Archives for posts with tag: creative writing

I used to think that if I could be paid to have ideas for things, it would be the greatest thing ever (and the perfect job).

I still think it would be pretty great, but maybe not all it was cracked up to be.

I never have a shortage of ideas. Ideas for blogs, for stories, for things to cook, for things people should invent (I swear I invited the Kindle at age 9), for all kinds of things. I have more ideas than I could ever possibly follow through with. Because of these many ideas, I start a lot of projects. I love projects.

The problem is, I have a hard time focusing my ideas from the massive web of things they could be into something manageable. Conversely, I get ideas, become really excited about them, and become obsessive. Everything becomes about that one thing– this is great and fulfilling and productive for a while, but if there’s not something adding fuel the steam fizzles before too long.

Today I’m feeling overwhelmed with projects and ideas.

I’m at something of a loss lately with the direction to take Everything is Problematic in. Because the contributors are so spread out we can’t have meetings like the team of a regular startup might, and it’s hard to create a central vision from the disbursal. I hadn’t factored those kinds of things in in advice, but it turns out they’re a really big deal. Communicating over the internet (both with contributors and with the blogs audience) often makes me feel like I’m really just talking to myself, which can be disheartening.

I think part of the problem is that my projects are usually not things that have a clear end, so I can spend forever working on them, which seems nice at times but eventually there has to be an end or at least some kind of final goal, otherwise you’re just spinning your wheels.

I’ve been doing very little writing lately. In terms of EiP I have many a file of first paragraphs and awesome titles, but little in the way of finished product. The stuff I have finished I’ve been less than pleased with (I don’t, generally, think it’s bad, it’s just not what I’d like it to be). I’m definitely a little desperate for possible reinforcement, which is never a great place to  be. As for creative writing… nada. I have an idea (go figure) that I’m pretty excited about, but I’ve just been plotting/playing with it in my head. To be honest, I’m nervous about starting it (or anything) because I’ve been feeling so listless about my work.

My mom has been encouraging me to do more graphic/web design stuff for a while (I’m basically the webmaster for her company website and I do all the promotional stuff- flyers, etc), and I’ve started considering it as a way to make extra money. I want to put together a portfolio of what I’ve done/my services, but at the moment I’m feeling freaked out about the whole thing. I’m worried about biting off more than I can chew. Or worse, finding there’s nothing to bite into at all (aka no one wants what I have to offer).

I pulled my journal from the rumble of my stuff (aka my rummaged through but not unpacked boxes) the other day to journal a little. I said I would do it every day, but haven’t written any sense then. I should probably do that so I at least have a manageable place to start.

Anxiety, man. That shit can be crippling.

I was wearing pajama-esque clothing all day, and putting on some jeans and putting my hair down actually did wonders. Maybe I’ll cook something (that is one project I always finish), or maybe I’ll at least find some recipes for stuff to cook tomorrow and get a fresh start on that in the morning.

may be starting a fun little project on tumblr inspired by Donna from Suits. But maybe not…

Hope you’re having a wonderful summer. The windy weather here has kept me out of the pool the last few days, but tomorrow I’m determined to spend some time sunbathing.

P.S. Check out Suri’s Burn Book– it’s hilarious.

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In two weeks I’ll have the opportunity to read some of my writing in a showcase, along with two other undergrads and 5 or 6 graduate students. I am totally thrilled– MY WRITING WILL HAVE AN AUDIENCE. And what’s more authorial than doing a reading? Plus, being in undergrad in a showcase consisting mostly of grad students is really terrific.

Which brings me to the crux of this post– what the hell am I going to read? I have plenty of writing, so options isn’t a problem, but how do I pick? I have 5-7 minutes, which is a pretty sizable chunk of time, meaning I could read pretty much anything excepting a few of my more extensive short stories. But obviously I don’t want to read just anything- I want something polished, or at the very least in good shape. How do you know when something is really in its best shape!?

I think part of this worry is born out of the fact that I submitted a short story (which had already gone through six drafts) for work-shopping, and while everyone really liked it, their revision suggestions were pretty extensive. There’s nothing that requires me to make these revisions (or any at all), but I will because after seeing their commentary I agree (or mostly agree). So how can I know what’s in the best shape for reading? I guess the one consolation is that in my reading something no one is physically looking at the piece and can’t reread it, meaning that even if there is revising that needs to be done it’s much harder to tell.

Are some things better for reading than others? I mean outside of the general quality of the writing. I guess I already know that the answer to that is yes. Perhaps I need to pick out some potentials and just read them out loud. Maybe I can rope Belen or Lexi into listening, or maybe I’ll call someone- like Alex or Natasha.

At any rate, I’m excited and I’ll keep you updated on how it goes.

Magpie to the Morning

I whispered his name, walking my fingers over his bare white chest. He

lurched away from me, jarred from sleep by spider-like fingers running across his skin when he should have been alone, asleep until noon… It was only a split second, the briefest moment, before his face clicked with recognition of my own. A blink.

He smiled warmly, sleep still clinging to his features.

“Hey.” His body relaxed, moving imperceptibly closer to where I stood. I smiled at him, feeling a kind of dizziness. Our fingers were intertwined, though I had no idea when our hands came together.

“Hi,” I said, wanting to be sleepy again, to be warm and quiet and still. There was a space for me in his bed, the alcove between him and the wall, my niche in his life.“I’m gonna go. I just wanted to let you know… So I wasn’t sneaking out on you.” As with our hands, our lips found their way to each other without effort.

“I have to go,” I breathed, trying to make clear that I wanted to stay. He could pull me down beside him, and I too could get lost in the sleepy dim light of his room…

“Okay.”

I had meant to sweep from the room, possessions in hand, closure intact, but suddenly my things were everywhere. How had so much of me found its way into this strange room? I forced a suede heel into my too-large purse.

“This was fun,” he said flatly. I winced.

“Yeah,” I said, surveying the room for lost objects, my unencumbered ease gone. When I had collected my things, I tried to ease the door open for my escape. It was a laborious process, full of strange maneuvers of objects and my body.

I allowed my self a last glance as I finally slipped through the door, hoping to freeze his face in my mind. He had rolled over, running to sleep, completely unaware as I disappeared into the morning light.

I just started digging through some old writing look for stuff worth revisiting. One of the things I went to was my Soundtrack to Your Life project from Modern Literature senior year. For those of you who don’t know about that project- we basically had to construct a memoir from 10+ pieces of writing which corresponded to events, feelings, or periods in our life– these pieces also had to correspond with a song (something that lyrically represents the feeling or event).

One of my pieces was a series of postcards, in the style of Perks of Being a Wallflower, addressing the days in and around my senior homecoming week. Each postcard had a picture from that week, then some bit of story addressed to an unknown person who was present at all those events. I hope that’s enough information.

I felt like sharing this, because it’s a really interesting piece of personal history. I made it a PDF and attached it to these posts for you to view (you’ll have to click the little link below, and it will bring up another window).

Because this is the ‘print’ version and I didn’t make any edits to it, the set up might be a little wonky. Read L to R, starting at the top. The photos correspond opposite (the top R photo belongs to the top L text)– that won’t really affect your reading, I just thought I would let you know.

Maybe this is too complicated and no one will actually look at the postcards.

Anyway- here they are:

 

Post Cards

I was just rereading this, and felt like it was a pretty telling piece. It’s a personal essay I wrote for my Intro to Writing course last fall. Things have changed quite a bit since then.

 

Wry

 

The strong, square wrists of a boy I hardly know fill up my head. It is strange the way new memories sidle up against the old. They are wrists that reminded me of hands that I know so well. Time should keep people separate, but sometimes life is a split screen.

 

In class one morning Aaron’s arms are crossed, sleeves rolled up so that I see the vein in his forearm, the basilic vein. He sits passively, listening to our professor speak, and I note how his arms look well used, exercised. There is something beautiful about the parts we take for granted. His hands, usually engaged in his speech and subtle displays of restlessness, sit loosely on his thighs. I wonder whether his hands are bigger than my own. Probably, I think, but maybe not.

 

Ryan’s hands are the same size as mine. I find this out in Advanced Placement Statistics in our senior year- the months of which all mass together in an ambiguous pattern. We are measuring hand size, palm to middle finger, and our heights, heel to crown, to create an equation for estimating one from the other. Ryan has stopped drawing in his notebook, his sharpie sitting in its customary place on the table, to compare hand and height with Steven. I ask Belen to compare hands with me, knowing already that my hands are larger- more square and rough. She presses her palm to mine, but my attention is on Ryan, as usual. Steven’s fingers are longer and thinner than Ryan’s, but everything about Steven is longer and thinner than the rest of the world.

“Ryan, come here,” I say, standing up. He looks confused when I put my hand out, so I tell him, “I want to see whose hand is bigger.”

He places his hand against mine, edging his palm until the points of our hands are exactly aligned. The landscapes of our hands are different, his palm more square, his fingers slimmer at the base, his nails clipped short and square, but the breadth of our hands is the same. He is taller than me, just enough so that to make eye contact I have to turn my eyes the slightest bit up, but our hands match perfectly. I take a secret satisfaction in that.

 

With proof reading an essay as pretense, I go to Aaron’s room. When he opens the door I feel I am intruding on a part of him. I want to linger in his doorway, but you do not get to know someone from staying outside, if they open their door, you have to step in.

I move slowly through the space of his room, offering commentary on the contents, on books, and things left lying around. I pick up trinkets, turning them over in my hand before returning them to their place. When I finish this process of examining and weighing, I lean against the dresser. Aaron stands at the center of his room, a soccer ball under his left foot. A large faded burnt orange jacket hangs in the closet next to me.

“Do you have a red hunting hat? Because this jacket is pretty Holden Caulfield,” I say, pulling at the fabric. Aaron rolls the ball under his foot.

“It was actually my grandfathers.” While I examine the jacket’s tweed texture he adds, “I didn’t really like that book.”

“The Catcher in the Rye?” I ask. “How could you not like that book?” Aaron shrugs. “It hits a little too close to home for the Holden Caulfields of the world,” he says in his precise, sardonic way. Externally I balk at this assertion, inside I pull the words close.

“I mean, I never went to reform school, but…”

“You’d like to think you could have, if you tried a little harder?” I ask, playing along.

I do not point out that Holden never went to a reform school, he went to prep schools. I would correct most people. Little things I let pass by.

 

Ryan and I are in the bookstore. I want to linger there for hours, browsing the shelves and reading each other passages from books while we sit on the floor, but Borders is closing. Earlier we spent an hour sitting in the cafe looking at discounted books. Ryan read to me about dinosaurs with names I could not pronounce, and I tried to explain to him the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright. He didn’t see the beauty of Falling Water, the sharp lines of steel contrasting with the softness of the natural world.

“You’re in Engineering and Design- how can you not love Frank Lloyd Wright?” I asked. He did not have an answer. He thought the wilderness was beautiful, but the building did not excite him.

I think about the Frank Lloyd Wright book while standing at the counter, making small talk with the girl behind the register, searching for exact change. She says something to another girl behind the counter, and I turn to the front door where Ryan stands.

“Does anyone call you Ry?” I ask.

“Yeah. Annie does.” There is not anything about this that is strictly funny, but the fact that she calls him that amuses me. I laugh as I walk towards him.

“Does she call you Ry-ry?” I ask teasingly. He does not respond, which is my indication that she does. I am still laughing when we walk out the front door.

“I am going to start calling you that,” I say decisively. He looks equal parts pained and amused at the enjoyment this brings me.

“Please don’t.”

“But I’m going to call you Rye, like the Catcher in the Rye, R-Y-E.”

“Or the bread,” He says flatly. I am full of energy, almost skipping.

“That too.” I pull my phone from my pocket and change his contact name to Rye, as if this solidifies the change. I am still full of laughter when we reach his truck in the parking lot and all I want is to stay here.

 

In class one day we talk about writing style, about what works and what does not. Our professor talks about how some writing can feel clique-ish, seclusive. I noticed how Aaron leans towards my professor, as if he might pat him on the back in a show of camaraderie.

“I like smart-ass writers, but not everybody does,” My professor says. Aaron smiles at that. The two of them are like minds, full of informality and witty words. I am not jealous of this interaction, but wonder what it is like to have that sort of fraternity- you can fraternize, but you can not sororize.

 

Ryan and I are in my English teacher’s room after school. He and my teacher talk, trading quips. Listening to them, to Ryan’s dry humor that others hate, to my English teacher’s quick-fire responses, I experience outstanding moments of appreciation and jealousy. I admire the ease with which they speak, their jabbing remarks. I participate, but somehow my words feel off base.

 

I call Ryan on October 11th just after three o’clock. He is across the country, and the time differences probably means he is at lunch. I am walking back from the farm, avoiding large puddles of water created by the rain. Alex holds my umbrella so that I can dial. I wonder if she can hear the endless ring.

“Hey, it’s Ryan, leave a message,” his voicemail tells me. His voice hasn’t told me anything but this in four months.

“Hi, it’s me. I didn’t expect you to answer, it’s just raining here, a lot, and it made me think of the time that we stood outside in the rain and talked on the phone. You don’t have to call me back. Okay. Bye.”

Alex makes small talk with me as we walk, asking about my sister and my parents. I answer minimally, thinking about what I am going to do with the rest of the day. I was going to ask Aaron to play pool after dinner, but I want to go by his room now. Right now I have no feasible reason to show up at his door. My friends would tell me to show up at his door anyway, even if he might not answer, to go for it. I wonder sometimes if that is the right advice.

 

Sometimes I wonder what the point is. It starts to feel like I’m living the same monotonous day on repeat. Sometimes I actually prefer the week to the weekend because at least I have to go to class and leave my room.

It’s like I spend 90% of my time doing homework, but it never feels like I really get anything done and there is always more home work I could/should/will be doing. I try to remind myself that I have to do the work here, so I can get good grades, get into USC, and from there get a job in television. But on days like today, that train of thought pretty much leads me to: “What makes me think that I’ll actually be any happier if I have that job in television? It’ll just be new things to be stressed about and some other kind of monotony.’ Never mind that I love writing and television because non of that seems to matter on days like today.

One of the big things that has me all bent out of shape is this English paper that I feel like I can’t write. What’s worse is that there’s a paper from my Camelot and Crisis class from last year that I could conceivably turn in instead, and even though I tell myself that I won’t, I really just want to fall back on that and not have to think about it any more.

I also feel silly for feeling like this, because I know in a few days after I’ve gotten through this patch I won’t even think about any of this… But right now it feels like I’ll never get out of this terrible funk.

I judge myself a lot.

Rebecca, the counselor I’ve been seeing, recommended that I do some self acceptance and self compassion stuff. I’m sure it would be good, I just haven’t taken any steps to actually do any of those things.
(After journaling and talking to my mom and joking with Natalie about how I needed to get laid I started to feel better)

 

If I’m gonna submit something for workshopping for the Creative Writing Club I’ supposed to do it by tomorrow. I don’t really have any in progress stuff, except for the screenwriting I’ve been playing with. I was going to wait on submitting that- partly because I don’t have a lot done, and partly because it’s my baby and I wanted to test the waters before I put it out there. But maybe I should just go for it, do some work on it and put it out there.

I’ve also thought some about doing the divorce short story. I wasn’t necessarily planning to continue work with it, but I’d be interested in getting some feedback on it, and it might be a good way to test the waters.

I just sent Ariel a text to tell her about the club and the next meeting. I wonder if I would feel strange workshopping that piece with her there. Really I just don’t want her to say anything to Angel about it, but then why do I even care? The answer to that is that I don’t want her to think it’s something that it’s not. Why that matters to me, I’m not really sure.

After how great the Vampire Diaries has been the last few weeks I want to play around with writing something supernatural more than ever- it just opens up so many themes and emotions that are hard to explore in a strictly real world sense. Maybe I’ll play around with a short story in that vein and workshop that. Maybe it’ll give me some ideas for other stuff.

I like the idea of possession, but rather than it being some outside force it’s like something from inside of you that has been pulled to the surface. The monsters being inside of us is the concept I’m really interested in. Maybe I’ll play with that tonight since I’m not going out.

one hundred thousands words could not quite explain.

 

Samantha stretched, her bare calves rubbing against the fabric of on the chaise lounge, contemplating the question.

“I got most of what I wanted,” she said.

“But how did the… negotiation… go? What are your feelings about it?” Negotiation was Samantha’s word. Dr. Smith preferred ‘discussion’ or ‘dialogue,’ words that were more tame and lacked a history in connection with wars and peace treaties. He had once tried ‘conciliation’— Samantha ignored the term, on the grounds of its glaring inaccuracy. In addition to negotiation she would also accept ‘settlement,’ in the appropriate context.

“I would have preferred a root canal,” said Samantha, her voice void of inflection. Dr. Smith scribbled something on his pad of paper. Samantha craned her neck but couldn’t make out what it was.

“It will make things easier though. The arrangements.” Samantha studied the ceiling as she spoke, not looking at the doctor. “Taylor gets weekends— except for prearranged special occasions. I get holidays. Including Halloween.”

“That was how you wanted it?”

“We still keep in contact with some of our old teachers— favorite professors and such. They’re more or less mine now. We didn’t lay it out that way, but Taylor has never been one for staying in contact…” She trailed off, some stray thought distracting her. Samantha’s eyes misted slightly, as if she was seeing something in the room that the doctor couldn’t.

“I get luncheons and coffee dates,” Samantha said, her eyes coming back into focus. “Dinner parties we’re supposed to alternate.”

“So that you won’t be at the same functions?” Dr. Smith asked, looking up from his pad.

“That’s the idea. As few connections as possible.” The usual tone of sarcasm was absent from Samantha’s voice. “I’ve already started putting our photos in boxes. And I’m trying to limit communication— no phone calls. I don’t want to fall back into old patterns. Nostalgia is a waste.”

“Uh-huh. And what else have you been doing while all this is going on?”

“Keeping busy. I’ve being looking for new organizations to join, to branch out. Make new friends… as Taylor suggested…”

“Are you worried that this will impede your social life?” Asked Dr. Smith, watching Samantha’s eyes as they darted from ceiling tile to ceiling tile.

“Yes,” she said. Dr. Smith waited for her to continue, but she didn’t.

“And do you think that, with everything that has happened, your social standing will change? That perhaps you’ll lose other people in your life?”

“I will.” It was a matter of fact. Sides would be taken, and hers was a sorry side to be on. Maybe sides had been taken long before, and she had failed to realize. After all, she had missed all the other signs.

“A lot of people in your situation might feel a sense of regret. Do you?”

“I don’t want to be involved with someone who doesn’t want to…” Samantha paused, choosing her words carefully. “Be associated with me.”

Samantha rolled onto her side, looking at the doctor while she spoke. “I suppose I should have planned for this in advance. You know, anticipated that this sort of thing could happen. Maybe then I would have seen it coming.”

Dr. Smith added another note to his pad, and Samantha returned to lying on her back.

“But who really expects to lose their best friend?”

I went to a Creative Writing Club meeting. I really enjoyed it. I pretty much just listened while they workshopped, but it was really interested. In particular, two poems that were workshopped were really great. There’s something wrong with that sentence but I’m not going to fix it.

When they were talking about the poems I kept thinking of Alex. “What is the poem’s project?”

I’m gonna submit something for the next meeting. I’ll probably write something new, but I may use something old if I decide there’s something I really want to get some eyes on.

I think it will be really good for me to have something else to do, and something to keep me writing. Eventually I’ll submit some screen writing, but not for the first week.

I have a really positive feeling about this.

Also, tonight’s episode of Vampire Diaries was really great. I enjoy watching with Belen and Alexis a lot. It’s fun because Alexis loves it as much as I do, and Belen knows almost nothing about the show so we get to explain stuff to her and try to make her understand our undying love for Damon. I like the routine of it. I definitely missed Thursday night laundry, cause that was a highlight of my week first semester last year.

I think that’s all I have to say for now- I’ll put posting this week on my to-do list.

From a larger poem.

We worship at the alters

Of Einstein

And Gallileo

And Darwin

But only so long

As they can be used to disprove

Do not worship false idols.