Since I’m graduating this semester, this week officially marks my last “school break.” In the spirit of ending an era, I shall reflect on my own experiences with writing during my time at UConn. I’m taking a vague sort of influence from HTMLGIANT’s “points” blog posts— so here I present to you twelve thoughts on writing and things to do with it.
THE LOST YEARS
When I was in middle school, I was given this very ancient and halfway-dead laptop, on which I spent absurd amounts of time writing an absurd series of stories that eventually became too long. All of them were typed in Comic Sans.
When the laptop finally graduated from being “halfway dead” to “wholly dead” several years later, they vanished. I didn’t really care at the time; all that nonsense I’d written in middle school was unimportant. Predictably, I regret it now. It might have been silly, yes, but I had put so much energy into writing it; if only I could go back and read it again.
So I apologize, dear late computer. You served me well, and even though your screen couldn’t stay up on its own, I actually kind of wish I could have you back. (An external hard drive would have done well, too.)
INSPIRATION V.S. OBLIGATION
It’s 10:30 p.m. on a whatever-day-of-the-week night. I feel fantastically inspired to write; in fact, I am positive (for the not-first time) that I’ve never felt this fantastically inspired to write before. I cannot waste this opportunity!
What a shame it is that I’ve got all these other things I need to take care of before tomorrow morning…
Do you ever just get completely lost in whatever you’re writing? And all of a sudden, everything is wonderful?
Aha. That must be a writing high.
YES! I AM MAKING AN EXCUSE TO GET SIDETRACKED TALKING ABOUT TEA!
Tea is not only an excellent beverage to drink while you read (as discussed in Nyanka Joseph’s post here); it is also an excellent beverage to drink while you write. (Unless you don’t like tea, in which case, I guess it isn’t.) As with any beverage, of course, this is not without its risks. Take great care not to spill it on your computer or something. I have not experienced this personally, but I’ve heard too many stories. Yikes.
And as an added bonus, as part of my excuse to get sidetracked talking about tea…
HERE IS A LIST OF TEAS THAT I REALLY LIKE: Assam, genmaicha, lapsang souchong, chai (sans allspice), blends that include citrus fruits, and desserty things with chocolate or caramel or vanilla or cinnamon or mint.
AND HERE IS A LIST OF TEAS THAT I DISLIKE: Jasmine, ginseng, chai (with allspice), and various blends that include other assorted fruits.
(Note: many people do not share my preferences, so these are not necessarily recommendations.)
SO… WHAT HAPPENED LAST NIGHT??
Ah, the magical time of 3:30 a.m. I’ve stayed up to write (with the assistance of howevermany cups of tea) and I’m overwhelmed by this strange sense of… power. Yes. That must be it. Power.
The world is mine! I feel like everything I’m writing is just so brilliant. Even though it will be 6:00 a.m. in two-and-a-half hours, I don’t want to have to stop! There is simply not enough time in this wonderful night!
The following morning (or afternoon… or whenever), I power on my laptop and bravely venture back into the depths of the document I’d last closed out of. And I read it. And I…
…What in the world had possessed me to think this was a decent idea?!
YOU PESKY CRITTERS! VERMIN! FLEE!
So… do you ever find certain subjects that just keep showing up over and over again in your writing, even if you hadn’t intended for them to?
I KNOW WE’VE MET, BUT WHO ARE YOU?
Characters can develop a habit of evolving if they exist for too long. For this reason, they are like colonies of bacteria.
Sometimes I look back on old writing and seriously question what past versions of my recent characters are doing. Why are they behaving so… out of character? Tell me again, how did this ever make sense?
MAGIC POEM POTION
I once made a delicious cup of tea.
No—that’s a complete lie. I have made many delicious cups of tea, but this particular cup was atrocious. It was so deliciously terrible that it inspired me to write poetry, which is something that I do not do very often. I really tend to be more prose-focused.
1 standard mug
8 oz water
1.5 tbsp loose green tea with jasmine
2 teabags mysterious ginseng blend
Microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes, or until there is a mossy green foam bubbling out of the top of the mug. Remove from microwave, let stand for an unspecified amount of time, and drink. For full effect, do not strain leaves.
(Note: that is the recipe. It is not a poem.)
Outlining a convoluted plot can seem like a frustrating and never-ending spiral of a process. So many bits and pieces. So many questions. As soon as one is answered, several more will appear in its place. And it goes on… and on… and on… and on…
MAKING YOUR OWN STUFF OBSOLETE
I’ve set most of my recent writing in the same general world, so it’s often vaguely (and just as often blatantly) connected by an external plot. Going back to the above point, I keep finding new directions to take said “external plot” in. This leads to…
…That moment when you realize a piece of writing you especially liked has become obsolete in context because your ideas have changed since you wrote it.
THEY NEVER END
I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten to the point where I’ve actually declared a piece of writing officially and completely finished. Not in recent memory, at least. I keep finding changes that I want to make, or things I want to add…
GIVE IT ANOTHER CHANCE
…But occasionally, I’ll declare myself finished with something. It’s always the same set of reasons. I’m sick of it; I can’t stand it anymore; it’s a mess; it’s unsalvageable.
And then I’ll look back months later and realize that it’s not so horrendous after all. I certainly wouldn’t leave it as it is—but unsalvageable? No, not at all.
Maybe it deserves a second chance.