One of the writing techniques that I enjoy as a warm up is a method of free association. With ‘Editor Mind’* tucked away, select a simple topic, and write for 15 minutes on it. No stopping, no editing, no evaluation. It is the flow ink that is important, not if the scribbles are good or bad — just write.
This morning I picked an old favorite, “Where I would like to walk”, –fifteen minutes, go!
I found myself out on the ‘swagged’ ribbon roads that cut through the Sonoran desert. The arroyos, natures storm sewers that funnel the torrential rains, (sometimes at the expense of passing motorists) were but a row of dashes on the line I was traversing. As sometimes happens when the pen picks up speed, a shift occurs and I was then being introduced to a new character, someone who may inhabit a future work.
With some editing for clarity, here is an excerpt from this morning’s piece.
He was attentive to the world around him. He would stop at times on the edge of a stairwell or midway around a curve, not the places one typically pauses to look around. Sometimes he would kneel to see a different perspective.
One day, with a backpack full of sport top water bottles and an old pair of broken-in shoes, he set off in the pre-dawn light to walk the 18 miles from his home to work. He wanted to see all the things that normally blurred past his car window: the rocks and scrub foliage, withering Saguaro Cactus, even the debris from careless motorists.
He was grateful that he had a choice; his commute did not require the use of an interstate. The few minutes of time that would be saved were offset by not having to push his little car over 3000 rpms to reach the normal 67 mph cruising speed. Other days in the stop and go he was concerned about the nine-year-old clutch that was begninig to slip away. The slower route was just fine. It was more important to avoid all the anger and rage that was bred in rush hour drivers.
Instead, his commute cut through suburban walled communities and along the frontier of the urban sprawl. A nine-mile east west stretch of road where evenly spaced sentinels, municipal government signs with black letters on a white reflective coating, played harbinger to the inevitable loss of wild spaces – ‘future crossing of 56th street’. If you drove fast enough, they were not legible.
Even when anxious about the day ahead, the few legislated stops and slower pace helped him feel like he was more a part of the landscape than simply passing though it…..
*For more on editor mind, monkey mind…seek out books by Natalie Goldberg