Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones likes to use timed writing, or ‘flash’ writing to jump start her writing sessions. She suggests taking a simple idea or memory and writing about it for 5, 10, 30 minutes at a time. It’s a great way to get to the heart of the matter. From the concrete to the sublime. By putting a memory down on paper, it’s then free to become something completely different and powerful. I like to keep a jar of writing prompts on my desk, little slips of paper with phrases written on them. Five minutes on your grandmother’s yellow mixing bowl. Ten minutes on the shape of your brother’s head. Thirty minutes on your first kiss. They come in handy. (You can always use the fortunes from fortune cookies if you can’t come up with your own. 😉 The point is, use your memories in your fiction like an actor ‘uses’ his experiences to bring life to his work on the stage.
In Margaret Sweatman’s, When Alice Lay Down With Peter there’s lightning when her characters get together. When I had my first real kiss, (my first butterflies in the stomach kiss) there were books… stacks and stacks of library books.
Note to self: The location of a person’s first kiss may hold a direct correlation to that person’s passion in life, their life’s work. Further, those who experienced their first kiss during a school dance may suffer from “I Don’t Know What I Want From Life Syndrome” (or IDKWIWFLS). It’s not their fault. They are merely victims of their student council’s poor musical taste. Nothing sucks the life force out of a person faster than (insert title of a bland, top forty, soft-rock ballad here) Journey’s ‘Open Arms’.
Anyway, that first kiss was what jump started my short story, Christ on a Bike, a fictional tale of kissing, teen pregnancy, religion, and green m&m’s.
Writer’s Blog of the Week
Speaking of first kisses and boyfriends…
Emily Lockhart’s novel, The Boyfriend List is now out in bookstores. Emily’s had nine official boyfriends, if you count the boy who asked her to go with him at a 7th grade dance and then basically never talked to her again. She has never been on a sports team of any kind and got excused from gym class by going to ballet lessons. She has a tattoo, cuts her own hair, and has worn the same perfume since high school (Kiehl’s Chinese Flowers). In her office are two Betty & Veronica dolls, a photo of a particularly fat bull dog, an official business card from “Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective”, and the 1920s flapper dress she wore to the prom.
Check out her blog.