Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Writers Journal - Outside My Window

Last Friday, I started re-reading Courage and Craft by Barbara Abercrombie and the following To Do from the book really stood out to me this time: "Try writing a description of what's outside your window for twenty-one days. Train your eye as if you were looking through a camera or had a paintbrush in your hand."

This helps you to really see what's going on around you and not let the writing be only about what you're feeling at any given time your journal. While I've been making it a habit to make myself journal during times of upheaval (something I used to do, but then quite suddenly stopped in 2010), I thought this would be a great exercise for me to challenge myself with. Barbara's book is a great resource and source of inspiration!

On Saturday 3/15, I sat at the kitchen table, where I do a lot of my writing in general, looked out of the patio doors, which essentially combine to make one enormous window, and wrote:

Outside my window - #1 - 3/15
More pieces of wood have fallen from beneath the deck upstairs and onto our patio. I think it's completely dry rotted and will definitely have to be replaced once the weather finally turns. I hear the (neighbor) kids, but can't see them. The garden containers are such a mess! Paint chipped off all over, faded, broken. Maybe I should have done more after hurricane sandy (our second hurricane in two years), but, I just couldn't bring myself to. (Yes, I still felt betrayed by Mother Nature). At this point it doesn't look like anything is going to come back after the Winter we've had this season. Not a bud in sight. Everything is brown or tan. The Camellia leaves are green, but curled and faded because of the cold. Doubt there's a bud left on it to bloom this Spring. The fence desperately needs painting this year. The barn red color has faded so much and is tinged with green fungus. (How did that survive this Winter?!) It looks as faded and tired as the containers!

Here are the rest of my entries to date:

Outside my window - #2 - 3/16
It was so sunny this morning, now cloudy, cold and snow is on the way again. The Snow Drops have perked up just in time for another round of bitter cold and snow. Figures. But, the flowers are are closed to the cold, not open like when the temps are warmer. They're finally popping up all along the back fence, but I'm glad they're taking their time this year given our roller coaster weather. The yard and everything in it didn't look as washed out and blah when the was sun out. Garbage blew into the yard again, fabulous. 

Outside my window - #3 - 3/18
I didn't do this exercise yesterday, I forgot all about it what with being preoccupied with having to go for the biopsies and being so tired (and quite uncomfortable) when we got home, I fell asleep on the couch. But we awoke to a dusting of snow in the yard and garden that was gone by the time we got home about 1pm despite temps in the 20s. Just enough to hide how bad the bones of the garden look right now!

Onto today: Just picked up 'welcome kitty' off the ground. It blew over yesterday but I wasn't about to go out there in that 20 something degree air to pick it up! I think the Bleeding Heart is starting to awaken! I'm afraid to check on the Peonies honestly. They started poking through the soil in February I think. Not that they every really bloom anyhow. I can't wait to get that small bbq grill out of the yard and up to the camper! I think I want to hang some kind of outdoor mirror on the lattice alongside the patio. (Do they make mirrors for outdoors?) It gets so dark on the patio at this time of day once the sun is over the back fence. And I need dark brown spray paint for the 'old' table and chairs, plus two new seat cushions for those chairs so everything will go with the two new (and very comfy!) chairs. A new lounger would be nice too. (Need to get back to Kohls with a coupon!)

Outside my window - #4 - 3/19
Doesn't seem much has changed yet. Some buds on the Forsythia in the corner. Snow Drops closed to the cold. Rain later today and tomorrow. The grass is sparsely green. Windy. The wind chimes are clattering away and swinging back and forth like mad. We have to get rid of all the extra propane tanks. So sick of looking at them. Odd how the Forsythia by the back fence have fewer to no buds than the one in the corner which gets far less sun! Think I'll move one from the back fence to the other side of the new gate this year.

Outside my window - #5 - 3/20
I think I've lost the Camellia! It looks worse than ever. It didn't look this bad after being encased in an inch of ice for a few days over Winter. Most of the leaves are a matte light brown now with dark spots (rot?) and holes in them. They're withering up and falling off. I may have lost more roses too! Pope John Paul II hybrid tea and French Lace floribunda. There are signs of life on both the KO Radcons, Madri Gras floribunda, Easy Does it floribunda and Gertrude Jekyll. I've forgotten to check on Queen Elizabeth grandiflora and can't see her from where I'm sitting. Nothing on PJPII or French Lace, and quite frankly, they look dead. Not sure about the KO Radrazzes, but they may be done as well. That would make 5 roses. Bunny! On the other side of the back fence. Nibbling Snow Drops no doubt. Such a cute and fluffy white tail! I remember during the Winter when it was back there playing in the snow, running in circles and jumping in the air. Adorable! A red-tailed hawk! Good thing that bunny is under the cover of brush back there. I'll never get my camera in time.

Outside my window - #6 - 3/21
So much trash on the other side of the fence! I wish (the power company) had to clean up that right of way at least once in a while. Hubbs suggested I take my lopers and cut back all the weed tree branches on the other side of the fence before it gets warmer and the ticks begin to come back out. Then we can rake and clear the ivy that keeps coming through our chain link fence. Hopefully it will make the view beyond our fence look better and help keep the mosquitos down once the weather warms. Guess I'll have to take a couple of garbage bags with me over there to clean up the trash too. Monday may be a good day to start it at least. It will be cold, but I need to do something productive outdoors and this could be just the thing.

Each day I've been making a point to sit down and do this exercise! I'm trying not to do it at the same time every day. It's all about being observant and I want to see if I pick up on different things or not.

I honestly didn't think I'd find something to write about every day. The fact that I have has been a surprise and I find myself looking forward to seeing what there will be to write about.

Sometimes our world can seem so big, too big, and this helps to narrow it down to what's around you and make it more manageable. It can help make fiction (and even nonfiction) more authentic because you may not have experienced these details in the actual place where your story is set, but, you have experienced them, and no matter where we all live and how different these places may be, there are common threads throughout all of them.

So! What's outside your window?


Jennifer said...

Oh this is lovely! From the ages of 16 through 19 I kept a ridiculously thorough diary. It was handwritten and I'd sit and write for about an hour everyday, literally anything noteworthy was written about. I find my blog serves this purpose for me now.

Jo said...

I'm sure many of us had diaries like that when we were younger!

My childhood diaries evolved over time into a lifelong practice of journaling, which is essential to my overall well being. (And there truly is a difference between diary and journal). If I don't journal for a period of time, I become unfocused and moody.

Because I am home so much for health reasons, it's easy to more often than not write about what's going on inside my head vs in the outside world, or even the one right outside my windows & doors. Journals are also a great resource for writers! It's a great place for me to keep track of ideas and such for my novel and they're always in one place when not in use so quite handy. For writers, regardless of genre, it's essential to make a habit of paying attention/being observant/noticing the details. I feel this exercise will is already helping me refocus on that and I'm sharing this with fellow writers with the hope that it may help them too.

I love my blog & my readers, and while I share a great deal here, there are things I share in my journal that aren't meant for my blog, they're meant for me alone, or to share with my husband or best friend.