For each issue of Literary Mama, Literary Reflections shares a writing prompt, inviting our readers to respond. Our editors provide feedback on the responses we receive, and we post our favorites on the blog. This month’s writing prompt is inspired by Erin Lyn Bodin’s Even In Winter.
In her Literary Reflections essay, “Even In Winter,” Erin Lyn Bodin shares this motherly wisdom: “‘[I]f you are given free time, this is the holy grail. Fill that chalice with something good and do not share it.” Bodin fills her spare moments with a daily jog and a writing session, two cherished activities that provide sustenance and rejuvenation within the demands of her busy life as a mother and librarian.
Bodin describes a day when, upon returning from a run, she sees her toddler pulling his sled through the slow. As she gazes at him with loving eyes, he picks up on her presence and turns towards her. Bodin hightails it out of sight, hoping to squeeze in a few moments to record the miracles of nature she glimpsed on the jog. Although she embraces the opportunity for solitude, she also reflects on the oddness of it: “It’s a curiosity, allowing myself to take up space in my own day. Devoting 20 minutes to moving my body. Devoting still more time to exercising my mind.”
Negative thoughts inevitably make an appearance. “[T]here’s always the possibility I am not alone, but with my old friend, doubt. My feet find the road and I wonder if it matters. My cursor floats across white, and I ask if I will ever be coherent again.” Bodin relates how, despite her efforts outdoors, the number on the scale doesn’t budge. Regarding her writing, she accumulates pieces of essays and notes with random ideas. Fear, an entity that’s never too far afield, arises. Is this all for naught?
Despite these feelings, Bodin persists, knowing deep down that her exertion and commitment are worth the reward. She focuses on the beautiful, unexpected images she encounters while running, and she revels in the insightful, observant lines she writes in her journal.
I jog with my thoughts, subtly aware of how the snow forms a crispness on the passing farms’ manure piles, the awkward beauty of a few Christmas ornaments clinging haphazardly to a small pine, the way the brook cuts through the snowy meadow like a surprise. I pick up speed to go write it all down, this new idea, these fleeting impressions, this phrase that might take me, finally, into the scene.
Bolstered by the possibilities, Bodin religiously takes her short daily run. She jots notes on the backs of envelopes when longer writing sessions aren’t possible. With or without constraints, she perseveres. “I focus on championing this fresh identity of mom-with-a-little-free-time rather than questioning the soundness of the experiment.”
What passions, interests, or activities do you reserve time for amidst the varied landscape of motherhood? How do they serve your personal wellbeing? Do you face struggles in keeping this commitment to yourself? What are the effects of following through? (Or of not following through?) What motivates you to keep striving towards these goals?
Read the essay written by Bodin and submit a 500-word response to this writing prompt by April 26, 2021, for feedback from our editors. Email it to LMreflections (at) literarymama (dot) com and note “April Prompt” in your subject line. Please do not attach the essay; rather, paste the response in the body of the email.