In her essay “Memory and Delusion,” which appears in a 2015 volume of previously unpublished works titled Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings, Shirley Jackson writes about an occurrence one evening when a ceramic bowl in the room suddenly shatters and each of her guests—a musician, a chemistry teacher, and a painter—has a vastly different response. Jackson imagines that her observations, as well as her guests’ responses, will undoubtedly work their way into her writing, whether describing an exploded house, the complexities of feeling sudden shock, or deep loss. “I will keep the recollection of those scattered pieces, lying on the piano, and someday when I want a mental image of utter destruction the bowl will come back to me in one of a dozen ways,” Jackson writes. This week jot down notes of unusual occurrences you’ve encountered. Use your imagination to make vivid descriptions, while hewing as closely to what you genuinely observed. Save these descriptive gems for a future essay, story, or poem.
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