This is an exercise. This is the practice, the art of discipline where despite all my cells screaming, I take my coffee and I sit on the couch and I write because it is morning and because the light is dim and today, I can drag myself out of bed before everyone else gets up. This is the day I play with sentence structure. This is the day I write to a themed submission about lost and found except the only kind of lost I can think of is the kind I feel and the only kind of found I know is the one where someone finds me, the real me, and tells me who I am so I don’t have to figure it out myself because I’m too tired. This is where I come up with a metaphor that makes my piece sing, the line that people highlight or set apart in quotes, or tweet with a link. This is the day the church at the end of the block decides to have their roof replaced and it takes me several decades of minutes to figure that out because I can’t see it, I can only hear it. This is the day the cursor blinks until there’s a little figure stuttering up toward the steeple high above the neighbourhood, which is the visual I need to solve the mystery of sound. This is the day I write about nails pounding and shingles ripping and construction shouts, except I change “church” to “building” to make it seem as if I live in a city rather than the suburbs because suburbs straddle rural and urban and therefore are neither hot nor cold and neither here nor there and only a certain kind of story comes from the suburbs. This is the story about suburbs. This is a story about suburbs. This is the day I work on the small words, articles, possessives, and pronouns. This is the day I work on the architecture of the story. This is the day where I remove the setting to see if the narrative can stand on its own. This is the day the structure comes crumbling down and I am left in a pile of rubble. This is the day I pick up rocks and hold them to the light. This is the day I add new rocks and hope no one notices the sheen on them compared to the dull wear of the rest of the pile. This is the day I choose one metaphor and layer it throughout the piece like blankets on a winter bed, or like leaves that fall to the forest floor—first the maples, then the birch, then the oak. This is the day I learn the difference between metaphor and simile and personification. This is a forest. This is a story about forests. This is a story to wander through as if in a forest with no footpaths. This is an exercise in theme. This is the day I flesh out my character. This is the day I add in specifics to appeal to the ideal of universality. This is an exercise in endings. This is a story that never ends.
Wendy BooydeGraaff is the author of Salad Pie, a children’s picture book published by Ripple Grove Press/Chicago Review Press. Her fiction, poems, and essays have been included in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, CutBank Online, Lily Poetry Review, NOON, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, she now lives in Michigan, United States.