It’s been a few days since I’ve tended to the blog, not because I continued to sink into the despair I was feeling when I wrote my last entry, but quite the contrary. I’ve been inspired! One little tangible gratification that came my way since I last posted was an unexpected email regarding a contest submission I’d entered last year…I took the lack of response as a rejection, but no, I was selected for an anthology of letters. So, not a nod toward my creative writing yet, but I take this as encouragement in my writing in general. I have always been told that I write a nice note… 🙂
Anyways, riding on that positive bit-o-momentum, I’ve been writing a new short story over the last couple days to enter into a fiction contest. Making decent progress on that so far, but presently taking a break by shifting gears over here in the blog so that I can refresh and dive back into my story.
Page 14 of Room to Write asks us to revisit a previous “diving” (freewriting) session and pluck out a phrase, passage, or metaphor/simile that we ourselves still don’t fully understand. Goldberg is operating on the belief that sometimes our writing is ahead of us—no, not that we’re psychic, but that we’re “tapping into a stream where imagination and intuition meet.” What may initially sound like nonsense might contain a nugget of truth and understanding that further writing can help unlock and deepen. To do this, we should roll this passage around on our tongue and practice any or all of the following strategies: a) apply it in dialogue; b) list associations with it; c) create an acrostic using a key word from it; d) draw it; and/or e) verbalize it out loud using variations in tone, pitch, or accent
On revisiting a previous freewrite, then, I’m torn between these two passages (the most peculiar parts to me are highlighted):
1. “playing at children’s games mild lost to tea and egg pie and muddle gunk and tomfoolery wizened but not wise enough”
2. “I catch my breath and try to inhale the purity calmness gaseous extremity that I can believe in the cool quake calmness of din and then I reach the apex of snow and glide and glisten along my way the sunny fresh extremes of hilltops glossed in icing and glint and free falling to a furry escape“
To address #1, I believe I meant that the benign naivety of childhood gives way to an adulthood confined by more rigidly self-imposed rules of living, like proper afternoon teas or other modes of conduct that are considered refined but may be even more nonsensical foolishness (i.e., “muddle gunk and tomfoolery“) than the ways children approach life through their innocent, natural perspectives—adults kidding themselves that they’ve learned through years of experience yet still have so much more to understand. “Muddle gunk” sounds like something very inspired by e.e. cummings, a way of making up one’s own words that somehow capture an idea through their sounds. On re-reading the passage, “egg pie” really sounded strange to me at first, but now that I conceptualize it more, there’s nothing odd about it at all; it’s just a more silly, casual-sounding (indeed, more childlike) way of saying “quiche.”
As for #2, as I repeat “cool quake calmness” aloud, the alliteration of the hard ‘c’ sound instantly clacks against the roof of my mouth, creating a crisp, clean connotation (look, I did it again!) that suits the image I presume I was trying to create at the time. How “calmness” can coexist with a “quake” or “din” is confusing, though, so let’s see if I can work it out. I associate the last two words with the two senses of touching and hearing, “quake” being a violent shaking or shuddering like an earthquake beneath one’s feet and “din” being a ruckus, a commotion of sound (for some reason I hear someone clanging on a pan with a spoon, perhaps simply because “din” first makes me think of “dinner” by virtue of its spelling, not meaning). It could be that the tremors and cacophony somehow respectively meld into a steady vibration and white noise, within the hum of which one actually can drown out distraction and disturbance to find peace.
As to why I would describe the escape from all the clamor as “furry,” I’ll use that for my acrostic:
It seems I meant that it would be a soft landing that would only bring tickling, warming, soothing relief as it breaks the fall from the more putrid, rotting, artificially-created existence described earlier in the freewritten piece.
This was a useful exercise for revisiting my own words. It’s wild to think that we can write things that we don’t ourselves even understand at the time–even more so that we can extract meaning from it eventually, and something that actually does make sense! It’s a testament to the power of writing and how it helps us to unearth truths and propel us forward into the realization of them.