This writing class I'm taking is all about finding one's inner creative voice, about not stifling that voice, and using that voice in a way to create good writing. Along the way we get seemingly silly assignments, meant to stimulate said creativity in any way they can.
This is good. It's good for me to allow myself a little silliness, to see where it takes me. This will - and, I think, already is - make me a better writer and help me further towards my goal of novel writing. Mayhaps it will also lead my dear faithful readers - all five of you - to enjoy this tiny corner of blogdom a little bit more.
Some of these bits of silly creativity I want to post because it's just fun. This past week's assignment was to have a dialogue with an object. Dialoguing is meant to be a brainstorming activity, a way to come with new angles by focusing on and asking questions of a single object. It's also similar to free-writing, but more of a back and forth than being completely random. The assignment could be any object, but preferably one that has a story to tell. Some people chose a picture, a treasured family heirloom, or even a pet. Me? I looked around my desk in my office and chose my water bottle.
Hey, it's a fixture in my life. I have this goal to drink a gallon of water a day, which I hit about half the time, and my water bottle is in my car, on my desk at work and at home, next to the couch when I watch TV - not even my cell phone stays with me this much. So I set down to hear the real story on the life and times of my Camelbak water bottle - this is that story:
Me: So where are you from anyway?
WB: Weatherford, Texas. You know that because you Googled it. You can find anything on the internet you know, no need to ask me.
Me: Where’s your drawl?
WB: I was born there and shipped out. Plus, I don’t exactly have parents to pass down a drawl.
Me: I suppose that makes sense.
WB: It should. It’s truth.
Me: Where did you go that day?
WB: What day?
Me: You remember. The day I lost you.
WB: Ah, the day you left me on the trunk of the car?
Me: Yeah, that one. Or at least, I thought I had.
WB: You did.
Me: What? I got to work the next day and you were on my desk.
WB: Yep. I walked back.
Me: From where?! Hey, wait a minute…you don’t have legs.
WB: I’m awesome like that.
Me: You’re avoiding the question.
WB: What was it again?
Me: Where you went.
WB: Fine. You carried me out to the car like you do every day. Set me down on the bumper while you tossed your bag in the back of the Escape, like you always do. Then went and sat behind the wheel, leaving me on the bumper on a day when it was breezy and rainy. That was rude.
Me: Sorry about that.
WB: You should be. And by the way, you drive like a freaking maniac.
Me: Excuse me?
WB: Do you even know how many yellow lights you typically run?
Me: OK, for one, you were on the bumper, so how would you know? And two…all of them.
WB: How do I know? Because as you fly through the intersection I can see the cross traffic starting to go. And I can see the light is red after we passed under.
Me: Hmm. Okay. I’ll give you that. What else though? I mean, none of this explains how you got back to my desk.
WB: Well, around 12th and Hawthorne you jerked hard to the left to avoid a drunk bicyclist. I slid along the bumper to one side, hit the edge where it curls up slightly, and popped out into traffic.
Me: That’s two miles from work.
WB: I’m not done.
WB: So this guy picks me up from the gutter and tosses me in his cart. How I didn’t get run over by crazy fools at rush hour I have no idea.
Me: Some homeless guy?
WB: Not sure. Didn’t ask him. Sure was thirsty though – he really liked that water you fill me with at work, the spring water they truck in from miles and miles away.
Me: Well yay for him. And yay for work for not being FLOSSy with their water.
Me: Fresh. Local. Organic. Seasonal. Sustainable.
WB: Yeah, not so local. Probably not sustainable either. Anyway, the guy meandered all over the east side, and then around midnight we crossed the Morrison Bridge.
Me: So, now you are on the right side of the river, but further from work.
WB: Well, we did turn north. And actually the guy pushed his cart all the way down First to right in front of the Randolph building.
Me: How convenient. But I know he couldn’t get in.
WB: No, but it was kind of awesome. The guy gets jacked by these two other homeless guys with a shank made out of a chicken bone. The jumped out of the bushes, flipped his cart, stabbed him with the bone, grabbed some stuff, and ran off. I ended up rolling down the sidewalk to the base of the stairs that lead up to the building.
Me: You have got to be kidding me… All this, AND he drank out of you?
WB: I did say that, yes.
Me: Still, how did you get into the building?
WB: A raccoon grabbed me and carried me up the stairs to the door and left me there. I think he got spooked by something, but didn’t see it.
Me: And then?
WB: You know Mark from accounting?
WB: He recognized me! He picked me up on his way in that morning and put me on your desk.
Me: I mean, you are pretty dang cool, but there has to be other 32oz blue Camelbak water bottles. How did he know you were mine?
WB: I told him.
Me: You… Um, what?
Me: That’s not possible.
WB: Why not?
Me: You don’t have vocal cords. Or a mouth.
WB: This is true. But I did. Besides, I’m talking to you now aren’t I?
Me: I guess. And how are you doing that again?
WB: For me to know and you to permanently wonder about.
Me: So, I did leave you on my bumper, and not on my desk as I surmised when you were there the next day.
Me: And you ended up in the gutter, were drank from by a homeless man, carried around the city, ended up on the ground again after the fight, and were carried upstairs by a raccoon?
WB: That about covers it.
Me: Um. When was the last time you went through the dishwasher?
WB: Probably two months ago.
Me: This incident was six weeks ago.
WB: Quite astute you are.
Me: So after all that, I’ve been drinking a gallon out of you every day, thinking I just left you on the desk.
WB: Yes, you have.
Me: Why didn’t you say anything?
WB: No vocal cords, remember?
Me: I think I’m going to be sick. I might have to get tested for…stuff. I have no idea what, but this can’t be good.
WB: Hey, before you do…
WB: Can you toss me in the dishwasher? A little soapy hot water might be a good idea.
Me: You think?
What did you think? Plain silliness? Or helpful brainstorming tool? Ever done this before?
I did feel a little silly sitting down and starting this thing, but as it wore I got more and more immersed in the story that emerged. The teacher for my class suggested this would be a good method if you are in the middle of a story and get stuck, not sure what should happen next or maybe how it should happen. I can totally see that and may very well use it for that purpose.
For now, in this exercise, I just think it's a tad entertaining.