Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Sister Conspirator

I got a letter today (snail mail) from Barbara, my sister who is closest to me in age and in mind. Barbara is the writer/artist/musician, the one with the genius IQ, the one I used to be as scared of as I was champion of when I was very little, the one whose mind I greatly admire.

Her letter came at a very good time. I was needing some inspiration for my scribbling. I wish I could write here exactly what she sent me, but I'm worried she might not like that. Suffice it to say that, without knowing that I was needing a writing prompt, she sent me one. She had made a typo that, to quote her, "looked oddly significant and pregnant with hidden meaning, and in a moment of unguarded contemplation, took on a life of its own." So she took those three words containing the typo and repeatedly used them as the beginning of some verses of haiku. I think she sent me about eight examples. They were brilliant and very funny. She closed her letter with, "This could easily go on forever, and I dread the onset of the limerick. Maybe I can pass it on, like a fever. Share the wealth!"

So she wants me to put my hand to it to see what I can come up with, and it will make a very good writing exercise. Maybe it will shake some cobwebs loose. And if I get permission from her, I will share this interesting little writing prompt with you, too.

I have gotten interesting things from Barb in the mail before: poems, drawings, clippings from the local paper, full of hilarious typos, bad grammar, and worse syntax. When I first got married, I got a letter from her with a post script in Latin. She was brushing up on her Latin, she said, and she wanted me to see if I could translate it and then send her one to translate. This went on for some time. I'm not sure my brain could handle trying to do that now.

Before I got married it wasn't unusual for me to go into my room and find that she'd left me a poem or drawing somewhere, sometimes written or drawn right on my mirror. And I have home made greeting cards from her with original drawing and verse, quite often written with just me in mind.

When I first started writing I would run ideas by her or read her bits of prose to get her opinion, and she's had me edit work for her. We even collaborated on a project once. When she was oversees she'd send me lyrics and ask me to put music to them, or she'd have me go to her house to hunt up a specific notebook, to find a particular piece of writing in that notebook and send it to her so she could work on it further.

Well, anyway, I just thought it was neat that I got that letter today of all days. Here we are well into the second week of NaNoWriMo, and my characters have stopped cooperating with me. I tell them to do one thing, and they stick their tongues out at me and do the opposite. I give them some decent dialog, and they stick their feet in their mouths so that their words come out sounding stilted and jumbley. The plot holes that I had foreseen have gone from the size of cherry pits to coal pits. But all will be well. I'll get back in the groove. I'm a fourth of the way done, and once today's word count is finished will hopefully be a third done. (Of course the point of NaNoWriMo is to just write, write, write, even if it's bad. You're not supposed to edit yourself -- that's for December. But it's hard to write, write, write, when your brain is saying, "well, that's just stupid" or "that sounds terrible!")

When this happens it is often good to break away from the project for a bit and write something completely different. Sometimes it helps to do some timed writing prompts. And just when I was getting ready to do this -- as I was going through my bookmarks to find a couple of sites I like to use for this purpose -- as I was turning my mind away from my novel and getting ready to re-focus -- the mail came.

And when I saw her name on the envelope I smiled because I knew that whatever was in there, it was going to be good, it was going to make me laugh-out-loud, and it was going to be the push I needed.

Thank you Weird Egg!

No comments: