Tag Archives: writing

Exercises, or Feel the burn

I’m stuck.  Horribly, painfully, terrifyingly stuck.  It’s the dreaded block, man. I’ve had this before, and I do notwant to get derailed by this again.  So, in an effort to jump start my gears, I’ve been writing little vignettes.  I don’t draft, I don’t think about what’s going to come next.  I just choose a first sentence and go from there.  Painful, but therapeutic, I think, I end.  Here’s one I think is sort of alright.

*          *          *          *          *

“I’m tired of this,” Cara whined.

Christian didn’t even bother to look up from his paper.  Cara was always tired of something.  “What is it this time?”

“Well, for starters, I’m tired of you not paying attention to me,” she said, pouting.

Christian turned a page, taking pains to remain as neutral and calm as possible.  “I am paying attention to you.  Case in point: if I were not paying attention, then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”

“You’re not even looking at me!”

Heavy silence from Christian.

Cara wasn’t stupid.  She had noticed, of course, that it took longer each time for her husband to respond to (diffuse, rather) her little outbursts.  She knew those few extra seconds he took were to calm his own temper.  That didn’t worry her.  It was perhaps a testament to her own self-absorption that she had never even considered the ramifications of such.  Christian had indulged these little fits of hers for the entire duration of their relationship and, she believed, would continue to do so without fail.

Christian, for his part, did love his wife.  She was the light of his soul, the still point of his world.  He would have done anything, gone anywhere, if only to make her happy.  But no matter how much love or devotion, twenty years of temper tantrums will wear anyone’s patience thin.

The human brain works amazingly fast.  He thought of all this and more in those three seconds of silence.

“Cara,” he rumbled, and Cara, so unused to such gravity in her husband’s voice, jumped in surprise.  Exasperation, yes.  Placation, of course.  But gravity?  She shivered involuntarily.

Christian set down his book and rose from his chair.  With even stride, he crossed to his wife, who suddenly felt as timid as a rabbit before this 300-pound giant.

“Cara,” he said, taking her small hands in his own bear-like fists.  His fists.  Strange she had never thought of them that way before.  She swallowed hard.

“Cara.  Stop.”


Meat and marrow

I submit this post to you today in hopes of clearing my mind of familiar troubles.  Dear readers, I am unsettled.  This gift I had for writing–or maybe thought I had–has atrophied.  I can’t do what I once could.  I now stumble for words and phrases, and the ease with which I used to create has receded, pulled back like a wild thing easily startled, a deer or a flower, Sleeping Grass you dare not touch.  This frightens me.  What am I if not a writer?  Writers create, writers seduce.  They can be nasty or standoffish, but the moment you read the story–or poem, song lyric, whatever–you feel that connection, see all those tender bits laid bare, years of intimacy distilled down into a single page, words simple but rife with double meaning.  At least, that’s what good writing means to me.  All of my favorite writers are what others might call navel gazers: those who choose internal narrative over dialogue, raw emotion over action.  Neil Gaiman, whose light sci-fi sits shotgun to perception.  Marguerite Duras, whose stream-of-consciousness style captured the oft-buried emotions of her protagonists.  John Paul Sartre, who accurately described my own feelings of remoteness.  These writers I love and emulate.  I fear I shall never reach their levels greatness.

I’m editing this story, or, rather, trying to edit it.  I’m not sure exactly what the problem is, maybe too much dialogue, but every rewrite has been stilted, jerky, not at all smooth and flowing as I would prefer. Either I skimp on character direction, or I put in too much, and I just can’t.  Get. It. Right.  And I feel stupid and sub-par and bad, because it’s always what I’ve wanted to do and I can’t do it and I’ve had all this time and what am I if I’m not a writer?  *sigh* I’m just so discouraged.

Odo as the tree

Odo, Mora and Dax

Today, my friend asked me to be the back-end of the SC franchise.  He said he considers me the most realistic of the group, and, so, the best suited for that position.  The practical ones, he further explained, were not as involved in the overall creation process, and thus did not benefit from their inclusion as much as the artists.  Maybe this is my own foolish pride talking, but I was a bit disappointed that this is all he thinks of me.  I may not be a painter, or a musician, but I have a creative drive like the others.  My art–or the imitation of which (take your pick, readers, I’ll not protest)–isn’t as apparent or obvious, but it’s still there, damn it.  It’s here, in my head, and I’m scratching my eyes out trying to give a literal shape to my visions, to keep myself closer to a whole.  I wanted to say no, to get angry or short with him, but what have I really done of late?  What have I written down, how have I moved towards my ideal?  A poem, a script, a re-write and an editorial, all in the year since I’ve known them.  One sad little publishing credit–in digital format–and I’ve got the nerve to feel hurt by his proposal.  Oh, I can do it, all right–I’ve done things like it before–but that will take away the scant time with which, I imagined, I’d work on my dreams, as opposed to lamenting the deterioration of them.  I’m torn.  I want to be the faithful little fawn, so accustomed am I to working for my treats, but I want my own voice, too.  I want my own identity.  Shit.  I feel like crying.

Stand BACK

Remember I said I would put in some of my own writings?  Well, here goes.

/poem ON

I want to create something beautiful
More than life, more than song.
I want to give you a flower that has no name.
One that glows with wet heat
Luminescent in its beauty.
The flower drank the water I in my misery had saved for you.
Will it grow in spite of me?
Only I can wonder.

/poem OFF

I’m not a poet any any means; I just had an idea one day.  I did manage to get this published, though.


This post has no title

I’m conflicted.  Again.  I always am.  I constantly second-guess myself, question my perceptions, and condemn my own actions.  I dream of a life far from myself, but I don’t really think I’m capable of such things, and, when I think of what I am now–what I have–I know that I’ll never be happy, and I get so very, very low.  Shit.  I’m being vague again.

I don’t write because I tell myself that everything I produce is shit.  I’m afraid that I’ll never be any better than that swotty little 15-year old–who read so much, was overly dramatic and oh so pretentious–and could only manage to produce overblown vignettes filled with clichés and her own naivety.  I want the things I create to be beautiful.  I want everything I do to be the best there is.  I want to be perfect, and I am definitely not perfect.

Dear readers, I’m truly sorry for such a melancholic, self-absorbed, and piteous post.  I just needed to get that off my chest.  I promise, next time, you’ll see the happy.


A couple of weeks ago, at a family outing, I met a beautiful young writer named Jen.  We got to talking, and, within five minutes, I was totally convinced she and I were the same person, had been separated at birth, or partially cloned from the same genetic sequence. It was crazy.  I had never before had such a strong sense of mental agnation.  We both had the same attitude about writing, the same complaints about our output.  We had both taken a sabbatical from our craft, and for the same reasons, too.  She understood my anxiety; she had felt it herself.  I was shocked.  I’ve never had writer friends before, never been able to compare notes with anyone, so to hear my own ideas coming out of someone else’s mouth was such an awesome moment for me.  I’m not sure I can accurately describe how this made me feel, so, instead, I’ll tell you a story, to help illustrate my point.

Two of my sisters, S and L, are identical twins.  Truly identical. Sometimes, it’s like they share the same brain.  Now, obviously, identical twins are never exactly so; L, for example, is more passive, and, S, while I wouldn’t call her aggressive, is definitely more firm about her wants and needs.  But even so, they’re pretty damn close. I’ve seen lots of twins consciously do things to convince others of their sameness or difference, but this went beyond any conscious (or unconscious) act. This was innate.

L moved away many years ago, and used to fly up every so often to visit.  (She’s since stopped.  Flying is expensive, and now there’s her daughter, a teenage beauty I’ll call Nona, for no other reason than I really like the name.)  S would go to pick her up at the airport and find that they were wearing the same outfit.  They were shocked when they realized they had chosen the same middle name for their daughters.  They would complete each others’ sentences mid thought.  It went something like this:

S:    “Oooh!  Ok–Santana guy.  So he comes up, being all attitudinal, and I’m like, ‘ok, guy.  Whatever.’  And then, I look over–”

L:    “Oooh, I saw that!  And it’s funny that you said that you weren’t trying to stare, because I noticed that he–”

S:    “Riiight?!  So–but I didn’t want to say anything–so I waited for him to move away, and then I tapped Alan on the shoulder–very calmly–pointed at the ground, and said ‘LFM’.”

L:    “Nuh-uhhh.  Get.  Out.”

(I’m paraphrasing here, because the real conversation would be three times longer.  And yes, they do have a secret code.  It’s annoying as fuck.)

Last year, my family and I spent Thanksgiving with L and Nona.  Now, both S and L have Blackberries.  That weekend, my dear sisters—along with everyone else in the room–discovered they have the same unlock code.  Not similar—the SAME.  If I hadn’t been there, I would swear they were lying.

That’s what I grew up with; that persistent idea of mental twinnishness and inadvertent completion.  I had always wished for that same kind of link with someone else.  So when I talked to Jen, and I saw how alike we were in our creative pursuits, I instantly wanted to be her friend.  I wanted to learn from her, help her, be her mental double.  When she told me that she had started a blog, to finally get started, rediscover her love of writing, and sharpen her skills (hers, too, had atrophied during the dry spell), I thought, “yeah!  I’ve been trying to do that for years.  Like she said, don’t even think about it, don’t give yourself a chance to psych yourself out.  Just do it.”  So, I did.

Day one

After years of building sub-par websites that never see the light of day, I decided to stop being such a lazy, perfectionist, dilettantish lame-ass and make a blog.  I have a history of leaving projects unfinished, so I’m somewhat less than enthused about this latest foray into mature purposefulness.  However, it’s here, as is my interest, so that’s worth something (for now, anyway).

I suppose this is the part of the post where I make wild, exciting, slightly-hallucinatory claims about the purpose of this blog, and entreat any and all readers to follow me along on a magical and/or self-exploratory journey of some sort, but, to tell you the truth, I just don’t have it in me right now.  And, really, I would rather not promise something I know I have a relatively low chance of delivering.  This is me, just another imaginative and unreliable dreamer in a world full of them.  Expect to see lots of overly verbose, overblown navel-gazing, mediocre writing, self-deprecating witticisms, and general malaise.