The other day, I introduced my students to freewriting and its more structured cousin, looping. As I always do when making my students write in class, I brought my own notebook (a smooth black thing with a red-ribbon bookmark and a folding magnetic flap embossed with a Japanese kanji for “joy”), and I wrote with them. I thought it might be amusing, and maybe instructive, to share some of those wild entries–unedited–here:

Freewriting isn’t free–it costs words, lots of words, and effort, finger-cramping, backaching, mind-mushing effort. I don’t know why I’m writing in this way. Perhaps I’ll post it to my blog (I nearly wrote, Perhaps I’ll die, like the old lady who swallowed a fly). Arm-aching: It’s been too long since I’ve done this, despite writing w/ the teens this summer. My forearm aches, that little pinch of muscle just below my pinky is starting to cramp. This is not fun. I should be writing about my dissertation. I should be editing it, writing new scenes I meant to write the first time around.

And now my bicep hurts.

The pain of writing–the physical as much as the mental struggle of composition–is lost to us now. I wonder at those older scribes, the Marquis de Sade, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Voltaire, Cervantes, and I think of them with pens–quills, even–in hand, and I wonder if they had massive forearms, overdeveloped hands, the thick pad of their palm near the thumb bulging like a knotted oyster(?). Popeye was a writer, I’m sure of it.

I want a gong, or at least a gong tone–mechanical might be better, timed if possible, like a Zen clock, so I can meditate w/o thinking, so I can pretend these writing sessions–or hell, any writing session–is an act of meditation, which, from a certain perspective, it is. I have written a fairly long sentence. I wonder why. I like the long sentence as a reflection of stringy thoughts the way I like the short sentence as a punchline. So there. Have they written enough? No. Have I written anything productive today? No. Not immediately so. But we’ll get there.

“What about the deer being evil?” [a comment a student made between classes]

Why What about the deer being evil? What about the deer being evil? What about the deer being evil? Why is the deer evil? Dear Evil, what about you being? What about the deer is evil? What is it about the deer being evil? What is evil about the deer? Tartlets … and so on. It has lost all meaning. I mean: It has lost. Meaning I am lost. I miss LOST.

Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

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