We did a writing exercise today. This is a new venture for the group, not having done one before (I don’t think). I’ve been doing a lot of free writing in the last week as part of something I’m working on, so I thought it would be interesting to try it with others.
Free writing is device to help with starting to write. I’m often asked how do you start writing and I often reply you just do it, and in a way free writing is just that. You have your pen/pencil and the blank page and you begin and you write without any thought or direction or structure. This might sound a bit pointless and I have sometimes thought it pointless, I must admit, but it can be a good way to start, to get into the flow or the rhythm of writing; to give in to the impulse and see what comes out. It’s also a good way of by-passing the ego so what is milling sub-consciously might come up.
Some writers like to do what is often called morning pages as soon as they wake up so that the influence of the dream space is still around. I started doing this on the recommendation of poet-teacher who was running a workshop I attended. When he asked us to write spontaneously I was well and truly stumped and ended up doing nothing and feeling very silly. At the time I was rather resistant to advice (I hate being told what to do—it’s a grievous fault) and did the morning pages exercise grudgingly, which may have influenced what came up. A lot of it was just words and impenetrable but there were glimpses of something alive in the murk.
I take my writing more seriously now so doing free writing (although not morning pages) is part of my routine—like doing scales or fingering exercises when learning the piano or warming up before singing or sport. I don’t often use what I write in my prose, but I do find it useful for poetry, where a phrase or image might catch the eye and be the seed for something more substantial. Also doing free writes over a period of time can reveal themes or preoccupations (obsessions?).
Although free writing can start from nowhere you can start from a phrase or word, and this can be easier, especially with a group, I think, where doing the same thing together can be bonding as well. So today we started from ‘For the first time…’ and here is what happened (although one is not free writing at all but an accomplished poem).
For the first time, can’t you see my life is full of colour, although I have nothing I am always free, I see the light the movement and the energy that flows within the spirit of the night.
For the first time, can someone understand me, instead of that inward giggle, when one is trying to make them see something that is beyond their vision.
Blinded by creeds aren’t they. It’s all about Eve and that is me, Automatic for the people is what I call weak. We were born to be wild and to love what we cherish.
So cherish the children for they are your future for ever and ever. FOR THE LAST TIME OR THE FIRST TIME. AMEN
For the first time he’d got his shoes on the correct feet and without thinking about it. He didn’t notice until he’d started walking and he could—one foot in front of the other; hop, skip and jump and his feet were fine. No pinching or sending him off the wrong way. This alerted him and he looked down and saw his feet shoe encased, and they were such happy shoes his feet felt glad and he felt glad—glad that his shoes were shoes, glad that his feet fitted them so neatly, glad that there was ground under his feet at last—as if he’d gone about hoisted by balloons for the last six months. The miracle of ground and it being there—earth and no magic; tarmac and stone, the weird plainness of it all. It caught his eye like a fly fisher’s flash but it was ground and his feet, shoes, soles of shoes were on it and—oh yes—he could feel it. Bless shoes, he thought, bless feet, bless the ground, that earth, that bit of earth that connects me. He took a deep breath and kicked his shoes off—away. What did he want with shoes after all? Shoes got in the way, shoes made him want something else and it wasn’t right, right any more. Shoes were an impediment; shoes stitched up his feet, shoes shook him out. Shoes spooked him from all angles. Shoes were…never again.
For the first time I saw,
What I hadn’t before,
The grind of the nail,
As it ground through his paw.
His wisdom, His courage, His message all gone,
Drowned out by the febrile old sods in the throng,
I’ve done some things true but I’ve done mostly wrong,
Too tone-deaf to attune my sick ears to his song.
He was just thirty three; now I’m forty eight,
The filth in my soul is my Saviour’s weight,
If he had the half-time to converse with me,
I’d say it was I who belonged on that tree.