Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Writing Prompt: Free Write

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Do you regularly free write? Do you wish you did? Several times a month, we'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook or a blank page and keep your hand moving for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation – just write. 


Writing doesn’t just happen; ideas and specific phrases fall away. They’re all so frenetic, so we carve-out time, make a groove, a definitive delineation between the linoleum, smooth, and the chipping of dust. We carve words on stone. Glide sticks through sand.

In tenth grade, I was the one girl in my all-boys printing class. I was in the same room, privy like a locker room, all of us working tools and bone. Hulking machines pounded, blades stomping-down. I shrunk-wrapped pads of paper all fancy in the gummy bonded part them with some other machine. I bound books, cut straight lines in wood, spiraled my own binders and it felt good. I was tough and artistic, could have been an auto shop or cooking school.

We carved in linoleum and that became a print-block, again and again with globs of paint. It’s easy to see relief. It is the part not carved. Is our pen such a tool, like that deep-v silver blade? Maybe the tool is simply our time, being open to ideas and how they shift things, resplendent with words, hand-poised around balancing a fine felt-tip (or azure crayon, ketchuppy-fry, or frayed, crappy pencil, no sharpener in sight).

As mother-writers, our hands also clasp our loves, balance family and schedules, bibs, pigtails, searching for missing hairbands. We look for the break and carve, hand on the wheel, hand over heart and all those internal needs. We make time, moving around childcare, in between part-time/full-time, laundry time, and look: This is the time. Now, carve. 

We are carvers looking for relief, the word from the French “relevare”, like on pointe shoes, to go up, be relieved. Go up from a dusty vantage, see from above, not stuck, not same-old. Glimpses when writing will be different in height from surrounding terrain. Merriam Webster even says that writing, relief, is “the removal or lightening of something oppressive, painful, or distressing.” Our writing relieves us of something heavy. Ours is the work of raising up words, moving stones out of the way, trading blockades for glory, a structure we can sing of, perhaps, all our days. We write relief.


In today's free write, think about the tools you use to write.  Is the pen never around? Do you end up using your son's skinny markers? How does your writing change with the elegance of a gorgeous ball pen? What helps and what hinders? Enjoy your tools and the relief your writing brings.


Do YOU have a writing prompt to share with Literary Mama readers? Send your 150- to 300-word narrative and associated writing prompt to lmblogcontact (at) literarymama (dot) com. We'd love to read your ideas! 

Melissa Uchiyama lives in Tokyo with her wonderfully loving, precocious clan. Her writing appears in Kveller, Asian Jewish Life, Cargo Literary Blog, and within the HerStories anthology Mothering Through the Darkness.

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