A Basque in Boise

Run-on

I attended a Writing Workshop last Saturday, one of those Living Social deals that showed up on my inbox a couple of weeks back. I’m not particularly fond of getting 6-8 email offers everyday between them and Groupon, but once in a while they have good ideas for half the usual price. I took the kids on a helicopter ride just before Christmas and to see the Globetrotters shortly afterwards. I quite enjoyed the class and I’d been meaning to sit down and write since I got out of that workshop and more so as the week went by, kind of a shitty one I tell you, but it’s been busy with work and kids and translations and (almost) a game of pala.

My goal is definitely not to become a writer. I can’t write fiction for the life of me, well, sometimes there are fantasies going on in my head but it’s nothing more than wishful thinking which will never amount to anything, anything good at least, and who wants to read about that anyway. However, I was curious about the writing workshop, so I signed up and went. I figured $40 wouldn’t make me or break me and there are worse ways to spend four hours of your life and if I didn’t learn anything (which I didn’t think was possible, there is always something to learn from everything you do) at the very least, I’d meet people. I was right on both counts. Plus I got reinforcement on stuff I already knew, like you should write about what you know because first of all, you’ll write, second of all, you’ll enjoy it, it won’t feel like a chore, plus there are no right or wrong subjects; write it down if you feel it, if it pisses you off, if you love it or hate it.

I already knew this next one, but it was nice to hear it from someone else: don’t compare your writing to anybody’s writing, you’ll always think the other guy’s piece is better. In my case, that’s always the case, but I don’t let that bring me down. I could care less about describing an old country barn falling apart because its owners no longer use it or take care of it. I’m just not going to find the appropriate word for the right shade of worn-out red paint barely covering the outside walls anymore, or the angle at which the light gets in through the cracks of the rotten wood or how it’d made the perfect Christmas card during the winter with all that virgin snow surrounding the place and yari yari ya, and even if I did, yawn, I rather stay awake.

The lady talked about writing your story first in ink and paper because there is something about the way your brain connects to your fingers as your draw away the letters and how that affects the way your write. I think she meant affects it for the better. I wouldn’t know and won’t find out. My handwriting is not what it used to be and my brain races most of the time so in order to keep up I rather type on the computer. The lady said there is less chance of crossing things out if you wrote them by hand. She obviously hasn’t seen any of my notes. I like back-spacing and I like the copy and paste feature – totally lacking by the way if you use your pen – because sometimes I write things and then decide I like what I wrote, just not in that particular order and moving paragraphs around on your spiral-bound notebook is a bitch.

She also mentioned ways to keep ideas flowing, like choosing a random word out of the paper for example and writing down for a minute the first thing that comes to mind when you look at that word, then the first thing that comes to mind when you look at the second word and so on and so forth and eventually you’ll make up a little story without even realizing you did. It reminds me a little about traveling through Wikipedia’s maze of links: You know which way you’re getting in but don’t know where you’ll end up, or when. Wikipedia is the black whole of the internet, time disappears without you noticing, like when you get lost in your thoughts while driving and suddenly find yourself at your destination (if you’re lucky) and you can’t remember the last 20 minutes of the drive. Oh, sorry, that’s just me? Anyway, the day Wikipedia shut down to protest against SOPA was the longest ever.

Another handy little idea is to write “stuck stuck stuck stuck stuck” until you are not, the thing is to never cease moving that pen or pounding at the keyboard. I haven’t had to use that trick yet. I’m a bit more radical than that and if I get stuck or lose interest in what I’m writing I’ll just say screw it, hit the delete button and move on, which is exactly opposite to what I do in real life, unfortunately, where I keep trying and trying and trying until the day I realize I should have fucking hit the delete button long time ago, except there is no such thing in life and besides how sad to go through life that way, without saving as “Hey… We’re Not Dead But We Are Apart” or “The Black Boy From Holland Who Danced With Me Red Red Wine Barefooted” or “Good Morning, How Are You? Have A Great Day!”

But the single, most important thing I took away from this class, the reinforcement I needed to keep writing and not caring about what others might say, is that writing is therapeutic, cathartic, helpful, always there. It is. Just like exercising helps you get rid of tension, bitchiness (well…), sadness, stress, writing allows you to put your feelings into words, and in the process, not only will you feel relieved after you wrote something, but you might even figure out the reason why you wrote it, if you didn’t know already. Publish it. Don’t publish it. Share it or keep it to yourself, it doesn’t matter, you’ll feel better whatever you do just because you let it out and you don’t ever have to read what you wrote again if you don’t want to. On top of all the cool pointers I got from the class, I left with one more number on my phone, this really cool girl from Twin Falls who spent a year in Donosti with the USAC (I love that acronym) program and she even knew a bit of Basque. We said we’d have a drink soon, hopefully next week.

Thanks for passing by: ↓

Mark Bieter

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