Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hunting fresh images

Today's Mood: Laid back. Today's Music: U2--Rattle and Hum. Today's Writing: nil, nothing, zip, zero. Today's Quote:
Some people change because they see the light, others because they feel the heat.
- David Thornburg
How do you go about finding/thinking of fresh images? As writers we are supposed to avoid cliches, but finding GOOD fresh images is hard. I swear my mind gets in a rut (kind of like I do making dinner) and I can only think of certain things.

I picked up a new book of Billy Collins poetry--Questions About Angels--and as I sit reading it, I'm struck by what great images he comes up with. I suppose all good poetry is made up of images that help the reader see the world in new ways, but at the moment I am extolling Billy Collins. I'd love to see his notebook; does he have lots of things crossed out? Take this stanza:
"Clouds that once toured the air in the style
of dirigibles now gather helplessly in the kitchen
and stare at me across the long wooden table."

Might he have first tried: Clouds that once traveled above like race cars? Or maybe Clouds that flock together like sheep/ now huddle together in the pen/ and stare at me across the iron railing?

Do poets or writers as good as Collins work through a number of images, trying them on like hats until they find one that fits, that brings out their inner persona, be it a cowboy or a gangster? Or maybe they just see the world in fresh ways right from the start. Am I too jaded, too stuck in the deep muddy ruts on the main road to find the small deer path leading off into the forest?

Am I asking too many questions for this late at night? Probably, that's what poetry does to me.

So what do YOU do to come up with new images, metaphors, similes? Do you brainstorm? Make a web--kind of like Fleda Brown had us do at the fall retreat. Do you keep a journal with lists of possible metaphors/similes? Do you ... I don't know, read a lot? Try to connect new things and see if it works? Obviously I could use some help here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Word Stealing

Today's Mood: Tired. Today's Music: Foo Fighters--The Color and the Shape. Today's Writing: IFFY--chapter who knows what, but I'm getting closer to the 65,000 word count. Today's Quote:
"Don't talk unless you can improve the silence." -Jorge Luis Borges

I was word stealing with my creative writing students yesterday. I should do this on a regular basis. I had a stack of poetry books that we paged through, finding words that appealed or that we didn't use on a regular basis, and writing them down. We did this we Fleda Brown up at Glen Lake. I looked back at my words from that session, and then added a whole bunch of new ones (from a book of Walt Whitman's poetry)

Today when I was writing I tried to include at least one of those words. It's funny how even just using one word that you don't normally use can take your writing in a different direction. Really cool.

Some of my words: halo, aria, dusky, latent, dallying, mystic, sullen, flock, prong, murmur, swathed, candid, brine, enamoured, ample, capricious, cosmos, inception, glide, mania, prickling, gallant, strut, seething, withered.

How much fun are those? Feel free to steal--I did.

Friday, November 13, 2009

In the world of a writer

Today's Mood: Relieved (read that as TGIF) Today's Music: I'm checking out the Trans-Siberian Orchestra CD a friend lent me. Today's Writing: IFFY. Today's Quote:
"It's not what you do once in a while. It's what you do day in and day out that makes the difference." -Jenny Craig

I dragged my sorry butt out of bed only minutes before 6:00 a.m. That meant I had less time than ever to write this morning. And of course, I was just getting into it, just feeling the first faint stirring of the flow, like the second or third step into the river when the current starts to lap at your legs but isn't yet a constant pull, when the phone shrills and someone needs assistance.

The day progressed, troubleshooting about the building, cataloging books--and deciding that one needed to go to the high school since it was too racy for middle school, picking out books for Monday's classes, teaching my graphic novel class, and then finally, my creative writing class. The sixth graders, all ready to write, and me, excited about some more writing time. But then one needed help using the thesaurus and another wanted a starting line, still another had questions about what I was writing. And before I knew it, the hour was done, kids needed to check out, and a teacher wanted help with his voice enhancement system.

I vow to write this weekend. I want to. I need to. But I also know full-well what happens on weekends. Marisa wants to get her ears pierced having finally screwed up her courage, laundry is overflowing, the house could use a cleaning (really, you have no idea how much it could use a cleaning. We should fire the damn housekeeper--oh wait, that's me), and I suppose we'll have to eat as well.

BUT I WILL WRITE. somehow.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Romancing Reality

Today's Mood: Scattered. Today's Music: Simon & Garfunkel. Today's Writing: Black Dragon. Today's Quote:
"Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible." -Paul Klee

How do you romance your characters? Or your subject for those of you without characters. Do you immerse yourself in it? When I was writing Free Lunch I took up running because my main character was a runner. I decided it was much easier to write about running and the love of it than it was to do. My character in IFFY is into yoga. I've joined a yoga class--which I'm happy to say I enjoy much more than running. Wasn't hard to immerse myself in Black Dragon. Dangerous, yes. Hard to un-immerse, yes.

Listening to music is probably one of the best ways for me to romance my character--draw her closer, find out all about him, learn all his little mannerisms, likes and dislikes. I also like to paint or draw the character--or cut out pictures from magazines. I even cut out clothes that I think he/she would wear.

But most of all I need to think about him/her all the time--like if I was (to use my students' term) "crushing" on him/her. I invent conversations, I put him/her into different situations and try to imagine how he/she would react.

It's on my mind right now because I need to get to know Tobin better. He seems a bit shy--either that or I don't want to "ruin" him so I keep him nebulous. Self-defeating behavior, I know, but I'm not sure what to do about it--other than the things listed above. Maybe it really is a bit like my roommates idea of impossible lust. She insisted we all need to have AT LEAST one impossible lust--someone we lusted after who we would never-in-no-possible-way-ever connect with. (For example, one of mine is Johnny Depp) The joy of this was that you would never find out that they snored, had a terrible temper, were racist, or had a flatulence problem--none of that real life stuff. I think maybe I'm doing that a bit with my character. I want him to be perfect, and if I start writing about him, maybe I'll find out he's not.

Hmmm, I started this thinking about romance, and now I'm thinking I need a dose of reality instead of romance. Nobody is perfect. It's okay if my character aren't either.

Anyone else as neurotic as I am? Stand up and wave your hand. Reality--gotta love it.