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Wednesday Writing Prompt: Grab a Book by Rochelle Melander

Several times a year, this post goes around Facebook:

It’s National Book Week. The rules are: Grab the closest book to you. Go to page 56. Copy the 5th sentence as your status. Post these rules as part of your status.

Over the years, I have interviewed many writers who use the words of other writers to inspire their own writing practice. They copy out a sentence or two from a favorite writer. Then they use that sentence to drive their writing. They might:

*modify the sentence, playing with word and tense until they are inspired to write their own words.

*write a poem, using the words from the sentence as their beginning, a theme, or simply an inspiration.

*write about the topic of the sentence—either in praise of or argument against or something in the middle!

Writers, here is your assignment: Grab the closest book to you. Go to page 56. Copy the 5th sentence as your status. Then WRITE for ten minutes. See what happens. And please DO share your your sentences and books in the comment section below.

Just in case you do not have a book, here are a few quotes from my stack of books to get you started:

But at the time of writing, nothing is more confusing than to have the alert, critical, overscrupulous rational faculty at the forefront of your mind. —Dorthea Brand, Becoming a Writer

I have confidence in myself, and I shall manage by myself. —Etty Hillesum, Etty Hillesum: An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westbrook

In the days following Caleb’s leavetaking, I turned fifteen, and my narrow world became ever more straitened. —Geraldine Brooks, Caleb’s Crossing

PS: National Book Week on Facebook is August 20-26, 2011. Save your quotes and get ready to celebrate!

3 Responses

  1. Beth Hoffmann

    “‘What do I do with this?'” from Right Side Up! Reflections for Those Living with Serious Illness, by Marlene Halpin, a book I was privileged to review for Mid America Publishers Association. Obviously I don’t discard things easily. The book was copyrighted in 1995, and if I’ve touched it since I wrote an evaluation, it’s been to move it from one shelf to another, probably from across the room to across the computer desk.

    What do I do with lost stuff?
    *I remember my mother-in-love’s starting point: where were you the last time you know you had it? Often if I knew that, I wouldn’t be searching now, but sometimes it has helped me remember where to look.
    *I remember my Aunt Bonnie’s wisdom: look under something. That’s been so effective my “Aunt Bonnie wins again!” has been adopted by my husband.
    *I remember Grandpa Olson’s advice: The worst place to put your keys is in your pocket, because then you must remember what pants you were wearing the last time you know you had your keys. That helped us find something Daddy had put in his church pants pocket and not removed when he changed clothes between worship and delivering to a shut-in the flowers from the service.
    *I start my method, which takes forever but is effective: put away what’s where it doesn’t belong until you come to what you’re looking for. My house looks much better after I’ve done serious searching for a missing item.

    What do I do with found stuff?
    *If I have no clue about the item’s utility, I ask someone else.
    *This summer I depended on Daddy’s brains and my little bit of brawn to accomplish several things at his house. Mom used to say she thought she should keep things as good as she found them, which in my house isn’t hard, but I hoped that after my visit ended, at least once in a while, Daddy and Wanda would see some positive evidence I’d been there.
    *If I have some clue about utility but don’t have time at the moment to use the item, I try to group it with others in the same category, in the hope that at some future point I’ll get to organizing that group. Church, work, union are major categories, and throwing away all the papers isn’t my solution.
    *If what I’ve found is what I’ve sought, I’ve probably prayed about it. The stories in Luke 15 about the lost sheep and the lost coin and the lost boy convince me that God understands lost things. I’m in this predicament so often I’ve reduced it to a formula: “Lord, you know where it is and I haven’t a clue. Please help.” Then when I spot the missing thing, I look heavenward and offer, “THANK YOU!”
    *A friend gave me a different formula, because St. Anthony is the patron saint for lost things (of the things or the people who lose them? I don’t know.) “Tony, Tony, look around. Something’s lost that must be found.”

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