On Tuesday, my post was about quick writing exercises. I taught writing workshops for years and our ‘go to’ exercise was something I called ‘circle writing’ (creative, no?). Everyone sits in a circle. Five minutes. No revision. Share. Usually, I provided a prompt. Sometimes it was something very vague like ‘sky’. Sometimes it was more complex: ‘You are an 80 year old blind man.’ The prompt quickly becomes unimportant because it is merely a jumping off point. So, that was Tuesday.
I also write music. The sound and feel and rhythm of writing are very important to me. And they are very important period, really. So, this is something else I do. I rip off Bob Dylan. I don’t feel bad about it. He ripped off Woody Guthrie. There are several pieces like this on my blog, but they usually stay on the computer. So, here is the idea: Dylan-esque beat poetry nonsense. The focus is on feel, alliteration, assonance, and rhyme. It is not a story as much as an abstract jam. Freestyle rapping for those of us who can’t rap. Solo poetry slam. Whatever. So, like Tuesday, five minutes. It is now 2:25 (yes, late again).
Thoughts drift and you sift the ones you can. You grift and watch the silt tilt the world grey while inside it’s a brand new day, but you can’t see it. You can’t steal it, and you can’t free it. It is you and you are nothing but the thoughts you stumble over as you bumble towards something…something you hope won’t embarrass you, but screw it if it does. Screw it if it doesn’t. Nail it to the wall. Pound it home with the sound of one hand clapping. You never knew what that meant cause it’s a trick, something people say when they want to sound slick. But it just makes you sick.
Time is hustling by. Christ, it’s rambling. Like a blues band on a bad day afternoon, you want to be generous, but there’s no room. Cool Hand Luke, stop feeding off me. Christ and more Christ imagery. Stories abound…they’re all around. You flail at them, fail at them, rail at them and you listen to the coughing from next door. From the blunt smoking hustlers wearing city work shirts, boots covered with dirt, damn, that’s one hell of a cough, son.
One minute left and you’re gone. You’ve said your piece and sang your song. It was a blip in the tip of infinity and it don’t mean shit. But you do it. What else is there to do when the whole world’s shining to make you blue and blue’s just a color it ain’t a feeling, it’s something you can wear or paint your ceiling. And as you look up you see your time is dwindling, so you stop while you’re ahead and toss the match on the kindling.
Man, (cringe), I want to rewrite this. But, so be it. That’s part of why this is valuable. Aside from the things I mentioned before, you are riffing on the current contents of your brain. I saw a generic old boomer blues band the other day. The rest is made of scraps your brain collects in its drain pan and ambience.
I write all day, now, but these kind of exercises are PERFECT for assuaging your guilt when you are too tired to WRITE write. Again, it is like working out. Five minutes and you can rest easy knowing you did something to get your brain active and your writing flowing. (See, now, I’m trapped in Bob Dylan land).
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JD Mader is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the novels ‘Joe Cafe’ and ‘The Biker’ – co-author of the mighty ‘Bad Book’ (available here): . For more information, please see the IU Bio page and his blog: www.jdmader.com.