"I Had a Little Nut Tree" | Writing When You're in Highschool
|"All Quiet on the Western Front" is so sad, and very moving. Also the writing is raw and beautiful.|
"I had a little nut tree, Nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg, And a golden pear.
The King of Spain's daughter, Came to visit me,
And all for the sake, Of my little nut tree."
It has been a while since I've talked about my writing on my blog; I am not exactly certain what's the real cause of this reticence on my part, except perhaps to put it rather bluntly: I have not had much success with my writing in the past several months. I've written very little. Let's not even talk about the quality of that "little" writing, please!
It is not a nice thing to admit, really. For the past year, I've been going through a bit of a rough patch in regards to my writing and inspiration, and really seeking direction to what I am doing. Because honestly, the older I get the more I feel I know less and have no clue as to what I am really doing as a writer and artist. It feels like going back to square one, or to the rudiments of the English alphabet. It's awkward, its painful. . . why did the store of words that seemed to flow like a fountain of inspiration some two years before feel now so stale and dry and lifeless? How could a simple scene that might have taken a week for me to write a while back, now take months for me to feel happy about? Where has my imagination drifted off to? I am trying - I try to scribble things, and my main aim in literary creativity these days is simply to try. It's simply to learn.
I think I'm realizing that the older I get, and the more knowledge I acquire (as well as more experience), the more difficult it is to learn how to harness the use of words and imagination to the best I can. The more you have and know, the more it is that is required of you (both from yourself and by others). Isn't there a verse in the Gospels along those lines? :)
So. I've been reading. From the classics, history, devotional, a streak of modern authors. Trying to sharpen my mind and spark the embers of imagination again. I thought it was amazing to read Chloe sharing her current literary experience recently on her blog, The Write Solution (When Your Stories Run Dry) ,who seemingly has been running along very similar lines as myself when it comes to where we are in our writing journey. She shares about filling up the empty tank, reading and learning. For example, in the holidays I read Jenny's latest novel. And Plenilune, while rather disappointing morally and story-wise, ignited me with a passion for the fire of words again - it also got me doing a lot of analysing and thinking analytically/critically. I am so used to reading books in my own sphere and tastes that sometimes a totally different "out-of-my-comfort-zone" sort of book is just the sort of thing I need to jar me into using my critical senses. It's good training! On that note - I do plan on reviewing Jennifer Freitag's novel soon on my blog, by the way (just to keep you updated ;). Likewise, watching The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies stirred in me the desire to capture deep emotions, and rich characters, and powerful themes. . . especially about the things that truly matter in life, and about faithful friendship. I pulled out Gaskell's "North and South", just to reread my favourite bits of the heartfelt story of Margaret Hale and John Thornton in all its vivid drama; reading bits of romantic and classic poetry by Wordsworth, Keats and T.S. Elliot; going back to my favourites - The Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien never fails to inspire me), and watching my younger sister get caught up in the grand adventure of Bilbo and the thirteen dwarves in The Hobbit book gets me excited with the sheer passion and love of stories, characters and words.
My reading pile includes "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque (a gritty, sad look at WW1 from the perspective of the German boys), "David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens (I actually really love this story, and love the way Dickens wrote it in autobiographical style!), "The Princess and the Goblin" by George MacDonald (such a delightful tale), and "Secure in the Everlasting Arms" by Elizabeth Elliot (this is very good :)).. I also can't help but revisiting some of my old favourites: "The Fellowship of the Ring" by J.R.R. Tolkien, "North and South" by Elizabeth Gaskell, and even a little bit of "Chasing Jupiter" by Rachel Coker!
|Bottom hardback: "All Quiet on the Western Front", "The Princess and the Goblin", - that musty grey one is "David Copperfield", "William Wordsworth" poetry, and ha! Beowulf somehow made it into the pile (admittedly, I am not reading it yet, exactly).|
|blogpost ideas. . . LOTS! (and very little time to write them :)).|
|The devotional reads. . . "Secure in the Everlasting Arms" by Elizabeth Elliot has been really, really encouraging. I haven't started "The Cost of Discipleship" yet. . .|
|going back to the oldies. . .|
|An Oxford Thesaurus in the flesh!|
|Gracie caught me writing notes. . .|
See, in between the grit of schoolwork, the busyness of family life and time with friends, it can be hard to remember the treasure of words, stories, people, moments and memories; cherishing it all up. Bits and pieces, gathering ideas and images in my mind. Most days, it looks something like this:
Silver. Grey. Overused. Ancient. Stale. Worn. Dreary. Melancholy. Lifeless. Clichéd. Commonplace. Trite. Corny. Stereotyped. Childhood. Deep-rooted. Timeworn. Previous. Antique. Early. Olden. Primeval. Ageless. Matured. Venerable. Decayed. Sour. Musty. Hard. Fusty. Damaged. Shabby. Tatty. Dog-eared. Dilapidated. Tattered. Threadbare. Obsolete. Old-fashioned. Archaic. Bleached. Cheerless. Bleak. Routine. Monotonous. Lowering. Dampening. Reducing. Disheartening. Glum. Colourless. Dingy. Dowdy. Limp. Insensible. Comatose. Inert. Unoriginal. Passé. Everyday. Unimaginative. Humdrum. Familiar. Normal. Pedestrian. Unsophisticated. Pigeonholed. Fatigued. Drained. Mind-numbing. Infanthood. Upbringing. Infancy. Deep-seated. Inherent. Entrenched. Subconscious. Frayed. Erstwhile. Vintage. Traditional. Out-of-date. Perpetual. Classic. Unchanging. Mellowed. Seasoned. Full-fledged. Revered. August. Respected. Mouldy. Perished. Corroded. . .
I pulled out all these words from "Word" thesaurus this past week. I was numb to words, and writing poetically. I needed some inspiration-blitzing rather urgently. So I did that, simply by starting out on the word "silver" and building from there using one synonym on top of another synonym. Ironically, the definition, the whole atmosphere of those words fit into what I am feeling rather well. It felt so good. I am going back to my trusty Oxford Thesaurus from now on to inspire me with the love of words again!
Out of the pile of lifeless, dingy words I picked up, I wrote these melodramatic sentences which actually make me laugh. I even used the first two lines in A Love that Never Fails, yesterday. ^_^
Silver was the frayed gleam of martial colour and glory; it was hoary with age, but venerable with respect. . . The sky dripped with melancholy that bleached, August morning. . . An overworked Pedestrian crossed through unsophisticated seasons in a bleak and cheerless routine of the humdrum. . . She was pigeonholed in the age-old, subconscious traditions of her Elderly forefathers. . . I feel comatose, as if erstwhile I stand in the colourless features of this threadbare world, I am reduced to the corroded frosts of my upbringing. . .
And then, the story-product:
Tilting her head up wistfully, she watched the pattern of raindrops on the windowpanes. The sky dripped with melancholy on that bleached grey February afternoon.‘Tis the shade of . . . silver, she thought, sadly. But silver was the frayed gleam of martial colour and glory; it was hoary with age, but venerable with respect. . . - A Love that Never Fails.
I know. It's melodramatic to the extreme. I really feel like all I have is a little nut tree, nothing to bear but a silver nutmeg and a golden pear :). But I am okay with that. These days I am not writing a novel with the hopes of publication. I am writing simply because I want to learn. . . because I need a release valve from normal life, a place to write bits of my heart and experience and emotions. Because I have a story that I love deep down, and one-day hope to write as beautifully and accurately to the images in my head as I can possibly make them. Oh, goodness, it is so hard trying to be patient with that. But I am also going to try and enjoy this season of my writing life. Because God has put me in this place and time for a purpose, and I want to appreciate it and gain all I can from it, by His grace. I know the experience of learning will never quite end, but some seasons have the "waiting" a bit more than others. Therefore, for now I will just keep writing crappy, melodramatic synonymous sentences, scenes and novels, and enjoy the process of learning to become a better writer like it's the Theme-Park ride of a lifetime.
Because it really is.