Over the weekend, I tried something that was suggested by one of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury. The writing wasn't going well for me (wasn't going at all, actually), so I needed something to give my muse a kick in the a—...er, I mean something to stimulate my creativity.
I'd been in one of those "Why do I even bother writing this stuff?" moods for a while. I'd wrestle a new story into submission, post it here on my website, share the link, and wait. As do so many writers with websites.
Days would pass. A week. Two. And in the Comments section, there was only...the sound of crickets. Ok, the visual equivalent.
I know. I'm supposed to write for ME. And I do, at the beginning, when the story is shaping itself into something, like Play Doh that's taken on a life of its own. Then, in subsequent drafts, I battle with my bossy, know-it-all muse, until it's done. Really, totally done.
Sometimes it's something I think (hope) a friend or two might really like, and their reaction is exciting. And it nicely decorates that empty whiteness of the Comments section.
But mostly, all that's there is, well...crickety-crick, crickety-crick.
Anyway, I read a post about Ray Bradbury. I've admired him ever since I started reading his books and short stories back when I was eight years old. No, I didn't “get” a lot of it back then, but I learned to love science fiction, I learned to look up new words in the dictionary, and I tried like crazy to memorize an entire book, just like the characters in Fahrenheit 451. I don't even remember which novel it was, but it was a complete failure, since I didn't make it past the first page. But that made me admire the writers who write them even more.
Ray Bradbury's advice, regarding keeping those creative juices flowing...
His suggestion (and one that he said he did, himself) was to make lists of words. Word prompts. Just words that pop into your head, or images that do, or ideas. List the words. Then, question what they mean to you, one by one. Eventually one will speak to you. It'll create a scene in your head, or a character, or a mood. Work at that one. It's the beginning of a new book or short story.
So I gave it a shot.
My first attempt didn't pay off at first.
Manhole cover. Salad. Lighthouse. Flagpole. Scattered teeth. Old mine. Snowmen. The dark. Bugs.
I read through the list. Nothing. And again. Still nothing.
Then I closed my eyes for a few minutes, listened to my breathing, emptied my mind, leaned over to within a few inches of the list, and opened my eyes again.
I read the list. Slowly. Letting each word sink in. When I got to "the dark," something happened. I can't describe exactly what. Sort of like something flitted past, in a deep recess of my mind. A deep, dark recess.
I picked up the pen, and below the list, I started another list.
Wings. Dark wings. Flickers of light. Reflections on long, black feathers. Wind. Clouds. The moon. Obscured. Then free. Moonlight dances across dark branches tossed about in the air. Atop one, it is perched. Feathers. Beak. Eyes, so intense. On the creature, with each sweep of light, it glistens. The blood.
Far below. Knee-high grass. Jeans. Hoody. One shoe missing. Empty eye sockets staring upward. No longer bothered by the wind. Or the tiny droplets of rain. Nevermore.
Ok, I can work with that. ;-}
Copyright ©Nik Barnabee June 1, 2016