Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Write Where You Are

We've recently done some remodeling on our house. (Read: Threw things in boxes before the contractors started tearing shit apart.) 

As I start unpacking - why do I have an entire box of plastic grocery bags, another of baby food jars, and three or four of nothing but receipts? - I'm discovering the "method" to my writing. 

  1. Inspiration strikes. A particular sentence, or characterization. My god, think I, I'm brilliant. 
  2. Scramble to find the notebook I carry with me to jot these brain flashes into. 
  3. Realize I ripped out pages to use as a napkin when older kidling started spitting chocolate milk all over the car. 
  4. Then used notebook as a tray to carry soft drinks from drive-thru into house. 
  5. Make mental note to get another notebook.

In the meantime, the inspiration is fading. I scramble and pull something - anything - from my purse. Old receipt? Awesome. Worn but unused kleenex? Sure, why not? Cover from a maxi pad? Well, the Pulitzer committee need never know.

Here are a few of the snippets I've been finding buried within the piles of Christmas Cards from 2001 and old airline ticket stubs. These aren't the best of the crop, since I'm obviously saving those for the novel I'm going to write when I get this damn house unpacked (sometime, I think, around 2016.)

About a book, though I know not which one I was reading to make me write this:

there is a depth to her writing, a wryness about and fondness for the struggles that make us human -- they are, I think, too subtly nuanced to be appreciated by a younger audience.


Melodrama!:

I wonder what she thought, that last night, the night she killed herself.


And, the beginnings of the very first inkling that I had a novel swishing around my brain to be written:

She lay curled up in bed, blanket pulled up over her nose so that she looked like a turtle peeking out of its shell. The sheets were cool and soft and decorated with green sketches of palm trees. They'd been on sale. The green didn't quite match the sage she'd painted the bedroom - sage and lavender - but it was close enough and made her feel elegant. And safe. She could hear children's voices downstairs. She knew there were three, though they sounded like ten, or a hundred
.

I know my good friend Precie tends to write in bits and pieces, and then find artistic ways to string them all together, like a mobile sculpture. Does anyone else write this way? Haphazardly? On the backs of business cards? Do share!

8 comments:

  1. I've lost many a good thought, including a sure-fire make-me-rich-in-no-time-flat invention idea, for lack of paper and pen. Or pen, rather, as I was holding a paper plate that time. I suppose since I also had a fork, I could have used blood.

    I tend to write in big spurts. If I can't really flesh out an idea with some details and brainstorming, I don't really bother. But I have lost some ideas that way. I figure if it's meant to be, theyll wander home again some time.

    I have taken to keeping my journal relatively close at hand, though, and sometimes I'll jot a note in a margin and come back to it later.

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  2. ooh, blood....i need to remember that one...

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  3. I like using small inspirations to write small pieces. It's very liberating. Even short stories take great effort, so many of those little diamonds would never make it onto the page without an outlet such as blogging.

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  4. I can never find paper when I have a mind burst, although sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and stumble to my desk, write something brilliant on a piece of paper and am unable to decipher it the next morning.

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  5. I have had those bursts of brilliant ideas... that are never quite as brilliant when I actually write them, or worse, I'll be too busy to write them, thinking,"it's too brilliant for me to forget it"... alas, I always forget it.

    Mostly though, I'm a linear writer. Once I start on a story, it's from start to finish, though I occasionally flash on scenes I'm not at yet, and those I'll write in the beginning section of my first notebook (I write my novels out longhand in notebooks before keying the first draft into Word - I know, it's a time waste... I still like that process so there you go)

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  6. I'm like Merry, Hi Merry! (waves from underneath) I too am a linear writer. But I have a notebook in my bag and index cards in my pocket for when I have these brilliant thoughts and ideas that I have to jot down. Most of them end up as blog posts!

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  7. This is a marvelous post. I constantly find scraps of ideas everywhere (and even put a poem about what I leave/find in book margins on my writing blog). Ideas surface in the strangest places.

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  8. I'm linear-chapter by chapter, event by event, until the bitter end.

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