blank outPosted: 07/19/2011
My family, the four people it consists of, and my partner who I live with all have the peculiar habit of blanking out. If you browse through all my friends and acquaintances, you will see that they all take a liking to the act of blanking out. This is just an ounce of Walter Mitty in each of us.
I spend most of my day trying a variety of writing exercises. I read. I write. I paint. I eat. I cook. I read. I write. I paint. And in whatever way I can, I make plays.
So blanking out is a very crucial part of my things-to-do in a day. It is the frequent blank-outs that take me to different worlds or spin me around in the same world where I am now washing dishes and makes me think…
“Rust, grease or oil are not permanent. Lime and vinegar manage to wash it away with a light scrub. Maybe, I should start making my own soap instead of buying all these brands. Maybe, many more things can be made like this at home. Maybe, that would reduce economic strain and would also give me so many nice things to do at home. I should really bring this place down and clean it.” Slowly, I’ll blank out completely, and I’ll have memory of only a few words after hours of work – blue, desire, journey, and lime. These were the words I came back with after making coffee.
I think it is extremely important to let our minds waft in the wind jumping from reality to what may seem unreal. It allows me to freely associate, correlate and understand this world and all that it throws to me. Of course, just sitting blanked out doesn’t help. This same family, my mother, my father, my sister and my partner, write, draw, perform, and make things in this process.
Writing has always helped me clarify thoughts, questions, concepts and dilemmas. However, I use a lot of exercises in order to understand the craft of writing.
One day, in a similar blank-out my sister lay silent for an hour or so. She had her back to me and I was engrossed in some book that I do not remember. Wanting to know if I could switch off the light, I climbed to her other side, to see her intently shifting the pages of a large dictionary. I still make fun of her for reading a dictionary without actually knowing for an hour or so. Today, I actually read a dictionary. Why? Well, where else to go for words. It was great fun. Try it! Maybe, pick up a large illustrated one that doubles as encyclopedia. Words have a way pushing us to write.
In my third reading of One Continuous Mistake by Gail Sher, I was focusing on the silence of writing and reread many times today the chapter ‘Not Knowing’. Here, she talks about freshness of writing, like that of the daily sun. After an entire book of exercises and perspectives, it hits hard when she says,
“What is the best way to write? Each of us has to discover her own way by writing. Writing teaches writing. No one can tell you your own secret.”
I was hesitant and skeptic to go beyond the pages. I walked around the house clutching the book in my hand. So, she is telling me she can’t teach me much or neither can anyone. ‘Writing teaches writing’. Hmmm… I agree. In fact, writing has taught me anything I know so far in my life. It is true.
Anyone who writes knows this to be true. We join a course, share with friends for criticism, read books, try out exercises, even get a degree in order to become writers, but forget that at the end of the day if we do not write-through the years we spend doing this, we have not learnt anything. Writing teaches writing.
Anyway, I am thinking of putting together a compilation of writing exercises that we could all use. Let me know, if you know any.
Real sore throat.
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