Daily Writing Practice And Reflections: April 4 2020

I had originally planned to start with a frame and then work forward from it, but I decided that it wasn’t something I was really up to: I wanted to keep the cohesion of form that I had going and not take it away from, and by the time I finished writing the frame that I was going to use it became almost a full story in and of itself (a very short one, about 600 words, but one that nonetheless needs no expansion).

I didn’t really have a plan in mind when I started this, so bear in mind that there’s a little of everything. I did continue the Lao story that I began earlier this week.

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Daily Writing Practice and Reflections: April 3 2020

Tried doing something I don’t usually do today and made all five image-based quick-writes part of the same story. They’re not necessarily sequential in the sense that if I were writing with no time or length limits these might actually be in separate chapters, and there would be some pieces I develop more.

One of the things that doing something like this does is that it really forces you to focus on more distant associations to images. I didn’t have an idea for the concept of this story until about the second paragraph, but even then I didn’t figure out the central conceit of the thing until the third paragraph, basically writing as I went.

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Writing Practice and Reflections, April 2 2020

Another day, another bunch of quick-writes. Standard five by five minute writing sessions, but this time they’re divided into three stories, one stand-alone and two sections of two writes each. The final two quick-writes are extensions, nominally, of the Renee story from some of the previous quick-writes.

Really feeling like this was some good practice, even if the output is a little weird. I’ve been trying to get through Carl Jung’s Liber Novus, even though it’s a tremendously difficult text for me to engage with and try to understand in any meaningful way, and that definitely rubbed off a little on these.

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Writing Practice and Reflections, April 1 2020

Another day, another bit more writing. My raw output was better today, but I’m not necessarily any happier with the results than I usually am. Certainly I think the quality’s a little better than yesterday’s, but I was pretty exhausted by the time I got around to writing so that’s not exactly a giant surprise.

Five parts, per usual, between three pieces. Two are contemporary fic, one is a weird sci-fi piece that I just felt like doing. No connections to previous stories.

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Writing Practice and Reflections, March 31 2020

So, in the interest of full disclosure, I am incredibly tired and I caught myself making several typos and other errors during these pieces. I’m not going to go back and edit since I’m a little past my bed time, so please forgive any errors.

Five prompts, four pieces. One is a continuation of the Renee story from the 29th and 30th, the other three are new.

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Writing Practice and Reflections, March 30 2020

I’ve been doing a thing for a while where I go through and do timed writes to random images from Lorem Picsum, which is a tool intended to provide random placeholder images but which also works decently well for doing just a writing prompt thing.

My method here is to go through five sequences of writing based on different random pictures, taking five minutes for each.

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Writing Practice and Reflections, March 29 2020

I’ve been doing a thing for a while where I go through and do timed writes to random images from Lorem Picsum, which is a tool intended to provide random placeholder images but which also works decently well for doing just a writing prompt thing.

My method here is to go through five sequences of writing based on different random pictures, taking five minutes for each.

Continue reading “Writing Practice and Reflections, March 29 2020”

Infinite Inadequacy

One of the things that I was thinking about recently was my motivation for writing.

For a while I’ve been somewhat uncertain about that, not because I didn’t feel driven but because I wasn’t really sure how to communicate it, so I’d often give an answer that wasn’t necessarily untrue, but didn’t encapsulate the whole truth.

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Becoming a Writer

I’ve been reading Stephen King’s On Writing (Amazon affiliate link), and I just had an epiphany that I figured I’d write about. Obviously a lot of it is inspired by King’s ideas, and I just hit a section about two-fifths of the way into the book where he talks about paragraph structure (of all things).

Context

I’m in the process of going back and getting my Master’s degree, a MFA in creative writing. I don’t think I’m a great writer, at least not in the traditional sense. I write a lot, certainly. My output is good, probably in the top 1%, maybe in the top 10% of the top 1%, if you just look at words published over time that aren’t about myself (though I’m not sure that you can count anything as being written about anyone but the author).

Creative writing kills me.

I’m just not a novelist. I’ve written a ton of shorter stuff, but there’s a reason why the longest thing I can recall writing that was pure creative writing (i.e. not a game) capped out at twenty-thousand words.

It’s because I don’t tell stories well.

Not for lack of trying, mind you. I love telling stories.

But I also love writing in general.

And if I may toot my own horn, I write pretty well. I don’t always hold myself to a high standard on my blogs, but I taught writing and I learned writing and if I have to get down in the dirt and seriously write I can turn out some stuff that you wouldn’t expect.

That doesn’t mean I can write anything.

My most painful writing experience, and one of my greatest triumphs, wasn’t rejection in the traditional sense. It came in an English class in my freshman year of college, ENG 104 (yeah, I’m an honors student, I do the combine two-semesters-in-one and try to over-achieve thing).

I forget what exactly the prompt for the essay was, but the professor had already made clear to me that she thought I had a lot of potential (this is the academic way of saying that you’re giving someone an A but don’t think they should get cocky).

This is not surprising. I probably write up to a million words a year, even if a lot of my output gets thrown out (metaphorically; I keep everything unless I lose it) or winds up little tiny things that don’t go anywhere.

One of the reasons why creative writing slays me is that I don’t do it very often relative to everything else. I like blogging and writing about stuff in general. I suppose in school we’d call it “expository writing” or “descriptive writing”, though in reality those terms mean about as much as a liar’s promise.

The Epiphany

And that’s where my epiphany comes in. I was pacing around reading (gotta get those step goals for the fitness tracker), and I had a sudden realization that the secret to mastering creative writing is the same as the secret to mastering the sort of writing that I feel pretty comfortable with.

You get your butt in seat and you do it.

I realized while reading about paragraph length of all things that there was some truth here.

You see, other than when I fret over an intro paragraph (always the most important point of your work) or a conclusion containing or not containing something, I’ve put any thoughts of proper paragraph length aside for a very long time.

This is technically untrue; as a teacher I’d lecture students on how to write a formula paragraph, but I never had to think about it when I was writing. I just knew whether I’d said what had to be said in a paragraph.

And that’s something that I need to figure out about creative writing. I’m comfortable with my paragraphs, but I’m not comfortable with my stories. Yet.

So that’s what I’m working toward. The only way there is to do, to keep doing, and to do again.

An Ode for a Cat

The noblest cause in life:
To preserve that which brings joy,
To seek elevation above base strife,
To hold what rust and moth destroy.
And such you were, my little cat:
A beacon that once brought light.
I will forever enshrine you,
And all that you contribute.
Even as you join eternal night,
These words will have to pay due,
A solitary lasting tribute.

A mere momentary thing,
It seems so short a span we knew you,
And what life you could bring.
Now you are gone, life seems askew:
Looking for an apparition, seeking
A glimpse of our faithful companion,
Listening to the silence that fills the halls
Now that you are no longer living.
You were taken in tribulation,
No longer to reside within our walls.

We had known that this day would come,
You following a sliver of our life’s arc
Would return before us to where we are from,
So may you find peace, and not fear the dark
Know that you have fulfilled a worthy purpose
And have proven yourself the greatest friend
Who lived along us for such a joyful span
For because of you our hearts know surplus
And even though your body’s course may end
Our memory of you shall forever stand.

Today we had to have our cat of many years put down; she had suffered a stroke and was unable even to drink water. I managed to get this photo of her while testing the camera on my phone back in July. She was never much of a lap-cat, but she would perch in a fashion on my leg whenever I would let her, once she warmed up to us.

It was a hard emotional journey, especially watching her suffer in her final hours. Now that she is gone, I keep looking for her everywhere, a reminder of how important she was to me back when she was around. Although I know that cats don’t have the same sort of consciousness and spirit as humans, I think there’s something profound in the way that they bond with us; they don’t need us, they choose us.

One of the reasons that I write is because good things should be immortal. They cannot, of course, truly be so, because the world is a fallen place touched by evil and destructive chaos. But we can still draw together and treasure what is meaningful, what brings virtue instead of destroying it.

And a good place to start with that is to remember the simple joy that a cat can bring, what the companionship of a fellow creature can stir in our heart.