I have been chatting to a writing teacher who I am sure us sincere and no doubt a very good teacher and yet our two views on helping the writer were almost diametrically opposite.
I believe in getting into an almost trance-like state and coaxing a story out, a story that feels to me, as "already existing" and all I am doing is reaching in the release it.
I aim (I try very hard) to avoid ever becoming conscious of the story. I try to simply be a conduit, a medium. I feel, when writing as if I am channeling something from out of the ether. "God is talking" if you like and all I am doing is writing it down as it comes.
That's metaphor, OK? It doesn't have to be "about" a deity. It's about my subconscious, my mental DNA, all the words that have passed into me, the poems, the stories, the newscasts, the death of Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the moon landings, Mai Lai, 9/11, a girl, my aching left knee, my bowels, everything. (This paragraph could be continued until I die.)
I want connections that are utterly unpredictable, unplanned.
A few days ago, to post my daily prompts (ones I generate in a kind of trance) I took a book "The History of Mathematics" and wrote 24 lines that were not-wuite direct lines from the book. Now that is the most unpromising material you could imagine, right?
Then I picked up "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" and copied (slightly doctored) 24 lines which were placed alternately with the maths.
This was the post to Boot Camp, on Facebook, here on the blog and at LinkedIn in the group I steer there.
Twice as many prompts today.
I used doctored lines fro The History of Mathematics and doctored
lines from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (alternately).
The art comes from combining the two different voices
and seeing the tensions between them
How and why mathematics began
Once there were four children. Peter, Susan, Edmund...
Appreciation of shape, form and decoration
Something happened to them
How counting started
During the war because of air-raids
Not necessarily influential, still less "true"
They were sent to the home of an old professor
The various views that have been held
In the heart of the country
The accounts reflect the period in which they were written
Miles from the nearest Post-Office
A kind of historical philosophical analysis
he had a housekeeper and three servants
Why do all men, even barbarians, count to ten?
Very old, with shaggy white hair
Apparently, everyone does this always
They liked him almost at once
He was odd, and Lucy was afraid of him
Chance cannot account for these facts
It is in the nature of things
He pretended to blow his nose
The moving bodies are nine in number
The boys came into the girls' room
Four cubic numbers are completed
They had fallen on their feet!
A certain race counts only up to four
We can do anything we like. Anything!
Because like children they cannot handle more
Being tired made him bad-tempered
They never use large numbers
We ought to go to bed
It is not most easily acquired
With any amount of stairs and passageways
The very savage, fishing, will count
Doors leading into empty rooms
But the leader of their troop is still obliged
It's a bird, sill!
A necessary skill of enumeration
Or an owl
He prepares to attack others, and must surely count them
When I came to write the story i struggled to start, but once I did I used all the prompts IN ORDER and produced a story I think scores 125+ in Boot Camp terms. That is a probable prize-winner.
As soon as I had the voice, the story just flowed out of me.
So far all the marks in BC have been very high (story is posted anonymously) but WHAT the story is, everyone his thought differently. One "loved the humour", another was freaked by the main's control of a character, could the main be an alien? Another thought that it was a religious analogy and the writer thought it was about a pedophile.
THAT is when writing is exciting.
Who could possibly predict such wild "finding" with such a bizarre starting point?