Every now and then the thought crosses my mind that since I’ve moved away from wanting to regularly write personal essays suited for this blog — for many reasons, including laziness, the lack of anonymity, and did I mention laziness? — I should consider putting other kinds of writing here. It generally occurs to me when I’ve written a piece that I can’t publish here because it’s for another publication/client/whatever, or because it’s too personal, or because … did I mention laziness? But having this as a venue could spur me to feel more comfortable sharing fictional snippets I don’t intend to do anything with, and that comfort might in turn spur me to do something more with some other things.
So … this weekend I took a workshop from Geist magazine called The Creative Blender with Elee Kraljii Gardiner, who offered some writing exercises I’ll share here, both the exercises in case you want to try them and at least bits of my results in case you want to laugh at me.
The first one was to visualize and write out our inner critic. In the sample Elee gave, the author gave hers the persona of a femme fatale, a cool chick she could never impress. Elee said ours might be an amorphous blob, or a chorus of voices, or any number of manifestations.
Mine is a very specific line spoken by a very specific real person: a creative non-fiction prof I had in university. The fact that her words became the personification of my inner critic has little to do with her or what she said and more to do with her having put a name, face, and slogan to my own fears and beliefs. And, as Elee pointed out, that gives me a very specific focus for any fighting back I might want to do.
Oh, my inner critic wants me to mention that these exercises were written in 5-10 minutes in class and I don’t write well on command like that, so they’re far from polished works of art. But with no further apology, here’s the most coherent bit of what I wrote for this one:
She’s Icelandic Inuit, a published poet and novelist and painter: interesting. Short with greyish course curly hair, never makeup, just bare ruddy skin. Honest. Telling me “anyone could have written this.” It’s true, I didn’t find my voice until later, experimenting with online writing, but I still hear: “anyone could have written this.” Scrawled in red on a deeply personal essay. Even my deepest, most personal thoughts are boring. My writing’s boring. I’m boring. She and I had this brief touchpoint, this one class 20 years ago, and still her words are part of my brain, forever.