Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Flexing your writing muscles

Like athletes, writers must train.  We all have tips, tricks, and resources to get our creativity flowing.

I have a few favorite resources that I like to go to to inspire me.  One is a book,  "Journal to the Soul" by Rose Offner, and it is filled with many inspiring exercises to get you writing, such as the following exercise:

The task? Write about your life or a piece of your life that you don't understand and would like to. Write it as a fairy tale or a short story. Include an obstacle that has yet to be overcome, an encounter that has significance, the gift you received, or the lesson learned, and how you came to triumph in the end.

The  following is my response, originally written long hand, in green ink, in a hard bound journal with unlined pages on September 7, 2002:

Once upon a time....

It was told that there was a little girl, who for various and mysterious reasons, became trapped within the body of a wicked and hideous witch. Now, this was no ordinary witch. This witch, in addition to being exceptionally wicked and hideous, was also horrendously lazy and fat. Her mind was incredibly dull and unimaginative for that of a witch. In short, this witch was a very undesirable person to be trapped inside of.

The poor little girl languished in darkness for months on end as the witch went about her business of making others miserable, casting spells and invoking ancient curses to fling upon unsuspecting loved ones and undeserving strangers. Only briefly would the witch allow the little girl a glimpse of the outside world, and then it was darkness again for what seemed an eternity. The little girl made up grand stories in her head to pass the time.

She had no concept of escape.

For years, the little girl endured imprisonment within the witch. She lived quietly, ignoring the witch and reminiscing about her last glimpse of the free world, until one day, the witch let her look outside again. The little girl, gazing upon the green grass and blue sky, was immediately filled with an aching desire to be free of the witch. She fought with all her might not to be pushed back into the darkness. But, kick and bite and scream as she might, the witch triumphed over the little girl, and once again pushed her back inside.

The little girl began to plot her escape.

It was what seemed like forever before the witch let her have a glimpse of freedom again. The little girl gazed out calmly upon a beautiful visage in the world outside and made no attempt to escape. Willingly, she sank back into the darkness when the witch said, "No more," and she continued to plot her escape. The witch, both dull and stupid, was ignorant of the little girl's plan.

In time, the witch grew gravely ill. Being wicked, hideous, lazy, and fat will take its toll on even the most evil and strong witches. Ever so slowly, the witch's strength began to disappear, as the toils of being evil caught up with her. The little girl, being inside of the witch, could feel the witch getting weaker.

She began to speak to the witch.

At first, the little girl tried to tell the wicked witch the grand and elaborate stories that she had made up. But the witch had no interest in her stories. She ignored the little girl and watched with malicious glee as misfortune visited on a passing acquaintance. So the little girl gave up telling stories, and instead began speaking in earnest. She talked about nothing in particular, and she did it all of the time. For hours she would speak, offering an opinion about this or that, a recollection, a thought, a memory. Eventually the witch, being rather too dull and unimaginative to have opinions of her own, and too weak to do little more than sit and observe the evils going on around her rather than cause them, began to listen to the ramblings of the little girl.

The little girl rambled on. Her favorite color, food, toy, and numerous other things about herself paraded out of her mouth and across the witch's mind. For the witch, the little girl had become a nonstop babble of useless but entertaining nonsense. She became weaker by the day, and still, the little girl prattled. By now, the little girl knew that the witch was getting too weak to hold her prisoner.

She grew bolder.

She began to tell the witch what she would do if she could be free. She spoke of strange ideas that required imagination and initiative. The witch lacked these qualities herself and could not understand because of this. She lost more strength trying to puzzle out the ideas of motivation and creativity. The little girl felt the strength leaving the witch, and rambled on.

She told the witch how she had plotted her escape, knowing that the witch could not understand the complex thinking that went on as she was creating it. The witch was, after a fashion, spell bound. Having no capabilities to think on her own, the wicked witch was mesmerized. The little girl felt the bars on her prison begin to waver, then disappear. She had hypnotized the witch into setting her free!

With a happy heart, she jumped up and leapt from the witch...

And found that she had not escaped.

The little girl looked around and rubbed her eyes. Once again, she leaped, and fell back within the witch. The witch opened one eye, chuckled, and then closed it again.

"When will you see that you were never my prisoner?" She questioned in a whisper. "When will you be the wise woman who understands?"

And with that, the witch became silent. In fact, she never spoke again. The little girl watched as the witch faded away, not grasping the truth of the witch's demise, until one day, she woke up on a strange morning of revelation.

The little girl and the wicked witch were one in the same person, and the little girl had imprisoned herself within a miserable facade to protect the fact that she was scared of the outside world.

The little girl had become the wicked witch out of the fierce need to protect her innocence. The wicked witch had remained a little girl. The little girl grew up within the witch and became a woman.

It was when the little girl finally understood this truth that she was truly and ultimately set free of the wicked witch. She finally understood.

She had never been a prisoner at all....

The End

What are some of your favorite resources for getting your creativity flowing?


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