I admit it.
It’s been long enough since I’ve written anything of either length or quality that I actually haven’t started writing anything creatively in the month since I quit my job to be a writer. I’m afraid that I haven’t got anything to say. I’m afraid that none of it will be good. Or that no one will want to read it. I’m afraid that I’m the slacker in Drew Chial’s recent post.
I’ve been trying to get in the right headspace to create something. I had felt so drained of creative energies that I didn’t feel like I could put pen to paper and create anything. I felt that way before.
When I was first starting to take my writing seriously, as a Sophomore in High School (the only Sophomore accepted in the class full of Juniors and Seniors), I stared at a blank page and wouldn’t let it conquer me:
Idiocy stares at me from the gleaming white of a paper that has not been written on. The paper lies flat with no features on its smooth face. Nothing to write. Nothing to hold. Nothing to love down to the depths of my heart and nurture as I would a child. My life is blank for writing is my life and there is none and I want to scream out across the polluted traffic of life that is a city to be carried over the mountains and into a valley of peace so they know that all is not well with the mentality of our souls. A distant cry answers mine and I am taken on a dream to the place that I once called home… and I write.
I write as I never have before. I write of a sense of freedom that captures my heart. I write of the sweet innocence of a child who has not yet been marred by the pessimism of the ages and who, by some bizarre chance, dares to dream. I write of mothers watching their children with the hope that they might be better than their pot-smoking, free-loving parents. I write of a world, a time, that has passed and may be forgotten in the turmoil of a time that does not understand. I write of the fantasies of a dreamer’s dream, the mystical myths of fairies that might whither in the cold, harsh world of a dragon who thrives on the humiliated hearts of the peasant. I write of the promise of a happy world that is adorned by the hopes of men. I write of that promise being broken into tiny shards of glass, that was once a glorious stained-glass window in a cathedral where the sun never shone. I write of the child who was not afraid of dreaming dying, as all the optimism is sucked out of him by his peers, like life-sucking leeches and he becomes a carcass of what he used to be. He becomes like the creatures around him without the daring light of hope in his eyes. He is taken over by the vanities of men and he remembers nothing of his innocent childhood ambitions. He remembers nothing until he sees a child with a starry-eyed look about her and he wants, with all his heart, to be like her again, but he can’t. Instead he wants to take her down to himself and destroy her happiness as people once destroyed his own. In anger, he shatters her dreams and he can almost see them crash down into a heap like a house of cards. Repentantly, he tries to help her fit the pieces back together, but he can’t… the light is gone forever from the dull, gray eyes of a child who knows too much hate. Idiocy.
Is it quality writing? Not really. But I wrote something, when I had nothing. I needed to remember that. I needed to be reminded that writing takes practice. It’s not something that you turn off or on with a switch as long as there is enough “energy”. Writing almost needs to create its own energy.
So, that’s what I’m doing. I have mentioned before that Brandon Sanderson is among our favorite authors and my husband recently introduced me to a series of videos that were actually taken during one semester of his class at BYU. I’ve decided to follow along with his class a year and a half later. It will give me a chance to learn more about my craft while constantly having manageable goals to reach. Over the course of the semester, each student is meant to produce a novella (35K words), while participating in writing groups and/or workshops. Each week a one thousand word submission is to be sent to the writing group (I’ll likely post mine here) for critiquing.
The first assignment is pretty simple and is composed of two parts. The first, more of a status to return to, a few sentences regarding where you are or what you want to accomplish during the coursework:
Write. Write even when there are no words. Write when there is no energy. Write when angry, depressed, tired, brilliantly happy or serene. Write every day. Just write.
The second part of the assignment is to share something you’ve already written with the writing group (my blog readers!). Technically, I could count Idiocy, shared above. But it’s not one of my favorites and I felt like this was supposed to be on opportunity to introduce the writing group to your style. Who shares something they don’t like as an introduction? Me, apparently. Below, is to make amends. It’s not a story. You may not even like it, but I do, so it’s for sharing. This was from a high school writing practice completely off the cuff, but I love the imagery and flow.
Floating Sky Child
Floating sky child is laughing deliriously and no more trees hear his deep singing. He picks up his feet and plants them precariously on the wind that shakes the world. His old skin falls to the earth, creating yet another mountain and his laughter echoes against it and the skins of his past lives. With each new existence, an ocean of thought is ushered in and the brightness of the sky child’s eyes waxes. He opens his arms and embraces the new thought, new hope. His childish gurgle grows deeper with time and with progression, progress slows to a trickle because the sky child is old. His skin hangs like a canvas sack and he can no longer open his arms to the new. His voice is deep and he sings a melancholy melody that scrapes his own soul raw. He pulls himself from out his skin and it falls to the earth, creating yet another mountain. No more trees hear his deep singing and the floating sky child is laughing deliriously.