Monday, March 7, 2011

Tips for a Writing Exercise

This weekend, I rode the train to Chicago. I had planned on slugging out words for my manuscript on my laptop, but this never happened. As things have a tendency to do, something prevented me from writing. I was distracted.

I didn't even get to unzipping my backpack. Where I live, spring is starting to scent the air. I sat down on bench to wait for the train and took off my coat. I could feel each wire of the cold, metal bench on my back, but I felt enlivened. Puddles spotted the concrete from a morning shower. For a while, all I did was breath, inhaling as much as my lungs could hold, trying to figure out the best speed to breath so I could smell as much as possible. I wanted to drown in the scent of damp earth. I took out my small notebook instead and started jotting down whatever came to mind. Every sentence felt like poetry; I couldn't stop. When the train came, I just kept scribbling down paragraphs of description for whatever caught my eye or ear or nose. Everywhere I looked stories tailed behind.

Today, I read what I had written on that train ride. Some of it's good. Some of it's fragmented. Some of it I can't tell what I was even trying to say or where I was going, but I still like it. Though it might not be as clear as a digital photograph, it still has magic in it that no point-and-shoot camera could ever express. It's my thoughts, liquid but attached to this world, forming it and being formed.

So I thought, hey, why not share this with you folks? Next time you have the chance to travel without being the one in the driver's seat, pull out your notebook or computer paper or whatever you prefer to write on and just dabble around it with words. Revel in these sketches, the direct connection of sense and thought, body and mind, exchanging letters to each other.

As an ending thought, I'll post up a few of my paragraphs.

Back when spring was rain and not snow. In Ohio. The smell of rain drying in the sun is of misty Sunday's when even the inside of the church feels damp. Your clothes cling to you in a feeble last embrace before you strip them off and exchange them for summer.

In the city, puddles ripple in cadence with the vibrations of the earth - trucks and trains and things unseen and far away. The puddle have better eyes than we. They sway in rhythm to the silent approacher, the true conductor of this weary land.

"Chicago." His one word, the phrase that governs his life. Everything relates to Chicago. You're either "To" or "From." Chicago is a paycheck, a train, a journey, but certainly not a place. The people who come never stay. Chicago is dreams, movement, progression, but never reality.

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