Wednesday Muse – Books Opening Books

A Conversation with My 3 Year Old Son

 ~ or ~

How My Request For A Haiku Turned Into His Request For A Computer

Photo by Ryan McGuire -

Photo by Ryan McGuire –

Me to 3 year old: I have to write about this picture. What would you write if you wrote a poem about this picture?

3 yr old: Um, I don’t know. I want to write my own thing on a computer.

Me: If you say it, I’ll write it down.

3 yr old: Hm. I would write a book opening a book and a book opening a book and a book opening a book. I would write books opening books.

Me: Ok, I got that. But what would you write about the picture?

3 yr old: Books opening books. I would write about the picture books opening books.

Me: Ok. But what about THIS picture?

3 yr old: Books opening books. That picture, books opening books. See? I really am hungry. I would like a sandwich with cheese and mayonnaise and milk. That’s a kid’s meal at Subway. Soon we have to go to Subway. Subway. Subway. Subway. Are we driving in to Grandma’s house?

Me: Yes, but what would you say about this picture with the bird in it?

3 yr old: Um. Books opening books. I would say about that picture books opening books. And stop saying what will you say with this picture and what will you write with this picture and what will you name with this picture and stuff like that. Don’t say any more stuff like that.

Me: Okay. Got it.

3 yr old: (singing) I think I need to write a story, a story, a story, a story about Subway. Mama, so let me write a story on some computer.

Me: You have your computer downstairs.

3 yr old: I don’t mean a play computer. I don’t mean the computer with all the letters.

Me: Alright, yes. That is a play computer.

3 yr old: I meant so I can write a story like I mean like I, I mean, to do what what you are doing. I meant a computer that will do what you are doing. A computer that will do what you are doing. A computer that will do what you are doing. (Repeats ad infinitum.)

Me: Will you stop saying that?

3 yr old: You make me sad. Listen to me. I want a computer that is doing what you are doing. (Points to screen.) Okay? Deal? Deal? Deal? Deal? Deal? Deal? Deal? (Holds out hand to shake.) Deal? Deal? Deal? (Takes my chin in his hands and turns my face so I must make eye contact.) Deal? Deal? Deal?


Check out creative works in response to this photo by author Vanessa Barger, Melanie McFarlane and Stu Glennie. If you’re interested in joining the Wednesday Muse Blog ring, contact Vanessa.


#Haiku Song ~ Wednesday Muse

This week for our Wednesday Muse writing prompt, author Vanessa Barger sent us something a little different — “He’s the Giant,” composed by Thomas J. Bergersen, as part of the soundtrack for Colin Frake on Fire Mountain (and released by the label Two Steps from Hell):

Wind, take my cape. Sky,
everything I was is yours.
I’m now only air.

While I was tempted to construct a found poem from the comments section, I was having too much fun with haiku. As you can probably tell from the poem I ended up with, I ignored the giant and the fireball and pretty much everything except the music itself, which is quite lovely.

Make sure to check out what these authors wrote in response to the same prompt:

Vanessa Barger

Melanie McFarlane

#Haiku for the Woman with My Leg ~ Wednesday Muse

Photo by Ryan McGuire

Photo by Ryan McGuire


Stop pulling my leg.
It’s too easy for me to
get carried away.


Okay, yeah, that’s a pretty awkward line break, but I couldn’t resist putting two cliches in the same haiku.

(My apologies to real haiku-ers everywhere. I don’t mean to “pun-nish” you. Harhar. Erg. Somebody, stop me.)

Read Vanessa Barger‘s and Melanie McFarlane‘s response to the same prompt.

And for last week’s Wednesday Muse haiku, check this out.

Wednesday Muse! Haiku for the Gnomes

Gnome Haiku


Due to lack of gnomes,
the Museum of Gnomery
no longer serves tea.


Friend and fellow author Vanessa Barger has  started up a Wednesday Muse writing prompt exchange, and I’m happy to be taking part. Last week, she sent a handful of writers the above photo and ask us to write something. I told Vanessa my “somethings” would likely be haiku, as I’ve been interested in exploring compressed forms of late. (Plus, I’m nearing the close of my work-in-progress and so many, many words are spilling out there, that I wanted some white-space here.)

GnomeBookShelfI grew up gnome-crazy, and would pore over Wil Nuygen and Rien Poortvliet‘s illustrated book of GNOMES for what seemed like days on end. In fact, it still has an honored place on my shelf.  I think it’s quite possible that my love of tea has two sources: my mother and Nuygen and Poorvliet’s book of Gnomes.

At any rate, Vanessa’s photo made at first excited for the color and charm of the cottage, and then, as I looked closer, exceedingly sad that it was all contained within a rather sterile, zoo-like environment. I imagined the sun-glassed man and his plaid-shorted friend (you can just see the edge of him in the photo above) visiting a Museum of Gnomery, where the pretense of the gnome cottage exists without the gnomes or any of their life (or their tea, for that matter, which–as the pages below suggest–is pretty much synonymous with life).


Gnome remedies – many involving tea.


Gnome breakfast – mushrooms and any of a variety of teas.


Also gnome-worthy – nuts, beans and berries! Notice, too, the twin gnomes breastfeeding.


The cover of Gnomes by Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet

Check out these other responses to the same prompt:

Vanessa Barger
Melanie McFarlane
Jessica Rubinkowski

The Dream Journal for Writers

"Famous While You Sleep - Dream Journal" by Ravenelle / TORLEY on Flickr
A while ago, Cassandra Page invited me to do a guest post for her blog. I used the title of her work-in-progress, Lucid Dreaming, as a springboard for my topic–the dream journal. Below is what I had to say about using the dream journal for inspiration in writing.
(The image to the side, by the way, is “Famous While You Sleep” by Ravenelle / TORLEY on Flickr. Dreamy!)
Aboriginal art showing the dreamtime story of the attempt to catch the deceased's spirit, from Wikimedia Commons.

Aboriginal art showing Dreamtime.

onDreamsI’ve always been obsessed with dreams—not surprising for someone whose upcoming co-authored novel is named Dream Boy, right?

1freud-dreams1.jpgBut it’s not just me who’s obsessed. Fascination with dreams is as old as dreams themselves. Ancient Egyptians looked to dreams for portents of the future, while Australian Aborigines saw dreams as the secret to understanding the past. There’s Aristotle’s On Dreams, Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, the Biblical representation of dreams as God’s cosmic telephone, the zillion weird dreams that figure in folklore and fairy tales, the zillion more books that interpret the symbolism of dreams…

inception-GIF-inception-2010-14288153-272-124And of course let’s not forget Leonardo DiCaprio going all dark and broody as the lovelorn dream thief in Inception.

As a writer, though, I’m perhaps most interested in how we can allow our dreams to inspire and shape creative works.

That’s where the dream journal comes in.

One of the characters in Dream Boy keeps just such a journal. Drawing a line down the middle of the page, she writes everything she remembers about a dream on one side; on the other, she jots notes about real life events that may have triggered her subconscious.

In the notebook, reality goes in one place and dreams go in another; a clear line is drawn between the two. Of course, very little in life is quite as tidy as that—certainly not our creative processes.

So, why keep a dream journal in the first place?

For one thing, it’s fun. Much like this gif dance party.


For another, all the weird stuff that floats around in your subconscious (also like this gif dance party) can be a good place to go when your work-in-progress gets blocked up.

Make a game of it: choose some random element from a recent dream and work it into a scene you’re writing. It will keep you going—and in writing, if you just keep going (somewhere… anywhere!), you often end up headed in the direction you genuinely needed to go.

(Plus, here’s a secret: the random element you select is probably not that random, even if it seems downright absurd. What happens when you dream and what happens when you write is not so different, really. They both connect to the subconscious. And the images that feed the subconscious have a way of making their own sense, regardless of your intentions.)

Perhaps most importantly, however, using a journal to map out the chaotic terrain of your dreams can feed your over-all imaginative life in very rewarding ways.

Dream Map by Various Brennemans, Flickr

Dream Map by Various Brennemans, Flickr

As you go along—recording your dreams—you are essentially trying to make sense of something that is by its very nature senseless. That process inevitably opens you up to contradiction. (Real world says X and ONLY X is true; Dreamworld says Y and Z and X’s second cousin Arnie is true. On Tuesdays. On other days, it says that baseballs turn into feathers when you sneeze on them. And your favorite dog never really died, but was just trapped all this time in a bomb shelter with elves.)

Contradiction, as you can see from the above, is pretty noisy. But it is also (at least in my experience) inspiring.

Think of it this way: the tension between two opposing ideas is often the wire on which good writing balances. So, exploring the boundary between reality and dream allows us to perch for a moment on that wire. When we return to our work of fiction, we see more. We see better. We see connections we might have missed otherwise.

But what about those who don’t even remember their dreams? How can any of this help them?

Unexpectedly, I have found that the very act of keeping a dream journal stimulates the recollection of dreams. So the more you plan to remember, the more you remember. Weird, but true.

Here’s how it works in two super-easy (super-cheesy?) steps:

  1. Put a notebook and pen beside your bed. Before drifting to sleep, remind yourself that you intend to remember and record your dreams. You might even say something as socially uncomfortable as “Hey, you are going to dream, and you will remember your dreams! They will be interesting dreams! Enjoy!”
  1. In the morning, before you get up or start thinking about your day, write down whatever scraps of dream you remember.

And at first they may be just scraps. But as you go on, exercising both your memory and tolerance for awkward conversations with yourself, you may find that you can build up to a pretty impressive recall. And remembering your dreams is a good thing—not only for the creative advantage—but also because your dreams can be an important shaping influence in your life.

Journal by Sammie Harding, Flickr

Journal by Sammie Harding, Flickr

I recently tweeted my two-year-old’s dream: “The cat was in my dream, and he was happy to be with me.” (Of course in real life, the cat barely tolerates my son, so this was pure wish fulfillment.) I was amazed at how many people tweeted back to share their own dreams—from the workaholic who dreams only of work to the woman who dreams of resuscitating zombies with a friendly Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Dreams are something we take with us into our day. Whether we entirely remember them or not, they are there, an essential part of us—telling us who we are. (Maybe in some ways even making us who we are.)

So listening to dreams—paying attention to wildness of the mind at moments when it answers to no master—is a worthwhile endeavor. And a dream journal is a great place to start.

About DREAM BOY (coauthored by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg)

Annabelle Manning feels like she’s doing time at her high school in Chilton, Virginia. She has her friends at her lunchtime table of nobodies. What she doesn’t have are possibilities. Or a date for Homecoming. Things get more interesting at night, when she spends time with the boy of her dreams. But the blue-eyed boy with the fairytale smile is just that—a dream. Until the Friday afternoon he walks into her chemistry class.

One of friends suspects he’s an alien. Another is pretty sure it’s all one big case of deja vu. While Annabelle doesn’t know what to think, she’s willing to believe that the charming Martin Zirkle may just be her dream come true. But as Annabelle discovers the truth behind dreams—where they come from and what they mean—she is forced to face a dark reality she had not expected. More than just Martin has arrived in Chilton. As Annabelle learns, if dreams can come true, so can nightmares.

Pre-order DREAM BOY today: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Add DREAM BOY to your Goodreads list.

About Mary

A native of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Mary grew up as the youngest of six children in a family of misfits. She has worked as everything from a history museum director to a toilet seat hand model. In her other life, she’s an award-winning poet, professional eavesdropper, and the person who wipes runny noses. If you tweet at her @MaryLovesBooks, chances are she will tweet back.

Connect with Mary: Website | TwitterFacebookGoodreadsTumblrPinterest

Related: Check out my post of 14 Firsts at The BookYArd (including my first dream).

Cut, paste, write!

Salem Times Register intern Stephanie Floyd just posted on Facebook some of the photos she took at WordSparks on Tuesday. With her permission, I am posting them here. For our collage project, we made word/image collages with a center word and four corner words. After creating sentences that connected the central word with the corner words, we used those sentences as the springboard for a story. When we didn’t know where to go in our stories, we let the pictures guide us to our next idea.

All photos below are the property of Stephanie Floyd / Salem Times Register. Here we are working on our collages, reading our stories, and playing some games.

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