Forget the Title
Possibly the worst thing you can write on a To Do list is to “make some progress on…” whatever it is. I can never accomplish whatever that means. For example: at first, I had titled this post “Progress”, and then proceeded to stare blankly at my screen for 10 minutes. Just get something done, write about making progress on writing. But that doesn’t work for my brain. You may not know what you’re working on until it’s done. I don’t know where my writing’s gonna lead to, but I know that I’m enjoying making progress, without thinking too much about doing so. Don’t have a destination. Don’t tell yourself to get going with your writing. Just write.
Here’s a little task we had in my creative writing class, for instance. We had 3 sentences that we were to make more interesting with description. And I ended up with a couple pages on it in my notebook, elaborating further than was required and somewhat setting up a story. I’ll show you what I mean here.
The sentences were:
“I went to the store and bought a dozen apples. After that I came home and decided to call Marion. She told me that she was busy and so she couldn’t make it to the dance.”
-Walter Mosley, This Year You Write Your Novel
Horribly boring, right? So I took this exercise and ran with it. Here’s what I came up with, from just a few sentences:
“On my way to the grocery store, I wondered what I’d wear to the performance tonight. I had a couple untouched things in my closet that would suffice. I actually had a reason to be a little jittery about putting myself together tonight, and that reason’s name was Liam. This guy I had a couple drinks with last night that told me he’d come to see our routine when I told him about it. He was more intriguing than my usual bar buddy.
So my nightly routine of inspecting myself in the mirror for any imperfections in my attire would be more challenging than usual. This time I’d have the added apprehension of someone coming to the show to watch me specifically. Marion was the real star, who always collected all the kisses and roses. I wish I’d told him last night, even briefly, how horrid of a dancer I was, just to make sure he didn’t have any kind of expectations.
Well, he’ll find out soon enough, I told myself with annoyance as I pulled into the More Cheap parking lot and searched for a spot hidden from the sun.
I’d gotten all the way into the store with a kart in both hands before I realized that I’d put no thought whatsoever into what exactly I was here for. My mind was lost all morning in the realm of abstract romantic possibilities. I hadn’t eaten yet, and I was also hungry while shopping for food (which always ends up to be a disastrously expensive mistake).
I approached the produce section, and a sale on bags of Red Delicious apples caught my eye. I remembered telling myself that I should probably start eating more healthy, so I responsibly grabbed the bag and made a mental note to start eating away at it throughout the week.
Heading to the cereal aisle with optimism, I was immediately drawn to the Lucky Charms guy as his charm waved me over. I told him regrettably that we aren’t good for each other, and should probably start seeing other cereals. I turned away from his disappointed face as I aimed for the holy section of granola and other such natural things. Before I was out of earshot, however, he managed to pipe in a: “Oh, I know you’ll return to me when you find your senses, Lassie!” with a cheeky grin and a wink. He knew me too well.
I was whisked away again into my Imagination Land where my very own Irishman awaited me. Tonight would be a chance to capture his image in my head again and hand onto it there for future daydreams. His ink black hair framing his face perfectly, and pale eyes like silver cracks in the storm clouds. What lie behind the mask of indifference he put up against the weight of the world, I could only hope to discover. Whoops, there I go wandering through my head again. Back to the shopping thing…
I look down into my kart at the first success of my day of obtaining the apples, and reason that they’ll need some peanut butter to accompany them later. I completely abandon my cereal quest as I roll beyond where I’d been lost in my head.
Passing by the Ice Palace of Princess Pistachio herself, I hear her sweet singing twinkling across the dead expanse of packaged food around me, beckoning me over to join in her song. I immediately flip my kart in the opposite direction, rushing away from her siren call, and saving myself from wrecking upon her shores of ice cream indulgence.
This store was obviously a dangerous place for one so weak-willed as I was at that moment. And weak-stomached. I’d done well enough finding something edible so far on my journey, but who knew what crooked path I’d end up following through this jungle of temptations. A sudden clamor of howling and hooting escapes from the liquor aisle, and set me into a panic The fiery spirits dwelling there attempt to lure me in to their wild games.
“Come dance with us, show girl,” they roar.
“Not today,” I respond. Unfortunately, I whisper.
Again, I am obviously not suited to face such temptations in this absent state of mind. I’d better check out right away and bring these lonely red souls to the safety of my cottage. Maybe I have something there to combine them with for a meal. Or a snack.
Great, all I have to show for my excursion is a dozen apples. That’s all I bought to fill my stomach’s void. I haul the bag out of the kart and carry it to my Subaru. Marion’s words of wisdom confronted me as I drop my spoils into the backseat. She’d warned that A scatterbrained head is gonna tell the feet the wrong moves on stage. That thought offset my nerves even further as I pull into traffic. And right in front of an impatient grandma who makes sure to honk for every syllable of the profanities she shrieks out the window. At this rate, I’ll be lucky to deliver these apples and myself home at all.
I should probably take a nap to clear up my jitters. After I made an apple pie. And repaint my nails. Maybe I’ll just call Marion and vent some steam to her.
Finally home, I plop down onto my old bean bag chair and find her contact in my phone: “Queen Monkey”.
“Hey crazy, what’s up? I was thinking about work tonight and this guy I just met. He might be there to see the show. Just anxious and wanted to talk a while, Call me back when you can. Later.” I end the message and let out a long sigh. Wonder what she could be up to.
Three bites into an apple later, she calls back now that she’s out of the shower. Now she’s getting ready to take her kid to tennis practice. And asking me about this new guy I mentioned in my message. She said she’d be rushing around the rest of the day and into the night carting her other four demanding dependents around. Which meant she wouldn’t be able to make it to the show, and “Do you mind going on without me? Just run it like you did two weeks ago.” (Which had been a complete disaster). She hangs up with an: “Yes, I’m coming!” and I’m left alone with the silence of my living room.
Great, Marion wasn’t going to be there tonight. And I’d have to run the show, ALONE…
So…I don’t even know where I’m going with this really, and it’s still a small piece of writing that I enjoyed creating, and may end up continuing down the road when I have more to add. Just tiny pieces at a time. Maybe I’ll just write small sentences like this and elaborate on them until I can connect the dots and devise something beautiful. I don’t know. But for now, I’m just going to write without a destination. And leave it unspecified. Forget the title.
≈≈Till next time≈≈