Instructions in Writing, week 2

What I heard and remembered to take notes on in Week Two of Fast Flash Fiction at the Santa Fe Community College were. Much of last night’s class was about editing one another’s work and what else to remember as I re-read and revise my own stories. Number 3-6 are cited from a handout given (citation needed):

  1. Anticipation | Hold someone on the edge of their seat until they are almost impatient.
  2. Beautiful moments | “I take out beautiful moments in each piece.”
  3. Personify objects/emotions | in ways that the reader won’t expect.
  4. Unfamiliar similes | will jump out at readers in positive ways.
  5. Conflicting images | take what readers expect in a character and turn it upside down by choosing conflicting images.
  6. Metaphors | are often what can propel or kill a story.
  7. Surreal | make it work.
  8. Stick to your core | “[There are] parts of your piece that you are going to hold onto with dear life. You have to remember that your voice is your voice.”

There were also a few quotes that resonated:

You want every paragraph to matter.

I create stories from what I remember in childhood, and change the ending.

Use adverbs sparingly. I love adjectives.

Instructions in writing, Week 1

I began my first writing class last week. The title is Fast Flash Fiction is a six-week course taught by Meg Tuite at Santa Fe Community College. Tuite, the instructor, cusses, inspires, and tells stories with plenty of tangents like thet legions of great storytellers that I know.

Tuite dispensed multiple dosages of simple truths in writing on the first night:
1) Read it out loud.
2) Keep your core.
3) Get it out | “I am not sure that I’ll call it vomit. Maybe, pink vomit.”
4) Deadlines are good.
5) Every page matters | in flash fiction where we have to condense our work.
6) Start thinking about the senses.
7) Brevity and ambiguity | These are essential in flash fiction, leaving the reader wanting to know more, to be taken along.
8) Gamble. That is where your voice is.

A couple of other choice moments were:
– “I get a lot of people published. Because you work hard in this class.”
– “Write about something that you are close to. Emotionally invested. Risk, risk, risk. The most exciting part of life –> getting close [to something].”

Lastly, there are three, simple questions to guide the workshopping and feedback shared with classmates are:
What do you love?
What makes sense?
What is confusing?

The Outline’s Role

Three days into NaNoWriMo yesterday, and I took a moment to see what the world wide web would provide when I asked about outlines for writing a novel. I encountered these three sites, which I have borrowed some elements of:

Today, I have learned of NaBloPoMo, shared with me by WordPress.

This is practice, by design.

Writing is water

Writing is easy yet so difficult, depending on the circumstances and relationship that I have to it. In simile speak: water is like water. Let me count the ways.

Stagnant water breeds cholera, or mosquitoes. Neither of which serve me that well. Similarly, stagnation in writing is stifling. I had years, if not decades, of writer’s block. The words that convey emotion, experience and life swelled within me. The festering conditions disrupted my homeostasis such that my feelings frustrated, trapped, confused and disillusioned me. There is so much in this world, and writing in channeled bursts has altered the topography of my psyche just as a river cuts through the earth’s crust. Trapped writing became poisoned by the ills of the world because of my exposure to the noxious elements. Unable to find a writing outlet, I could not filter out the toxins that multiplied inside of the idle body of water that was/is my consciousness. Like many water-borne illnesses, it severely weakened me.

My struggles with writing were a form of illiteracy where I had some tools, I knew the letters of the alphabet, verb conjugation and sentence structure. Much like water can be life-nourishing, thirst-abetting for plants and animals alike. There have been phases where my written word was ‘not potable.’ I’ve been told for years how powerfully i can convey messages in spoken communication. But, that didn’t translate into fluid ease of writing. It was much like being out at sea, surrounded by all that salt water. Yet, with no fresh water to drink. No filtration or desalination. The salt in the oceans is not lethal, of course. Just like life experiences of struggle, trauma and isolation are not inherently life-threatening. However, without a writing outlet to process and therefore, synthesize and integrate the immense and intense, I was stranded. Oftentimes, it felt to me like I was stranded at sea in an abyss that I could not convey.

Without writing, I had no map to understand where I was, where i had been or where I was headed. One of the early cracks in the dam of my trapped writing was when asked if ‘I was a writer?’ Before I could answer another person commented that yes, i was.

They had observed how I took notes, made lists, copied quotes and inspiring passages on all these pieces of paper from the backs of envelopes to sticky notes. I’d never considered that worthy of being called writing. All of a sudden someone else pointed out how I had the ability to doggy paddle. I’d waded into the shallow water, but was convinced that I wasn’t capable of doing that much.

That friend’s comment shook me, much like a tremor shakes any body of water. I couldn’t forget it. A fissure in the crust of my self-narratives was exposed that would not be sealed. It would never return to the state that it had previously been in. Though, it did get muddled and clogged for months.

However, the fissure made me begin to write more. My written communication thawed as quotes and lists began to drip, changing form from frozen solid to liquid. The little bits of writing began to find their way into longer sentences. Sentences became short paragraphs. Short paragraphs became longer paragraphs just as creeks feed into rivers.

This parched blog that had been under-utilized for many seasons began to be rained upon with torrential downpours. Blogging need not be a daily activity. However, a great downpour of fresh rain water can nourish roots, and fill water tables. Or snowfall that sits atop a mountain that thaws in the spring.

Writing is an exercise where my mind selects words, much like a cloud is the place where raindrops come from. But that moisture is a part of a cycle beginning long before and far away. The moisture in a cloud arises from an interdependence of earth’s crust, oceans, and the sun rays shining down upon us.

Even with traces of acid rain, writing extracts some of the poison of life. In fact, the cycle of rainfall to seeping through the soil, evaporation and regeneration is how my writing is becoming like fresh water. It gives new life, and completes a cycle by having ripple effects and consequences. Sometimes these are so big and so vast, and trickle from one place to the next that the result cannot be fully comprehended. Similarly, water is comprehensible to us in so many ways, yet so big that there are aspects of it that we cannot know.

Post-script: A quote of science fiction author William Gibson is, “the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.” This metaphor is becoming more and more evident in my life: in water resources, in moments of inspiration, beauty, and economic resources. Natural resources, wealth and economic power are here aplenty, they are just unevenly distributed.