To begin talking about writing strategies, we’re going to talk about pottery. Specifically, the kind of pottery created by a bunch of Psychology students who do not, normally, create pottery. The students themselves were given an assignment where they were split into two groups, each with their own similar yet different goals. Members in group A were asked to make as many pots as physically possible for the span of a month; the higher the number of pots, the higher the possible grade. Members of group B were instead asked to submit a single pot, whose quality would determine their individual grade.
Last month saw the great time of NaNoWrimo, a time that most writers either ignore for it’s impossibility or dive into with the enthusiasm of New Year’s resolutions. I like goals and setting challenges. I like them so much that getting excited and assigning myself something unrealistic has become a step in the achievement process. Which then leads to that sought after end goal being unfortunately missed.
The month of October has almost run to its completion. Last minute costumes are being frantically bought with questions of “Can you be a sexy alligator?” and “What can I make with an old sweater and duct tape?” The colder air has inspired the wearing of parkas for plus ten weather, and Frugal lovers of candy wait eagerly for the discounted haul they will be able to collect on November first. And while nothing in my books is as important as cheap, sugary confections, November 1st brings another opportunity with it; NaNoWriMo.
Writing is / can feel like a solitary adventure, going off to strange lands that you operate as a ghost in, exploring characters and rolling landscapes that you can only observe. The creative process is unique to everyone, and everyone experiences creative flow differently, but I’ve found this analogy of being a witness to the events, characters, or both to be commonly understood by creative writers. But from what angle, what side of things do you witness and build the narrative? This is where many people differ.
Whether it’s through paint, dance, written word, digital media or any other method of creating, we are all storytellers, attempting to craft a narrative that communicates a something to our audience. For myself, this has always been a given, an obvious “duh” that didn’t register when experiencing that special hybrid of partial writer’s block and frustration. This is often the inevitable slow down following the excitement of starting a new project. The story and my creative intentions have grown muddy, and I am left with a side by side comparison of what I want to create, and how things are unfolding. This can take on many forms, but usually gives off a sense of not quite right. The story is there, the syntax is there, but the mood or the characters are off. And while there is something to letting creativity run where it wants, sometimes this is just a genuine sign that the something you want to give is missing; your first, second or 50th draft is finished, and it’s time to start a new one.
Lamp Post is inspired by the small, irrational stories that float to the mind’s surface when confronted with the unknown. The brief thought that a strange creature could be watching just outside of a dark window at night, or the wondering of what is really moves below your feet in a cold lake. Playing with space here allows the poem to separate and explore individual superstitions as a person moves through the world around them.
I bet there’s new bones, buried here
Soft, and polished,
Laid low with dirt and intention.
Good feelings and cascading lace
I bet the land has had enough of it
Convinced we move the oil, make room
For the dead, and our ancestors.
This poem began in a coffee shop as a simple writing exercise, where I turn on Spotify, find an instrumental song that I enjoy and just, go. I like to start most of my writing sessions this way; It rattles the pipes clean and helps satisfy my chronic procrastination. I don’t necessarily start on my determined project of the day right then and there, but I’m still being productive, and whatever unrelated stories are trying to express themselves get their voices heard.
First Find Water became an unexpected pleasure and much longer project to work on. Rewrites and reflection revealed a character processing an empty world devastated by climate change, where she must find the basics we look for when attempting to survive.
“I advise you to prepare for the worst”
She is small, and ever walking
Her turns, are sharp as elbows
And each heart beat finds its palpitation
River, river. You used to run and have life follow