Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Writing on Wednesday: Sketching the Words
My current carry-around writing book, complete with ever-growing doodle.
Two of my brothers are artists of one caliber or another. For one brother, it has become a vocation in graphic design and painting; for the other, it is a passionate on-again, off-again hobby.
Like most artsy types, both of them went through childhood and adolescence and into adulthood with a sketchbook always in evidence: a tattered bound book, ready at a moment's notice for doodles, cartoons, sketches, skeletal ideas to be filled out later. Most of what went into those books was strictly for practice, and stayed within those pages; not valueless by any means, but having served its purpose already. A few ideas stood out, and were brought out and restated in more complete works.
For whatever reason, until the last few months, I've tended to approach writing with a far more formal air. For the most part, I've worked on one project at a time, and taken each project very seriously, no matter the content. Abandoned stories, long and short - and I have a number of them - made me feel miserably guilty.
But something clicked for me recently. Part of it is that I've gone back to using nice cheap composition books, I think. Part of it is just a dawning realization that it's OK to play with writing. It's OK to just practice. It's OK to try out and reject. Yeah, it only took me about twenty-five years to figure this out.
So I've been "sketching". I'll sit there with my notebook as I drink coffee before work, or at lunch, or on the couch in the evenings, and write whatever pops into my head. I might scribble down a scene, or the start of an essay, or a conversation between two people I don't know yet. I'll pick at a picture the way I might do for a poem - which, oddly, I've always been less strict about. I'll take an object or a face or a situation and write around it, without worrying if it's going to go anywhere. Now...I've had my brain-dump notebook for awhile now, but this is a different concept. That notebook is more quick notes, fragments, comments on works-in-progress: nothing very long. In this notebook, I write as much as I want of whatever I want - and if it doesn't pan out, I move on.
The notebook is starting to get full; filled with overlapping pieces of stories, fragments of poetry, disjointed thoughts. Is this better than my "old" organized, serial style of writing? I'm not sure. All I know is that I have three short stories and some potential blog posts that will almost certainly get finished, and a whole assemblage of other bits and pieces I can probably use elsewhere. It gets me writing. And for once, I don't feel guilty about the mess.