by Jim Caryl
I used to attend creative writing classes, if anything to attempt to undo the damage wrought by years of technical writing. Technical writing robs you of certain freedoms: to make mistakes as you write, to use active verbs, present tense, embellishing adjectives and superlatives. Technical writing is precise, well crafted, but passive and impersonal. It is utilitarian and functional “nuts and bolts”, to the “heart and minds” of popular prose.
Exercise (warming up the mind and fingers): write anything within 5 minutes (from an old class):
Small vortices caught dust on the desert floor, swirling them into the face of the oncoming Touareg, peppering his face, mapping his sweat with a glittering foundation.
A haze of flies danced in the grains of sand, a mesmerising display of light and dark. The nomad, oblivious to this battle between light and dark, trudged his way along the fading track of his leader, hating every step, but enjoying the thought of sweet water at journey’s end.
Upon his mind, stripped bare by days of relentless heat, was the Bedouin girl he’d seen at the bazaar. Her face a mystery, only her crystal green eyes telling of heretical beauty.
Such thoughts open holes for hope to fill, but if not filled allow despair to flow in hope’s stead. Such thoughts are wasted, when the day is hot and you are robbed of your life energy.