Do you ever write something, put it away, find it later, and think, “I wrote that?” I sometimes wonder where some of my sentences came from. I’ve decided it has something to do with getting into a groove and writing from my subconscious.
I ran across some pages like these recently, and I thought of a stream of consciousness writing exercise I learned years ago at a workshop. It’s a good way to create pages of writing from your subconscious and collect bits and pieces you can use to create poems, inspiration for an essay, or even fodder for a memoir. You can do this writing practice regularly or whenever you’re feeling knocked out of your groove. I’m committing to do it for 12 days just because I want a good collection of material. Read more
Recently, I read Jacki Lyden’s memoir again, Daughter of the Queen of Sheba: A Memoir. I don’t normally read memoirs more than once. But I wanted to re-experience her word riffs and stream of consciousness writing to see if I could find a way to use these tools to go deeper into the minds of my own characters.
Lyden tells the story of growing up and living with a mentally ill mother. Her parents divorced when she was young and, after her mother marries a doctor who turns out to be controlling and abusive, she begins to speak to God and believe that she is the Queen of Sheba.
The author writes the lines below in response to a letter from her mother, who says that she was really never mentally ill, and that her behavior was the result of the prescription drugs her doctor-husband gave her. Lyden writes:
“Never crazy. It never happened to you. Ant Trap Zap! It never happened to me. We’ll throw out those old pages and get some new ones at the K Mart. There is a life I’d like you to try, size six. We can always take it back if it doesn’t fit. You will be a housewife heroine, pushed into adversity by a demanding doctor-husband and prescription drugs, and I will be free forever from the taint of your insanity. Prescription drugs, I tell my friends confidently. Misdiagnosis. Miss Diagnosis. Clodhopper attendants, Nurse Ratched on the case. Dolores naked and chained in a pit. Lions and tigers and bears.” Read more