Own Your Beauty!

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Snow Covered Story

I am pretty sure that this blog has no actual direction anymore beyond just my ramblings.  Maybe one day I will refocus it on food writing, or on fiction writing, or on theatre life, or on living in NYC, or on fat activism and HAES, and I will try to build a real audience and be one of those fancy pants bloggers everyone loves, but for right now it is just simply my voice for whatever it needs to be and whatever is on my mind.  I AM the Shakespearean Tomato – hear me roar! (or squish, as it were)

This weekend I took my first little baby steps back out as a writer.  I bundled myself up in the snow and I trudged my inherently lazy self down to the coffee shop during the snow with my notebook and my laptop and committed to just putting words on paper with no judgment or excessive editing allowed.  I just wanted to take my observant eyes and my imagination and let the words flow without worrying about any sort of focus or assignment.  After about 2 hours at the coffee shop, the hard wooden benches were severely hampering both my creativity and my ability to remain sitting, so I rewrapped myself in my multiple layers of (not quite snow proof) clothing and braved about a mile walk in the blowing downfall to my neighborhood bar to keep up the writing and add in a bit more warmth and conversation.

Throughout the afternoon and evening I ended up writing about 4-5 pieces ranging in length from a 1 paragraph observation to a 6 page short story based on a prompt idea.  So far only one piece has made the transition from my notebook to my computer, and I am still deciding exactly how I want to handle that.  Do I want to type everything so I have it in an easy to access, read and edit place?  Or do I want to leave it in the notebook and only transfer what I think has merit?  I am not sure yet.  Both ideas have merit, and I think I will probably value these little character studies and scene prompts when I get to the point of wanting to expand that into something more tangible.  But for the time being I would prefer to focus on the writing process and not push the final product.  That’s the other reason I like writing long hand rather than typing, is because I can just let the words flow and not have to reread them in a legible manner in the moment and feel that pressure to edit and rewrite until it sounds just the way I want it.  There is always time for that later, when I am just starting I need to just let the words emerge and then shape them at a future point.

One of my concerns or hurdles I know I am going to face when expanding my observation writing into something more substantial, is really dealing with plot and dialogue and turning a vague concept into an interesting story.  My roommate made an interesting suggestion, which was to just write all these observation pieces and then tack them up on the walls and when I reach a point where I feel like I have enough, take string and start tying them together.  See which ones could be combined to create new characters, see which ones have promising starts and could be expanded, find a through line and a theme and then make a first book of just individual stories that have some sort of common grounds.  Kind of like the Love Actually of books!  I am sure there are plenty of those types of books out there, but it is certainly an appealing concept to start from.  Perhaps it would also be the start I need to find the story and the characters that could become a real novel even.  Well…one step at a time!

Just to share – here is a little bit I wrote on Saturday; a single paragraph that began from an observation while sitting at the bar.  It is the shortest bit I wrote this weekend, but I think it is a good example of my style and writer’s voice.  It’s completely raw and unedited, but it made me happy when I read it that it came from my pen and made me feel like I might have the talent to begin this journey (wherever it may take me):

She stood at the bar, one hand splayed on the counter, every inch of her soul desperately wishing to be anywhere but there.  She tapped the credit card in her hand against the cheap plywood that had been repainted two too many times in a combination of meaningless morse code and random musicality.  This would be a quiet night.  The snow would inspire people to stay home, order Chinese delivery, and fuck to stave off the cold and boredom.  In nine months there would be a minor bump at the area maternity wards.  In thirty years the screwed up kids of their good enough parents would tell their shrinks that they were conceived during a December snow storm that wasn’t big enough to merit a fancy name like “Blizzard Tuwanda” but enough that their mother and father tried to save their failing marriage with a night of false passion and failed birth control.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The DaVinci Spark

Well, I’ve done it again.  Started Herbalife and then just didn’t stick with it and in the end found that it probably isn’t the right program for me.  The shakes are ok, but they do have a bit of an odd chemically taste to them that I just don’t like.  Also they ended up just RIPPING my stomach apart, and I don’t know if that’s because I started using real dairy with them or if it is the shakes.  Honestly, if I cared that much I would make the shakes with Almond Milk or something and see if that helps…but I am having trouble caring enough to spend the time and money on it.  I totally got that stupid “diet high” that you get when you start a new diet and think about all the changes that COULD happen (but never do) and then the frustration when it doesn’t happen instantly and ends up feeling more gimmicky than anything and it inevitably falls aside and I am right back where I was before.  Which, to be honest, isn’t the worst thing in the world.  If anything I found myself splurging MORE with my meals because I had this feeling of “yeah!  I’ve been drinking stupid shakes all day now for my one meal I will eat whatever I want!!!”. 

Times like these I need to go back and revisit the reason I got active in Fat Politics and Fat Acceptance an H.A.E.S. in the first place.  Because eating and dieting like this are both damaging to my psyche and to my body in the long run.  I DON’T need to focus on weight loss at any cost, I need to focus on my mental, spiritual, and physical well being and that may or may not mean I ever get any smaller than this and that is seriously OK!  I can have a full, fulfilling, happy, wonderful, long life at size 22/24, I might just have to deal with bruised hips at the theatre sometimes (because seriously folks, those seats is TINY) and instead throw that energy into become a more creatively fulfilled person.

On that note, I really wish that I was more of a creator.  Theatre is fun, but I haven’t been on the side of creating theatre (as opposed to managing or assisting) in a long time.  I so desperately long to be one of those people who can write beautiful and moving literature, or can sketch and pull the world through the tip of their pencil and make it live on the page.  I want to be not simply a creative person, but a passionate creator.  That kind of focus and commitment to your life I feel can only make every aspect of your life more fulfilling.  I want to sit down with a blank book and a pen and just spill forth my thoughts on the world, create characters, give them life and history and make something that speaks to my soul and maybe would speak to someone else’s soul too.  I am not trying to become an established author or anything, but to be able to create something true would make me so happy.

The more I read about people who do write, it strikes me that they approach it as a job and a lifelong education of sorts.  You don’t just sit down and crank out a great novel, you write EVERY DAY.  You practice, just like any other art form.  You take things that move you and you write a few pages describing it, bringing the event or the person or the song of the bird in the otherwise barren trees of Washington Square Park to life.  You have short stories, and word sketches, and exercises, and ramblings just to get yourself used to putting words on the page and seeing how they sound together – used to making your voice emerge from the judgmental chaos in your own brain.  I have said before that I want to spend less time on the trivial and the unnecessary and focus more on being creative for myself.  Do I really need to spend a half hour surfing Facebook and reading blogs or random articles when I could have my notebook out and be writing about the things happening around me?  Take the practice and do something as simple as describe in evocative words the person sitting across from me on the subway – what are they wearing? What were they thinking when they picked out those clothes this morning?  What has they day been like so far?  What will the rest of their day be like?  What is happening in their life right now?  If this were 100 years ago what would they have been doing at this exact same time?  These are all questions meant to inspire action and ideas! 

And let’s be honest, being a writer appeals to my sense of introversion and isolation.  It’s something I can (and must) do alone, but something I can also pack in my bag and take with me into the world for inspiration and the down times between meeting with friends.  It’s genius really and something that I need to commit to and flourish within.  It all goes back to that idea of a DaVinci notebook that I love so much – not a journal, not a diary, not a sketchpad or a book of fiction, not a travelogue or a scrapbook, but something that combines all aspects of this into one notebook filled with all the richness of your mind and your experiences.  DaVinci didn’t restrict himself to being a singular man, in fact he combined all aspects of arts and sciences and was practicing and creating constantly – a true “renaissance man” in action!  There will never be another Leonardo DaVinci (even if James Franco thinks he is trying) but why not strive to that ideal?  To be always learning, always creating, always pushing yourself to experience life to the fullest and using art to deepen your involvement in the world around you.  In other words, don’t set out to write a great novel, just set out to see what happens and then use that to spark the creative fire within.