Sooooo I did not write anything creative this week, but I did write, a whole lot in fact. Some times I feel like my day job interferes with my ability to think and write creatively because all of I’m doing is writing courteous emails and boring data reports, neither of which really allows room for any fun.
Let’s sidetrack for a minute. When I first started writing and thinking about actually letting other people see my writing, I asked my mom if I should have a pen name. She told me no because she wanted a famous daughter whom she can brag about, and if I had a fake name who would believe her? No, actually she did not say that, but no promises that she didn’t think it. She did encourage me to use my real name though because she felt like it was silly to make up a new name.
Well, like any typical teenager I did not listen to her. I like the thought of having an alter ego; it is just too much fun. I did go through quite a few really bad ones before I settled on this current one. Seeing how I have this whole blog set up and everything I guess I’ll stick to it.
But like any good daughter I did not disappoint mom either. She can see my birth name in shining light on grant reports. Cheers, mom!
I remember reading in a book that all good writers write based on experiences from the first sixteen years of their lives. I don’t know how true or untrue that is, but I definitely remember panicking and thinking that I was quickly approaching sixteen and have not gathered anything exciting yet.
So many years later and here I am, still without grand adventures to pull stories from. What has changed though is how I interpret what it means to write from experience. Regardless of genre or style I think what makes a story good is its ability to connect with the reader. And what can make that connection stronger than to focus on the most common human emotions and experiences? The key, however, is how to revisit the simplicity of life, chew on it, spit it out so it would look different from the first time around. I think if a story is able to do that then it is really worth reading.
Well, here’s to hoping that I can accomplish this task!
Grandpa turned eighty this year. He is getting so old I can’t believe how fast time went by. I still remember coming home as an elementary school student with a writing assignment about my favorite person. I think to avoid the often faced problem of picking a parent I picked my grandpa.
In retrospect my grandpa could very well be my favorite person. It’s not because he is anything but my grandpa. He is proud, stubborn and never tells me he loves me, but I never once doubted that it is true.
Grandpa was the one who took me to the open ground in front of the school cafeteria to teach me how to ride a bike. He was the one who brought me and my cousin to the abandoned part of campus to catch grasshoppers, and we kept them on our balcony until they died an unfortunate death. Grandpa was the one who showed me how to read time on his old brown clock above the dresser, and I in turn taught my cousin. He was the first to give me a real responsibility. I kept the time and prepared his medicine when he needed them. And when I could not resist the temptation of opening the capsule, and panicking as I tried to put it back together, he did not get mad but laughed it off.
And I also remember coming home one day and talking to him but suddenly he did not hear me. Grandpa was getting old and I had to start raising my voice. Now days I listen to him ramble on and on, repeating the same things he told me last time. Now days he has trouble zipping up his jacket, and I have to remember to slow down my pace. He also doesn’t remember much of the memories we shared together, but still though, he is my favorite person.
Grandpa, however, doesn’t pick favorites. He always gave me the same things he gave to my cousin, and he never loved either one of us more, at least not visibly so. I’m not sure how he is able to do that because I clearly have a favorite.
I always want to write from life, but I find it so extremely challenging. In any case, I put this together just now and I wanted to avoid keeping this one as a draft for the next a million years so I posted it! Hope I’m not going to regret this!
Who is your favorite?
Recently I read on a literary magazine that the editors prefer stories with characters who have names, because only then do they feel that these characters come alive and have identities. I couldn’t agree with that. There are plenty of wonderful stories with nameless faces. I don’t think the name is important at all; what is in a name anyway? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. As long as the character is described well, I don’t think it matters if she is called Janet or Catherine, or if he is Benjamin or Travis. Who really cares?
Of course, there are times when names are very defining. They can carry certain je ne sais pas with them, yes. But the air I wish to create in my stories often do not call for names, and I use them sparingly. Sometimes I don’t even want to make the gender known. Some experiences, I feel, can be shared between both men and women.
Maybe I’m just being difficult, but I can’t find it in myself to name them if they did not come to me with names already.
Did you think,
you were worming your way into
Did I surprise,
the soggy bits till you hit the rotten core –
ah, you found my dirty little secret.