My boys and me on open water, cruising on the Rebecca T. Ruark (no relation but regional) one of the oldest working skipjacks on the Chesapeake Bay

I’m trying to remain open, these days of isolation, to what might pass for connection now. I try not to rail against the world for small annoyances–and thereby close my heart to possibilities. I try not to cry at the faulty internet connection that makes me drop my first-ever Zoom call. I should be happy for technology, for the virtual happy hour with my friends in town, happy to have friends, a town, a house, a basement I can sit in–which is dry despite all the rain–where the Wi-Fi works best.

Another friend dropped toilet paper at my kitchen door today–the best kind of pandemic calling card. Yet another friend, far away, is teaching her four-year-old his letters and decided to bring pen pals back. My own boys are practicing their cursive on loose-leaf (I’m glad we don’t have to re-purpose for the bathroom) and have discovered the joys of snail mail. My freelance work has me writing for hospitals, which makes fiction feel not just false but useless. My creative writing is changed, not closed, but working through different channels now.

A novelist friend, when addressing how to write at such a time as this, suggested acting like a different kind of artist. Writers, try on your dancing shoes. Performers, take to the page. That kind of thing. I desperately miss singing in my choir, raising my voice in song. I’ve written about it here and here and mused on singing for Ruminate, here. But I don’t seem to be able to open my mouth in song today.

I recent days, I have written a short essay and a flash fiction piece, departures from my WIPs–historical novels that don’t let me address this present moment. It’s a moment I don’t want to close myself off from–or forget–for the lessons it might teach me. Meanwhile, I should be teaching my kids; we should be writing a middle grade book together. Maybe we will, and set the story in a wooden boat.

The day before my state’s governor issued the latest isolation mandates, my husband and sons took to the water. My younger twin named the dinghy, “Aqua Dove”–big name for a small boat. With oars, a centerboard, and a little sail, I hope it will give my boys a sense of freedom on open water, when this is over.

WordPress is doing daily Discover Prompts. This was my response to Discover Prompts, Day 2: Open. I hope you might join in!

29 thoughts on “Open…water, heart, art: Discover Prompts Day 2

  1. I love the idea of reviving pen pals! Letters are treasures that the digital-age children are missing out on. I do think this time will teach all of us many lessons – in empathy, for sure. We have taken our modern lives for granted, especially health.

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  2. Yes, I agree with Eilene, pen pals, how fun! Although, I have to disagree with fiction not having a place in the world right now! I think many folks are reading fiction to escape and just simply for pleasure. Although it’s understandable if you are not in the mood. I totally get it. Hang in there!

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    1. Yes, I do hope pen pals can gain a resurgence, at least in my house! And, you’re right, fiction is a great escape. I’m reading it. I just can’t seem to write it, right now. Maybe I’m making excuses but it feels good to address what I’m feeling through creative nonfiction. I look forward to checking out your post. Thank you for stopping by here–and you take care, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the idea of pen pals by snail mail, although I doubt it will take off. My stepsister and I are pen pals but it’s by email. I’ve thought about taking up needlepoint again but still have to find that online shop that sells the supplies at a price I can afford.

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    1. I do enjoy emailing letters, too! But I have some older relatives who don’t use the internet–so I will be writing some letters during this time of isolation. Needlepoint sounds like a good idea to keep your hands busy. A friend has started adding a bit of needlepoint to repurpose–and make fancy–old cards. She glues new paper onto the inside for a new blank writing surface. The touch of thread–as an outline or accent to the card design–is a nice touch (and uses little thread). I hope you make do, and take care!

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    1. Calm certainly isn’t what I’m feeling inside–but I’m glad my attempts to put up a good front (can’t exactly look like a wreck in front of the boys) are working! Really, we’re making it. Be safe and well, Theresa. Love you–and thank you for reading my words. It means a lot!


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