Friday, September 29, 2017

A Limping Return to Creative Life

For several weeks, I've been resigning myself to the idea that I may not get much writing done this fall.  I've lost the month of September, after all.  Because of the disruptions of the hurricane, my online classes will require more intense grading for the next few weeks. 

Yesterday was the first day I caught a glimpse of my creative self returning.  I opened some of the short stories that I had been writing in August. I wrote a sentence or two.  I found my way back into the story that has an animation instructor meeting her friend at Mepkin Abbey.

In the shower, a few lines of something that could be a poem came to me.  We spent time with the book of Jonah on Sunday, so that's the inspiration for these lines:

You thought you were so special
that the digestive juices
of the big fish would not dissolve you.

I thought of all the other big fish in literature, especially Moby Dick.  I thought about all the apocalyptic novels and short stories that have one person left.  This week, I've been watching the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary on the Vietnam War, with its piercing images.

By the end of my shower, these lines were in my head:

For everyone who survives to tell
the tale, there are countless, nameless
others swept to sea.

Now I just need a few stanzas to go in the middle.

My short stories are part of a linked collection--the link is the for-profit arts school in South Florida where they all work.  This morning, I thought about creating a short story that's inspired by Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried"--O'Brien read part of the story to close last night's last episode of the Vietnam War documentary.

I found the story online; I hadn't read it before.  The first O'Brien story I read was "How to Tell a True War Story," but I knew about "The Things They Carried."  When I read the story this morning, it was both familiar, but with chunks of text that I knew I hadn't read before.

Part of me despairs:  I have so many ideas and so little time to develop them.  But part of me feels triumphant.  My creative self is not dead!

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