Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning. Probably that’s why we decide we’re done. It’s getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real. It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong
~ Natalie Goldberg
I keep this quote tacked to my cork board next to my writing desk. I read it almost daily, but reading something that often tends to lose its freshness and impact.
So, I thought, I’d post the quote and let my readers mull over its meaning.
Today, this quote is the reminder that my novel, though on its umpteenth revision, is not yet complete. Until Lily’s story and experiences with her alcoholic mother make me cry, I still have work to do.
How close to “beginning” are you?
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(photo courtesy of uniquebridalsupplies.com)
Do you have a writing well? A place to store ideas, images, sensory descriptions, memories, rants, one-liners.
I used to have a small, hardcover spiral notebook that I would write in each day: 5 beginning sentences. Some were obvious crap, though some were dull little gems in need of a spit-shine.
Then, I began a list of story titles. In conversation, someone,(usually me (*wink*) would say something witty, outrageous or eloquent and they would make such good novel titles.
Lately, with a prompt from Writing Personal Essays: How to Shape Your Life Experiences for the Page, by Sheila Bender, I have been keeping another list: of things, objects, people, places and memories. There are goofy things, like the time my brother dropped an entire 6-pack of Coke bottles on the dining room rug and the caramel sticky pop leaked through to the basement ceiling. And there are images that sting a bit more: like touching my cousin’s casket before it was lowered into the ground.
At any rate, you know I’m a “list girl”, but in these cases, this is my writer’s well. A well of ideas so my writing can never run dry.
How do you catch and hold all those fluttering ideas, snippets of memory and fleeting moments of wonder?
“…Probably that’s why we decide we’re done. It’s getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real. It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong
comes out.” ~ Natalie Goldberg
I think the first writing book I ever bought was Natalie Goldberg‘s Writing Down the Bones. A friend and co-worker named Kat let me borrow her copy. She was this hip graphic designer working in the same small ad agency as me and she believed in my writing, we were artistic kindred spirits.
We’ve since moved on, but the book remains a close companion. Don’t most books?
I especially love this quote (actually have it pinned to my cork board above my desk.) When I think I am finished with a piece, when I can’t bear to reread the same paragraph once more, I look to Natalie’s words and try to dig a little deeper. What am I not saying? What am I hiding? What am I afraid of? Find that fire in the belly and let her roar!
In non-fiction articles, I don’t have this problem. But I’m broaching the arena of creative essays and let me tell ya, I’ve got some issues. Plenty of issues to deal with and write about.
Tell me I’m not alone in this! (Please?)
Your Friday fix:
- (From Sun Signs for Writers, Bev Walton-Porter) “Contact local ghost hunters in your area and ask if they will let you tag along on one of their investigations…”
- (From What If?, Anne Bernays & Pamela Painter) “Write a page in the first person, assuming the voice of someone of the opposite gender… The main point is to completely lose yourself and become another.”
- (From Writer Mama, Christina Katz) “What topic do you never tire of? Ask yourself what fascinates you and see if you can make a connection through writing.”
- (From Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg) “Describe a grandparent.”
- (From A Writer’s Book of Days, Judy Reeves) “_______ is the color I remember.”
I’m thinking, weekends are usually when I’m burnt out from my day job all week long. Creativity is at a low and my writing well is dry.
So, how about some writing prompts to kick us in gear for the weekend?
5 prompts to pump up your word count:
When writing with a specific character in mind:
“1. What would your character do if…someone inappropriately came on to her/him?”
From: What Would Your Character Do? ~ Eric Maisel, PhD and Ann Maisel
2. “Write about the streets of your city.”
From: Writing Down the Bones ~ Natalie Goldberg
3. “Write a page in the first person, assuming the voice of someone the opposite gender. The main point is to completely lose yourself and become another.”
From What If? ~Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter
4. “Make a list of all your current of past hobbies.” (Good for an essay or nonfiction how-to article!)
From: Writer Mama ~ Christina Katz
5. “You picked up a hitchhiker.”
From: A Writer’s Book of Days ~ Judy Reeves
Ready, Set Write!