theicingonthecrazycake

When life hands you lemons, toss them in the trash and eat cake

Archive for the tag “writing prompts”

Moonrise Kingdom and writing clogs

I haven’t written all week: No blog, no fiction, not even a grocery list. It was not the best week, especially down in the trenches of the soon-to-be-unemployed. I had a couple of hand grenades launched my way, including a brief and polite rejection letter from Brown, where I had applied for a Marketing Manager position in their Continuing Education department. I networked my ass off for that job, and still, it got me nowhere.

This week, instead of full-steam-ahead productivity, I wallowed. I danced under the disco ball at my very own (and sparsely attended) pity party. I read. I slept. I didn’t clean my kitchen. The cat is peeved about the overall state of his litter box. I guess I got a little depressed. I did, on a good note, see my doctor (and find out my cholesterol numbers rival those of a Powerball jackpot, and thus, I will be visiting a nutritionist tomorrow). I did Pilates. I did Meals on Wheels, delivering 19 meals all by myself to a bunch of people who were happy to see me. So there was good among the bad, and I have to accept that this is LIFE. Up and down and all around. Keep plugging along.

But the writing still wouldn’t come. I couldn’t even lift my fingers to the keyboard, I couldn’t grasp a pen or even look at a blank piece of paper. Until Friday afternoon, when I played hooky and went to the movies.

Thank you Wes Anderson for pulling me out of my cloggy funk. Thank you for making Moonrise Kingdom. It is brilliant. It is funny. It is heartfelt, bittersweet, life-affirming. It reminds me of an innocent, simpler time and the endless world that seems to spread out ahead of us in our youth, where we can do anything, be anything, unencumbered by the nagging self-doubt, anxiety and baggage that plagues us in adulthood and tends to hold us back.

It also reminded me of a writing prompt from my fiction workshop: Start off with the words “I remember” and go from there. I’ve already done this prompt, but Moonrise Kingdom inspired me to do again, this time focusing on my childhood and adolescence. My reasons are selfish, I suppose. I want to find that innocence. I want to go back and remember the good and the bad. But most of all, I want to figure out when the break happened. When did I cross over the bridge, from guileless childhood to the sometimes cruel/sometimes beautiful reality of the adult world? Or did I ever have a naive, innocent time during my youth? I don’t know if there was ever a bridge to cross.

I Remember

I remember sledding down a hill in Durham, laughing so hard that my smile seemed to split open my face while my cheeks turned crimson in the cold. I remember the move from North Carolina to Florida; I rode with my dad in his beat-up neon-green VW Rabbit, while my mother and brother followed behind us in a rust-colored Monte Carlo. I remember my dad flicking cigarette after cigarette butt out of the window, chain-smoking his way through four states, from mountains to swamps, smoking to the soundtrack of the kerplunk, kerplunk, kerplunk of the tires hitting the highway seams. I remember the unrelenting damp heat of Florida, juxtaposed to the drier mountain-and-ocean-buffered Carolina heat, It hit me like an unexpected slap, leaving hand-prints on my soul and scrambling my brains like eggs on a searing sidewalk.

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Writing classes and swamps

First off, for anyone who has taken a writing workshop or wants to take a writing workshop or is a writer or just wants to laugh, may I suggest Jincy Willet’s novel The Writing Class? I peed my panties within the first 10 pages. Hilarious, and a great mood lifter for my depressed inner artist.

I finished my literal writing class this week and I’m sad to see it end. What a zany group of people whose superlative writing skills humbled me. We spent the last class eating enough sugary treats to send a herd of six-year-olds into tasmanian-devil-like hyperactivity, and took breaks between the gorging to do yoga poses. There wasn’t a lot of talk about writing, it was just a party of sorts. A way to say good-bye to each other, after baring our writing souls to one another for three months.

Our little gaggle of writers was like The Breakfast Club. But instead of jocks, princesses, brains, basket-cases (besides me) and criminals, we had the the hilariously sarcastic I’ll-give-David-Sedaris-a-run-for-his-money-one-day writers (for an example, PLEASE read this gem written by one of my classmates); the serious, pensive writers who wrote gorgeous dialogue or mind-blowing descriptions (or both, which made me insanely jealous); poet-like novelists whose work demanded to be read aloud and those writers who took the stereotypical narrative and threw it upside down on its head; writers of layered prose chock full of similes and metaphors, and the minimalist writers whose economy of words made my jaw drop in awe. And our instructor — a young, recent MFA graduate — created such a relaxed, loose, raise-your-freak-flag-and-you-won’t-be-judged environment. I owe him a lot for getting me to write again and encouraging me, even though some weeks I brought some truly shitty stuff to class. Thank you, Mark.

I have to admit, though, I feel raw post-class for a couple of reasons. I can sit here and write about mental illness and breakups and vaginas without a second thought — safe within a somewhat anonymous blog persona. But…when forced to read my fiction face-to-face in front of a group of artists who are going to offer feedback, I am terrified. Well, rather, was terrified. The band-aid has been ripped off, however, not without some pain.

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