As writers, we are experts at do-it-yourself. We can make mother-and-son heartbreaks, clumps of yellow daffodils, and a chiffon cake left out in the rain–all before breakfast. The only limits are those we place upon ourselves. No subject matter is too grand or hum drum. Think of Emily Dickinson and her instructions to us on how to make a prairie.

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.

Essayist and poet Wendell Berry took his own advice in “How To Be a Poet.” “The song is instruction in how to sing,” another poet, Dean Young, tells us in his excellent book, The Art of Recklessness. Chances are you write because at some tender age you encountered a story or a play or a poem that didn’t just talk to you, but opened the way for you to talk back. What we end up writing is the song and the instructions both.

Which brings me to this week’s prompt.

Write your own instructions on how to be a poet or a pilgrim. How to hail a cab or ice a cake. How to make a star wink or that same star howl back at the one who wishes upon it.

Not sure how to start? Take Berry’s advice:

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
    — from “How To Be a Poet”
Happy Writing!

About the Keeping the Appointment Challenge! Check in each week, grab the prompt and go. New prompts will be posted on Tuesday. Find a quiet place and write in response to the prompt for 15-30 minutes. Only after you have something on paper, take a look or a listen to other examples if you like. Wait a day or three and reread what you wrote. Revise for 30 minutes or so. If you want, post what you wrote. We would love to see it–and we promise to keep our own editing selves to our selves! In other words, this blog is a place to share your work, not to “fix” the work of others. We receive it with the open, generous mind of a fellow-writer and reader. Comments are welcome as are words of thanks.

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