Monday, February 16, 2015

The Bones Sessions: Part 1

This post is pretty much representative of what my initial plan was for my blog. And that's to use it more or less as a sketchpad for my ideas as they merged into my consciousness. I believe it was in the book, Writing Down the Bones, where the author, Natalie Goldberg, encourages writers to just write...anything. It could be pages of pages of junk. But in the midst of all that junk, you may find one word, one sentence...one idea that ignites what will become a great story. In hoping that I'm giving credit to the correct author, I'll name these snippets - however long they may be - The Bone Sessions.

Today's objective: To write for several minutes with no prior planning.

My tires begrudgingly left the smooth surface of the paved road and turned right into what seemed like a two-mile path heading to no where. The path  was a blotchy array of craters, stones and patchy grass. I was certain not many people had taken this path before. This made sense considering what I was told before coming here. And coming here was an odd story all on it's own.

I pulled the visor down as the sun blasted my dirty windshield. Now I was regretting not shelling out the five bucks for windshield fluid. My car hit a crater spilling my coffee that I realized I hadn't touched. That was thirty minutes ago. Questioning myself as to why I spent money on a untouched cup of coffee and not windshield cleaner, I continued down the path. 

A silhouette in the distance caught my attention. I wondered if it was him. I was told he had some helping-hands from time to time - random strangers just looking for a day's wage or even troubled and spoiled youth sent to do some "real" work in hopes to straighten them out. Given the time of day, workers - or troubled youth- , if any, would most likely have gone inside for their hot evening meal.

I was hoping it wouldn't be him. I felt I need a little more background knowledge before meeting him. Some dos and don'ts. The stories were mixed. Some believed he was a crazy hermit living on a non-working farm and others were intrigued by the mystery surrounding him. Whether small-town folklore or not.

I wouldn't have minded even if it were some punk teenager thinking he had all the answers for the world. After all, we would have something in common. I was on probation myself.

In a nutshell, my boss gave me an ultimatum. My work - my writing - was suffering. His words, not mine. He told me I had lost the essence of what made me a good writer in the first place. Not the essence of good writing, just whatever it was that I...used...to have. With his big cigar clinging in the corner, he compared it to an aging athlete that no had lost a spring in his step. In contrast, he said a spring once lost is always lost. Whatever it was I had lost, he thought, could be recaptured.

Basically my work of late had become smut. His words, not mine. "Anybody can write this, Hawke. There's no edge, no mystery." Then what he said next was I think the most hurtful. "There's no effort."

Driving here I had a lot of time to think. This was not my plan. My plan was to show up much like the troubled youth probably do and spout of why I think everybody has a problem except me. I'm convinced my boss sabotaged my sound system before I left.  So unless I wanted to listen to an AM station in a language I did not understand, I was forced to think and drive. Not always a good idea.

My verdict? He was right.

My assignment? Well, if I wanted to keep my job I had to go back to the basics - writing smaller scale stories that depicted the essence of good writing in hopes to extract the essence of what made me a good writer. Basically, I had to become a starving artist all over again.

This would be my way of living for the next three months. I was to have no outside communication. I was not to leave the premises. And I had to write a thousand-word journal entry every night. 

Think of it as the minor leagues. That's what he said before I stormed out of his office. I wanted to shout something back about baseball and how the only thing worse than America's pastime is making idiotic metaphors about it over and over again.

But I loved baseball. 

I used to anyway.




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