Writing 101 – Commit to a Writing Practice

Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

Nailing Brahms’ Hungarian Dance Number 5 on your alto sax. Making perfect pulled pork tacos. Drawing what you see. Or, writing a novel. Each requires that you make practice a habit.

Today, try free writing. To begin, empty your mind onto the page. Don’t censor yourself; don’t think. Just let go. Let the emotions or memories connected to your three songs carry you.

Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.

I don’t really have a favourite song above all others or a song that is most important in my life, but I do have favourite artists whose body of work speaks to my soul. Today I’m going to write about Michael Jackson, whose albums are a soundtrack to my youth. Aside from all the accusations that came his way towards the latter years (who knows what was true and what wasn’t), MJ was truly the most magnificent artist of a generation. His presence in my life as a provider of musical beauty is unparalleled, even among all of my other favourite artists whose music inspires me.

I don’t know if I can describe how even the first few bars of any given MJ song will stir up a nostalgia in me like nothing else can. Not only does hearing the first few notes of Rock With Me return me instantly to my childhood, but my mind actually travels into the music and senses every note and every chord straight to the fiber of my being. I have memorised every melody, every word, and even the words only MJ can spout will emanate from my lips like second nature (mamasay mamasa mamakusa – of course those aren’t the words but who cares, my soul will sing it how she pleases).

Every now and then I’ll come across a documentary or a recording of MJ, some studio clip that shows his process while creating the magic that is his music, and all I can tell you is that to hear him work is to hear angels singing, it to see a genius lay it down and tell it like it is. Michael Jackson’s music is perfection. Every note in its place. Every note, every lyric, every melody… absolutely perfect.

Sometimes when I hear his music on the radio, or when it pops up in my iPod playlist, I cry at how beautiful the sound is to my ears. Tears for how beautiful the music is, tears because the world will never see the likes of him again, and tears because I’m so thankful that I grew up as part of a generation of children who were witness to his genius.

I still remember the day he died. I was pregnant with the preshus, a few days into my maternity leave, waiting for the preshus to make his appearance. I had gone for a nap with my trusty twitter machine close by. One minute all was well with the world, the next minute I woke up to a world that was short one shining star. I’ll never forget, still half asleep, checking my twitter feed and watching it blow up with the news of his death. I couldn’t believe it. It was unbelievable, unthinkable. It was devastating, but it was true. The first thing I thought was “but I never got to see him in concert!”, then I thought, “how is it possible that my children will be born into a world where Michael Jackson is dead?”. Unthinkable. And true.

My son was born just a few short days later and every chance I get I play the king of pop for him. He doesn’t understand yet why I’m playing this music for him. And for the most part he just begs me to put on something he recognizes. But one day, when he’s older, I’m hoping he’ll appreciate the musical foundation I’m laying for him. He’ll hear a tune inspired by MJ and think “hey, I know that song” and my work with him will be done.

Don’t ask me which MJ song is my favourite, they’re all my favourite. Now excuse me while I go fire up my iPod. I’m gonna put my headphones in, turn the lights off and just feel the music. Let my soul rock out with the king of pop. And, for a few minutes, drift into a world where there is nothing but the sound, his sound, and all things will be perfect and beautiful.


Writing 101 – A Room with a View (or Just a View)

If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

Today, choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could — and tell us the backstory. How does this specific location affect you? Is it somewhere you’ve been, luring you with the power of nostalgia, or a place you’re aching to explore for the first time? 

The buildings are a gleaming white. Built on the bones of the old city, they rise into the sky like shimmering swords with transparent windows that reflect the summer sun during the day, and expose the citizens within at night. At ground level you can see the brick walls in the old style. Strictly facades now, the interior of the buildings gutted long ago to accommodate the modern smart buildings. Entire city blocks that contain within them, space for work and play. Each building containing assigned living quarters, shops, education ports, and industries, each building with a focus on one aspect of modern life. The Food Building where the grow labs manufacture food for the entire city, the Automotive Building where personal and shipping transports are made. The Garment Building, the Print building, and on and on. The Life Building where central population control resides. All employees live in assigned units within their assigned buildings based on aptitudes designated in childhood.

People are free to travel between buildings and they do, availing themselves of the different services contained within. The streets wind through the tall spires like rivers of light, embedded with auto sensors that move personal transports to their destinations, efficiently moving people from one place to another. Pedestrian traffic moves smoothly, separated from traffic in their own grass lined lanes. Pedestrian lanes are connected by parkettes that are home to benches, playgrounds and public works of art, as well as the communication towers that everyone relies so much on. Communication towers with their vid screens that show the daily news and schedule for each working group. The towers also house port hubs where individuals can connect to their personal com lines on the go.

Writing 101: Unlock the Mind

To get started, let’s loosen up. Let’s unlock the mind. Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.*

And for your first twist? Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.


Twenty minutes. I’m supposed to free-write for twenty whole minutes without interruption. How am I supposed to do that when there are a thousand things going through my head, 999 of them having exactly nothing to do with writing? Like right this second I’m thinking about how I need to change the band aid on my pinkie finger because I stupidly cut my finger on a pop can this afternoon and needed yet another band aid and then I decided to give my son a badly needed haircut because I read an article in the paper today about head lice and how it’s the beginning of the school year and beware all parents! It’s head lice season! And that just had me all kinds of freaked out because I have 2 kids who spend all day in the company of other kids and the last thing I need is to deal with a case of head lice. I think it’s great that I have 2 boys for the specific reason that if one of them ever catches lice, we can just shave them bald and problem solved. Except it won’t be solved because I’m terrified of catching lice myself. Terrified of having to get a lice treatment that would effectively erase all the good I’ve done keeping my hair properly conditioned, moisturized and comb free these past 18 months or so. Last thing my hair needs is pesticide and a lice comb. So I gave the kid a haircut. And now my band aid needs to be changed. And all this typing is making my finger more sore than it was before, and the shower juice is probably all up in there turning my cut into an infected mess. I really should have changed it before I started the timer on this thing. And I just scratched my head. We don’t even have lice but the thought of them just gives me the heebee jeebees. I’ll have to give my mom a heads up that I cut the boy’s hair myself (and didn’t screw it up thank you very much) and will no longer need the services of her hairdresser who I just found out, by the way, is actually a barber in a barber shop. Which I guess makes sense since she gets her hair cut pretty short these days. Never thought I’d see the day when my mom trusted her hair to the care of a barber rather than a hairdresser, but stranger things have happened I guess. Seriously, my finger hurts. This is the most I’ve written in a long time. I love the idea of just spending 20 minutes to myself every day just writing. I wish I could spend all day, every day just writing. I love writing. I love reading. I love writing and reading. Too bad working gets in the way of all that. My dream job would be to get paid to write. Can you imagine that? Getting paid to put your thoughts on paper for others to read? That would be living the dream. And I guess that’s why I’m taking this writing 101 course. To get into the habit of writing. Because I want to be a writer one day. Well, I am already a writer (ow, sore finger), but it would be really nice if I could actually get paid and make a living at it. I’d be a work at home mom who could walk her kids to and from school every day. Spend my days and nights writing brilliant, no, scratch that… totally brilliant works of fiction that paid the bills and made me just a little famous. Don’t want to be too famous, the world is pretty mean to really famous people. I just want to be locally famous. That would work for me. That would be my dream. Locally famous writer who writes full time from her home. And then my life would be perfect. Well, maybe not perfect but at least I wouldn’t have to do the crazy commute every day. And we’d save a crap-ton of money on after-school care each month. That’s a massive money pit. Yes, the ability to work from home would definitely save us a bunch of money. I can’t get my mind off my finger. I really need to change this band aid before the cut gets infected. I’ve got a few minutes of writing left to go. Maybe this will be the first in a series of brilliant posts that I’ll write through this writing 101 class. I’m definitely going to try to make this whole 20 minutes of uninterrupted writing a thing starting today. As long as the family co-operates that is. Uh oh, I have to pause to hug a kid. Ok, that too about 20 seconds of writing time. That’s ok though, the kid’s pretty cute. And now I have to sneeze. Apparently I’m allergic to my kid’s head. Maybe he was rolling around in the grass today. I’ll have to load up on allergy meds before I go to bed. Can’t spend the whole night sneezing on the poor kid’s head. Ow. My finger.

* I edited for spelling and grammar because I’m me.