Writing to Transform

This morning I joined UNCW’s Writing to Transform session “Who Said Nights Were for Sleep: The Power of Aubades and Nocturnes” with Aimee Nezhukumatahil. I’m a huge fan of Nezhukumatahil and have been attending many enjoyable Zoom events for her new book, but this one was a nice change of pace. While I love hearing about Nezhukumatahil’s writing process and listening to her read her own work, “The Power of Aubades and Nocturnes” was like sitting in on one of her classes, something I’d love to do.

To start a nocturne, Nezhukumatahil pushed attendees to “activate your night mind”, and I was immediately lost in thought. Of course the night mind is freer than the day mind; I love letting my mind wander as I drift to sleep (if I’m lucky) and I get a lot of story ideas then, too. Ideas I used to be convinced were SO GOOD I would remember them in the morning. But I never did, so now I have a notepad by my bed, with a pen that has a light at the writing tip. Now I can jot down my ideas without fully waking myself up, and then… find out they’re not good in the morning. BUT STILL! It’s my imagination, and it’s going wild, and I was immediately on board with the concept.

Nezhukumatahil read a few poems by others and gave us jumping off points to write our own nocturnes. What subjects most often come up in your night mind? Even making a list put me in that mindset, and then she pushed us further by asking us to list sounds and smells associated with those thoughts.

She gave us slightly specific prompts as well, which I’m a huge fan of. I love having some constraints to my writing, because instead of flailing blindly, that usually gives me a focus and I can go wild from there. She gave us four places to start, because a conversation that happens in a kitchen will be different than a conversation that happens at the edge of a lake. She gave us three different late night/early morning times as well, because a conversation that happens at 9pm will be different than a conversation that happens at 2am. I love the idea of a writing exercise mixing and matching ALL of these times and places to see how story will change.

For aubades, Nezhukumatahil had us think of types of goodbyes. Letting my mind loose like this was invigorating; I haven’t really brainstormed on a topic like that since… well, since I last led a writing workshop, probably. I only took notes during the session because I wanted to get as much as I could from it, and now I’m ready to really explore these prompts, and hopefully grow from there.

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