Of the Heart
Challenge of the Week? This is what my heart wants. I love Prose. I've been writing on here since the start of the pandemic, and the weekly challenges kept me going through the difficulties of 2020. I've become a better writer because of Prose. I love the other writers. For no other reason than to be nice, I've received excellent feedback from fellow Prosers. The challenges keep me on my toes. It's a chance to be better. I'd say the only downside is the inconsistency of the weekly and monthly challenges. Please keep them going! It keeps things interesting.
Beyond the tall reeds, in clear view sits a humble abode where an old woman smiles wide while stirring her pots of comfort food, whistling a song I long to hear.
Out of range, even when I begin to walk away, somehow her words still reach me. The message is clear.
"Come home and I will feed you. You will always have a seat at my table, a place to rest, a place to break bread with all of us, but most of all, a place to satisfy your hunger."
Following the commencement of first-grade, I was rapidly taken with the idea that, if I could indeed now read books, I could write books, too, just like grown-ups. My parents said I was mature for my age, so maybe I could even write something worthy of a spot in the library.
Ruminating on the idea for barely milliseconds, I snatched an abundant pile of printing-paper and ran up to my grandmother's house. Dropping my materials on her chest of drawers, I explained my plan. I was going to write a book. Fueling my ambitions with gumdrops and a music box, she left me to my mission.
Now, I admit now that my first attempt availed to little success. After designing the title page, christening the manuscript "My Cat", I quickly realized that one needs many words to fill a page. Not only was I restricted by my limited vocabulary, I also couldn't figure out how to force my large, sluggish letters to stand up and run properly in an up-and-down fashion. After a few lines of "My cat ran and sat on the mat," (I take no credit for the originality of the idea) I placed down my page to "finish later" and climbed into bed with my grandmother for a treat of more gumdrops and a new episode of "Sofia the First".
I never made any more progress on the book, nor the ones immediately proceeding it, but the utopian dream of having my own spot on the library shelf wasn't disposed of as quickly.
As I transitioned from early readers to chapter books and then from chapter books to classic novels, I found a beauty in language itself. While, momentarily, the fairytale aspect of writing forsook me, I learned to love writing not as a means of telling stories but one of using words. For a while, using the words was enough, but soon I found a peace and friendship with the pages that once held my ambitions.
How does one explain the joy of finding words and commanding them to their desired arrangements? Many sing songs and can vividly express how sound mends their soul but never, or very rarely, does one tell of how the sound of words rolling around one's head and life and walk calms as if it truly were a symphony. As I rule over my arsenal of consonants and vowels, I found the gift of language which continued as my companion for the rest of my childhood.
With the passing of many years, I've lost much of the desire to write a book fit solely for the library. The library shelves are filled with many novels and, when their spotlight burns low, they are cast away or sold. My ambitions, in finding a solid burial grounds, settled for the stable abode of poetry, which I knew could be neither burned nor sold nor ever forgotten even if effort was taken to forget it. I know that few will ever read my castles of sound but, should they stumble across the ruins of my metropolis, I know that the sounds won't ever be cast out. They will be left to spin around the reader's mind, in delightful penetration of his thoughts, in a way that "My Cat" never could. Maybe, when I am gone, some sounds will remain singing still.
Writing as an Identity
Since I was seven, I've had a pencil in my hand, writing on the backs of cereal boxes and scrap paper. It gives me a sense of self; it anchors me to the child I was, creative, precocious, and happy. Writing is the through line in my life. I always thought I'd be a professional writer, but I think it will be enough to just have it as part of my daily life as long as I'm around.
A Fossil, Fueled
Proser CfromFL: Carol, I’ve noticed you have been posting on Prose for two years. When did you begin to write?
Real Carol From Florida: Well, let’s just say it was after fire but before the wheel.
In 1952 my beloved 3rd-grade teacher, Mrs. Gordon, gave our class an assignment to write a poem. The process of delivering a thought from my 8-year-old mind to the tip of a stubby pencil and scrawling it on a pristine, double-ruled page of cheap newsprint paper was a new way of expressing myself. I felt important! I felt joyful! I called my poem People! People! It was about what we now call “diversity”. Back then I remember getting inspired by the different folks my father told me he met on his global travels as a Merchant Marine. Even though we looked physically different, I imagined the kids in all those countries doing kid things and being “kindly” to each other. I remember Mrs. Gordon liked my use of that word. This wonderful teacher fueled my interest in writing and showed me how to give wings to my words and let them fly into someone else’s heart.
Proser CfromFL: Before retiring as a Public Housing Administrator, you were fairly competent in business correspondence and communication. This helped you to earn a living but what has creative writing given back to you?
Real Carol From Florida: All writing is creative but writing poetry and prose gives me a chance to turn observations, emotional abstracts, and personal sentiments into a meaningful read. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Positive feedback for my work is unbelievably rewarding. The writing challenges, heart-shaped “Likes” and comments by the writers on Prose fuel my desire to make my next piece better than the last.
Proser CfromFL: At 76, I realize you may have reached many personal goals in your lifetime. Do you have an ultimate writing goal?
Real Carol From Florida: It took a long time for me to become self-confident enough to share my prose and poetry with others. At first, it was only with friends and family. Twenty years ago I bought a spiral binding machine, a good supply of 20# bond, index cover-stock, and an assortment of binding combs. I started a mini self-publishing scheme that continues to this day. When I became a Grandmother I wrote the first of perhaps 50 children’s books for my grandkids. Their highest praise came when my daughter would go to her mailbox and pull out the familiar brown envelope. It would never make it into the house. The kids would tear it open and sit in the middle of the driveway to read the latest saga by Granny C. When they got older, I began writing a monthly 3-page newsletter called Granny’s Gazette. It was a great way to keep the lines of communication open for my “Grands” in Maryland and also friends in Australia, England, California, and Canada.
Several years ago my courage grew bolder when I answered a request on the Public Radio program Rick Steve’s Travel. They wanted listeners to write about their hometowns. They chose my piece called Morning Symphony. I read it on-air and had fun doing it. I think I even won a backpack!
Prose has become the perfect niche for me to share my work. However, I can’t stop remembering that day 57 years ago when I sat in my 12th grade English class and listened to a fellow student named Laura announce to the class that she had just gotten a short story published in the New Yorker. Wow― she was published in such a well-esteemed magazine at 17! Now that would qualify as an ultimate goal if ever there was one. Hopefully, if I keep at it I can fuel up my confidence level and try writing something worthy of submitting to the New Yorker. It’s better than running on empty.
My journey on writing ... How did it all start ?
1 . I began writing at the age of nine when I was studying grade four. I started writing in school with my friend, whose name is Sharan. Sharan and I started by writing dialogues and descriptive scene. And then gradually Sharan went to different section and I was in different section, so I could not go any further in writing. But that wasn't the end. I found a new friend whose name is Shounak who is still as a backbone for my prolific writing.
2. Writing gives me a peaceful abode of understanding. Whenever I feel stressed, I write what I feel into it and then read it to myself. This makes me understand what did I do and what can be done to change myself. Writing also built my self-confidence. To be honest I was not a great speaker of thoughts, it's writing that made me confident to tell myself that "my thoughts are great to me, but may or may not be great to the public". And at last when I started writing this made a new way into my life, it gave me a unique identity through which I got many friends who indeed love writing like me now.
3. I always dedicate my writing about environmental issues and innovational ideas for a cleaner and greener nation. And so I would say that my ultimate goal is to spread my write ups to the maximum out reach and would see a change in the society.
But thats not all ,I love writing short story, novela and children's books .
I also critise along with my writings to make the society be away from the digital world.
Towards the end , I would like to say "If you want a write something mind changing , read more , understand the thoughts of the people and write more "and"To make a great write up : write what you can't tell aloud and not what the world talks "
Sivanandan , 13
Delhi Public School Whitefield
Bangalore , Karnataka
My Anchor, Words
I haven’t always loved words. I was homeschooled my whole life, and without the comparison of other kids my age, I didn’t know what I was good or bad at–a double-edged sword, to be sure. To me, writing was not a joy but merely a dull task to be gotten through. And it was many years before I would recognize the potential in my own work.
Then, at age fourteen, I started a blog–mostly inspirational-type stuff written for other teenagers. It felt like a calling. As I published more and more posts, I began to recognize the sacredness of what I was doing. My readers were encouraged by the things I wrote, and it seemed to make a difference in their lives. But the person that was changed the most by my writing was me. People were going to read what I wrote, so it mattered that I wrote truth effectively and elegantly. My communication skills grew by leaps and bounds.
Four years later, I was a freshman at college in an English class. I had not yet learned how to cram, so I stayed up half the night working on that first essay with little success. The next morning, when I woke up and returned to it, the words finally flowed. But I was so tired I hardly knew what I was saying, which made me think it must not be great. To my surprise, when my professor gave back my essay a week later, he told me that it was a solid paper. I was elated.
That first essay went well, but it was the best one I wrote all semester long. What I would later learn was a severe bout of depression–a battle I’ve faced since I was ten years old–swept across my life, fogging my mind and making it impossible for me to think clearly for months. In class discussions, I struggled to form sentences–only to forget them when they were halfway out my mouth. Writing essays was a nightmare, as I stared at my laptop screen for hours, trying in vain to put my jumbled thoughts into words.
And yet, it was words that sustained me in those days–not my words, but the words of others. I might not be able to put a sentence together, but I could still quote Bible verses, bits of poetry, and lines from movies that I had once memorized. What others had written, giving their souls on paper, anchored me. Their labor was what kept me from drifting away.
At the end of the semester, I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed some tiny white pills that I still take two years later. The medicine cleared the fog in my mind, and finally, I could glimpse the light. I started my second English class, and this time, I could finally find the right words and put them together in a way that was satisfying. My professor encouraged me and helped me to improve, and for the first time in my life, I realized that my writing might actually be good.
Regardless of whether or not I’m a good writer today, I still love it. It isn’t my goal to ever make any kind of money off my writing, but that doesn’t matter to me, because the words are still intrinsically valuable. They gave me life when I was drowning, and now, I have found my own words and use them to ground me. And I hope that, as I write and share more, my words might be the lifesaver that gives hope to others.
Writing for me was always an escape from my life as a child. I loved to write poetry in elementary school but was never allowed to do anything with it, until I did.
We had a write a book contest at school, entries were required as a class assignment so I entered a poem about being on a roller coaster. I placed third in the state, but I was terribly embarrassed. No one cared. I was so thrilled inside but met with such an attitude of indifference that it made me feel like it wasn’t a “real” accomplishment. It was a fluke, if only they had known me they surely would have not chosen me.
Several decades later, and with several chapters only started, I still struggle with the confidence that what I have to say adds anything of value. I’ve started many books, mostly loose memoirs on growing up in dysfunction, and quickly convince myself that my story is not worthy.
I know better, but those old feelings creep in. Writing gives me, especially the young me, a voice and perspective.
It helps me to be a better parent and break cycles of dysfunction, it shakes up the perfect looking scenes of my childhood and reveals what was really behind doors so I can now walk freely through that space without fear.
My ultimate goal would be to write a book, and have it help one person to know they’re not alone.
1. The first time I wrote for myself was when I was seventh grade. I was in my English class and my teacher told us we can write anything in it. I was always fascinated by books and films and I wanted to see if i could do it. I couldn't. I was inexperienced but I learned that I was going to try everyday to become a better writer. I was inspired, knowing one day my voice would be heard. 2. Writing gave me comfort, it allowed me to express my feelings, my thoughts without ridicule and shame. I knew that I tried and put my mind to it, I can craft worlds, universes with my pen on a notebook and the keys on my computer. My goal in the end, is that I want to tell my story, leaving a legacy that may hopefully outlive me and grow into something greater than whatever I could thought possible.
Me, Myself and I
I began to not long after the darkness began to seep in. Take hold. This was just when I was 10. Quick to feel, but always hidkng behind a placid mask. No one could ever guess the chaotic world inside my heart, mind and very soul. To me, writing is not just a fun, go-to pastime. it is an EXPRESSION, or extension of myself. All my flaws, quirks, and innate longing desire for attention. But I’ve never been one to act out, nor desire negative attention directed my way. Instead, i write myself into words. Beautiful words, that come together to build palaces in my mind. So, you see- writing gives EVERYTHING to me. It gives me a voice. It lets me be heard.
when it comes to writing, I ultimately wish to turn my God-given knack of it into a career. I wish to write not just for myself, and seek no glory, but things that will help others and bring them inner joy and peace.