I’m waiting to hear back from a local writing club to see if they’ll have me as a member. I like to write but understand it is a skill to be developed. That’s part of what this blog was born out of. I can crank out 500ish words or so for these posts or the newspaper articles I write for my college, but to move on to the next level I’m going to need help. I have Stephen King’s “On Writing”. I have a copy of “Bird By Bird” which I think will speak to my anxiety directly. I say ‘think’ because I haven’t cracked the cover. On either book. I have a mental block. I know, it’s crazy. You know what I am reading? A book about everyday economic theories!! YEAH. WHEW, LAUREN, SLOW DOWN, GIRL.
One of the goals I wrote down for that writer group was to read these books. My aversion probably relates back to my lack of confidence and weird newbie shame about my writing, so it’s more about confronting that than the knowledge within. Honestly, accomplishing any sort of writing project is confronting it. To quote Amy Poehler, “You do it because the doing of it is the thing. The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing.” So I am doing the thing. Every blog post is a win. I’m chipping away at those negative feelings.
My acceptance in this club will be based on some writing samples I submitted. One was an essay I wrote for college. There was a Splitsider piece I wrote. And then some samples from the newspaper and this blog. Everything I selected was good writing; but more importantly, they were pieces I was proud of. If I can manage to bypass the anxious and the talking and the worrying and the thinking, I think I’ll be able to create more pieces to be proud of. I just need to keep it up and to be brave.
I’ll finish this up by sharing a short piece I’m proud of. I went to a writers conference a few years ago. One workshop included an exercise. We needed to create a short piece of fiction in TEN MINUTES with some key events: You’re in first class on a train. You notice something on the floor. You look out the window. Someone sits down next to you.
The other writers shared their work. It tended to be a bit softer, sort of ‘masterpiece theater’ submissions. Mine was… different. Sort of silly and snarky. I really liked writing it. Maybe I should do more writing prompt exercises. So enjoy, and if you’re feeling frisky, add your submission in the comments below.
Got on the train. Took my seat in first class.
I look to the floor and see a used Kleenex. Gross. It’s nice to know even in first class people still struggle to make mass transit a clean experience.
In walks a slender Gwyneth Paltrow type, clutching her cell phone, designer bag, and the hand of a three year old holding an iPad.
She looks right past me. I’m not surprised. She’s in her own world. People exist within it to do things for her. And why shouldn’t they? She clearly rushed here straight from yoga.
I turn to the window. The trees roll past. I try to peer through them. Farms out there, best I can tell. Splotches of amber, brown, and lush green. A fence runs along the tracks. It’s a totally different world from the train. Organic, open. The train car seems so unnatural, with the clicking and hums generated by our forward motion.
‘Gwyneth’ has sat down next to me now with her child, engrossed in his shiny gadget. She turns to me.
“Hi. Could you give Jonathan the window seat? Trains make him nauseous.”