Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Depending on the English classes that you have taken, or the writing classes, you may have come across a technique for breaking 'writer's block', known as Clustering.

This is how it works. You take a word, circle it, and then write anything that has to do with that word - no matter how vaguely, then you take those words and do the same, until you hit a story.

As a nonsense example -


A Color = flowers, raincoats, sunshine, brightness, happiness, saffron, food, exotic places, India, temples, monks, Tibet, the Delhi Lama, etc.

Somewhere in there is a spark that will or hopefully will, wake your muse. Somewhere in there is the spark to light an idea which will become a story, a poem, a book, a documentary, a movie...anything.

I cluster all the time. Sometimes on purpose, and other times by accident. Music forces me to cluster, as do certain books, movies, or even a commercial. Sometimes they result in a story or essay, but with me, they more often act as triggers of incredibly wonderful times or unbelievably bad times.

A few days ago, I watched a Lifetime movie, and it began. This was one of the bad ones. It triggered a memory that I have buried deep in my being, but which has influenced most of my life. I did what I always do when I cluster, and I took the word to all the other words and to all the things that those words represent. For 4 days, I was inside those words - reliving all the pain, all the confusion, all the shame, all despair, and all the years of feeling so alone in the trauma. I guess you could call it a PTSD moment that has never ended.

For the last few nights, sleep has escaped me. Moments of drifting off have been spent in the hell of memories so long buried, but then this morning, something happened.

Since I couldn't sleep, I got up, sat on my couch watching the news. As I sat there, my floor furnace kicked on and I felt the surge of warmth. I looked around my little house, and as the first rays of the sun filtered through the window onto my back, I felt an incredible sense of peace. An elusive thought overtook me and I realized that I felt happy.

Happy is not an easy emotion for me, but for that moment, it flooded my being.

My word for today is Happy - and I may Cluster it into a story, but first, I am finally ready for a good long sleep.