The Cloaked Monk’s, http://cloakedmonk.com/, MarchChallenge prompt for the 23rd is, “Bread.” Bread for me was an impossible prompt. Absolutely nothing came to mind. Because I did not want to just skip a day of the challenge, I used everything in my bag of tricks
First, put on some music to give me a background rhythm. I do this most of the times I write poetry, even if I’m not planning to used a metered rhythm.
Then I checked with my muse. She is apparently passed out drunk—nothing there.
Next, I built a mind map as described in liv2write2day’s Wordsmith Wednesday’s Brainstorming Techniques http://liv2write2day.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/wordsmith-wednesday-brainstorming-techniques/; however, I use a free program, FreeMind, I downloaded to actually create my mind maps. Using the mind map, I generated 53 meaningful associations between me and ‘bread.’
Because my mind map contained some phrases, like “Man does not live on bread alone,” I went to my favorite quotes site, http://www.brainyquote.com/, ran the word ‘bread’ in the search feature and then read the results of the first 50 to 70 quotes.
I went through all of this in an attempt to make the switch from the left brain (logic) to right brain (creativity), which I can almost always do. In the wonderful book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards (I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to experiment with making that left/right switch), she gives several visual (drawing) methods of achieving this goal. I found I loved the sensation when I got there after studying her book; music becomes a visual experience, words explode with clarity and meaning and all sense of time is lost.
For my final step, I opened another free program I had downloaded from the internet called VersePerfect http://liv2write2day.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/wordsmith-wednesday-verseperfect-guest-post-by-mike-patrick/. I like VersePerfect for editing difficult poems. It has tools to supply alternative words, and that comes in handy.
In this case, after all that preparation, I fixated on one lousy word from my mind map: aroma. Using it, I created, Another Entrance to Heaven. I’m glad I was in VersePerfect because during the writing/editing process, I probable made 50 changes within fifteen lines of verse. Just as I was finishing, Sandy asked me if I was going to eat lunch. Somewhere, I lost the best part of two hours.
This was probably not the best example to illustrate my process on difficult prompts. If Another Entrance to Heaven were to be entered in a poetry contest, it would not rate above a thank-you-for-entering letter.
ANOTHER ENTRANCE TO HEAVEN
by Mike Patrick
In the early morning splendor,
as the sun fights to rise,
a gentle aroma softly wafts
through night’s lingering fog.
Unbidden, my steps turn,
pulling me ever closer
to a smell belonging somewhere
behind the gates of heavens.
The sounds of hurried heels
clicking along the cobblestones
lead unfalteringly to the
answered promise of manna.
Ahead, glowing in the rising sun,
the goal all seek quietly beckons.
Behind a window with an “open” sign
the bakery awaits its hungry horde.