Day 8: When a large invisible thumb descended.

Margaret Atwood: The day I became a poet was a sunny day of no particular ominousness. I was walking across the football field, not because I was sports-minded or had plans to smoke a cigarette behind the field house — the only other reason for going there — but because this was my normal way home from school. I was scuttling along in my usual furtive way, suspecting no ill, when a large invisible thumb descended from the sky and pressed down on the top of my head. A poem formed. It was quite a gloomy poem: the poems of the young usually are. It was a gift, this poem — a gift from an anonymous donor, and, as such, both exciting and sinister at the same time.

I suspect this is truth for more of us, creatives, than are willing to admit. That moment when electricity fired through your synapses and the muse started whispering in YOUR ear.

I remember a morning when I woke from a dream, startled by a ghostly visit from my grandmother, and popped out of bed with a ready-made story trying to stream out of my fingertips. Only a seemingly endless wait for the stovetop percolator to boil and my two-finger Linus typing could staunch the flow of words, for what would become one of my first pieces of published writing.

Daily task:

Record the story of your first thumb pressing down on top of your head. Try and write out your creation story, the moment you first  knew that there was a kind of magic inside your mind, just waiting to be set free. Were you eating a bowl of cereal? Watching the contours of a black-and-white print take shape under the hot red lamp of a dark room? Maybe it was way back in grade school, when you were drawing your first map of Middle Earth?


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