These are words on a page. / by Vanessa Fiola

**The next 5 days I'll be posting 500 words a day here as part of a creative writing challenge. Join the FB group. Some days I phone it in.**

I’ve been listening to both Modern Love and This American Life podcasts voraciously since we started this last writing experiment. The art of storytelling, and the emotions evoked by words both said and unsaid keeps me looking forward to my drives between studios. The unfortunate disconnect between listening to these vignettes is that I am left with hopes for the stories I want to tell, that I know exist, and the stories that I have the energy to tell. 

I can’t remember the words to My Funny Valentine but this is the latest song that my son asks for to lull him to sleep, so I make them up.

My funny valentine,

Sweet little valentine,

You are my favorite work of art

Is your figure less than Greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?

When you open up to speak,

Are you smiling?

Don’t change your ways for me

Not if you care for me

Stay, little valentine, stay

If you know the words, then you know that these are only vaguely correct and maybe odd applied to a toddler, but it’s the way that he snuggles into me when I sing them, and the way that he sweetly asks, “Sing it again,” that give meaning. I wonder if he’ll sing this mangled song to his children.

My goal tonight, because it’s not so much tonight as it is tomorrow, is to get within striking distance of five hundred words. I set out on this effort, twenty-something days ago, excited by the opportunity. But, work has been especially busy again—mine tends to go in cycles—and the days start early, are non-stop during the day and early evening, and by the time I get home it’s time to put Jonah to bed. The work to get out a story or even convey the simplest of sentiment is just that—work. In truth, I am prioritizing other things before writing. So, temporarily gone are the lofty goals of telling an actual story. In their place is the simple drive to put words on a page and, perhaps because of a character flaw or grave weakness, I can’t help but apologize.