Maya Angelou

Writing Prompt: Write Your Way Home

Writing Prompt: Home #365StrongStories by Writing Coach and storyteller Marisa GoudyWhat does "home" conjure for you? Simply free writing on a page beneath that word written in broad capital letters is a potent writing exercise in itself. Today, I drove through a piece of my hometown, eyes welling up at my closest childhood friend's driveway, at the stretch of sidewalk where I fell off my bike and nearly got run over, at the restaurant where I slogged through the worst summer job ever.

Gleefully, I told my daughter about the forest where I met the fairies for the first time in my adult life (they were happy to have me back). I did not point out my high school boyfriend's house or mention the church we thought we'd get married in some day.

I don't have a bed in this town anymore. My dad has moved four towns further out on the peninsula that held me from my first breath. Luckily, Cape Cod has great wide arms to welcome me "home," no matter what beach I land on. This piece of historic Route 6A in Barnstable will always lead the way home even if I have no fixed address along the way.

Now that I have survived the five-hour trip across Massachusetts and dipped down into our "real" home in New York's Hudson Valley, I can almost leave the tears behind. I can almost find the creative spark that hides amongst the yearning and the memories.

Gratefully, I can turn to one of the great mothers of American literature for three views through the prism of home. All true, all compelling, all addressing a different aspect of the complicated subject of home:

  • "You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right."
  • "The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned."
  • "I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."

Your turn... write into that simply stated "home" or use one of the quotes as inspiration. Consider submitting your story to the #365StrongStories project.

The everyday anguish of a creative life left unlived

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” Maya Angelou, #365StrongStories by Marisa Goudy“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” The girl had grown up reading that quote, an amateurish watercolor on a piece of torn paper that was tacked to her aunt’s kitchen wall.

“Auntie? Why do you have that old piece of paper up there, way up high?”

The woman sighed deeply and looked into her mug of tea. Childhood went by faster than ever, but there were certain stories that wouldn't fit into a six year-old’s world.

“The writer who said that - can you read where it says ‘Maya Angelou’? She changed the world by writing the stories of her own life. She was a poet who talked with presidents and she had a deep, powerful voice.”

This was when the woman began to pray, please let that be enough. When her niece came to visit her tiny apartment in this blah bedroom community, every inch of the place was examined, so she ought to have expected this question.

“Yeah, but why is it way up there by the ceiling?”

Because I needed it to be there, but not there, the woman screamed silently. The truth behind this painting was too important to lie about and yet too raw to speak aloud.

“I hung it way up there so I had something to look at when I do my neck exercises.” That was a sad attempt an explanation. On the bright side, maybe that lame little story would remind her to stretch now and again.

“Did you paint it?”

“Yes, honey, I did.”

“But you’re not a artist!” the girl exclaimed, skipping over that cumbersome  “n” in her passion.

“No, honey, I’m somebody in a cubicle.”

Apparently cubicles weren't interesting to children either. “Yeah, but what does ‘agony’ mean” she asked, making the word sound like it rhymed with pony.

“Something that really hurts.”

“Oh, ok. I don’t have that. I tell all the stories in my heart.”

The nice thing about being cross-examined a first grader is that you can pull her onto your lap and rest your chin on her head so she cannot see the tears in your eyes.

Tell the stories that matter to you. Learn how to access them with this quick, free guide for creative entrepreneurs.