the mutt

Another one that got away

Posted in General, Oddities, Writing by grx20 on July 29, 2009

I’d posted earlier about stories and ideas that somehow get away. I read somewhere ‘the faintest ink is better than the strongest memory.’ So I started keeping a note of thoughts and ideas. Sometimes, I’d even have an entire paragraph all worked out, as in the following case.

And sometimes, they get away.

I can’t remember how the rest of this story goes. Or even what it is about. Don’t mean to sound pompous, but damn, I’ve forgotten at a real cliffhanger point. What was the ‘condition?’ What was the only symptom?

There’s probably a name for the condition – some psychologist’s name followed by the word ‘complex’. As if I am a sprawling housing society, the foundations laid in a series of deep-rooted mindf-s.
But since I never asked anyone, I never found out if it had a name. It manifested itself in one telling way. In fact, that is the only symptom of the condition.

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Draftus Interruptus

Posted in General, Oddities, Writing by grx20 on November 6, 2008

The first draft is a pain. And I’m not talking about the approaching winter.

A small ramble about a part of writing that’s been very difficult the past month.crump

I wrote two short stories the past week. The first draft for the first one was written in very short bursts. I didn’t have quiet or uninterrupted time. I’m surprised I actually managed to get it down at all. Two lines. Interruption. Five lines. Interruption. One paragraph. Interruption. And so on.

Later, I typed it out on the comp, edited, rewrote as I went along and sent it off to a couple of friends for their thoughts. The story actually turned out quite well and I got good feedback too. When I was writing the first draft, a couple of thoughts kept running at the back of my mind – this isn’t working out fine, too many interruptions, just stop writing. It was terribly hard getting it down. Terribly hard. But the story came out all right.

The second story. The first draft wasn’t difficult. It was plain boring. To be sure, I like the idea of the story a lot and think it makes for a really good story. But as I was writing it, the only thought on my mind was to be done with it as soon as possible. I just didn’t want to look at my notebook anymore. I liked the story, most parts of what I wrote and the end. But I was bored out of my socks, writing it. The rewritten and edited version is working well. I like it.

But I’m trying to figure out, why is the first draft becoming so difficult? It was supposed to be fun. Exciting, even, as the story unfolds. I’ve had times when the story changes tracks completely, because that was the right way to go – the track I had intended was all wrong. Other times the end has just fallen into place when I was still halfway through.

Some first drafts are easy. Some aren’t. And as I’ve found, I can’t judge a story by that.

P.S. (This post was a first draft).

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Overheard at another site

Posted in Oddities, Writing by grx20 on October 14, 2008

In “Overheard” I usually post something I have, well, overheard that serves as a writing prompt.

I found a collection of absolutely hilarious stuff here. It’s called People say the darndest things, and is at a blog called Where Pilgrims Disappear and has some interesting reads. This list is great fun, even just to read.

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Writing quirks

Posted in Oddities, Writing by grx20 on October 12, 2008

I read somewhere that Tolstoy could write only if he had a rotten apple on his desk!

We all have our writing quirks don’t we?

One of mine – I can’t write when the pen cap is attached to the back of the pen. Ball point or fountain pen, the pen cap must sit alone. It’s not the weight – it just feels wrong.

What’s yours?

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Let’s make a note to remember

Posted in Oddities, Writing by grx20 on September 26, 2008

(Yes, yes, I am punning on the Bryan Adams song).

This is an invitation to everyone to do just one thing. To simply write well.
Whether it is a reminder note or a thank you note, write it well. Choose words with thought and care.

English has some beautiful words that can convey, and very well, too, exactly what you feel and think. When a particular word doesn’t come to mind at once, spend a couple of seconds trying to find it. If you still can’t find that word, think of a simile, create a new metaphor, coin a new expression. And later, go back to the thesaurus and find that elusive word.

We all have our comfort zone of phrases and constructions we can serve up pronto. But let’s resolve not to be lazy.

If a particular construction is tricky, don’t avoid it, learn it.
If spelling spells trouble, learn.
It’s nice to use big words once in a while.
Use puns. (One can always get away with it by adding ‘phew!’ in brackets.)

It’s nice to read something written well, with wit, and with care. It is a discipline you take on, more for improving yourself and your writing than to create immortal pieces of literature while dashing out the front door.

Here’s to a reputation of being ‘note’orious. (Phew!)

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Top 10 Shakespeare characters whose names sound like cocktails

Posted in Oddities by grx20 on September 9, 2008

Some aren’t exactly names, but they’re Shakespeare all right!

Give me a …

10. Bolingbroke

9. Brackenbury

8. Nun

7. Nurse

6. Toby Belch

5. Dr. Pinch

4. Abraham Slender

3. Neighbour

2. Mistress Quickly

And the number 1 Shakespeare character who can easily pass off as a cocktail isssss …

1. Mistress Overdone

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Overheard #2

Posted in Oddities, Writing by grx20 on August 31, 2008

School was out and I was making my way past school kids running around crazily, oblivious to the traffic snarl they had caused.

Two boys walking ahead were blocking the pavement. And my best efforts of pulling a sizzling Schumacher overtaking maneuver were being thwarted with aplomb. That’s when I heard this:

I’ve decided, I’m going to tell him.

Don’t, please don’t.

Somebody has to tell him.

No don’t do something like that. It’s not important.

I’m not doing anything bad …

First thought: he wanted to tell someone (a classmate, perhaps) that he was boring; nobody wanted to be his friend and everyone was just humouring him.

Wish I’d had a happier thought.

Mulled over possible story lines – overheard fragments make great story prompts. But abandoned the exercise when I couldn’t think of any ‘happily ever after’ story lines.

“Don’t worry, nobody will find out”

Posted in Oddities, Writing by grx20 on August 22, 2008

“Don’t worry, nobody will find out”

A phrase I overheard, when walking past two boys on the road.

Probably college guys.

Of all the possible things, my immediate thought was – are they planning to cheat in an exam?

Almost four years later, I wonder – did anyone find out?

In any case, it was a good writing prompt for a morning of frustration when the blank page seemed to be headed for win by KO.

Since then, have been keeping my ears open. Particularly when walking past people.

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