Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Alphabetics of Writing, Katie-style

I lifted this exercise from Take Joy, a quirky, no-nonsense book about writing by Jane Yolen, who has written literally dozens of books. Since I spent most of yesterday at the Taylor County Courthouse, waiting around to eventually be excused from jury duty (whew!), I had ample time to brainstorm. And this isn't the only version of the ABC's of writing, but I thought it turned out amusingly, and rather well. :)

A is for apricots, those juicy, flavorful little fruits which are infinitely more interesting than plain old apples.

B is for broken, which all good characters are, or discover that they are. No one wants to read a story or a memoir about someone who has no flaws or cracks or chipped edges. If people aren't broken, they are boring.

C is for chocolate, chai and compassion, all of which are absolutely essential to my writing.

D is for delight, which I take in writing and in life, though sometimes I have to remind myself of both.

E is for eccentric, which all interesting people are, and most (if not all) good writing is.

F is for flavor, which writing MUST have, be it spicy, sour, musty, fresh, sweet or exotic.

G is for gumption, which is necessary for quality writing, and guts, without which no one ever wrote anything.

H is for huffing and puffing...not always fun, but a given in the writing process.

I is for incorrigible - better even than invigorating or iridescent or irresistible or impossible.

J is for joie de vivre, which admittedly is not a requirement, but it spices up writing and makes it fun to read.

K is for karma - I don't really believe in it, but I believe that writing builds on itself, and that writers build on their own history. Layering connections and experiences and relationships and memories means a wealth of richness to draw from later.

L is for llamas, which sometimes show up unexpectedly, in writing and in life. Also for love, because I am either naive or optimistic enough to believe that the best writers write for love.

M is for mariachis, moose and a bit of divine madness...also milk chocolate, mint (which gives that extra kick), and magic.

N is for nighttime, nuances and other shadowy things, which lurk in the background of good writing and enrich it.

O is for overdone - which writing should never be.

P is for publication, which is endlessly frustrating but also somehow necessary, for fame and fortune at least. Also for perseverance, without which one cannot achieve publication.

Q is for quotidian, which writing must be...it must be daily, as regular as brushing one's teeth or breathing, else it becomes something we are afraid of.

R is for rescue, which we all need sometimes. I must learn to be better at being my own rescuer, or reaching out for rescue when I need it.

S is for starfish, which can grow an arm back when one gets chopped off. (How I wish I were so hardy.) S is also for stopping...know when to stop.

T is for truth; good writing, even fiction, tells the truth, and feels true.

U is for undoing, reversing, moving, or trying things in a different way, all of which writers must not be afraid to do.

V is for vexing, which your writing will be at times, and velvety, which your writing should be at times.

W is for walking, of which you should do a lot if you want to be a writer. Also for wandering, and wondering.

X is for xing out what doesn't need to be there. Become your own sharpest editor.

Y is for yearning - that indispensable yearning to play with words, to tell a story, to describe something beautiful, to capture the elusive - which you must hammer and forge and knead and shape, or it will remain just a yearning.

Z is for...oh goodness. Zephyr, zither, zigzag and zygote, because they're the only Z words I can think of. Although I suppose zithers are musical, which writing should be...and zygotes signal growth, which is indispensable to writers.

If you made it to the end of this list, you're persevering. Bless you. And happy sunny Tuesday!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

this comment is actually for the article I read in Radiant magazine online. I thought you might enjoy this writting from one of our close friends. just thought I'd pass it on to you!
erin brandt


10:22 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

I just love the zesty exercises you put on your blog.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI! I really enjoyed your articles....honestly I"m a person who wear things until they wear out. There's no special feeling but I"m happy with what I have...i hope to read more of your articles.....chalknuts

2:27 AM  
Blogger eurorebs said...

Hi :)

LOVE this post! Fantastic writing exercise. I may have to "steal" it. And glad you didn't get stuck with jury duty! :)

Found you via a friend who sent me one of your articles. Love your writing style!


8:00 AM  
Anonymous Heather said...

Loved your article in Radiant. A friend forwarded it to me, b/c I have been feeling a similar way. Thanks!

9:37 AM  
Blogger Beverly said...

Z is for Ziplock because it holds things that you can use again..well, unless you let it go for awhile and then you have to deal with mold but thankfully its in a ziplock so you can toss it and never have to touch it because who wants to clean out a casserole dish that has been fermenting in the fridge and ....oh...never mind..just being a bit zany.

6:46 PM  

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