Tag Archives: free-writing

Looking Back & Flying Forward

Happy 2011! The past year has added another ring to the trunk of my tree, and as I trace a finger around the circumference of bark, I’m elated to be looking back on a year of frolicking, friendship, and focus, an enchanting year of feeling more at home overseas and in my new freelancing capacities, while still basking in the joy of home-home periodically—this last visit being an especially candy-coated one of icicles and white Christmas lights glowing from beneath inches of snow, of attending Nativity plays, marveling over how a bee could have stung my niece inside the house in December, hearing an older nephew’s voice deepen, and initiating a younger one into our Finer Things Club on the basis of his Harry Potter knowledge…of laughing with siblings, savoring parents, celebrating with in-laws, toasting with friends, and sharing chocolate fondue with several former students at the quaint café where I used to grade their essays :).

And, of course, it was a whooping, whirring, sometimes wilting, but always whimsical year of writing, but one that has now gotten me prepped for the humbling undertaking of querying and thrilled to start up new projects. Time to get warmed up, then…time for this monkey to fly.

The Prompt:

Today, page 44 of Room to Write asks us to write about flying—how it makes us feel, where it takes us. As an alternative, we can perform a free-writing by starting with the word “flying” or “wings.”

Response:

Flying these days inevitably makes me think of airports and how such places that used to represent adventure and freedom have now come to mean “goodbye.” There’s still anticipation in it, still excitement in it, yet somehow I also worry that with every new flight I take, the world becomes less unknown and more trodden. Nevertheless, flying is still my gateway to other perspectives, other features, other values, and flying is what will bring me to my 6th continent next weekend and allow my greying UK-ified skin to gulp up some Vitamin D. Flying is soaring, feeling the air rushing against my face as my heart rises into my throat and my stomach sinks to my bladder or clenches at my spine, it’s loop-de-loops and spinning spirals, then having to peel the cape off my face. It’s Peter Pan, it’s Superman, it’s the birds that escape the pavement and the predators and sing me out of slumber. Flying is icy pressure beneath my fingernails as they pierce the air and a tickling tug at my toes as their wake sucks a vacuum into being. It’s hearing the crackle of joints as my wings finally unfurl and spread out in a stretch that luxuriously takes my breath away before expanding my lungs with cool purity. Flying is connecting, an efficient means of traversing the distance between A to B or of ascending from thoughts to ideas, information to knowledge, sense to sensibility, for even when not stepping onto a plane, it is only opening a book or reading an email from Mom or closing my eyes atop a pillow that yet makes me fly. Flying is high-speed, forward-moving levitation, or it’s the freedom of imagination I enjoy while never feeling more grounded.

Reflection:

BeezArtist.com

I didn’t do a full-on free-write without stopping, but I did let my thoughts meander wherever they fancied sentence by sentence. No surprise that, being between a recent and upcoming plane trip, the word first took me to modern air transport, though it still didn’t take long to get to the actual action at hand, physically and metaphorically. Not my most creative effort, but a productive enough burst before bedtime to motivate me to wake to a day of more fruitful word-weaving tomorrow. I think when I found my mind wasn’t fully taking flight by writing tonight, it started yearning for a book—someone else‘s writing :). Fair enough. We become better writers by reading as well, so time for me to check-in (i.e., get in my PJs), get my boarding pass (grab my novel), check my bags (ditch any emotional baggage at the bedroom door), board my aircraft (climb into bed), switch on my reading light (uh, that’s really the same thing in both scenarios), and get ready for take-off!


On the Borderline

Oh goodie, this is a fun one—a game of sorts for those days when you fear the tap to your creativity has run dry and you just can’t write.  Well, you can.  Given some direction—rules, if you will—you might be surprised when you spring a leak 🙂

The Prompt:

Page 41 of Room to Write asks us to choose one of the following words:  fence, road, boil, or fall.  Then:

1. Write the first words that come to mind when you think of your chosen words.  Write them in a list form until you hit the bottom of the page (or your computer screen…I decided to do 20).

2.  Keeping the list in the exact same order, develop a story in which every line uses one of these words.

Response:

He rode the fence on the issue.

Sure, he realized the importance of establishing boundaries,

but was this something to fall under such restriction?

He was already on the border of sanity as it was.

One thing he was never good about was choices,

options that left him speculating which path to take and leaping to cynical conclusions as to what menaced him ahead on each.

In this way, even the gift of choice wound barbed wire round his psyche

and threatened to strangle his pride with the chain-links of fear he entangled himself within.

He never was a man of conviction, willingly crossing picket lines to not rock the boat with authority

and practically tying their strings onto himself as if he were some wooden puppet,

his thoughts and actions the property of someone else, always.

Facing the crossroads that he was now, he tried to envision vast farmland

dotted with livestock and caressed by the open breezes.

In this vision was also a garden; yes, there must be a garden in the back,

serving as the division of pleasure and labor,

where his legal troubles could be checked at the gate and all he would know of the world was a blooming fortress.

He then frowned at the way even his fancies imposed a natural barrier around him,

and wondered if he wouldn’t constantly need something to hold him back—balancing on the precipice of order and chaos as he was—

yes, something that would keep him penned in for his own protection and the safety of the world below.

He struck a match against the brick ledge, the final demarcation he would draw.

Reflection:

Today is definitely one of my days of feeling groggy and uncreative—there’s so much to take care of on all levels of my life, so my preoccupation with it all is almost paralyzing me into doing none of it.  In light of these kinds of days, I really appreciate an activity like this that confines me within a short set of rules; for as much as I think I’m a creative spirit, I’ve always functioned well within parameters.  Maybe that’s why the word “fence” is the one that leapt out at me 🙂

Anyways, if you ever find  yourself in a writing funk, I can promise you this is a good way to shake up your stagnant creative juices; there’s no pressure to how this sort  of piece will turn out, just that you follow the rules and keep on to the end.  Maybe it’ll go straight to the rubbish bin, maybe you’ll actually pull something from it to recycle in another work.  Who knows, but this took me less than 10 minutes, so surely you can afford that little bit of time to see what results.  It also has potential as a good lesson in working with motifs/extended metaphors in following through on a theme.

So, obviously I use these writing prompts to get me going, but I’m curious about YOU.  What is it that gets your brain-blood flowing and inspired to write again during periods of creative dormancy?


Stomach Growls…


The Prompt:

Today, page 32 of Room to Write asks us to write about what we hunger for, be it literal or figurative.  Something to consider as well are the experiences that either satisfy or intensify that hunger.

Response:

Physically, I hunger for cheese, bread, and chocolate in all their incarnations, yet emotionally

…I hunger for purpose...for the sense that I am doing everything I could be doing to put my abilities to best use…for exerting the effort to live for others and not just myself…for finding the words that could possibly express the shades of meaning and atmosphere and convictions that I feel…for inspiration that will fill my pen and get my fingers tapping on the keyboard with direction again…for knowledge…for the deliciousness of knowing that I could never know everything—so learning will be lifelong—and yet always striving to attain the satisfaction of expertise…for the teachings and imaginations of others that set my mind free and move my heart to feel…I hunger to bring myself into focus against a background of others willing to fade into each other…for an equilibrium that will slow the clocks and speed my steps…for peace of mind that expectations are being met, including my own…for a synergy of intentions and actions…for simplicity and streamlining, a clearing of the clutter in my eyes and ears…for passion in everything I do yet the ability to know when to not care and put it to rest and for others to do the same…for recollection and holding close the memories that are dear or transforming…I hunger for family, for bedtime stories, for a front porch at dawn and dusk.

Reflection:

Primary factors that satisfy my hunger these days are writing, reading, and travel, as they constantly challenge me to reflect on who I am, what purpose I serve in light of what I ought to be, how my life/world-view might be reaffirmed or modified, and how I can continually work to improve myself intellectually and emotionally.

I find that these are also the factors that intensify my hunger, as I’m always left with an incomplete feeling of it never being enough, and I crave for more—more story line, better description, more countryside, better immersion into authentic culture…and where my travels home are concerned, one taste of hugging my parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews and kibitzing as usual with old friends is enough to turn me into an addict, leaving the pain of withdrawal ever looming on the horizon in the form of a return flight.  Home is where I always felt full, so given everything I purged in moving abroad, my stomach and heart are left a bit emptier…there is a lot of fun to be had that suffices for a snack, but I’ve had to forage for alternative forms of true nourishment while feeling in a transitory state.

I don’t expect that what I hunger for is the same as anyone else, nor should it be.  That’s why life offers us a menu of assorted cuisine to taste or send back to the chef as we please, a culinary cornucopia of needs and wants to digest, some of us stuffing our faces, some of us grazing, some of us piling it on, some of us liking it on the side…all of us hoping that the bill isn’t too high…and, of course, we all tip differently 😉

Are YOU hungry?  Well then, welcome to McBlogComments; may I take your order?



Fire Walk With Me

The Prompt:

Given the prevalent symbolism of fire across centuries of story-telling, page 30 of Room to Write asks us to share “a personal story, memory, or belief about fire.”  Or, we can conduct a freewriting beginning with the word “fire” and let it spread from there.

Response:

FIRE.  It takes life and sustains life.  It guides our sight through darkness or blinds us to what else we might find in shadow, revealing and concealing.  It illuminates our romance and dances upon the page.  Fire attracts the moth and repels the mosquito; it swallows the air and laps up the tinder that shelters us, spiriting it away in climbing smoke, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  It licks our bones clean and sterilizes the needle, preens the prairie grasses and purifies the water.  It  casts menace upon our faces when lighting us from beneath, yet shrouds in angelic glow when lighting us from behind.  Fire converts raw food into nourishment for our bodies, or consumes nourishment for our souls into raw emotion.  It is an exclamation that will clear a room within seconds or signal a gathering to share stories round its warmth.  It thaws, it soothes, it burns, it chars; it can fuel our hope or ignite our dread.  It can whisper to us in crackles and snaps, promising safety and comfort in a cold, barren landscape, or it can hiss at us like wind against our eardrums or a stampede rumbling down the hillside to crush us.  Fire is an element embracing our passions, sweeping exponentially in our lust or our anger until it sizzles into dowsing foam or, when there’s nothing more upon which it can feed, coughs its smoldering death rattle as glowing cinders close their eyes on a bed of black.

Reflection:

Ah, this prompt brought me back to my teaching days, when fire was so often imagery to analyzeI’ve actually used this exact same activity in class so that students could reflect on what connotations fire held for them.  And, as I can see above, I personally muse over the dualities of fire in all its functions and figurative implications.

This dichotomy is evident in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, in which fire goes from being a symbol of a romantic love to that of recklessness:

“O! she doth teach the torches to burn bright.” – Romeo commenting on Juliet’s beauty

“These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume.” – The Friar commenting on R&J’s impetuous actions

In just writing about it above, I found how naturally anthropomorphism came, describing fire in terms of carrying out human/animal actions—e.g., “laps up,” “licks,” “preens,” “whisper,” “coughs,” etc.  This immediately brings to mind the figurative and descriptive language William Golding employed to depict fire in Lord of the Flies:
“Smoke was rising here and there among the creepers that festooned the dead or dying trees.  As they watched, a flash of fire appeared at the root of one wisp, and then the smoke thickened.  Small flames stirred at the trunk of a tree and crawled away through leaves and brushwood, dividing and increasing.  One patch touched a tree trunk and scrambled up like a bright squirrel.  The smoke increased, sifted, rolled outwards.  The squirrel leapt on the wings of the wind and clung to another standing tree, eating downwards. Beneath the dark canopy of leaves and smoke the fire laid hold on the forest and began to gnaw.  Acres of black and yellow smoke rolled steadily toward the sea.  At the sight of the flames and the irresistible course of the fire, the boys broke into shrill, excited cheering.  The flames, as though they were a kind of wild life, crept as a jaguar creeps on its belly toward a line of birch-like saplings that fledged an outcrop of the pink rock.  They flapped at the first of the trees, and the branches grew a brief foliage of fire.  The heart of flame leapt nimbly across the gap between the trees and then went swinging and flaring along the whole row of them.  Beneath the capering boys a quarter of a mile square of forest was savage with smoke and flame.  The separate noises of the fire merged into a drum-roll that seemed to shake the mountain.”
The similes and anthropomorphism above create such vivid sensory detail; this is the kind of descriptive writing to aspire for.
Okay then, your turn.  Does fire bear a personal meaning for you?  What images, emotions, or beliefs does it represent?


Blindfolded

The Prompt:

Whereas previously we were asked to write about something we can see through our eyes, imagination, instinct, and intuition, today page 28 of Room to Write asks us to write about what we can’t see—this can be something literally out of our sight, or figuratively hidden from our understanding or missing from our lives.  This should be freely written, beginning with the words, “I don’t see…”

Response:

I don’t see what it is that wakes me on time when I’ve forgotten to set my alarm, what prompted me to unlock my door and go back into my flat that one day to check the stove that, sure enough, still had a gas burner on from my morning tea.  I don’t see what it is that holds one person up when another might slam to the pavement under the weight of the world, or what it is that binds people together when the centrifugal force of their spinning lives would otherwise fling them apart.  I don’t see what it is that I sometimes think might brush against my face as it rests on the pillow, or tickle at my toes when they peep out from the kicked-askew bed sheet.  I don’t see what some people don’t need to see because they rest their speculation in faith alone or just don’t see the point, and I don’t see what other people try to detect scientifically as evidence of what they won’t believe in unless they can see it through thermal imaging or sound waves.  I don’t see the energy that humans exude, radiating onto and into others through smiles or kind words or enthusiasm or sucking it away through frowns or insults or indifference.  I don’t see what happens to that energy when a human passes on…that energy that, in all things, can neither be created nor destroyed, so must go somewhere when its host ceases to exist as a body in motion.  I don’t see the momentum of that imprint they made in life or if it continues to survive beyond death, filling the voids that person would have filled or instead dissipating into the atmosphere, joining the energy of yet-living organisms, lifting the wings of a bird, or watering a flower.  I don’t see what is perhaps best left unseen or may be nothing to see at all, yet is somehow something I want to believe in more than what I do see.

Reflection:

I guess the idea of this activity is to understand how what is absent (only because unseen) can serve as a great presence in our writing.  Perhaps it means our characters are missing something in their lives, and their search is what drives our entire plot; perhaps it is what we writers are missing and searching for through our stories—it’s a chance to find understanding.  I’ve indeed had characters explore some of this unknown, speculating through them how something so unseen could in certain ways become overtly present and necessary for them to confront and comprehend to move forward.

Do you find that your writing has/is helping you see what you’ve in some way been blind to?  What about your characters—are they having to confront something they can’t keep avoiding?  Is out of sight out of mind?


Resurfacing from the Dive

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.

The Prompt:

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

Response:

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:

Friction-free

Underbelly

Refreshing

Relief

Yielding

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.

Reflection:

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.


More Messiness from the Membrane


The Prompt:

Room to Write page 9 is yet another freewriting activity, this time launching from the word “game.”  If you’re writing this by hand, you’re supposed to fill 3 pages before stopping.  The idea, once again, is to unleash whatever comes to mind without thinking about it–writing needs to be messy sometimes.  In the trash might be some treasure to incorporate into your writing projects, but if there isn’t, no need to feel guilty in just discarding it.  Goldberg likens it to the necessity of mixing clay before being able to mold it into a sculpture.  Okay, then, time to find what comes out of the ol’ grey matter tonight.

Response:

GAME game on you have a problem with this?  bring it bring it on sucka I am so sick and loathing of people who play these petty games don’t leave things be lose all sense of perspective and just lose themselves in nonsense the rotten recesses of their own minds and feeding nothing to those who need it most giving not but taking all and dumbly standing by to let others pass without lifting a finger to help in the endeavor and they watch and they jeer and they crumble in their own self-loathing they forget the rules they impose on themselves but hold others strictly accountable and whatever happened to the happy connotation of game child’s games they were fun once but it’s acceptable when children not adults playing at children’s games mild lost to tea and egg pie and muddle gunk and tomfoolery wizened but not wise enough they bore me tore me ripped me off and can now f*** off for all I care the consequences may be harsh but I can withstand I can withstand I speak boldly but pray I can can really hold up to this torment this swallow this this this junk that they may expose me to and I try to hold my head above the the cesspool not inhaling its chunky funk and drowning from it stabbing my brain with it it’s dead dead sinking fallen swollen hardened whitened flaking and saturated and wallowing on its own at the bottom but I will rise I must rise I must stay above and do so by not being so lofty the helium I pump into my ego my conceit my superiority my arrogance will not be what lifts me in the end but be the iron ball bearing in my waist coat pocket that pulls me down the gravity of the situation that levels where I ought to be and nothing more.  floating atop the refuse of others’ garbage and spew and not being able to lift from it for I contribute to it my face down in spongy stench and adrift with secretions of my own fallacy i drift  wade I stroke I preen I try to stay clean try to stay dry until I reach the island before me just a few strokes further yet with every splash comes another wave to send me back further from where I started the fish nibble at my toes and 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.

Reflection:

I don’t know if my onscreen attempt would have reached 3 pages or not, but what I do know is that my brain physically hurts now that I stopped.  I’m very tired, for one, but another reason is the simple fact that freewriting is like bench-pressing for your mind.  It’s a way to keep it bulked up and toned at the same time as setting it free.  This time I actually typed with my eyes closed, going back afterwards only to correct for spelling.  I found that visuals came to me more clearly that way, even if I couldn’t pause to think through how to describe them well enough.  I can’t say I can find anything to salvage from what I spewed above, but it was worth the attempt.  It’s all about “showing up on the page,” as Goldberg says.


Lack of Memory

The Prompt:

Spinning off the previous prompt, Room to Write now challenges us to freewrite on what we DON’T remember.  This can consist of memories we’ve tried to recall or wish we ever had, or can be entirely sarcastic in the vein of, “I don’t remember asking you for your opinion.”  And because it is freewriting, we are to write continuously without pause. so it won’t necessarily make grammatical sense.  Before I get started, I’m going to make a quick run to the loo so I can concentrate, otherwise, I’m going to write a lot about not remembering my bladder ever hurting this badly or the last time I soiled myself.

Ahhh…that’s much better.  Okay, now I’m ready.

Response:

I DON’T REMEMBER the exact moment or day when I first met my husband, I just remember knowing at that precise instant in time that I wished I had met him before the boyfriend I was dating at the time.  I don’t remember ever being the first to say, “I love you,” because I don’t remember ever being one to willingly succumb to the mistakes most women make.  That said, I don’t remember why I let myself over-analyze those first relationships so much and not assert my opinions more.  I don’t remember when I first started doing so, finally, but I’m sure my husband sure does as my first real victim.  I don’t remember I don’t remember I don’t remember I don’t remember I don’t remember why I let myself go ahead and choose a college major that I wasn’t passionate about, and I don’t remember why why why why why why I let myself go forward with that career as long as I did.  I don’t remember when exactly I ever felt I had a clear grasp on my future and what I was meant to become.  I don’t remember so much about my grandmother, as she died when I was only five years old, and I don’t remember why, when she was alive, I was so shy any time she spoke to me.  I don’t remember why I was so afraid of Minnie Mouse when I was three and at Disneyland that I started bawling and made her cry, too, in turn.  I don’t remember much about my grandfathers, other than what my parents have told me about them, as I was not even alive when they still were.  I don’t remember having a close relationship with my longest living grandmother, who I knew until my adulthood, as I don’t remember ever knowing how to start a conversation with her and be genuinely interested in most things she had to say, at least, not until it was already starting to be too late.  I don’t remember why I didn’t make more of an effort to know my extended family better, other than perhaps because I felt close enough to my immediate family members, that the rest weren’t necessary.  But I don’t remember so much of my ancestral history, how So-and-So is related to What’s-His-Name, and I won’t ever remember these things after the ones who do pass away and won’t be there to remind me.  And thinking of that terrifies me of all that I’ll cease to remember over time, all the details and breaths that we each take in each other’s company that we should be recording in our minds and hearts because of Time, that fickle and fleeting mistress that ultimately takes all away and the memories that went with it when we take them to our grave.

Reflection:

Hm.  Not so thrilled about this one.  That was really, really hard.  I mean, it entails trying to remember what you don’t remember and trying to do so nonstop without thinking about it too much.  I never fully let go of it like I was probably supposed to because I knew I’d end up spinning off in some other direction and deviating from the task at hand, God forbid.  I understand the principles of writing and keeping with a theme and maintaining consistency in plot and characters, etc., but I wonder if my problem right now, the reason I’m having difficulty getting on further with my novel, is that I’m too insistent on holding onto this kind of control and that to get where I’m planning to go really does require letting go and going off the beaten path, that that will actually be the true path to the end goal, even though (especially since) it’s not the shortest point from A to B.  I guess I shouldn’t be reveling in this as though it’s some big new realization…I’ve known it all along, and these exercises are reminding me that I was not remembering that…

Huh.  Isn’t it something how things can come full circle like that.


Memory

The Prompt:

On page 2 of Room to Write, Goldberg challenges us to another freewriting exercise, this time not being allowed to stop until filling 2 pages.  I’m going to be writing mine on a computer screen, so I’ll just keep going until I’ve written what I estimate would fill 2 journal pages.  The other parameters we are given is that we are to begin with the words, “I remember,” and launch into whatever memories we can recall, however recent or long ago and however accurate or real they are.  The idea is to again tap into that mass of grey matter we cannot consciously access, and if we get stuck, repeat “I remember” until additional memories dislodge.  Wish me luck, and the best to you as well!

Response:

I REMEMBER squinting in the sun for what felt like at least 5 minutes because my older sister had told me that staring at the sun was a sure-fire way of having to get eyeglasses.  I remember always wanting to wear eyeglasses as a kid, to the point that I did, in fact, stare directly at the sun on a cloudless day and eventually received a tortoiseshell pair with fake lenses for Christmas (interesting that it was only two years later, in 8th grade, when I really did need glasses, and was prescribed my first pair after being diagnosed with far-sightedness and astigmatism).  I remember also always wishing I could wear braces, once again getting that little gem of a wish granted by freshman year in high school.  I remember wanting a lot of things as a kid that I eventually did get, or never got and realized it was the best thing I didn’t, but one thing I remember always having and always savoring was the happiest childhood with my siblings and parents.  I remember my sister dancing in a baby pool with me even though she’s nine years older and wrote song lyrics to dance by–I believe the song was called, “Twisting by the Pool.”  And yes, we did the twist.  I remember in much more frigid weather, my brothers who are seven and ten years older than me chasing my BFF and I around the snow-covered backyard and pelting us with snowballs.  I remember my sister building snow fires with me in the “cave” created by that giant evergreen in the backyard when the heavy, wet snow weighed down its branches to offer us dark yet dry seclusion within.  I remember wiffle-ball games in that backyard, my brother whipping a ball at me so fast and totally on purpose and it smacking me directly in the thigh and leaving a very big, very red mark.  I remember standing in the grasses of that backyard in solitude, taking in the warmth and happiness of a summer vacation sort of day, and how sometimes when I looked into the clear blue sky, I would see what I called my “fairy”:  it wasn’t anything that I made up nor actually believed was a fairy.  It was a strange sort of translucent illusion that looked like a flower with layers and layers of petals, and these layers and layers of petals would appear to rotate inward as though on some sort of circular conveyer, rendering the image a glowing and flashing clear light of movement that recurred to me time and again without apparent rhyme or reason.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, diminishing, perhaps, with my childhood like beliefs in Santa and the Easter Bunny.  Maybe it was my fairy, my very own private one, my guardian angel that is still with me even though childhood fancy doesn’t allow me to see it anymore.  Or maybe it was just a since-healed impairment in vision caused by staring at the sun for a long, long time.

Reflection:

Whew, okay, that wasn’t so bad!  It was interesting to find in that process how quickly the memories got flowing one after another once I got started, so much so that my fingers couldn’t keep up half the time.  I really think I could have gone on endlessly, when you consider how many different years in different locations and spheres of people you can reflect on, but go figure that I ended up focusing on my childhood backyard most.  I was all of a sudden transported to that arena where I spent so many summer and winter vacations playing with my family, friends, or just on my own, and while I didn’t get very descriptive of it in my writing, it was as though I could see every blade of grass and leaf to be had back there.  Clearly, that setting was a meaningful stage for those initial developmental years, and I think if you try this exercise yourself, you’ll learn something about what you value.  You may even be taken into negative memories, which could be that much more telling of you and the meaning you make as you move within the world.  I really hope some of you do comment on this with your own freewriting, as it would be fascinating to see what you unearth and how you evaluate it.


“Diving In”

The Prompt:

To kick things off, I’m beginning at the beginning.  Page 1 of Room to Write prompts  us to “dive into writing by choosing any one of the following words that have more than one meaning:  bear, cleave, lie, sewer, tear, or desert.”  The idea is to freewrite without thinking, never stopping, and if truly stuck, just keep repeating the last word written until you’re out of it.  Making sense is not the point.  Ready?  Am I?  * deep breath *

Response:

LIE lie to me you lie there in your stinking sheets wrapped in sweat mucus tears stains and you lie to my face behold that that that that lying lie there bait me with baited breath your soul swells sinks stinks and yet you think of me lie to me heave atop me spoil me spoilt the milk your nectar nectar nectar nudity becoming you seemingly impossibly I walk there too drifting apart the start so long ago such nonsense you came to you came atop me you bludgeoned me berated me beckoned me fiend.

Reflection:

Okay, my first thoughts on that are that it was really, really hard.  I found myself constantly pausing to write more deliberately and having to work hard to force my mind to free itself…in a nutshell, too much thinking.  It was also difficult doing this using a keyboard vs. pen, so I may switch to handwriting for prompts like these and just transcribe it here after.  For now, though, I’d like try out a screen-purifying software available for Mac called WriteRoom that replaces the clutter of the monitor screen with a plain black background and basic green font–in essence, reverting to the way word processors looked a couple decades ago to bring the focus back to WRITING.  Words for words sake.  Must say I love it.  I’m going to try freewriting on another word, then, using the free 30-day demo of this tool, then copying it back here.

2nd Response:

SEWER plunging to the depths of the sewer we rake through the sewage and stumble upon a sewer feeding the eye of her needle with threads woven from hair gone down the drain it’s coated in mucus and filth yet she’s smiling she darning socks with it she’s reaching down into the funk and pulling up another clotted handful of it and wrapping it about her arm for safekeeping she motions to us to try on the sweater that’s resting in her lap she wants to make sure the arms are long enough and we say we’ve heard of hairshirts before lady but this takes the cake we’re off and puddle-plunging our feet growing larger with swells of feces compounding on them with every step as the water splashes up to our hemlines and ruins our clothing with putrid stains and we hear the little lady calling after see bet you wish you had a new sweater to change into now!

2nd Reflection:

Hmm…WriteRoom definitely helped clear away distraction.  My other conclusion?  My mind is a strange and twisted corridor to meander through, and I blame my sinusitis for the repetition of mucus in both entries.  Sorry if my subconscious made you gag, folks.  Not all posts will be like this, but I have to say I’m a big fan of the freewriting exercise.  I remember my Sophomore English teacher assigning us the first few minutes of the day to this, which we’d keep in the same notebook and later use to generate poetry.  Not saying that I’m seeing any pearls of wisdom in what I churned out tonight, but I must say my brain actually feels like it just lifted freeweights and exploded past brittle picket fences that had been keeping it hindered.  Definitely a useful tool for breaking out of a rut.


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