Blogging can be a scary activity when we’re publishing something lighthearted; there are always elements of fear and uncertainty when we release our words into the wild. To write so openly and eloquently about such a deeply personal experience takes another level of bravery, one that we’re moved to acknowledge.
I like the theme of this week’s creative writing challenge, Starting Over, which encourages us to muse freely about beginning again and wiping the slate clean. I appreciate the freedom to be creative and explore different forms. Since I rarely dabble in poetry and freeform writing, I’ll experiment here.
Starting Over: In Fragments
A new pair of shoes.
The first chapter of a book.
A new hardbound journal, waiting to be opened.
A neighborhood walk early in the morning with your loved one.
A haircut exposing the back of your neck for the first time in years.
The first rays of the sun peeking over the horizon.
A jump off of a cliff.
A field of cherry blossom trees, on the cusp of exploding in shades of pink.
The first buds poking out of the dirt in your garden.
The glint on a ring as you hear the words “I do.”
Your newborn son, held for the first time.
A letter of apology sent to a friend.
A visit to a place from your childhood that forces you to remember something you’d forgotten.
A soft pillow beneath your head as you lie down to sleep.
A coffin lowered into the clasping earth.
The pain of finishing a draft and realizing it’s only the first.
A resignation letter handed in to your boss and a backpack in the trunk of your car.
A tank full of gasoline.
A shiny new WordPress blog.
An iOS app to post whenever you want, wherever you want.
Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?
These questions from today’s daily prompt have stirred me.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Gertrude Stein:
When you get there, there isn’t any there there.
When I was 19, I moved to the French Riviera. A screenwriting major, I chose to study in Cannes. I wanted to intern at the international film festival and rub elbows with important people in the industry. I wanted to become fluent in French.
Soon, I’d be bilingual. And meet a director. Or a producer. It was my chance.
And so, I went to France. I had French classes in morning, I served coffee to celebrities, I carried sound equipment across the beach for TV crews, and watched movie premieres.
But ultimately, nothing materialized from the experience, or nothing tangible I could show for. When the semester ended, I went home. A year later, I graduated with a film degree, but eventually shoved my scripts in a drawer. End scene.
You’re the storyteller, so talk to us. Ask questions. Or crack a joke, if appropriate. Be authoritative, but don’t distance yourself: interact with your reader. Engaging nonfiction writers employ narrative techniques — just as fiction writers do — and experiment with elements such as point of view, persona, and tone.
Each detail is like the stroke of a brush on blank canvas, filling in detail and completing the picture in the reader’s mind.
The latest writing challenge at The Daily Post, “The Devil is in the Details,” prompts us to dive into the details: to practice our powers of observation to bring a person, place, event, scene, or anything else to life. To create a rich picture in a reader’s mind in three paragraphs. I’ve chosen to zoom in on one part of my home: my bookcase.
I’ve always been fascinated by the bookcases in other peoples’ homes. I sit down on someone’s sofa and see what they have on their shelves, learning about what they read, what they think about, and what they collect. And now, I gaze up at my own bookcase in my living room — three black shelves bolted to the wall. When I moved into my home last year, I filled the middle shelf first, with hardcover books I’ve read and loved — or have yet to read and simply want to show off. Teju Cole’s Open City. Oliver Sacks’ Musicophilia. Jared Diamond’s Collapse. And a few recent favorites: Born to Run, about the elusive long-distance running tribe, the Tarahumara; and The Lost City of Z, a riveting nonfiction narrative from one of my favorite writers, David Grann.
The best piece of advice I received from a screenwriting professor? “Enter a scene late and exit the scene early.”