Sunday, February 03, 2013

750 Words for Today

Er, I have nothing much to say.  This happens to me once in awhile, but only once in awhile, and usually by the time I get through this pre-writing/free-writing (where I say I have nothing to say) I DO have something to say, which is what I've told writing students and why I am such a proponent of free writing.  If you've never free-written (is that a word?) you're missing out on something spectacular. Free writing is mind-liberation, free flow transcription of words that come into your head. You type as fast as you can and make a lot of mistakes because most of us can't type as fast as we think.  What you come out with is SOMETHING, or at least the start of an idea you can expand upon.  Free-writing can be directed (as in, "I give you a topic") or really free.  So many students have told me, "But I have nothing to say!"  Good, I told them.  Then you can just keep writing "I have nothing to say" until you get sick of it and eventually, you WILL have something to say.  And it's true.

It's fascinating what free-writing can yield.  Back around 2002, I had an eclectic group of mostly disadvantaged adult students stuck in a crappy career school I was teaching in.  I wanted them to free-write and of course, I got the usual response, and I gave them my usual response.  I always told the kids if they wanted to share their writing, they could, but if it was personal, then it was theirs. There were two student entries that stick out in my mind.  The first was by a native Spanish speaker.  His free-writing was half in English, half in Spanish, and I don't mean in any organized manner.  He had Spanish words mixed in with English words in his sentences, but it wasn't Spanglish.  Though I had taught ESOL before, I had never seen this sort of fascinating word mixing because I had been in a more academic setting.  The second piece was even more fascinating, though. This guy's free-writing was mostly musical notes.  No kidding.  He had some words but most of what he had written was a score. I don't know how common this is, but it amazed the crap out of me and still does. 

I loved my students at that school and hated leaving, but the place was owned by a bunch of thugs and the corporate culture that sucked the life out of students and employees was literally, intellectually and spiritually killing us all.  Eventually, the thugs sold the chain off because they weren't making any money.  Disgusting.  Anyway, my point was that writing can take on many forms, and even when you think you have nothing in your head, you do.

One of the reasons I thought I didn't have anything to say was I'm in my family room, which is also my office.  I love this because everyone gets to be together, even if we are all doing different things, but it can be distracting.  When I am trying to get real work done, I do it when no one is home, or I literally use ear plugs, which aren't the best because they make the ringing in my ears louder, but that's not as distracting as games, chatter and such. But a lot of times like now, I'm not working, per se. Sometimes I'm painting or scrap booking or even talking to my mother while I'm on the treadmill (also in the family room) while there are games going on and the pets are eating.  It's not usually loud (per orders of me), and its cozy.  Sometimes I wish we had a bigger house so we could spread out the "stuff" more but then we might be all over the house instead of in the same room close to each other.  Something would be missing, and relying on the phone intercom more than we already have to would be kind of depressing, I think.  Yes, if we're having a lot of people over, it would be great to put them in a bigger room, but we don't do that often, which is fine with me because then you have to clean before and after, and even though its fun to have people over sometimes, I don't like cleaning.  So two or three times a year is plenty.

And now...I've made my 750 words and I've actually said something.  See how easy that was?
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