Friday, February 22, 2008

Check in and Weekend Writing Workout #14 - Wishes, Lies, and Dreams #3 of 6

Hello all, thanks for the comments and notes. It's nice to know I've been missed. :-]

Last weekend I was out of town for my 5th anniversary and my 40th birthday. Wow, I'm 40! Where did the time go?

Also, not only am I working a day job, I'm producing a film festival in my "spare" time (so it's like working 2 full time jobs right now). The Women in Film Festival runs from Feb 29 - March 8th. Our website is It's not the most inspired site... but the films are awesome and the festival will be great... if I can survive until then.

Time for this weekend's Writing Workout: The Cherish Wish

I thought of this one while doing my morning pages. I'm reading through Julia Cameron's "Finding Water" (her third book in her Artist Way series and the perfect thing to keep me grounded right now because it's all about "perseverance" and how to stay focused when other parts of your life threaten to distract you from your art - ha!).

This exercise has three parts to it, and each part could be a poem in itself. Although, I think running through the entire exercise will bear the most rewarding fruit.


In Cameron's book she asks readers to make short lists of things that they "cherish." They could be the small details of your life, objects you wouldn't want to part with, or pieces of the natural things around you.

Set your timer for 3-5 minutes and without stopping to think or edit, make a list of things that you cherish.


I cherish the birds flying east when the sun is on the horizon
the seagull who sits on the chimney of the blue house every morning
the full moon on a clear night
my father's reading glasses, which are the same prescription as mine
my "February" doll he gave me for my 12th birthday
the little wooden Buddha on my altar
I cherish my little coloured wooden cats that sit on the mantle
my cats themselves in their temperaments
my completely worn out and over-read edition of The Phantom Tollbooth
the walk through the cemetery on my way to the store


Pick one of the lines above and write a short poem using the formula: cherish, cherish, wish.
Meaning, you write what it is that you cherish, expand or relate a second thing you cherish. And then wish something about it.

Do this at least 3 or 4 times until you have a series of small poems.


I cherish the birds flying East when the sun is on the horizon,
and the caw-caw-caw as they make their way,
an entire city of crows moving together in space
I cherish the sun, too, as it sits there
admiring the birds
I wish I could fly with my home
and bring all the world with me

* * * * *

I cherish my father's reading glasses, which he wore
for the months before his death, so he could see us
large moist eyes behind good-bye eyes
I cherish the moment in the hospital room when we discovered our
prescriptions were the same, and we exchanged glasses, laughing
I wish I could give them back to him, so he could see me, and I him
one more time

* * * * *

I cherish my walk through the cemetery on my way to the store
and my discovery of Ruth Mystic, who must have been a fortune teller,
her small old headstone buried in the grass
I cherish the way the trees are shaped like animals, as if the spirits of the dead
have taken on new forms, the coyote tree howls to the sky
I wish I could howl, too, like an animal tree-spirit, and shake my furry leaves of
all the winter snow


Now that you've got these little cherish-wish poems, you can leave them as they are, or you can try something a little less formulaic.

The formula was simply a way of getting the words out and onto the page, although the little poems are quite satisfying in theselves. Now you can play with what you have and merge them all into one long poem and see where it takes you.

Add details, let it take you new places, and FIND the connections among them. There's a reason you chose those items in your last exercise. There is probably a theme running through them.

I see now in the examples above, a theme of longing and loss. What connections can you make with the mini-poems you wrote? Take that connection, that theme or tone or idea, and base your final poem on it, keeping that connection in mind.

I recommend a circular path, meaning go back to where you began at the end of the poem. This will make the connection complete. You'll see in this one that the reference to the birds returns at the end:

Every day as the sun sits on the horizon
the crows head East
a city of birds
cawing together in space
I head West, taking a short cut
through the cemetery
on my way to the store to buy
more fruit
the trees are shaped like wild animals
howling across the graves
I visit Ruth Mystic, born 1889, died 1947,
a plain stone with no flowers
a tree-rabbit peers down at us
snow at its feet

At the store, I wear my father's glasses
to read the labels on cans of beans
the same glasses he wore for the few months
before his death, after eye surgery
large moist eyes behind good-bye eyes

I cherish the moment in the hospital room
when we discovered our prescriptions were the same
and my mother exclaiming,
when she learned there was
nothing to be done for him
that he had just gotten
his new eyes

Returning from the store
I fill the space between my self
and my home
the city of birds long gone,
the cemetery dark as
silhouettes of tree-wolves bay
at the moon

Have a great weekend!


Annette said...


I have to start by saying how cool I think your name is. It is at the top of my "favorite baby names for a girl" list (though I spelled it with a "c"). =)

I loved your post about Julia Cameron's exercises (good stuff!) and was interested to find out about the film festival you mentioned. (Btw, your link to it is bad.) Sadly, I won't be able to make it up to Canada to see the films. =(

I wish you the best with your ventures.

Annette Fix
Author of The Break-Up Diet
Senior Editor: WOW!WomenOnWriting

Danika / OpenChannel said...

Hi Annette,

Thanks for stopping by. I'm kinda fond of my name, too, and thank my parents for being original.

I fixed the link, so now you can check out the programme... although the film description page isn't live yet... should be some time today.

Annette said...

Thanks for poking around my site. =) I still have more things that aren't quite finished yet (like the free e-book, the quiz, the shop and favorites pages).

I really want to get the word out about the break-up story forum (it's linked under the scale graphic), but it also has its own url ( The forum is fairly new. I'm just not sure how to get more people (other than my friends) posting. =/

Yes, I looove Weeds! I actually adapted my book to a series that would be very similar. I wrote the treatment and pilot, found a producer, and pitched it to the Senior VP of Development of scripted series at a major network. Then I had some creative rights concerns about the fact that it wasn't published yet (though it is now) so I pulled out of the deal. Long story. But that was a year ago. I'll probably take it out again soon (now that the writer's strike is over) and see if I can get a showrunner attached. =)

I started out as a screenwriter and due to my relationship break-up, I became an accidental novelist--or, maybe I should say, an accidental memoirist. ;-)

Annette Fix
Author of The Break-Up Diet
Senior Editor: WOW! WomenOnWriting

julia said...

Hey - how come you always have exercises that are just the thing I need for a new poem I need to write?

I like all your small poems leading into the big one. They remind me of sketches heading into a painting.

Anonymous said...

hey d,

how come you never ride the train anymore???

you could take this poem and post it as a poem of its own...or do what i've been doing and trot out old 315s to the light of day and new eyes...(and it reminds me how i've been remiss there too)

btw, laynie's coming to ventucky to read 4/14 and i think it's been far too long since you've been down!

ml, ap

Danika / OpenChannel said...

I will, I will, I will!

It has to do with THIS:

I'm so busy there was one week a few weeks back where, I kid you not, I got 12 hours sleep in 5 days. My brain fried and I eventually collapsed. Reminds me of staying up with you editing Between Sleeps anthology, eh?

This is volunteer on top of my Day Job@

Also, my computer went KAPUT last week. I've been playing musical computers all over town.

See you soon! I swear I'll be back on the train.