Coffee House “Church” – The Sunday Trigger

In their book, “What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers,” Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter offer a brief exercise called: Sunday: Discovering Emotional Triggers. 

They wrote that “most people feel at loose ends on this day—even those who spend time in church . . . a lot of us tend to overdo it – overeat, oversleep, overreact. Sundays bring out the worst in people . . . Things happen on Sunday that wouldn’t happen on weekdays. So if you want to examine domestic dynamics close up (this being offered as a fiction-writing experiment for your characters), set some action on a Sunday and let her rip,” their writing prompt offers. They suggest you title this writing prompt, “Sunday”—and write 550 words, letting this Sunday theme serve as the trigger word for the exercise. 

For a period of time, a friend and I met at our favorite coffee shop every Sunday morning to write. We were more into journaling practice instead of fiction writing practice at the time, however, and I dubbed our weekly sessions: Coffee House Church. 

I agree with the two ladies; Sunday writing, fictional or not, is emotional. I unearthed the following bits from one of our sessions: 

Last night Porch Kitty showed up in the glider and seemed to be enjoying himself. He stayed longer this time than he usually does if he spies me peeking out the window at him. His wide, wide eyes always make me feel so bad. I always wonder what it is that made him so fearful. 

I didn’t want to him to get up and leave, but he did as soon as he saw me, and I hated that I’d disturbed him. He is welcome; he can stay as long as he wants, and I wish I could find a way to convey that to him, but no doubt it is too late. Whether he is simply feral—or was abused—the damage appears set in stone. Damn, damn and damn. Always the sad again. 

On the drive over this morning I saw the neatest critter. Sitting all alone in the middle of a vacant lot full of grasses, was a red fox. He was sitting there looking around as if contemplating his choices. Well, that’s what my imagined take on it was. And guess what my first thoughts for him were? Concern; worry on whether he’ll live through this day and not get hit by some car; that he was not already hurt and sitting where he was because of it. I will be watching for him on my way back home— 

The party last night was all that I’d wanted it to be. Hard work and Intent. Pays off. Always. One way or the other. Very satisfying. Everything is about Intent. That is the word to focus on: in prayer—in work—in play—even nothingness. It’s like intent takes you to the core—your core—and therein lies all the energy. Maybe you define it, but I doubt you can control it. Or—should I say—control the result. The expectation vs. the result. Can be a dangerous combination if not kept in a proper realm of perspective. 

Sooo—late last night that violence of nature fight you heard out in the trees . . . raccoons fighting most likely. The cry of a life taken so another can live. I hate that. Period. I can’t change that reaction. Having one’s cake and eating it, too? What a god-forsaken statement! Could be the ultimate writing theme, when you think about it. Ish. 

The red fox will be okay today. 

He will need to eat; you hope he is able to. You hope it is over quick. 

Today’s Gratitudes: 

A friend in a coffee shop

Hot chai

The foaming sound of a coffee machine

Acoustical guitar music

Quiet patrons

The sun

Someone at home

Elbow braces—and help to put them on

A cat who insists on saying good morning each day

In defense of the emotional Sunday blood-letting sessions, I don’t think I was any worse for the wear. It felt like I cleaned the white board for Monday. 

Give it a whirl; fiction or non-fiction. See what you think.

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