Advice 2

So, I had to give up on NanoWrimo. School decided that this semester wasn’t quite hard enough, so it procured three research papers and a creative writing portfolio for me to put together and then lumped on top of the pile of misfortune two final cumulative exams on the same day.

Great.

So, I have a partly finished novel that I am forced to put aside until the semester stops dogging my heels. In the mean time, I am also taking a larger hiatus from here. Don’t worry, it is only three weeks. I will be back before you know it. I do, however, want to offer this to you until then.

So, my creative writing professor here at college is Dr. Robert Vivian, a man who walks around the world in perpetual wonder. He is amazing and offers some of the best advice when it comes to writing that I have ever received. This is my third semester in a row with him and I regret nothing except that I have taken all of his creative writing classes and can no longer continue (though, I am currently trying to devise a way to change that… we shall see). His curiosity about the world can never be fulfilled and he is continually astonished by the beauty he is surrounded by.

Seriously. You may think I am exaggerating, but I am not in the slightest. He refuses to hold his creative writing in a normal classroom because he feels his mind is too confined and moves them permanently to a corner in the library where we are surrounded by books and that unique smell they give off or the basement of the chapel where occasionally piano music drifts through the floorboards as we work. He offers assignments where he simply gives us a list of characteristics and asks us to write a story where they are all included, has us create a fictional town and then insists we propagate characters to fit inside, takes us outside to sit in the sunlight on the lawn and write about a ray of light on some object, or sends us on a scavenger hunt for the last half of the class period to find the oldest book in the library and then write about it (by the way… I highly suggest you do these prompts. They are quite engaging.).

So, I have decided to share a bit of his wisdom with you. He is a firm believer that writing comes from a place of other, a dream space that sends us inspiration to the point where we are simply a conduit of words and phrases to place upon the page… sound familiar? Yeah… kind of like my theory about my Muse. That probably explains why I like him so much. The following link is a paper he wrote about the writing process and I do hope you will take the time to read it. He wrote it several years ago, but it is still relevant to what he teaches and the writing process in general. He explains his theory in more detail within and I think it will help those of you who are actually managing to finish NanoWrimo or simply write and are looking for some new inspiration/writing advice.

http://www.sosyalarastirmalar.com/cilt1/sayi3/sayi3_pdf/vivian_robert.pdf

Godspeed!

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Reborn

I am sitting on a porch and listening to the Rain,

straining for Thunder and wishing for Lightning,

and thinking of times past,

before responsibility,

before I had an inkling of what it means to be an adult,

though I still am not so certain what that entails,

before I left my childhood home for a new one,

before I sheltered myself inside of my mind

and imagined.

 

When I was young and all the world was new,

when I had no notion as to who Mother Nature was

or why adults always complained about her,

and instead understood the rules of hide-and-go-seek,

tag, and the floor is lava,

Rain and Thunder and Lightning helped me to realize

all that I did not know.

My family, often unpredictable, sometimes volatile, and usually so loving as to smother,

found solace and kinship, understanding and peace, in the fury of nature.

With a father who works construction

there is little time at home for bonding

and the only moments that offered any peace, any pause in our lives, was Rain,

when the ground grew muddy and no work could be done.

My mother would stop baking, cleaning, and fussing,

my brother and I would cease fighting and playing,

and join my father outside

to sit on the porch and listen and watch

and, occasionally, talk of unimportant matters that were quickly forgotten.

 

Now, as I sit on the porch railing of a house I have never been to before,

in the center of a college campus busy with activities,

breaking from a life rife with strife,

I can reminisce for but a moment

before the students leave their studies to venture abroad.

Watching them race through the rain,

I realize that the droplets cause a childish reaction in everyone who passes

as they laugh and scream, jump and run,

as if all the years have passed away

and, once again, they are children splashing in puddles.

One girl takes off her shirt and runs to her house in her bra

and I feel resentment, though I do not realize the cause at first.

 

I wish I could do that.

Strip and run, laughing and screaming, through the rain,

letting it course along my skin,

caressing the secret places that I keep hidden

and washing away the dirt that I don’t even know is there.

I wish that I were comfortable enough with myself

that I could ignore the prying eyes

and let Nature touch me directly.

 

Then the peace is broken as a friend joins me

and ushers me back to my room,

all reminiscent thoughts banished

in the wake of homework and deadlines and applications.

I take off my sandals and cover my phone,

preparing with marked efficiency for an inescapable walk

through the rain with no cover,

where I will surely be soaked to the skin.

 

Yet, as I separate from her and walk alone,

I feel a giddy glee bubble up

and I start deliberately treading in the puddles,

kicking the water until it fans in front of me

and then flipping my foot into the droplets that still hang in the air.

I turn my face up to the sky

and hope my hair will hold some of the essence, the smell, of the rain,

the perfume of peace and hope.

 

And as I enter my room

I strip off my wet clothes and stand in my underwear,

looking at myself in the mirror

under the harsh fluorescent lights,

water dripping from my disheveled hair,

skin lightly glistening when I move,

and no longer see any flaws,

but a girl who has become a woman

without losing that which made her a child

and has been cleansed by the rain

despite the best efforts of her avoidance and fear.

 

I do not know this woman,

this stranger born of the rain

who stares at me with a mysterious smile

and confident eyes.

But I will.

With time we shall meet in the middle,

Me, shy, uncertain, doubting, and

Her, self-assured, confident, outgoing,

and together will step into the rain

and erase all precepts of being separate,

of Her and I,

and instead become Me.

Lovely, Hated Home

At times I feel both blessed and cursed by my birthplace. I was born and raised in the city and countryside of Michigan, a state whose weather defies qualification, where water leaks out of an even slightly big hole, and trees continually fight farmers for their right to the land. Deer and coyotes invade the cities, reminding us of our tenuous hold over nature, and squirrels are so rare in the country that to see one is a surprising joy even as it creates sorrow to know it probably won’t live long in a wilderness dominated by hawks and the occasional raccoon or coyote.

Michigan is a state where the line between man and nature is both definite and uncertain, if you have the eye to see it, and that is what captures your heart so that, when traveling to the most rugged mountains, flattest plains, or endless oceans, you find them lacking to the blend that Michigan offers. If you desire rocky hills, the upper peninsula is the best attraction (from what I’ve heard. I’ve only been there when I was a child, so I don’t really remember). If an unreachable horizon is all you wish for, the ice age was kind enough to carve away the hills in central Michigan so that you need never meet the end of the horizon. And if you have an unquenchable love for water, you need never go unsatisfied. We have streams, ponds, rivers, lakes, snow, ice and, of course, we are surrounded by the beauty of the Great Lakes, bodies of water large enough to fool you into thinking you are gazing upon the ocean if not for the lack of salt in the air and water.

It is a beautiful place, my home, and it pains me to think that I will one day have to leave it. As much as I love traveling, no place that I have been to yet has had the beauty to match that of Michigan. How can I possibly find somewhere else to live?

Yet, each new place is exciting, fresh. I am offered a view of life without water in Arizona, constant mountains in West Virginia, and a diverse culture that varies with the landscape in Scotland. Having Michigan constantly tugging me away when experiencing so many new things is a pain. How dare it?

We have a love and hate relationship, my home state and I, and I don’t mind all that much. I think everyone is like that to a certain degree. We want to leave the home of our parents but we secretly yearn to return, we want to escape the small town we’ve grown up in but miss the peace it offers, and we want to travel but miss our home state, even our home country. We are always drawn back to our roots, no matter how far we go in life.