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Entries in freewriting (2)


Reflections on Week Six

[Read the completed story here!]

It's kind of illuminating that the only way I'm able to break these silly prompts into actual stories is to stretch the meaning far enough that it becomes an almost new idea. There's a reason (apart from a near-chronic case of procrastination) that I didn't turn any of these ideas into stories when I first jotted them down nearly 12 years ago.

(...12 years...?! Eff.)

Anyway, if they didn't quite work for me then, the inertia of not having touched these ideas in over a decade makes all of them seem that much more stale. So really how else could this work? I understand now that part of the process of each week's challenge is that I have to make the idea fresh and exciting again—otherwise, this is just homework. (And I have always excelled at not doing homework.)

So that's a useful revelation.

For this particular challenge, I thought I would attempt science fiction or fantasy, but that felt like too much of an investment right now. I do eventually want to write a series of sci-fi/fantasy-ish books, but I don't think I'm quite ready for that yet.

(Possibly I'm just building it up so much that I'll never start. I've also been known to do this...)

Anyway, this challenge involved some brainstorming, a bit of freewriting, some procrastination, and finally an hour of freewriting one day (mopey rambling about why video games are a lot more fun than writing—I will spare you the agony of this) followed by outlining, writing, and revision over several hours the next day.

Overly observant readers will notice that I named the siblings after the siblings in Week Two's challenge. I just liked the names, okay? And I've always thought that Blake would be an awesome girl's name. Blake knows what's up. She's extremely likeable, sure, but you do not mess with Blake.

For the longest time I struggled with the bones of the story—single child or sibling? is the boy or girl older? does the older sibling trick the younger into going down into the basement? or accidentally lock him/her down there? Knowing that it was going to be a children's picture book with 16 pages of text forced me to narrow the scope of the story to its bare essentials, which is good for me, since I tend to get verbose.

The final result is cute, I think, and has a moment of two that makes me smile, but I don't think it's an instant classic. Let me know what you think in the comments. Don't be shy—constructive criticism is always welcome!


Freewriting: An endorsement

I've always been a hungry consumer of advice about how to write but a reluctant practicioner of the same. Reading other writers' accounts of how they write was like writing except much, much easier. Those books are like candy to me: sweet, easy, and kind of addictive. (Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and Stephen King's On Writing remain my favorites, but I recently read a Kindle Single by Ann Patchett called The Getaway Car that was very good as wellI must have highlighed 60% of it.)

Anyway, most writers recommend freewriting as a way to get into your story, but until Week Five's challenge I had never done it. The thought of writing without a plan as to what I'm writing is terrifying for some reason, even though everyone and their third cousin agrees that it's so very productive.

Well, I thought Week Five turned out really well, so I finally strong-armed myself into trying this again for Week Six:

A journey into the psyche...

Could be a few things. Literal journey: kids' book or YA novel?

Or an exploratory essay/story about some aspect of the mind as it impacts one's life over the years: fear of the basement.

Could combine the two: child is terrified of basement, confronts colorful fears, finally embraces imagination. 

Translation: For Week Six I had been considering two different approaches—an actual journey where the threats/rewards of the tangled psyche are literal (at least to the character), or a more real life exploration of how a certain fear/predjudice carries forward through the years.

And then I realized, not ten minutes into this exercise, that these ideas could be one: a children's book where the character must, metaphorically and literally, confront his or her fear of the basement. 

(Though it is interesting that my "freewriting" is still, basically, planning. It takes time to unclench, okay?)

So this is the plan. I hope to have it finished by Sunday if not sooner!