Friday, October 7, 2011

Limbo Exercise #41

I have made reference before to Dorothea Brande's book Becoming A Writer. Hers was one of the most influential of the many books I'd read (and I'd read dozens) when I was initially striving to do just that, become a writer. Brande emphasized that the craft could be learned and that we did not have to be subject to the whims of a muse. Instead, we could learn to write on command.

As a result of this book one of the things I did to develop this ability was to begin doing daily limbo exercises. If you look up limbo on Google you see videos pertaining to loosening your body. My limbo exercises were designed to loosen my mind and free my pen, or rather, my fingers that tapped on the typewriter keys. And to learn how to create prose on command.

It would go like this: I would take a blank sheet of paper and at the appointed time each day fill it with words. The subconscious mind would actually begin composing long before reaching my seat to do the writing. This daily discipline was quite helpful in enabling me to produce volumes of creative copy. Many of those exercises unearthed some fascinating material and became the basis for articles, stories and poems. What follows is an extract from one of those limbo exercises, circa 1982-4.

Of course he only said it because he was obligated to speak.
He did not like it any more than they did.

But what was he to do?


With best wishes... This time he understood.
Wherever there were answers there must be questions. If only he could figure it out.

But then, adults were like that. You can never figure them out.
The safe thing was not the best thing, but it was O.K. At least for the time being.

The ideas introduced themselves and he pondered their value.
When he finished the exercise he found new ways to explain it. The potential was enormous.

Why had he taken so long to recognize what was plainly evident to all?
Surely it was his youth, his lack of experience. The rigorous training would eventually pay off. He was certain of this.

In the meantime, he would wait. Counting days.
It would happen as planned or it would be broken up. There were no other paths.

To all you writers out there, "Write on!"

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