“Twelve steps writing exercise Day 12: Gather everything you’ve written over the previous 11 days. Pick your favorite. Edit it, polish it and either try to get it published or post it on the Web to share with the world. Be proud of yourself and your work.”
And so I've actually reached the final day of the twelve step writing exercise. Was it worth it?
Yes and no. I personally do not hold any faith that these twelve exercises as written will ever help you create your masterpiece, or chip your block. They're too obtuse, they don't tie together, they're asking you to create a mind-numbing number of different tasks with no true cohesion to them, and they simply do not explain why you should undertake one or the other. However, it got me writing for all that!
When I started this dominicispalmer blog I did it with the shaking hands of a terrified old man and novice. Would anyone read it ? ( Ha! No is the answer. But so what? If the purpose of this is to write, or learn new tricks, who cares if no one out there in haha land is reading? ) I started with an idea, that I would diarise my attempts at each task across each day. It worked for day one, which took an entire working day to complete and had me picking mothballs from my arsehole and eating them by the end.
Who put the mothballs there in the first place is a question of conjecture. I think it was the mothball butterfly. I could be wrong.
As I developed across each day however, I found myself addressing the tasks as they pertained specifically to my day, or to my emotions, and tried to relate each step from the three lists I had chosen, that of the exercises themselves, the blog-writing and the twelve steps of addiction.
That, too, developed until the explosive ( well not in 911 terms maybe, but certainly that one in london where the police fellows shot a man a couple of times until they were sure he was dead, and then asked him if he was okay or something ) events of 10/04/2014, which allowed me to spend a little time musing on the nature of acknowledgment and credit yet gave me a platform for my anger. I think this was my most coherent piece, because it had a true focus.
That has been my main difficulty with the tasks; focus. They lack any.
As to picking my favourite exercise, well a summary first. Click on the days and you'll be brunged to the articles themselves.
DAY ONE commanded I write 10 potential book titles of books I'd like to write. I'm a playrite so I subverted that slightly. This one drove me mad in the same way as studying for my Physics exams in High School drove a Catherine Tramel-esque ice pick into my lobes. I couldn't understand why, so I found myself floundering. In both cases I got there but by the skin of my teeth. If my teeth had skin. Which it doesn't. That's a very stupid saying. No one has skin on their teeth. The closest you could possibly say is Whales and their Balleen filtering system. But that's not skin. That's Belleen.
DAY TWO told me I should create a character with the personality traits of someone I love, but the physical characteristics of someone I don’t care for. I did it, it was unrewarding, I understood why but it meant nothing to me. Like your ma.
DAY THREE got me to write a setting based on the most beautiful place I've ever seen. I was in a bad mood that day. I didn't care for beauty, even the subverted beauty of Jenna Jameson in her early work with Randy West. Beauty and the Beast. So pretty, so un-nerving. I decided to go existential, as a way to not actually do the exercise to hand. Which was, I guess kind of existential too.
DAY FOUR asked me to write a letter to an agent telling her how wonderful I was. I couldn't resist a little love me-loathe me irony, and went with a million page actors CV. I hope someone read it and got the joke. If not, hey go and take a look. It really is quite amusing. And truer to my character than perhaps I'd like you to know.
DAY FIVE said : write a 20-line poem about a memorable moment in your life. Fuck poetry. I tried my hand at satirical irony and created an entire rant in rhyme. I don't know, somewhere along the way the joke got lost. I still hate poetry thogh.
DAY SIX : Select a book on your shelf and pick two chapters at random. Take the first line of one chapter and the last line of the other chapter and write a short story (no more than 1000 words) using those as bookends to your story. This one is pretty much the only exercise up to this point that I can completely get behind, that seems to have a point. Accordingly I took this one seriously and actually came up with something I could show the grandchildren. Of someone else's grandparents.
DAY SEVEN was writing a letter to myself telling me what I need to improve in the coming 6 months. This has fuck all to do with writing and everything to do with self help. Fuck self help. And fuck you.
DAY EIGHT : Rewrite a fairy tale from the bad guy’s point of view. Cue long discourse on why this was a stupid idea, and a musing on the nature of dramatic villainy in the modern age. I think this was my most interesting piece but it really had nothing to do with the exercise.
DAY NINE : Turn on your TV. Write down the first line that you hear and write a story based on it. Child abuse. That's what I got. It gave me the nugget of an idea about why television bothers me. It's because it's shit. All of it. Even Breaking Bad, you total losers.
DAY TEN : Go sit in a public place and eavesdrop on a conversation. Turn what you hear into a short love story (no matter how much you have to twist what they say). Another decent example of a proper writing exercise this one, and something I did with gusto. This of course was done during the time my partner was being fucked around by her employer as she waited to be laid off.
DAY ELEVEN Write the acknowledgments page that will be placed in your first (next?) published book, thanking all the people who have helped you along the way. Well, that was our London Bombings day. A head-fuck and an arse-scratch all rolled into one.
And so to day twelve. Which was my favourite? Well, my favourite exercise was the book chapters, and second was the dialogue exercise. They felt like real writing exercises, and could be tied together to create a proper set of exercises. The rest were bumph, nice ideas that didn't pad out or in some cases, just didn't make sense. If I had to guess I'd say they were kinda made up on the spot. But only if I had to guess.
My favourite piece? A toss-up between the book chapters piece, The Devil and the Duck, and my piece on arts acknowledgment. That last piece went the way I had imagined all the others might go; it tied into the twelve steps of all three lists, it developed beyond the exercise it came from yet finished with the exercise piece, and was cohesive, long without being too long, and hopefully made its point succinctly. And no small amount of passion.
So I'm done with this exercise, and I'm genuinely fucking glad; but I'll be on the lookout for others. Hopefully, I'll gain a little bit of a readership. But in the end I think the whole point of blogging is to find an outlet for yourself.
That's important. That, I think at the end of the day, is the thing of a blog.
“Twelve Do's and Dont's of blogging : Don't avoid trying new things. It’s important to let your blog evolve over time, and the only way this can happen is if you take risks every once in awhile. Whether it’s adding infographs or personal stories or guest bloggers, never be afraid to try something new. If you feel it can add something special to your blog, try it.”
I believe that over the course of the last thirteen or so entries, I have truly done this.
I even learned how to use gif animations. Score motherfucker. Score.
So what's next? Well, obviously we've had a massive upheaval in this household and we have to look into where to go next. We're talking New Zealand. We're talking Canada. We're talking me getting a job here in Bumpkin Town. Maybe. Whatever. It's all gravy.
In the meantime, I have a few ideas for blogs, articles and stories, I also have a notion to start interviewing some people.
AND, at long last, having given myself a great excuse not to write my plays, I'm going to start Rebecca Hall Saves The World. Getting kinda excited about it too. I'm thinking of charting this in a future series of articles so hell, if you've stuck with me this far, keep sticking. With me. Farther.
Here's a blog about music!
oh ps, one last thing - I somehow managed to include two of the addiction steps in the first article, so we're plum out of obsessive twelve step addiction steps! Oh well. As John from the bible once said : It's Finished.