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Day 26: October Journaling Adventure with The Joy of Writing Journal

Welcome to Day 26 on the journey through The Joy of Writing Journal. Here I share an excerpt from my journey and I hope you will share something about yours—an excerpt, an insight, a challenge, a joy…


Today’s prompt invites you to choose a favorite or least favorite room in your home. Then imagine a bizarre or humorous story happening in that room before you moved in.

My Story

We moved into our house 21 years ago, when my oldest was three months old. Before we lived here, my husband’s grandmother lived here. And before that—several of my current neighbors.

It’s a funny thing about Saunderstown. When you move into your first home here, at least a half dozen neighbors will tell you about when they lived in your house, or played in your house as a kid, or summered in your house, or built your house and planted the trees! People may outgrow a house here, or downsize, or raze a house and plant a new one, but they don’t easily leave!

In my journal for Day 26 I wrote about how the energy of our house changed over time as we reclaimed it for our own and made changes—some big and some small. I’m a bit bored about what I wrote. I don’t feel any insights from it. I suppose I could just give myself a pass—and that’s okay. But I’m thinking now it might be fun to imagine a few things that might have happened here:

weeping cherry
My mother-in-law Mimi, sons Will and Luke, and husband Tom on the deck with our weeping cherry and forsythia in the background about a decade ago.
  • I imagine Ginny, who built the house with her family, painting her beautiful watercolor Christmas gift tags, sold at St. John the Divine’s holiday sale as a church fundraiser each December. Where would she have painted? I imagine the living room—the one large room in the house. And I realize I can ask her!
  • I imagine Seth, Ginny’s son, walking the property with his parents and sister choosing where to plant the tiny weeping cherry tree, which has become the largest weeping cherry I’ve ever seen, by a factor of three! They chose the perfect spot where we can enjoy it from the living room and deck, or lie in a hammock underneath blossoming branches while the carpenter bees chase the hummingbirds away from the tree’s pale pink blossoms.

It’s interesting how the exercise—which seems so wide open to fiction—becomes quickly rooted in some things I know about the house. Like I’m afraid to go too far since so many of my neighbors lived here. I know who lived here and I don’t want to imagine anything too strange! Maybe I should try this exercise with a different house I lived in!

Perhaps this points to the difference between truly journaling for your own experience and typing something in a blog that you know others will read.

My conundrum also reminds me that if, in writing about something you feel stuck, find another way in.

Your Turn

The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day

Share an excerpt from your Day 26 exploration in The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day. If you don’t have a copy, you can buy it here.

Honestly, I’m hoping you get more experimental than I did!

What room did you choose? How bizarre or quirky did you get with it?

Please share a phrase, excerpt or insights as a comment below.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Mary Ann L says

    The prompt made me think. In setting the scene I veered off course. Again! I will try another time to find the funnies. My room just didn’t make sense until it did.

    The dining room screams mishmash. Hanging over the fireplace mantel built by a friend is an antique Thai etched brass tabletop with pie crust edging. It shines like the sun against seafoam wallpaint. In the center of the room is tung oil finished Pennsylvania cherry table handmade by a friend of a friend, boat shaped to see and hear all voices around the table. There are ten cherry Shaker chairs, sturdy and more comfortable than they appear. The west wall has a built in wall unit with odd pottery, Indonesian wood carvings, a Buddha, and dated family photos. Its faded white paint has streaks of color from old books that once crowded the shelves. On the north wall are two oil paintings between a double hung window. A Zeek’s Creek marsh scene by local artist Evelyn in a burnished gold frame and a Fort Wetherell scene in a silvery frame by former neighbor, Wilson, architect turned painter. The flooring is random lengths of Bruce Hardwood oak grooved with walnut pegs circa 1980, one of the few remaining floors in the original house. The table squats on a faded red Chinese wool and silk rug that catches an assortment of crumbs. The room lacks a uniform theme or style. It just kind of happened little by little. It’s not ugly, it’s not beautiful, it is a room that looks to the Newport Bridge, boats underway, boats bobbing on their moorings.

    Collective memories live here. Our Italian Sunday gatherings mark ordinary and special events- the days of our lives. We add place settings for the new loves in our family. We swap out high chairs for booster seats, bibs for cloth napkins. We pass dishes heaving with steaming pasta, garlicky green vegetables and crusty bread, we bring each other up to date, we laugh. We drink wine but mostly we drink in each other. Our successes and failures don’t define us. We are more than the sum of our parts and together we rise or fall. We pass comment when something in the room changes, but mostly we look at each other. At its finest hour what defines this room is the people sitting in it.

    • Deborah Louth says

      Maryann – your mishmash is lovely. The family gathering space around the dining table sounds like if this
      Pa. cherry table and chairs could talk. I felt the family warmth surround me with a smile.

  2. Deborah Louth says

    You beat me this time Maryann – a true leader
    After I wrote this, I noticed a theme of memory and time, especially with the juxtaposition of the young and old characters. It’s amazing how a theme unfolds, where there was no prior intention.

    Day 26 – If my house could talk – Prompt – My Back Porch

    Sixteen years ago, I moved into this house in Hope Valley, as the original owner was leaving to live with her son in Virginia. Antoinette was 95 years old and had slowly become blind, deaf and forgetful. It was a sad day for her, when she left her cherished home. I told her I would be a wonderful caretaker stewarding her land. She died two years later. The land has a beautiful rustic ambiance situated on eight acres with an acre pond in the backyard. Antoinette and husband Albert, along with three children initially lived in the small cottage in front, which is now a rental I oversee. They were both factory workers, so it took them six years to patiently build their dream house, completed in 1960. It’s a small ranch house, which I just painted sky blue with white trim and strategically sits on a prominence with the back porch windows overlooking an acre, spring fed pond. The pond, house and periphery of the land are surrounded by tall trees; stately sentries supporting wildlife activity.

    The back porch room has a unique feeling to it with all the windows giving a bird’s eye view of nature, unlike the other rooms in the house, where much activity abounds, when I go onto the back porch via the novel Dutch door, I step into another time and space, as I rest and pause there. If you look to the left in leafless winter-land, you can spy a large, old cemetery at the boundary line. The pond is in direct view from the porch. The locals call this pond Molly’s Pond in memory of the little girl called Molly, who drowned there in the 1930’s. I made a sacred space for Antoinette’s home made, wooden swing by placing it facing the pond, which is visible from the back porch. There are times, when I sense her swinging silently in reverie with a wistful smile illuminating her face. Once, I felt a little girl’s presence climb out of the pond into the soothing arms of Antoinette singing a soft lullaby, while stroking her hair. My mother’s green metal swing is positioned nearby. When I need soothing from afar, the rocking motion of the swing transports me back to infancy, where I am loved and cherished.

    • Lisa Tener says

      What a beautiful home you have, Deborah. You brought it to life with me.
      I loved, “I step into another time and place.” And the whole scene feels so healing.

  3. Mary Ann L says

    Deborah- you are honoring the legacy of Albert &Antoinette and are channeling their benevolent spirits as you walk in their footsteps. How amazing that you sense connections and energy from Molly to Antoinette. I am left with this rich sense of place, nature and deep roots where you have made your home.

  4. Maureen says

    The den is my sanctuary in our house, because nobody else really spends much time there, except me. I imagined a story where many of the pieces of art and artifacts in the den, along with their givers, come to life at night when we are sleeping and party hearty all over the room. Here is an excerpt…

    The pair of green potbellied Buddhas are contemplative and deliberate. Every night, they ooze down from the mantle and sidle over to the bridge table. Turns out they love jigsaw puzzles. They spend most of the night taking turns to choose a few perfect pieces to slip into place, laughing and clutching their bellies and slapping each other on the back as the final image slowly emerges….

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