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Witness

When you write, who is watching you? A post about a beloved dog’s passing inspires this week’s challenge.

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We recently launched the Discover Challenge to offer you another opportunity each week to participate in a prompt and stretch your blogging muscles. Challenges are inspired by the stories we share on WordPress Discover. New Discover Challenges are published on Tuesdays!

We’re conditioned to think of most creative pursuits as solitary acts. But are they, really? Writing, for example, is in fact a quite public act. That’s clearly the case if you write in a public place — a library, a café, on your phone on the bus. But it’s also true in more private spaces that are nonetheless shared with others, be they your kids, your partner, your roommate, or even just the hazy notion of your future readers (which can be as powerful as any real person hovering over your desk).

The idea that someone is always bearing witness to my writing (even before I hit the “Publish” button) became very real to me when I recently read a guest post by Elizabeth Marro over at Cynthia Martin’s blog, Catching Days. It’s a moving tribute that the author wrote about her dog, Chloe, who had recently died. The post contains many an insight on how loss and working through it operate. But it was this line that stayed with me, and the one I knew I had to share on Discover:

She was the witness to every word I wrote that day as well as every word I’ve written and the many I have failed to write for fourteen years.

There’s something crushingly sad — yet also incredibly comforting — in the totality of Chloe’s presence in Elizabeth’s writing experience. It becomes clear that a witness isn’t just a passive bystander, but somehow a key figure with an important role to play.

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Marro / Cynthia Martin.

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Marro / Cynthia Martin.

Who is your witness? Who sees you when you write (or draw, or snap a photo)? Do you ever imagine anyone observing you, whether over your shoulder or from across the room? Whether it’s a person, an animal, an inanimate object, or something else entirely, publish a post — in prose or in verse, or in any non-textual medium you love working in — about it/them/her/him.

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    1. I’m afraid that pingbacks sometimes don’t work for bloggers with self-hosted sites. We’re aware of this issue, though we don’t currently have a fix. You’re more than invited to share your post by leaving a link in a comment on the challenge page.

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  1. It’s true, for a poet, he has his muse, Erato, a musician his, Melopomene, but Calliope, the muse for a writer, she never shows up, she is whimsical at times, so we are always fascinated, in our quest, by the banc of a page, and we forget to look around, to things that we treasures for the longest, they are witnesses of our moments in life, or some we lost, that_”Somewhere, those poor things must still be knocking about”__Constantine Cavafy
    Happy blogging
    Kalimelo

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  2. Our writing group (ninevoices.wordpress.com) lost Sadie last year, a shaggy Irish hound who liked to rest a companionable bony head on whoever was reading their latest offering. There was the occasional sigh, or even yawn, but she always insisted on being with us…

    Maggie

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