Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Writing is Hard: Week One

So I am writing once a week now, working on some stories and essays, trying to get disciplined about it. It's hard for me, because even though I love to write I'm a perfectionist so I am terrified of writing crap (which, statistically, will probably be about 95% of what I end up with). I picked up an exercise from the Lynda Barry workshop I went to in March that I use to warm up: I have a bag full of scraps of paper with words written on them (my "word bag;" yes, I am a giant dork), and I pull one out and write without stopping for 10 minutes. Then I do that two more times before I start working on my existing stuff. It's actually become my favorite part of my writing nights.

I told Jeff last night that I wasn't ready to share my work with him yet, because I am only ready for compliments, no criticism, and Jeff is honest to a fault. But I need to be able to share my work eventually, and this blog is the perfect place for over-sharing, so here is one of my exercises from last night.

Word: Secret

I am terrible at keeping secrets. I say I am good at it but that is only to get people to tell me theirs; as soon as I know a secret I have to tell someone else, to get the pressure off.

I have always been this way, I think–one of my parents’ favorite stories to tell is the time my mom and I went shopping for my Dad in like 1984 and upon returning I ran into the house yelling “DAD! We got you PANTS!” To this day if I buy a gift for Jeff it’s like as soon as I am handed the receipt I am in a race against myself not to tell him what I got. I once spent $300 on Red Sox tickets twice because I told him the first time and it ruined the surprise. Also I ended up ditching him before the game and picking a huge fight, which sort of killed the mood, but that is a whole nother story.

I am good at keeping my own secrets, but usually to my detriment. Like when I got alcohol poisoning at my high school graduation and didn’t tell my parents and had to pay the $350 ambulance bill to cover it up—that was a well-kept one. Also that I like beef jerky and sometimes shave my upper lip because I am too lazy to bleach. God help me if I die before I can delete this file and my distraught relatives find this. “She liked beef jerky and shaved her upper lip!” They would cling to these secrets as things they never knew. Ugh. I wish I could just delete it now but I’m timing myself on these exercises and promised I wouldn’t go back and edit. Damn. If I die, family, know that those two humiliating facts do not define me. Also I don’t even like beef jerky that much, only sometimes, and probably because of an iron deficiency. Moving on.

I found out a big secret last week. So now I know and all I want to do is tell everyone. The really seductive thing about telling secrets is how powerful you feel and how amazing the other person’s reaction usually is when you tell them – at least when it’s a good secret or juicy gossip. “Honey, I’m gay” probably doesn’t solicit such an enthused response.

This has nothing to do with secrets, but this room smells like cat pee and ammonia. Gross. Also there is a bag of dried blood on the floor – ostensibly for gardening, but ew. I didn’t know blood was a fertilizer. Blood and shit. Makes you think twice about eating an heirloom tomato.

1 comment :

  1. I'm going to try out this exercise. It sounds fun/productive. I am, however, too lazy to create a "word bag" of my own. I feel it would take me days to finish as I'd likely stare at the blank slips of paper, rejecting each word that came to mind out of fear of it being "too difficult" or "too dull". A quick google search gave me this, though:

    So here we go!


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