Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Timed Writing: 7/31/2012


Time: 15 minutes
Prompt: "After lunch I was a little bored and I wandered around the apartment"
Source: The Stranger by Albert Camus

On that first day of this new life, I left work at two minutes past twelve, as I had on every day before. I walked the three blocks of fractured concrete sidewalk to my home. I re-heated two slices of linguisa and bell pepper pizza that were in the refrigerator and I ate them along with a Braeburn apple. I drank ginger-ale from the can. While eating, I watched pigeons on the roof of a convenience store.

After lunch I was a little bored and I wandered around the apartment with a cloth, dusting surfaces. My dust cloth caught the corner of a framed photograph of my parents that sat atop the spinet  The picture fell behind the instrument and a sharp crack told me that its glass had broken.

I knelt low beside the piano's end and heaved it forward and aside with fingertips and shoulder. Revealed were the framed photo, shards of glass, a good deal of dust and lint, three startled spiders, many strands of their architecture, and a bright coin reflecting sunlight from the window. No, not a coin. A tiny mirror. Or... It was round, yes. It illuminated a column of dust motes directly above it. A circle of light in the floor. My eyes adjusted to the anomaly and I recognized it as a hole—a hole through which yellow-white light shone up into my living room.

I had assumed the lease when my father moved to an assisted living community after my mother's death. With the apartment came all of the furniture save for a chair and bed that my father took. The piano stayed. The piano had never been moved that I had seen. Not for decades.

I swept up the glass and the other detritus of the years. Then I knelt over the little round window in my floor—the glowing orifice, the fairy-sized porthole. I closed one eye and lowered my face to the spot of bright. The closer I approached, the wider grew my view through the aperture. A single point of light opened to a view of a sun centered in a pale blue sky, surrounded by cloud shapes—animals: sheep, llamas, alpacas, vicunas—trotting, tumbling.

A movie of sky was playing on a giant screen that lay face-up on the floor of the apartment below. An art installation of some sort, perhaps. But I had never seen such a perfect video image before. The picture was clean, impossibly bright. It was the perfect that could only be real. It was not real.

I strained for a wider angle of view. If I could just see the edge of the screen, its frame, I would be satisfied. Try as I might, pressing my cheek to the polished wood, twisting and contorting my body, I could never quite gain a low enough angle to glimpse the screen's periphery.

(about my timed writing exercises)


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Monday, July 30, 2012

Timed Writing: 7/30/2012


Time: 15 minutes
Prompt: "Gaining the trust of those who work with you..."
Source: The Business by Iain Banks

Gaining the trust of those who work with you is especially important when you work exclusively with yourself. Or selves. And it's not as easy as you might think.

The first thing to contend with when spinning off a new self is the "you're not me, I'm me" response. It's natural, assuming you've allowed the spin-off to retain some concept of its own appearance, for it to experience terror and even revulsion. This is counterproductive. It does not help you gain trust. Suggestion: Wear a mask. No, not a silly papier-mâché or leather thing that you'd sport for Mardi Gras. I mean that you should do something subtle to dispell the autoresonance in the spin-off self when it sees you. A beard or glasses or a new hair style is often enough.

Also, speak to it immediately. Speak with an air of supreme authority. It's going to feel lost and confused when it wakes, and when people are confused, they cleave to manifestations of confident strength. Position your spinner set carefully—perhaps in a holochamber with vague shifting forms decorating the walls and medium intensity lighting. Some recommend ambient music for wake-ups, but I'm not of that camp. Silence is the perfect accompaniment to my reassuring baritone.

"Rise, servant," is what I say. I say, "Rise and embrace your life and your destiny." It's a bit over-the-top dramatic, yes, but it's so much more effective than the typical "You're gonna be fine, don't worry about a thing, everything will be alright" mother hen approach that I see so often. That kind of blathery-pandery inanity induces seizure of the anal sphincter and gritting of the teeth. No. I tell the spun-off me, "All of your questions will be answered in due course."

I always stand several arm-lengths away from the spinner set when I'm waking a self. I position myself at the very edge of his visual field. Thus, when I speak to him, he is forced to respond with a physical act. He must exert himself—exercise agency—immediately. He must sit up from his pallet and turn toward me to enjoy an optimal view of my face—to pair the person with the voice. The unstable images surrounding him seem only part of a dream, but I stand still and constant and I speak to him with strength and resolution. He takes action. He looks to me. Even though he knows nothing, understands nothing, by contriving to make his first act in life a physical response to my voice and form, I set a precedent in his mind that is not easily unseated. Everything else is built on the assumption that when doubts or questions assail him, he can turn to me. I am his source of stability in the midst of chaos and confusion. He trusts me.

This is how I gain the trust of my selves—those who work with me.

How do you do it?

(about my timed writing exercises)


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Post Clarion West Post

And now it's all over.

Our final instructor, Chuck Palahniuk, said that every story should have death in it somewhere—and also a birth. After six weeks of living in a house with seventeen other people—all amazingly creative, generous, talented, and loving—disbanding the fellowship is something like a death. But a litter of eighteen newborn writers are puking and mewling in the aftermath, digesting the rich nutrition fed them over the past six weeks of gestation, converting it to writerly bones and muscles, preparing to spring forth and fly high.

One death and eighteen births: Good ratio.

And my plan going forward... write like hell and hope it's all for something.