Slow Writing: Statistics

March 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

75% of statistics are made up, did you know?

Chase them; you’ll soon spiral down a rabbit hole of high claims and overheard rumours.

It’s hard to know what’s really real any more.

Numbers numbers numbers, one or two digits shaping how we view our world this day.

50.6%: the majority believes.

Delete mind, curiosity, SELF – you are number and number gets in line.

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Slow Writing: The Unfortunate Alchemist

February 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

And then, at the very moment that Charles had thought he’d cracked it, the crockpot began to smoke quite disconcertingly.

Who would have thought alchemic enlightenment could be so evasive?

For poor Charles, the process was yet a veritable maze of dead ends, trapdoors and coal cellars.

To think that he’d held the secret in his own hands not 10 years ago.

The mysterious fakir’s laboratory, fires flickering from scattered experiments.

He’d come so close that time; now, as he stared into the crockpot’s twisted depths, he felt something akin to hopelessness.


LOVING the new-improved tool so much.

1. Must start with a connective
2. Must include a rhetorical question
3. Must include a metaphor
4. Must be 15 words long
5. Must include alliteration
6. Must contain emotive language

Slow Writing Is Back!

February 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

Sir, if I may: these shrewd words of yours – which have impressed us much – serve to further our cause not a jot.

Half have left our heads, a full quarter have stood as garnish…why, I do believe our party is replete and sated after your canapé tableau of a speech.

Moving uncomfortably swiftly onwards, may I present our next speaker to the house: The Honourable Fairweather Marchbanks, Duke of Earley.

His past needing no introduction, the admirable Rear Admiral will now take to the high sea of our parliament and, I hope, blandish us with greater maxims than our lamented first speaker.

Sir: the floor is yours, and the house awaits you with bated breath and whispering humbleness.

Let us begin.

 

Huzzah

The Slow Writing tool has been revamped! I only learned of this after a couple of weeks of lamenting its apparent disappearance, followed by a frosty email to its originator. Fi, how I wronged him!

The new app is ace, go check it out. Pro tip: you want a ‘new demo’ (in the little arrow menu) to do a new exercise – that took me a while to figure out.

This exercise:

1. Must contain an embedded subordinate clause
2. Must begin with a statistic
3. Must begin with a present participle
4. Must contain a metaphor
5. Must contain a colon
6. Must be three words long

Truthers

January 5, 2015 § Leave a comment

And so it was, in the first pale hours of a year just barely opening its eyes, that minds were altered and perspectives surgically skewed.

Seismic, not the gradual drip drip drip that leads to a natural shift.

An abrupt CRUNCH of horrible realisation: disillusionment extreme.

Not fair, not right, not just – not anything.

Truth.

Whether you can bear the metal taste of it in your dry mouth or not, truth is coming for you and acknowledging it will not even begin to set you free.

When I Need a Quick Word Fix

December 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

When I can’t really be arsed to write, or I want to write but haven’t thought about what, I do little challenges. Most often that’s Slow Writing, which you may have seen from me before. Six sentences, each of which must contain a proper noun, a question, a semi-colon or any other GCSE English titbit. You can find my first foray with it here.

I also write poems from lists of found phrases; the magical, accidental positioning of words next to each other in Words on hellpoetry.com, for example. Sometimes the randomly generated strings of words are more beautiful than anything I could come up with alone, but combining them fills me with the resonating joy of loving curation.

When I was young, I had a set of magnetic words from Waterstones. They weren’t your usual nouns, verbs, funny words and punctuation. They were words like dream, shine, wonder. I used them to generate poems and here’s one from memory:

Shh!
Let the silent waters lap.
And the love of angels fly free.

Building with a set of words that are not your own is so oddly freeing; I’ve always found my creativity flies with restrictions. I’m sure some purists would say that poetry jigsawed together from crumbs of other people’s work is not poetry. But you know, no words are your own really.

I have always written poetry provoked by books. My earliest attempts (excluding the era that saw very down-to-earth poems about writing on bananas and washing paint down the sink) were inspired by – copied from – White Oleander by Janet Fitch. Stolen phrases from disparate chapters, stitched together into how I felt about the book’s SOUL.

The one I wrote the other day was about Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I found so incredibly affecting. That’s another thing I do: I write as someone else. That one, I’m pretty sure I was an old (male) guide who was showing British journalists around an abandoned compound after the Nigerian civil war in the 60s. The poem I wrote about the funeral, I was me but I was me if Phil had just died.

This is it: we don’t write as who we are, not usually. I always write with ‘What if?’ in my mind. These funny little writing exercises are the warm-ups and shake-downs I do when I need to stretch. They’re small and they’re quick; they make it so easy to imagine and not worry about how things will turn out.

Slow Train Slow Writing

December 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

Theirs was a time of red dust in open mouths.
Have yam, sah? Have salt? Have water?
Smiling gone from the vocabulary,
any man with shoes would be swarmed by the blank-faced angels of our sweeping famine.
Living just got hard; death was never so easy
as in the swollen belly of starving Biafra.
Take your snaps, pretty snaps
to murmur over with knowledgeable sympathy back home.
Igbo is dying and only stains of blood remain in the dirt.

Possessive, question, gerund, semi-colon, directive, proper noun.

Slow Writing for a Slow Friday

November 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

It wasn’t just a book; it wasn’t like any book I’d seen before, anyway.

The secret (if you could call it that) was a short line of writing on the inside back cover, under the flyleaf.

Lifting the stiff, faded paper, you could see the faint scrawl and just make out what it said.

Go ahead, take a look – I have it here, though I can no longer read the writing for myself.

If you’re still listening (and I feel you are), your curiosity must be piqued.

So don’t hold back on my account; don’t hold back from the very thing that could change your life forever.

Semi-colon, brackets, present participle, imperative verb, brackets, repetition.

 

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