The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Scenes From The Seed Journal

with 5 comments

Last year around about this time, I was writing about a fiction workshop I was attending.  One of the first things I did in the workshop was to follow the leader’s advice and start  using a seed journal.  I wrote about it in one post, and have been doing it on and off since…  sometimes really on; sometimes really off.  I was flipping through it the other day and thought it was worth posting.

The idea behind a seed journal is to keep yourself on consistent alert to capture bits and fragments of conversations, street scenes, images that flash through your mind, unexpected occurrences  or whatever triggers your mind.  Write them down, of course, and revisit them as necessary to generate some writing.  I have to attest to the overall effectiveness of the idea since one of the first things I wrote down was the seed idea for story that is going to be published this coming fall; I supplemented it with something later in the seed journal.

Here are some things that have landed elsewhere in the seed journal:

Feb 25:  The birthday boy is 30, and at the surprise party are his wife, 1-year old daughter, and dozens of family and coworkers.  His college roommate comes, too–a trucker’s hat on throughout the night, a bottle of Jägermeister, and a 4-pack of Red Bull.

Mar 12:  When I bought pretzels at the gas station last night, a one-armed man named Ernie took my cash at the register.  He had one of those pincer prosthetics attached at his left elbow.

April 8:  “Somebody farted.”  It was a simple proclamation form the 8-year old boy standing behind me on the packed escalator down from the 400-level seats at Miller Park.  It was Easter Sunday, and the Brewers has fittingly laid an egg against the Cardinals.  The boy was right, and in his 8-year old mind 100% rightness meant there was no need to ignore the fact or spray it with perfume. I know he was right because I smelled the fart, but my 33-year head start on brain development and impulse control kept me from blurting out the fact of its existence, despite the absolute certainty of the fact.  Damn you, adulthood.  Damn you, maturity.  Damn you all to hell.

April 19:  Squirrel Boobs.

April 28:  Akrasia–the Greek word for acting against one’s better judgment.  Used in Ian McEwan’s short story “Hand on the Shoulder.”

May 30:  Behind me in traffic this morning, a plump woman in a white minivan popped zits on her neck while she waited for the light to change.  I saw it all in my rear view mirror.

June 22:  Pareidolia–when the brain arranges random stimuli into a significant image or sound.  Used in Ben Lerner’s short story “The Golden Vanity.”

July 2:  The new girl in class doesn’t shave her legs.  She has a pink My Little Pony lunchbox, and a thermos to match.

Jan 3:  The cashier at Walgreen’s called over the PA:  “I need more Catalina tape,” which is the name of the paper on which they print receipts.  I comment to her that I thought it was a girl’s name.  It could be a stripper’s name.


Written by seeker70

February 6, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. I like these seed journal vignettes Jeff! I thought of one just today in class:

    I read the school announcement that the Creative Cougars Club, the group of home economics advisors and willing students, were going to have a “Pinterest Party” later that week. A few of my female students mentioned how they absolutely loved Pinterest. I opined that I wish I had thought of Pinterest as it seems like the perfect website for women who like to cook and craft – which is many of them. Then I asked out loud, “what site is there on the internet that is analogous to Pinterest but for men?” As soon as I asked it I had the answer in my head and I prayed to God nobody would say it. Of course the answer is, “porn sites”.

    Maybe a little too long to be a ‘seed’.



    February 6, 2013 at 8:43 pm

  2. Hi Jeff, I thought this was a tremendous post. It typifies the how the best stories start from very simple observations. Nice job! I also envy your ability to see minor details as significant. The power of observation is a writer’s best friend, seems to me.


    Ray Uloth

    February 6, 2013 at 9:20 pm

  3. […] do, or want to do, you’ve probably explored different styles of keeping ideas. At the blog, The Seeker, Jeff Burd has written about keeping a seed journal, which is a great name for a journal of ideas and […]

  4. […] do, or want to do, you’ve probably explored different styles of keeping ideas. At the blog, The Seeker, Jeff Burd has written about keeping a seed journal, which is a great name for a journal of ideas and […]

  5. […] might say.  The idea of that simple journal notation is something I’ve talked about before herein, and without my adherence to it, I couldn’t have written “Last Time.”  The story […]

    Identity | The Seeker

    August 8, 2017 at 1:46 pm

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