Word Prompt: Receive | Story Prompt: from the book “Devotion” by Patti Smith

Write It Out: Instruction Video

“Fate has a hand but is not the hand. I was looking for something and found something else, the trailer of a film. Moved by a sonorous though alien voice, words poured. I went on a journey lured by a jukebox of lights conjuring a symphony of reference points. I threaded a world that was not even my own, wandering the abstract streets of Patrick Modiano. I read a book, introduced to the mystic activism of Simone Weil. I watched a figure skater, wholly beguiled.

I began to write the piece entitled Devotion on the train from Paris to Sete. Initially I thought to compose a heightened discourse between disparate voices – a sophisticated, rational man and a precocious, intuitive young girl. I was interested to see where they would lead each other, forming an alliance in a realm of opulence and obscurity. I had also kept a loosely formed travel diary: bits of poems, notes, and observations for no particular reason save to write. Looking back on these fragments, I am struck with the thought that if Devotion was a crime, I had inadvertently produced evidence, annotating as I went along.

Most often the alchemy that produces a poem or a work of fiction is hidden within the work itself, if not embedded in the coiling ridges of the mind. But in this case I could track a plethora of enticements, a forest of firs, Simone Weil’s haircut, white bootlaces, a pouch of screws, Camus’s existential gun.”


It struck me today that, in order to receive, I must first be aware of a thing being offered, or being shared or given freely. So I suppose this is an extension of last week’s word prompt, ‘notice’. Sometimes when things come to me, I don’t necessarily think about how they got there. Especially things like sunshine or rain, and even love. These things can be easy to take for granted, and easy to miss – even as I receive them. Writing can be like that – things come through in my writing that I’ve not really thought about until I see it there on the page. I’ve been trying to pay more attention lately, and offer gratitude for these things. How about you? What are you receiving these days? Share your thoughts below!

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