Unlock the Muse – September 19, 2018

Wow! It’s mid-September already? Where has the time gone? This soccer-mom business is cutting into my writing time. But we all have challenges that we face on a daily basis. It’s all in how we work to overcome them, or turn them to our advantage.

Here’s your prompt for this week:

Sit on your porch or balcony or in the yard, and concoct a conspiracy theory from the activity (or lack of activity) in your neighborhood.

I live on a circle, and I know most of my neighbors. While this is great for raising a family, it’s not so great for conspiracies. If I can find the time to sit out in my yard, I’m going to turn this neighborhood on its head!

In her book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott has a lot to say about writing. But more than that, she talks about life as a writer – the good, the bad, the terrifying. I love her frank honesty about the sometimes neurotic behavior creative people exhibit. For example, this bit from her chapter titled “Someone to Read Your Drafts.”

I always send my work Federal Express, because I am too impatient to wait for the mail to deliver it. I spend the entire next day waiting to hear, pacing, overeating, feeling paranoid and badly treated if I haven’t heard from my friends by noon. Naturally I assume they think it is tripe but they don’t have the courage to tell me. Then I’ll think about all the things I don’t like about either of them, how much in fact I hate them both, how it is no wonder neither of them has many friends. And then the phone will ring and they usually say something along the lines of “I think it’s going to be great, I think it’s really good work. But I also think there are a few problems.”

Writing is so much a solitary act. At the same time, we need to partner with others to make our writing the best it can be. It’s important, as Anne Lamott says, to find the right partner to share your writing with. Don’t waste time on the wrong partner. Find someone who can be supportive and encouraging while helping you to improve your work.

Since we’re talking about partners, let’s take a look at that word in this month’s vocabulary session.


1. A person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks and profits.
Synonyms: colleague, associate, coworker, collaborator, comrade, teammate.

According to etymonline.com, the word partner is an altered form of the word parcener from the late 13th century Old French word parçonier which means “partner, associate; joint owner or joint heir.” It is derived from the Latin word partitionem which means “a sharing, partition, division, distribution.”

I particularly like that last bit about a sharing, or a division of labor, especially in light of this week’s discussion on reading partners. Any creative act is a labor of love, and it can only be strengthened when it’s shared with the right people.

Happy writing!

Please consider sharing a link to your response to the writing exercise. Do you work with a reading partner for your writing? Tell us how you found your partner!

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