Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Warm up.

Time to warm up. Stretch limbs. Run in place. Put the words down one after the other. The practice of writing. What is my head full of today? What can I purge from it right now?

I had a woman show me octopus eggs this morning. She carried them in a square clear container. They were little tick-tacks floating in the bottom, clear with a black spot at the center. She proceeded to tell me a story about how her son was having difficulty learning to read. As motivation she told him he could get an octopus. She had the tank all ready because he met his goal. (Can you believe!) she then she found one on the beach in Florida. The size of an egg (chicken, I presume) with legs 25 inches long. “She’s beautiful,” she said. The octopus, after having ridden in a bucket in the back of a truck to the very center of the continent, laid her eggs (the woman actually told me she gave birth) (I have no idea whether either of those phrases is right for an octopus). In any case, she told me this story, the words flying out of her at a breakneck speed. She also told me she had a kindergartner and a second grader and a fourth grader. That people have been lining up at her door to see the octopus. That she called a news station to see if they wanted to do a story about her. The woman who answered the phone said, “What is news worthy about that?” And she told a pet store that they better decide whether they will sell the octopus eggs because once she announced it on the news, there will be kids lining up to buy them. And she also told me that the octopus recognizes her and would be freaked out if a bunch of kids surrounded her tank.

Now, I have a lot of questions about this whole thing. But I guess the main thing that applies to a writing warm up is the disorganized way that all this information came to me. Pre-writing is the answer. It gives yourself the opportunity to see the words on the page, the opportunity to palpitate your own mind and see what is there. Over time, as you do this every single day, you find that what comes out becomes clearer and more concise. That the clutter has been cleared away and the mind just needs a fifteen minute sweeping and its ready to face the more serious, or at least more directed work of the novel. Now I’m warmed up and ready to go.

As Always,

Writing Exercise:
Good old-fashioned freewrite. Put your pen to the page or fingers to the keys for at least ten minutes. Write everything that comes to you. Don’t stop to check spelling or to cross out. If you think what you wrote is stupid, write that down too. Write all thoughts. It is a thought watching exercise. If your mind says it is stupid and you keep writing anyway, eventually your mind will stop making that thought. Something ignored will soon enough go away. And I say good riddance to that kind of rubbish.