This is an entry in a series of creating writing posts that I'll be doing. For the previous post, read Object Writing.
I'm doing a creative writing exercise where I write for ten minutes everyday about a random object. The objective is to use that object as a starting point for expressing yourself through your senses instead of plainly stating how things happen. You can read my previous post for more context. For me, the goal is to become a better lyricist.
Week 1 Reflections
The last section of this post is every single ten minute session that I've done for the past week, which started in February 16th, 2018. These were all done with a timer, and they have not been edited for grammar or anything at all. Here are some overall thoughts I have about my own writing.
I write some dark stuff
A lot of my posts end up being pretty dark. I don't know why it happens, but that's just what pops into my mind. Overall, I consider myself to be a pretty positive and happy person, but I guess it is true that I've always been drawn to shadowy, mysterious, and darker stories. Light Side or Dark Side? Dark Side - easy. Which Hogwarts house? Slytherin. Easy. NEXT QUESTION.
I get stuck in a single narrative
A lot of my posts seem to stick to one storyline. Not always, but I noticed that it's hard for me to fully let my mind wander from sense to sense (as the exercise creator suggests you do on occasion). Not that there is a right or wrong way, but I'd like to allow my thoughts to roam more freely. I suspect that this will be extremely useful when writing lyrics - particularly rap. The artist that pops into my mind when I say that is Childish Gambino. While not necessarily sense-bound, the lyrics jump around from topic to topic rapidly. I can imagine them just flowing out as you allow yourself to let go of the narrative and just see where your brain takes you.
Lyrics from 3005 - Childish Gambino
Hold up, wait a minute, all good just a week ago Crew at my house and we party every weekend so On the radio, that's my favorite song Made me bounce around, like I don't know, like I won't be here long Now the thrill is gone Got no patience, cause I'm not a doctor Girl why is you lying, girl why you Mufasa Yeah, mi casa su casa, got a stripper like Gaza Got so high off volcanoes, now the flow is so lava Yeah, we spit that saliva, iPhone got message from Viber Either the head is so hydra, or we let bygones be bygones
It's hard to write only through your senses
I'm still writing a lot of statements that don't have sensory descriptions. They add to the story, but aren't "encouraged" for the exercise. All good though, I think things will come more naturally during the later weeks.
My writing seems to reflect my state of mind
One pattern that emerged is that my storylines seem to be about someone who is lost. Trying to survive. Searching for safety, security, or reaching for some checkpoint. Maybe that's a reflection of my own mental state as I embark on this crazy life pivot. Pretty interesting stuff. Kind of creepy too, how that surfaces subliminally through my writing.
Week One Writings
Feb 16, 2018 - Puddle
Feet wet. The damp, slimy feeling of socks made me feel dirty and slightly violated. Cigarette butts and ashes floating on the surface of the murky black and brown puddle as the pittering and pattering of rain started getting louder. The cold drops of water that landed on my face made me notice how warm her hand felt in mine - fingers clasped. The dense smell of Autumn became more pronounced as the leaves grew saturated with water and became a few shades darker.
The surroundings became a blur as we began to run home. The edges of my hood made it hard to see. It felt like I was wearing a helmet. Neck slightly strained because the hood was too small and didn’t have enough slack at the top. Jeans looking like a dalmatian from a different dimension with spots of dark blue scattered everywhere. The tips of my shoes splashed water as I took each step. I noticed a trail of water being flicked from the tip with each step I took like a toy water gun.
As I ran, looking straight ahead to avoid any other pedestrians, I was suddenly struck by the tall buildings surrounding me. Feeling miniscule, as if zooming out on myself from a third party lens would eventually leave me as a speck on a large painting. Just a small detail.
Horns honking, cars driving by and making splashes as the tires hydroplaned over puddles.
Feb 17, 2018 - Pepper
Green and crunchy. The peppery taste so strong that it feels I can smell it. A bit salty and sour after being covered with ranch. Sitting on a hot plate of pasta, smoke dancing upwards as the heat of the food seemed to give off energy. The restaurant is half empty, half full. Voices can be heard everywhere, but it’s not loud to a point where it’s distracting. Plates and glasses clinking as the waitress nearby sets down an order for the other table. Ears stinging from the cold outside. I put my hands on them to warm them up, but can barely feel my hands because my ears are numb.
My stomach rumbles. I feel it tumble and churn. I can imagine the acid viciously bubbling in my belly like a solar flare. Lashing out expectantly for something to burn. Or digest. I pick up a pepper. The hunger settles in and I can feel my head ache. My focus sways back and forth like a pendulum, rocking back and forth between the words you’re saying and how hungry I am. Pasta stringy. The tension on my fork as I twirl the spaghetti reminds me of a a cotton candy machine. The glob of food expanding as it gets layered.
Feb 18, 2018 - Altar
Back aching in the solid wooden bench chairs in the church. The voices of the worship team reverberating in the entire room. An elegant, female soprano voice cuts through my foggy mind like a hot knife through butter. Melting slowly, a puddle forming as drops are oozing down the side. The warmth seeps into the bread as the white dough is stained a light, buttery yellow. The round bread balls, hard to the touch on the outside, arranged neatly in a basket like a bucket of tennis balls. My racket strings crackle as I move them with my fingers. The tension in the strings feels firm in my hand, and the checkered pattern in the racket is back to even spacing. Tennis balls making contact with rackets pop intermittently in the background. Sneakers squeaking as athletes skid to a halt or change directions, clamboring to return or retrieve rallies that their partners are hitting.
Sweat rolls down the sides of my face. Drips from my hair. My bangs tickle my forehead as my hair flops back and forth while I run. Heart racing, breathing heavily as I gasp for air after a sprint. The scorching heat bounces off of the concrete. The smell of hot rubber starts to invade my nose. Heat waves causing the surroundings to look ethereal as the tennis net wriggles back and forth.
Feb 19, 2018 - Hammock
Feet dangling lazily off the edge of her hammock, toes wriggling to get rid of the crusty sand particles still clinging onto her feet. The sun fires it’s ray gun relentlessly down on her. Body warm and tingling from the heat, yet feeling cold and slippery at the same time as remaining water droplets rest peacefully on her stomach. Children laughing, waves crashing, and seagulls cawing overhead. The salty ocean smell lingers in the air, and her nostrils burn a little when inhaling the hot air.
Floating aimlessly in the air, a hot air balloon in the sky looks like a lost lollipop nestled in the white clouds. Fingers now in the air, droplets of water sliding down the sides of her arms. Joints crack as she stretches. Soreness ensues, but the satisfying kind, as if a masseus’s hands are working magic untying the cramps and knots peppering her body.
Sand in the mouth - salty, but mostly bland and a little crunchy. The prickling feeling on her tongue makes her spit reflexively. Sipping cool coca cola, maybe this will wash away the feeling. The carbonated bubbles fizz happily in her mouth, as if happy to finally be liberated from their captor.
Feb 20, 2018 - Diary
Can’t focus - my eyes are open but I can’t see. My mind closes in, thoughts swirl in my head like a violent whirpool. I break out in a cold sweat as I imagine the world finding out my secrets. Leather bound journal, rough to the touch with light scratches on the surface. It smells like a new wallet. Rows and rows of billfolds stacked neatly on the shelf like bleachers at a football stadium. Crowds roaring, kids screaming, parents cheering for the last play of the game. The bright lights of the stadium shine down on the stadium, illuminating the modern-day gladiator fight in front of me as helmets clank into each other and whistles blow. The turf is soggy and brown from the mud. Rain falls from the sky, looking almost like snowflakes from the reflections of light. Sneakers squish and squash as they tread on the turf. Murky water floods up from the dirt underneath.
The noises from the stadium flood my ears as a player in blue dives for a touchdown. Score. Keys clanking in the air in celebration. I stand on the bench and try to see the action, but the fans in front of me are taller. I feel short, and I also feel like my vision is impaired from my inability to see above the throng of people in front of me. Stadium filled with yellow shirts.
Feb 21, 2018 - Trumpet
The alarm buzzes obnoxiously and startles me as I wake abruptly. Eyelids heavy, breathing still deep as if I am in the middle of a REM cycle. Trumpet sounds blaring the Symphony of 1812, the brassy overtones make me wince in disgust. I can imagine the spit from the trumpet players mouth trailing into the metal, rusty instrument. Creeping through the curled tubes like a fat boy stuck on a water slide. Splash - thrown into the water at the end of the slide, submerged in the water. Nose sore from the water pressure deep within the nostrils. Bubbles of air rising in all directions around me like a cloud as I hear the familiar sounds of being submerged under water. I feel the tension of the water against my hand as I wade back and forth. I can feel the movement of others in the pool as the water dances around me, wrapping my entire body. The water becomes dense as I emerge to the surface, transforming into a viscous pink ooze that slimes down my arms and face like the trumpeters saliva. My neck is stiff, and I suddenly feel a stabbing sensation as my vision goes white. I reach back reflexively with my hands and find a segmented metal tube latched to the back of my neck.
Feb 22, 2018 - Cotton Candy
The carnival man’s teethy smile causes a chill to run down my spine as he hands me a large fluffy swab of cotton candy. His long fingernails looking rough, scratched, and the skin underneath looking an unhealthy off-white color from his firm grip on the candy stick. I take the candy from him quickly and immediately feel a sense of safety return as the uncomfortable exchange is finished. The sounds of the fair flood back into my consciousness - bells chiming, children screaming, and rusty old amusement park rides creak and churn as the theme park seems to take on a life of its own.
My toes are icy cold - the circulation has been cut off from when I laced my sneakers too tightly. I kneel down to relace my shoes, and I feel annoyed by the damp and soggy condition that my shoe strings are in. My fingers, now slightly tinted brown from dirt, make me feel unclean. I suddenly smell the muddy, wet, and swamp-like camp grounds and picture the land as if the fair was not here. Mosquitos buzzing around, invisible yet all encompassing. I swat at them in vain, arms slightly sore from all of the wasted effort. An intense thirst for water strikes me as I lick my lips and realize how dry my mouth feels. Tongue rough to the touch, taste of dry mouth makes it hard to swallow my own saliva. I start walking aimlessly like a wanderer lost in the desert, panic slowly setting in as a fear grows within me that I will die from dehydration. Vision blurs. I try to keep my eyes open but my eyelids grow heavy. I’m falling in and out of awareness like a student fighting to stay awake in class.
Feb 23, 2018 - Life Jacket
Feet feeling awkward. He kicks to the side, feeling his muscles contract and expand as tiny bubbles float to the surface. Thump, thump - the sounds of a leather football being passed creates a relaxed rhythm. The water tastes salty and a bit grimy. Head barely floating above the water, calves feel tight and slightly cramped. Looking around and realizing there is no land to be seen, suddenly he feels extremely vulnerable and miniscule. The loud, sustained honking of a ship rings overhead. Liquid gets stuck in the esophagus, uncontrollable coughing of water and mucus. The neon orange life jacket floating nearby sticks out like a sore thumb, a stark contrast in color compared to the clear, light blue sea. A wave of relief washes over him as the life jacket becomes a mental checkpoint for survival. Now swimming freestyle, his hands cutting into the water, fingers in the shape of a paddle. Push, breathe, gasp, push. The more tension he feels against his flailing arms gives him reassurance that progress is being made. What was once an orange speck in the distance is now within arms reach. With one final kick of his legs in a scissor formation, he feels his body surge through the water, feels a slight pain in his shoulders as he stretches out as far as he can to grasp the life jacket. Soft, malleable plastic over a layer of foam. His fingers clamp down on the familiar firm-yet-squishy material.