Found sentences, Happy New Year, and how have you been while I was away?

Writing here with more regularity is a goal I have for 2014 for mostly selfish reasons. The more I am writing and thinking about how to stay focused and producing words on the page in spite of an already full life, the more likely I am to write more than in fits and starts. I also hope that you, reader, might find among these posts the aid or inspiration you are seeking in your own creative practice. 🙂 I hope to post more visual prompts, letters, found sentences, and musings on writing practice than ever this year.

I made the decision to put a piece of writing I’ve been lingering on away and start something new, to add one more mostly done book to the proverbial drawer. They say that I shouldn’t feel bad about that and that these failed attempts at writing books have made me strong and agile-minded for the book I’m about to begin. I hope so. There is contradictory advice on just about every aspect of writing out there. When I came across this article on Twitter today from Writer’s Relief, I nearly lost my nerve.

Then, I reminded myself how my decision had emerged while freewriting with some friends at The Spar Cafe downtown Olympia and how you know a truth when you come upon it, no matter how difficult that truth may be. So, I’m starting a new book and so far I don’t have a plot, only a main character I’m obsessed with getting to know named Hannah Farouche. I’m also working away at a dozen or so short stories I’ve got going.

Here are some sentences I’ve been collecting over the last few months. I meant to share them along the way, but I saved them up instead. I think they are exceptional and worth looking at on their own.

From Open Secrets by Alice Munro:
“On the runway, in Honolulu, the plane loses speed, loses heart, falters and veers onto the grass, and bumps to a stop.”

From Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood:

“Around the corner was the Maple Leaf Tavern, where I drank draft beer in the dark, two stoplights away from the art school where I drew naked women and ate my heart out” (91).

“One day someone appears in the schoolyard with a bag of marbles and the next day everyone has them” (68).

“Futon, duvet: This is how far we’ve come” (13).

“Despite their cool poses they wear their cravings on the outside, like the suckers on a squid” (122).

“I’m sitting in the mouse-dropping and formaldehyde smell of the building on the window ledge, with the heat from the radiator going up my legs, watching out the window as the fairies and gnomes and snowballs below me slog through the drizzle to the tune of ‘Jingle Bells’ played by a brass band” (127).

From The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus

“The occasional ambulance stopped on our block, stayed too long, drove away finally, too quiet, its lights revolving in funereal silence” (21).

“Hello was the perfect word. It began and ended all contact, delivering us into private chambers from which we could enjoy other people in textbook abstraction, without the burden of intimacy” (27).

“I looked east toward the man-shaped silhouette between two houses where the sun would appear in a few hours, but there was nothing there to suggest a sun could ever heave itself into the sky again” (94).

“What a lovely chart one could draw of this word sorry” (112).

“Such a shared habit allowed ritual nudity to occur at home, a nudity that often heralded nothing but private fits of sleep on top of the same, vast bed” (235).

“We wrestled in much the same way we had when we were erecting the play tent for Esther when she was four, sliding collapsible stilts through a long canvas sleeve, except this time there was no play tent between us, just deflated geometries of air, and we were two old acquaintances grimly determined to extract pleasure from each other” (236).


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