Day 2: Write a List

Ray Bradbury wrote a list of nouns to get inspired. I will try it too.

  1. caviar
  2. heads
  3. sandwiches
  4. The thing on a ceiling fan that turns
  5. lint trap
  6. matches
  7. oven thermometer
  8. cork paper
  9. arteries
  10. surge protector
  11. planets
  12. eyes
  13. fringe
  14. cape
  15. stamp
  16. selfie-stick
  17. fog
  18. indignation
  19. boxing gloves
  20. cable
  21. bridge
  22. castle
  23. cloud
  24. brush pen
  25. dream catcher
  26. mermaid
  27. water

I’m not sure what this list will do for me. I guess while making it, I was judging myself for mostly listing objects I’m seeing in my studio. If I look at it from another person’s point of view, any of these things could be a portal into something else and could spark something creative. I’m too lazy right now to actually try using five of them in a few sentences. It feels forced.

Writing Class, Day 1: I write because

I’m taking this class to get back into writing. I’m trying to write a graphic novel that I started in 2000 and still haven’t finished. I hope this class will inspire me to get back to doing it.

So I have nothing in particular to write about for this class; I want to return to the joy of writing for the pleasure of writing.

The assignment is simply to explain what makes you write. I am rereading the Miracle Worker (the play), so I looked to Helen Keller for her thoughts on writing and found this gem:

“Trying to write is very much like trying to put a Chinese puzzle together. We have a pattern in mind which we wish to work out in words; but the words will not fit the spaces, or, if they do, they will not match the design.”

I found this very fascinating coming from someone who is visually impaired. As a visual person myself, I love this idea about patterns. It is close to the approach to writing of Vladimir Nabokov, one of my favorite authors.

 

I can’t see writing or art making in this way that Keller does, as I don’t have images or patterns in mind before or during the process of creating. I just start with something and see where it goes. Maybe after something comes out, I see something and try to play with the form in subsequent collages or drawings. Even with my struggle to do my graphic novel, I do it page by page, and have no idea who or what will appear until it’s happening.

This quote from Nabokov seems pretty accurate as a description of what I’m doing in my graphic novel:

“The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and once they are there, throw rocks at them.”

So, why do I write?

Words. Language. The first thing Annie Sullivan does to engage with Helen Keller is to spell words of things with her, to teach her language, that everything in her world has a name. As humans, even when we cannot see, hear or speak in words, we have some kind of innate hunger for language. We want to make something that symbolizes what is in our mind or environment. Language is an abstraction. Writing with words is a way to move into a world that exists only in our minds.

I like to write because the use of words leads to the imagination, where anything is possible. My favorite book ever written remains Alice in Wonderland. There is no reason for anything in the book. Alice is not on a quest to find herself or get home or anything else. She is curious and wants to explore and see what is down the rabbit hole and in the garden. Something is locked, so she has to find the key and get in to see what is there! It is very evident that Carroll successfully got her up on that tree and he and the others in the book are throwing metaphorical “rocks” at her!

For me this is the purest reason for writing, to see the familiar from a different point of view where everything becomes strange. Alice can’t use the language from her real world in Wonderland. Every time she recites something, it comes out strange and different.

That is my reason to write, to be surprised by what comes out and to see how the most ordinary word is not ordinary at all…

 

(catching up) Writing 201: Poetry, Day Four — Animal, Concrete Poem, Emjambment

hope is a fish

hang your
velvet trimmed
dusty blue grey hat

on
hope.
hope is

the
promise
that sticks sometimes on a thin piece

of tape curling
the ends.

up at
you don’t know                                               if the middle can
hold it down
but it does.

it

sometimes

hangs by a

dirty
s
t
r
i
n
g
 

dangling over

an empty
bottle
of wine.

like a                                fish                                      it

darts

around.
when you think it’s disappeared-

 

 

 

 

 

it’s just sleeping.

Translation:
hope is a fish

hang your velvet trimmed dusty blue grey hat on hope.
hope is the promise that sticks sometimes on a thin piece of tape curling up at the ends.
you don’t know if the middle can hold it down but it does.
it sometimes hangs by a dirty string dangling over an empty bottle of wine.
like a fish it darts around.
when you think it’s disappeared, it’s just sleeping.

(This did not look the way I wanted it to. I will try to write it freehand and take a photo of how I was thinking it should look…)

Writing 201: Poetry, Day Six: Hero(ine), Ballad, Epistrophe

Ok this one is just out of my league. Since I am a night owl up late who fights against having to sleep and wake up at crazy hours like 7 or 8am, here is my attempt at ballad. The villain is sleep and staying up is the heroine!

Ballad: To the Night

I want you and I don’t…
Oh why can’t I stay?
I won’t I won’t I won’t.
I won’t let you take away,

I won’t let you take away
My mind and my hands.
Don’t close my lids til day.
It’s measured out in sands.

Sands go through as time,
Time goes by this night:
This night I want to stay
Awake awake to play.

To play alone this night.
Don’t close my lids til day.
I stay up and fight
You, sleep! Yes sleep,

Sleep that eats away,
Eats away my life.
I’m getting old for day;
The night is here my wife

Awake I will refuse you.
Sleep, like death, you erase,
You erase me. I want to do-
To do something all night long.

So I stay up to write this song.
I want you and I don’t:
Sleep you take so long.
I will you and I won’t!

Poetry Assignment: Fog, Elegy, Metaphor

Untitled

“The fog comes on little cat feet”
is one of my favorite lines.

For you, the fog was a tiger.

You left on Sept. 18, 2013
It’s a foggy death you chose.
You knew you wanted to die.

I have a fantasy of fog:
That I am walking towards the water
in a thick fog
and you emerge.

You say words, explain, convince…
Death was not a fog for you
and all the others who chose it.
It was a sharp knife to cut the pain.

I see you all together.
The suicides under the sea
that we cannot see.

I beat my head on the fog
No comfort.
You can’t hit fog, you can’t swallow fog.
Death swallowed you up that day.
I wait for it to spit you out
So I can see you again as you once were.