Writing Prompt: Write about something that scared you

This week’s writing prompt with my class makes me a little more vulnerable than I’d like, but I suppose that’s what I’ve challenged my students to do, so it follows I should shake in my boots a little, too. We’ve been discussing our goals and dreams, events that have challenged us or frightened us before delving into action. Adrenaline was at the forefront, warning us that something was going to happen quickly, honing our senses into a hyper-alert and hypersensitive state.

Write about something that scared you.

It took me forever to press the send button on an email to my editor at Ave Maria Press containing the manuscript for my first book. Sometime in the fourth grade I decided I wanted to be a writer, and it took all those decades for it to happen in a traditional medium.  Oh, I’ve flirted around with writing on this blog, and other places, even self-published a bunch of things, but this time, the stakes seemed a little higher for me. What if the publisher hates it? What if nobody wants to buy it?

What if the whole universe conspires against my book and deems it the worst thing ever! 

I was consoled with the knowledge that no matter how bad it could be, it’s not likely to generate an online contest for terrible opening lines, like the Bulwer-Lytton Prize, so I hit send. It was an action 42 years in the making, since that very first essay I wrote in the fourth grade.

Nothing exploded. Nobody fired me.

I got a little bit of indigestion later, when I found out what the title was. Oh, it’s sure to be a classic, at least in my family. Are you ready?

My Badass Book of Saints

There’s an awesome subtitle, but I want you to pay attention to it and you’re still obsessing over Badass in the title of a Catholic Saints book. That’s OK. Me, too. Let’s recover together.

My Badass Book of Saints: Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Live.

I like it. It suits me. I mean, I’m writing about some really extraordinary women, some saints, some not quite saints, and a few that, well, might be saints in heaven, but weren’t exactly Saints on earth. I’m in there, too, telling my story, my mom’s story, my grandma’s story.

It’s a pretty good book. A badass book.

And I’m still scared.

My Badass Book of Saints: Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Live
by Maria Morera Johnson
Ave Maria Press

a place that calms my soul

I’m currently working on a reflexive journaling project with my students, and part of the journaling experience, as the professor, is to model what I’m teaching. Over the course of the next ten weeks I’ll be posting my entry here. Some of the topics will be general, like today’s, and others might be a little more academic. I invite you to use the prompts. If you’d like to link here and share your thoughts, that would be cool. I think my students would enjoy seeing how others respond, especially as an enjoyable writing exercise (instead of an assignment in a composition course). And so, without further ado, here’s mine:

Write about a place that calms your soul.

I love the beach. As long as I can remember, I’ve been pulled toward the shore.

If I say beach, it calls to mind a number of things — sand, blue skies, the wide open ocean. Maybe images of colorful umbrellas scattered across the sand. While it’s true that all that and more represent the beach, the part that calls to me and calms my soul is the shore.

That fluid place where the land ends and the water begins mesmerizes me. I am most often found sitting right at that line, digging my toes into the loose wet sand and watching my ankles get engulfed by the water as the waves wash over my feet.

It’s probably not an accident that the force behind those waves, the tide, also has a mesmerizing pull. Few things are more spectacular than sitting along the shoreline at night with a full moon.

I love a calm sea. I love a violent sea even more. I love seeing, feeling, and hearing the sounds of the ocean as waves either lap at the shore or crash into it.

If I sit along the shore long enough, I become a part of that rhythm and it is both soothing and calming. It frees me to empty my mind. In those moments I feel closest to all Creation. To God.

Most of my work week is filled with noise. Man-made noises are always assaulting my ears — the constant onslaught of media, the persistent hum of electronics, and my own continuing need to be in front of a class talking take a toll on my ears. When I can get away to the beach, I do.

I can sit and unwind as the waves wash away the noise. It usually just takes an afternoon to hit that re-set button in my mind. Then I’m ready for real refreshment. It puts me in the mood to reflect. It puts me in the mood to pray, and my soul is calmed.