Friday, January 9, 2009

Free Write Friday

This free write was sparked by a wonderful woman I saw driving by.

She was a spindly neck with a thrusting jaw & airy hair,
blasting by in a battle ax of a station wagon
I bet she smokes Kools, makes Jello molds every holiday
red & green for Christmas, pink & yellow for Easter

She holds a yard/craft sale every late October
potholders, crocheted southern belle skirts for plastic dolls
beads pinned in snowflake patterns into Styrofoam balls
decoupage Jesus ornaments, toilet paper cozies,
frog bags with wide-open mouths for stuffing plastic grocery sacks into

She has a porcelain poodle collection on a mantle

She tole painted her TV trays & has plastic flowers in her widow boxes – hanging wisteria and daffodils

She goes to the Dollar store every time her Social Security check comes and picks out five dollars worth of clearance stuff for her only grandchild: bubbles, jax, giant foam noodles for swimming, flip-flops, Spongebob underpants. She hides the noodle & flip-flops n the back of her closet until summer, hope she bought them big enough.

Springboard du Jour

Watch for an interesting character - in the grocery store, at a burger joint, walking in you neigborhood - anywhere - and free write for 10 minutes about their imaginary life, quirky habits.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Springboard du Jour

The memory of you emerges from the night around me.

From The Song of Despair, a poem by Pablo Neruda
Translated by W. S. Merwin

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Springboard du Jour

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

by Rumi, from The Essential Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Springboard du Jour

Grasshoppers popped under tires,
the trees swelled with grackles,

a line from the poem Dead Center, from Ice, Mouth, Song by Rachel Contreni Flynn

Friday, January 2, 2009

Free Write Friday
Free writes are an excellent way to loosen up your writing bones. Choose a springboard, set your time (I like 10 minutes), put your pen on the paper and don’t stop writing – no matter what crazy things pop into your head. If you get stuck, write “I’m stuck, I’m stuck, I’m stuck” or I’ can’t think of anything, I can’t think of anything, this paper is cheap, this paper is cheap, where’d I get this pen, oh yeah it was Foss drug, that great old fashioned store with an actual Soda Fountain, just like Rexall Drug in Clayton….” You get the idea - eventually, something else will creep in and you’ll be off again. Trust yourself to write down everything you think – no matter how freaking weird. You'll be amazed how many little jewels will burble up out of your subconscious, little kernels of ideas that may blossom into your next poem, or spark a new story. You won’t believe all the quirky characters puttering about in that head of yours. I love this quote from Flannery O’Connor: “I write to discover what I know.” Free writing is an excellent tool for dislodging some of the more interesting matter that lurks below.

Here’s one of my recent un-edited free writes. I don’t know where this fellow came from.

My Springboard: “I wouldnt go by nothin he said.” From All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

“I wouldnt go by nothin he said.”

Sallow cheeked, yellow wax bones and teeth. Fur-lined Fudd hat with flaps. He won’t look you in the eye without you give him explicit permission.

He’s a nod, a scrape & bow, a shuffle, a perpetual apology.

But he’s right, nonetheless, whether she gives him credit for it or not. He’s spent so many years tuning in to the subtle cues of those around him; he’s a master of the right word, a master of pushing the button that drops a dime in his gritty palm.

He’s a listener, a gatherer, a pocketer of details. He knows when Sam, the cattleman, gets paid out on the sale of a bull and prone to get loosed up and easy at the pool hall.

He knows when Larry Dryman’s wife is getting bitchy loud enough to pester him right through the open window till Larry’s gotta step out and breathe. Larry gets sympathetic when his wife gets bitchy.

Even Lois gets sympathetic, like she will be later for having picked on him in front of a stranger.

Springboard du Jour: “I wouldnt go by nothin he said.” From All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Writer’s Block – NOT, Part II

Where was I? Oh, yes. Wad-O-String, the other variety of rough patch I sometimes hit that is not – I repeat – NOT – Writer’s Block”.

Wad-O-String is unrelated to inspiration. I can be plenty inspired, and still find I’ve written myself into knots. Like a literal tangle of yarn, the harder you pull, the tighter the knots. Whatever it is that I’m trying so hard to say becomes convoluted, prickly, wadded up, my original thread inextricably tangled up in….goo. (Forgive me, Bob)
And, like the knotted yarn, you have to loosen up, work from the other end for a while. If it’s a short story, work on a different scene, flesh out a different character. You might find fresh insight from a different part of the story. Another trick is to work on something else, altogether. If it’s a short story that’s binding you, work on a poem, or children’s story, a personal essay, a journal entry. Often, while you are keeping your brain occupied with something else entirely, your subconscious either gets the knot out, or finds a solution you’d never even considered.

One more word on the Shy Toddler Syndrome I mentioned yesterday. One other cure is simply to write anyway. Even if it’s nothing but driveling crud, keep writing. Eventually, you’ll bore yourself to tears with your own whining and get over it. In any case, don’t; turn a rough patch into a clinical diagnosis. It ain’t nothing but a thang, so SNAP OUT OF IT! and get back to work.

Oh, and Happy New Year.