Thoughts
On Writing,  THOUGHTS

The Pink Basket

basket

Lately, I have been reading many books on writing, in particular, writing in memoir. A great book I just read and has now become a great reference book for writing prompts is Old Friend From Far Away, by Natalie Goldberg. Her writing is intense with descriptive words and the lessons she uses to promote ten-minute writing prompts to awaken the creative juices in a flash are so motivating.

One of Goldberg’s first prompts is, “I am looking at …”. She writes, “You have ten minutes to write, go!” I have been using this exercise a lot lately. Since reading her book, sometimes while I’m not writing, I find myself doing something around the house and my attention may be drawn to a mundane object and I begin creating stories in my head about them.

This little story came to me  while I was doing a load of laundry. When I took a load out of the dryer, I placed it into my old faithful, pink laundry basket. Many times when I look at that basket, I chuckle when I think about how old that basket is and where it came from. I began with “I am looking at this pink laundry basket” and my memory took over.

The basket has been around my homes for well over half a century! When I moved away from home as a  teen, I took it with me as my mother prepared to toss it out while we packed up our family home. Everyone was moving. My parents were finally divorcing and my dad sold our beautiful home with the circular driveway.

My father had already moved out. My mother was taking my younger siblings to a smaller home and I was eager to find peace and start life on my own at eighteen. I was young and starting from scratch so I inherited some furniture from our home and I knew I would be needing a laundry basket, and whatever I didn’t have to buy was good enough for me.

I never really gave much thought to the basket other than its usefulness. Through the years I have moved a lot and that basket came everywhere with me. But as the decades passed, it had become very symbolic. With its once bright pink color, it had become faded to a lightened shade of peach. The years had left many marks on it but it is still in perfect condition and sturdier than the flimsy baskets made today.

When I was four years old, I loved to play with that basket. This is certainly quite an odd object for a child to want to play with, but for me it became a kind of safe-haven. I grew up living in much discord and I feared my mother’s temper. When I was very young, I used to imagine I was a princess who would one day be famous and free. Quite a combination for a young child to think about, and the famous part especially was interesting because I didn’t know what I wanted to be famous for. I would jump in my bed and I would put that basket over my head—like a cage, as though I were in solitude. Nobody could find me (I thought) and I was safe from the noise of my mother’s rants.

Once inside my own private world, my imagination took over and I would go into my princess land and I felt safe and content.

Goldberg’s book opens up the imagination. You begin with being prompted such as: “I am looking at,” which starts the writing and your thoughts will drive you to the story from what you are looking at. You don’t stop to think or revise. You follow your thoughts from the initial object you began writing about, and the writing begins to take on a new life about the subject as you continue to write. There are many writing prompts in Old Friend From Far Away which awaken our memories and can be used over and over using different subject matters.

DGKaye©2014

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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.

18 Comments

  • kerisjournal

    I am not sure why my phone keeps saying LOADING so I can’t click LIKE but I can leave a comment which I guess is better depending how you look at it. But this one made me cry. Maybe because I know your story and I wish I could have rescued that little girl in the pink basket or you are just an amazing writer or a little of both but this was tears worthy.

    • dgkaye

      Aw thanks Di. Lol, you brought tears to my eyes reading your heartfelt comment. I love your compassionate soul! xo

  • drew delaney

    This is quite an interesting post for me. I have often felt the way you have, but my parents split for just a couple of years and got back together once again. Life was tough. The fighting, bickering, and the feeling that one was going to kill the other one day was terrifying. I hope you have recovered from your life of uncertainty and confusion. Parents sometimes don’t realize what they are doing when they raise their children. The worst part is when we as parents end up in an unsettling marriage and do the same to our own children. What a merry-go-round. Thanks for sharing some of your life with us.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Drew, and thanks for sharing a part of yours. Yes, this is why I wrote my first book, Conflicted Hearts. About my struggles as a child growing up under the rule of a narcissistic mother and how I set myself free. 🙂 We also have two choices — we can follow the path we came from or we can do our best to take the opposite route, which I have managed to do. 🙂

  • elainemansfield

    Natalie Goldberg is a great writer whose books have helped me in a few ways. I hear she leads wonderful workshops. I’m glad the princess Deb has her very own pink laundry basket/castle. It’s good you recovered something precious from your difficult childhood. Now what do I see? I can’t write about bluebirds again. So, I am looking at Willow who begs for a walk. Keep writing and so will I.

    • dgkaye

      Lol, thanks Elaine. We can never really tire of writing about the beauty in nature. And, I would love to go to one of Goldberg’s workshops one day. Like you said, for now, we keep writing! 🙂

  • Aquileana

    Hello DG!,

    Goldberg’s prompt “I am looking at” …is truly great and can be easily considered as a trigger which leads to free writing…

    Describing mundane object is certainly an interesting exercise to let imagination fly…

    I love the little story about the pink basket and it reminded me of your book “Conflicted Hearts”..

    Always nice to stop by here, my prolific writer, friend,

    Best wishes, Aquileana 😛

    • dgkaye

      Hi dear Aq! Thanks for dropping by and leaving your always inspiring comments. I really enjoyed that book and now keep it as my trusted prompting guide for writing exercise. 🙂

  • mockingbird181984

    A very moving one, Ms Deb. That pink basket is not just a reminder of your childhood days, it also very well captures the joys and the triumphs you’ve achieved after you’ve decided to take it with you. I can relate so much to your story because my mom had a very bad temper too when I was younger. I learned to always think ahead. I tried to read her mind in order not to upset her. It was crazy, and the effects of that upbringing is still here deep within…It’s haunting me at night in my dreams.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for your feedback Mock. Wow, isn’t it crazy the baggage we carry with us through life? Yes, the old adage ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’ certainly applies. You and I had the same methods of dealing with our mother’s tempers. I did exactly as you, always walking on eggshells being careful what I said or asked so as not to upset the apple cart. Unfortunately it is hard for those memories to vanish. We have only to work our way through them and I think you and I have done just fine! 🙂 xo

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