March 18, 2008

Writing Exercise: Creating Now for Later

There is a method I use to help inspire me when I have writer’s block. It’s simple to do and it is undisciplined: I simply write anything. An example of this is a piece I jotted down recently using the theme of unoriginality. My idea is that just about everything written has been said before and even expressed in the same manner by others. My only fault in writing this was that my subject was not narrow enough for the brevity of the paper.

To tighten the focal point of my exposition would have worked better. A precise argument is always the most effective; yet, my goal was not to create something publishable, but to cobble together an article which I might cannibalize later. To get my artistic juices flowing, I took an idea, rough on the surface, and ran with it. I am not proud of this composition; and, I am not anxious to publish it here. But, I think the purpose it serves is to demonstrate the decree I have been living by as a writer for most of my life; and, that is that a writer writes…always.

Many of my blog posts are rejuvenated works that I wrote years, even decades earlier. Much of my newer material is still evolving; maturing like bottled wine in the cellar until such time I find it necessary to take them out to breathe, and to be posted here. One of my recent blog posts was born of an extended poem I used as part of my training regimen back in the 1980s. The surest way I know that a story, poem, article, or essay I wrote is not finished is when I cannot come up with a suitable title for it. That is the case with the paper I will show you here. The idea is sturdy, but not fine enough. The last paragraph does not finish as strong as I would like it too, the imagery is almost non-existent, and I can’t find a proper name for this work. However, I like much of what I came up with and I intend to store it away in my notebooks and produce it again at such time when I believe I can tackle my treatise with the skill and voracity it deserves.

For today, this piece serves me well as a catalyst which propels me forward and keeps my literary voice honed. The working title of this workout is “In-distinction.” Perhaps other writers employ similar methods to keep themselves sharp, and I imagine all of us have volumes of unpalatable material saved on legal pads, loose leaf paper, and their computers. At great risk, I offer you mine here.


It’s difficult to grasp that there are almost six billion souls in the world today. Staggering still is the notion that there were billions more who lived before them. I am one; one man who feels the echoes of them all. My writing, as sparse and understated as any deficient poet, can merely express my own thoughts and meanderings let alone take on the accounting of civilization.

What I sense at my core is a ripple; several of them perhaps, and they spread from my heart to the tips of the hairs on my neck causing me to shudder. There is a spark to my stuttering; realizing that I speak for myself, yet others articulate the same things. Without ever meeting these copycat spirits both alive and dead who suggest my own ideas and relate my own calamities as they all experienced the same; I see now, I am not distinctive.

My mind is not my own as it was hewn from vast cosmic material as indestructible as God Almighty. Scraps of flesh from the departed are snug among the particles which make up my identity. We share humility, shame, agony, joy, selflessness, curiosity, delight, jealousy, and shades and shades of tempered sensations which repeat themselves across the eons on this worldly theater.

I can tell you about Jesus! Believe, believe, believe and then enlighten everyone. Write about my devotion, my conservatism, and my faith in spirituality over organized religion, and then pen my views. Won’t that make a compelling book? You wrote it already, didn’t you?

My thoughts are not yours. These words, they’re copyrighted, original, unstained by another’s pen. Whose work came first? Feel pain? I do. Want love? I am in love. Are you grieving? Here I am, let me tell you a story. My story, is it authentic? Do I remember it or does my great-grandfather? Ask my grandchildren as they will evoke this when they are born.

Food, sex, television, sports, beer, cars, music; I can write about those things. My novels appear significant; tales of men and women committed and their families slain. What about adoration and casualty? Did I say all of that with seventy six thousand words? How novel.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll discover a secret vault with all of the passions and clever schemes no other human ever experienced before. Have you seen it? My Forefathers did. I remember.

Maybe it isn’t that bad after all? Pay careful attention, because there is at least one line in there which is headed for a blog post coming up in the near future. I can hear the complaints already: “What do you mean, more re-runs?” No, not re-runs; just the same old thing, but better.

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