journey in your writing notebook.  Not a story, not an essay, not a finished anything--just a description of your journey.  Use all of your senses--touch, smell, hearing, taste, and sight--as you write.  You can refer back to the map you drew as often as you like.  If other people usually take that journey with you, be sure to include them in your description.  Be as detailed as possible.  At the top of the page, before I even begin, I sometimes write, "Why does this journey matter to me?"  It helps to keep me on track.
  • When you've finished, read it over.  Put the notebook away.  Come back an hour or a day or a week later and read it again.  Do you discover any surprises there?   Where might this piece of writing lead you next?  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Manuscripts and Leaves

While I read poetry submissions for Newport Review and gulp down yet another Earl Grey, the storm outside rages.  How good to be cozy inside with a cat curled up at my feet.  This photo is of the roof of the art studio next door.  

Tomorrow I'll climb out of bed early to take shots of the freshly-fallen snow, but for today I'm dreaming of a walk earlier this week at Bradbury Mountain, where the evergreens actually glistened in the sunlight and the leaves of some of the deciduous trees still clung to their branches.

Thanks to everyone who has left messages about Friday's exercise.  
I'm looking forward to it more than I can say!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Morning Walk

We take an early morning walk through our neighborhood in the freezing cold.  Sunrise over the harbor makes the frigid air almost bearable.  Bundling up helps, too.  Todd had on so many layers he looked like this:

But he didn't get frostbite, and neither of us got beat up by bullies or got our tongues stuck on any flagpoles, so it was a good walk.  Heading down Wharf Street, I saw these paper whites in the window of Street & Co.  At first all I could think about was the fact that my own paper whites have all passed by, and I added "buy more bulbs" to my mental list of things to do, already slipping into my "get things done" mode.  Then I stopped myself for a moment.  The bulbs were lovely in the thin early morning light, thriving in their clay pot, with just a pane of glass to protect them from the cold.   

And that got me to thinking about winter--how I like it less and less with each passing year, and yet its extremes are beautiful.  Everything lives on the edge in winter.  So much is at stake for animals and people, birds and plants.  Tonight there's a storm coming in, so tomorrow the city will lie muffled and bundled under the snow.  Everything will slow down.  We don't get those pauses the rest of the year, so maybe there's something to be said for the chill.  

By the way, thank you for all the lovely comments on the writing inspiration post!  If you haven't seen it yet, you can find it here.  Hope to see you on Friday for the first exercise!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Writing Inspiration: The Notebook

I can't remember a time when I didn't love to write.  In grade school, on days when it poured and we were forced to have recess indoors, my friend Missy and I would challenge each other to write a whole story by the end of recess.  Our number two pencils would fly across the wide-ruled pages so quickly that we'd have to stop and sharpen them at least twice before the bell rang.  I finally wised up and started bringing in my father's hard-leaded number 4 Ticonderogas; I could whip through an entire story about Gary the Grape or Mr. and Mrs. Brown the Circus Clowns without so much as looking up from the page once.  My love of writing stemmed from a love of reading, and that, I know, came from the early days of my parents reading me stories when they tucked me in at night.  Every child deserves this beginning in life.  It is a gift that will serve her and grow with her throughout her life.

As an adult, I've been writing and publishing since my early twenties.  I earned my MFA in creative writing in my late twenties, and writing and teaching others to write have been at the center of my life ever since then.  If you are someone who shares this passion for the written word, I hope you'll keep coming to visit me in the coming months.  On Fridays I'll be offering a writing exercise, tip, or bit of inspiration.  All of these exercises are ones I use myself or ones that I have used over the years to help students hone their skills and develop their craft.  If you feel like you want to improve your writing or that you just want to feel more inspired, try some of these exercises and tips for yourself.

This week's piece of inspiration is a basic--but important--one:  If you don't own a writing notebook already, find one and make it your own.  It doesn't have to be a leather-bound, hand-stitched wonder, but it can be if that's your preference.  Really, a cheapie lined notebook will do.  I use small-ish notebooks that I buy in large-ish quantities at Bob Slate's in Cambridge, MA.  They're inexpensive, but the paper is a soft green that I find soothing to my eyes, and I love the line width.  I write a lot, so I need a constant and affordable supply!    

Why a writing notebook? you may ask.  Why not just tip, tap, type away on my laptop?  My answer is simple.  You need it.  Writing with a pen or pencil is completely different from typing on a computer.  It uses different parts of your body, different parts of your brain.  I taught college for a long time, and I was always fascinated by a roomful of students taking an essay test.  As their pencils moved, their whole bodies became involved in the writing process.  Some bobbed their heads, some hunched over, some moved their mouths as if speaking the words, some slid right to the edge of their chairs, almost as if  they were about to hop up and chase after the elusive perfect phrase.  We don't use our whole bodies in the same way when we type, and we certainly don't use our brains in the same way.  Writing by hand is messy business.  When our hand moves across the page there's a direct physical connection between thought and hand and pen and page.  We are touching our thoughts, tracing them, shaping them into being, almost like a sculptor.  I'm talking magic, and that's just what we need to do some serious writing.  So if you feel like working on your writing this winter, get yourself a writing notebook--or start a new one special just for 2011.  If you feel artsy, decorate it.  If you can't be bothered with that, leave it plain.  But DO put your name and email address on it, and do write somewhere on the inside cover a dollar amount award for its recovery if lost.  Make it have value right from the start.  Make it your very own.

Once it's yours, bring it with you everywhere you go (this is why I use small notebooks; they can slip right into whatever bag I'm carrying).  When you see something gorgeous or weird or funny or frightening or infuriating, write it down in your book.  When you dream up a question, write it down.  When your kid says something funny, write it down.  When you overhear two women talking at the coffee shop about the bachelorette party they went to, write down a snippet of their dialogue.  Think of everything as raw material.  Some of you already do this and have done it for years.  If you have never done it, start to.  You can use this same notebook for the exercises I'll be posting here or for your own story/poem/essay ideas.  Just don't let it become a place where you jot down to-do lists.  Never write things like

toilet paper
nail polish remover

in your writing notebook.  Let it be special.  Make it yours.

I'll meet you back here next Friday with an exercise.

The above photos are by me, processed using greydaystone texture by Kim Klassen.