Saturday, September 15, 2001

I tried a writing exercise today, and boy it didn’t work out. I’ll show it to you here; the idea was to start with the first two paragraphs of an existing short story, then add to it. Here’s what I ended up with:

The oppression returned. And with it a slow, insistent, tenuous pressure that forced him to a halt, his hands pressing his temples in a futile wave of pity. Brought to his knees by a knifelike thrust of crimson pain, lungs aching for life, the Explorer’s universe was bounded, in that instant, only by self. Matter did not exist. Could not exist.

Gradually, from a place unmeasurable by time, the Explorer regained his senses. He was in a valley of reddish slatelike rocks, sloping down to large pools of brackish water, rimmed with varying layers of salt deposits. The corrugated effect, broken only by huge cacti-like objects — effigies of the dead, thought the Explorer — against an unearthly serrrated horizon, was cause enough to wonder.

He tensed his jaw for a moment, then carefully kneeled beside the nearest pool, staring intently into its depths. Despite the pool’s moss-like tinge he could see straight to the bottom, several feet down. He tensed his jaw again; other than a few tenacious spots of lichen, the pool was lifeless. A bad sign; standing water like this should be teeming with life.

He stood. The valley was indeed small; he couldn’t see more than a hundred paces in any direction. There was nobody nearby, and the sudden drop in air pressure accompanying his visits usually scared away non-sentients. This didn’t look like a particularly promising base camp, so he began walking.

Now that I look at it, I realize that my writing was actually pretty decent; I just had no direction. I’ll try an exercise with more direction next time.

I also sat down and watched Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro for the first time. I am thunderstruck by this film. It has a breathtaking purity to it. I respond to it as a human being.

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