Begin with “I thought I saw…”
I thought I saw a really great prompt when I picked this one out, but I’ve been sitting here for three minutes with nothing to write, which kind of destroys the whole purpose of this exercise. I suppose this will become one of those meta-writing posts, but how far down can you go down the rabbit hole until you just get stuck and you’re leveling the crap out of yourself? Meta-meta-meta-meta-meta-writing.
I thought I saw a way to grow as a writer, and in many ways it has been. In only three posts, I’ve experimented with voice, characters, objects, and probably many other things that I haven’t taken the time to examine just yet (or maybe never will!). And maybe that’s the beauty of all this. There is so much more unseen growth than can be seen between posts or perhaps charted and graphed in a methodical manner, examining writing like one would a census or test scores. (I totally just self-edited that line. I think that’s the first time I’ve done that the whole time. I made it through three and a half posts! YES!) How many metaphors did I use in the last one again? I think we are trending up.
I thought I saw inspiration to write as I was readingInside Out: Developmental Strategies for Teaching Writing by Dan Kirby and Tom Liner (with Ruth Vinz). It was they, and Troy Hicks, who really inspired me to start this whole process, but I didn’t fully understand just how difficult it would be. I dare you to try it. Consider this a challenge. Force yourself to write; force yourself to let words become stream-of-consciousness. Don’t stop. I write like the Energizer Bunny, and when you’re done, you should feel tired. You should feel mentally exhausted. So in a way, I did find inspiration in their book, and hopefully I will bestow that upon the bunch who will have the misfortune of being my students.
I thought I saw the beginning of an Emily Dickinson poem – this prompt is just really her, or maybe Atwood’s Morning in the Burned House. “I thought I saw a Fly / Wandering about on a cloudy day…” or something slightly nonsensical but leading up to another idea with incredible depth like Dickinson always does. I’ve learned to appreciate her, but I don’t much like her. I admire her for living the way she did and managing to write the way she had, though what else is there to think about when you coop yourself up on a house for years on end?
I thought I saw a divide between thoughts and personality in my writing, and maybe I did. One of my biggest fears is to sound like a pretentious nobody, and I think the reason for that is because I perceive pretentious people in a way that I think they are always trying to compensate or sound smarter than they actually are. And maybe everyone perceives them that way; I don’t know. I’m not in your head. But the way I write is the way I often think. I mean, who doesn’t have those long-winded narratives about their sordid lives running through their own heads? Like Becky on Fox’s Glee, I sometimes talk with a British accent in my head, and though I never sound like Queen Elizabeth, I always sound quite posh. Yes, the italics indicate an accent. Anyway, I’ve gone astray. My point being is – maybe it’s just me, but I might say less than 50% of what I think or often say things differently than how I’m thinking them. Most of the time it’s because my thoughts are incredibly childish, playful, and absolutely dismissable and unworthy of conversation. Other times it’s because I’m too nervous to openly state my opinion in front of peers or those that I hold in high regard for fear of what they might think. And every once in a while, it’s because I don’t want to sound like that pretentious jerk who is trying to overcompensate for a lack of knowledge. No, when I overcompensate for a lack of knowledge, audience, I simply do the nod and smile.
I thought I saw a pretentious tone in that last paragraph, but maybe it was only because I was looking for it. Am I too demanding? Do I ask too many questions? (Do you love this sh*t? Are you high right now? Do you ever get nervous?) Is it even okay to ask questions? It’s like the old bear in the woods riddle. If a blogger poses a pretentious, or even offensive question on his blog, and no one is there to read it, is it still pretentious? That’s definitely one of my biggest fears. It’s sad. “The present is a gift, and I just wanna BE.” (Common – Be). I shouldn’t live with all these trivial worries; don’t sweat the small stuff, right? But everyone sweats the small stuff and everyone always will. I guess it’s just how we are wired.
I thought I saw this post turn around really quickly. I had low expectations for it, but a wise man once said, “Set the bar low; aim even lower.” I’m good at the setting the bar low part because it really gives rise to some exciting stuff when you are surprised at what you can actually achieve. It’s easier to focus on what needs to be accomplished when you aren’t sweating the small stuff. You just need to do some rewiring.