The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Digging Up Bones, pt. 4

with 3 comments

We’re plugging along in The Fictive Dream workshop.  Tomorrow will be our fourth week, and that will mark the halfway point.  I’ve been enjoying things enough to keep working at a brisk clip, and that enjoyment is important in that there is no grade or tuition payments motivating me to get the most bang for my buck.  The only downside is that I’m remembering how demanding grad school is, and this isn’t even grad school.  While I’m sure what we are doing would pass muster in some creative writing programs, it’s still only about 50% of what we did in the official Northwestern workshops.  That workload is plenty, and that’s fine–remember that this is free and we’re all volunteers.  If too much is demanded of us, some would just walk away.

I’ve been slowly plugging away at “Anthropology.”  I got a few hours of work in on it last Friday, mostly focusing on the dialogue I had to create.  I’ve got a lot more laid out in my journal, so it’s only a matter of giving the piece more time.  The most I can hope for, I think, is to make it ready for whatever workshop may come next, whenever that may be.  But it never hurts to have pieces laying around that you may or may not take further.  Like I said last time, practicing is the most important thing.  Plus, my pants are on fire with a few other pieces I’ve started since the workshop began, and I’ve been putting a good deal of effort into at least one of those.  I have fiction ideas popping out of my head left and right.  I’ve never before experienced that with fiction, which I think is a great sign that I’m feeling my own ability within the genre.

One thing our workshop leader is having us do is to keep track of “glimmers,” or seed ideas for potential stories.  This involves making record of odd bits of overheard conversation, thoughts or actions we witness throughout a day that stick with us, or striking images.  The area is wide open, actually, so whatever you write down is whatever you write down (profound, huh?  it is what it is…).  This is actually a good idea for all types of writing, which reminds me to throw open my mind and keep my seed ideas on deck for whatever.  My poetry would probably benefit from this every bit as much as my fiction writing has the last two weeks.

But nothing new ever comes easy to me as a writer.  I’m one of those “Act of Congress” writers; I don’t want to change my habits until things are completely hashed out in my head, so I wasn’t surprised at all I put myself through to adjust my writing habits to include the glimmers.  It was mostly a matter of being able to do it quickly and easily (and thus disrupting my normal processes as little as possible).  I always have a journal on me to write down and develop ideas (I usually have several, actually), but my mind doesn’t account for any way to whip out my journal and write down a short (2-3 sentence) glimmer before class, in line at the grocery store, or when I’m sitting in traffic.  I wouldn’t do that in my regular journal because I would consider it a waste of paper, but I desperately wanted to try this suggestion.  I ended up going to Office Max two weekends ago to find the tiniest journal I could; something that would fit into a jacket pocket or pants pocket.  I have small journals, but they aren’t that small.  I wanted something I could take whereever and, whenever needed, quickly whip it out.

After twenty minutes of hem-hawing around in the notebook aisle, I walked to the register and plunked down my 87¢.

No wisecracks about "size is everything," okay?

I wanted to spend the least amount of money possible (check), it had to be something small (check), but also something that I could stuff a small pencil into and that wouldn’t fly open (no checks).  I knew I would never find those exact things in any commercially available journal at Office Max, but that is why necessity is indeed the mother of invention.  I went home, snipped a rubber band, and stapled the ends of it to the back cover of the dinky journal.  Now I have dinky, dirt-cheap journal that I can stuff a small pencil into it and it won’t fly open.  I love it when a plan comes together.

By the way…  who the hell has a bunch of tiny pencils lying around that can be stuffed into jerry-rigged journals?  I do.  And you would too if you were a meticulous baseball scorecard keeper, and as such you have several seasons worth of scorecard pencils scattered around your desk that you refuse to throw out because who knows when you might need them some day?

It’s a funny thing, writing–no?

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Written by seeker70

February 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Thank you, thank you- for throwing in Hannibal’s catch phrase.

    andrewburd1@gmail.com

    March 1, 2012 at 11:31 am

  2. […] itself in interesting ways.  First, I’m using a new type of journal.  I’ve made no bones about my quirky journal habits in the past, nor has a writer friend of mine, so when I jump out of my groove it has to be for a […]

  3. […] ready to leave, and crap out the first draft of a flash fiction that came to me by way of the seed journal—and then on Thursday I returned to tutoring for the first time this summer and had a good session […]


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