Humblebee – Timed Writing

I've struggled with this story today. This is a story that I didn't outline. I started with the barest of ideas, and I've come to the conclusion that this isn't the best way for me to work, but it's how I'm working at the moment. Nothing like insisting on doing things the hard way, eh?

However, this hasn't been entirely without merit. I searched for more information on outlining, and in doing so rediscovered some info I already had on my computer. Reading through the info, an exercise in timed writing was recommended. I've read about these exercises and have never really given them much credence. Writer Holly Lisle says,

When your Muse goes slouching off into the dark places of your mind, sulking all the way, you want to reestablish communication as soon as possible. And if you can, you want to do it on your own home turf, which is words.

Timed writing is your first tool for doing that. Get out an egg timer, use the timer on your microwave, use a stopwatch if it makes noise when the timer goes off. Of, if you do first drafts directly on the computer as I do, get yourself a software timer.


Set up your timer for ten minutes. This is long enough that you'll be able to break the barrier between you and your Muse, but not so long that you get tired and lose your focus.

And then you write. If you're stuck, start with questions. Don't correct errors, edit content, or change anything. Keep putting words, any words, on the page from the time you start the timer until the time it rings.

I decided to give this a try and I was pleasantly surprised at my results. I've included them below, unedited:

A village with something to hide, something hundreds of years old. What is it? Old musty men not yet dead? A plot to overthrow the UK? Not sure. Whatever it is, it’s deep, it’s dark, and it’s secret, even from me. Sooner or later something has to rise to the surface to thwap me upside the head so that I can make sense of this and not write without having to resort to self-abuse to get the writing moving. The Rector has yet to come out of his manse, and the two fellows who approached the Frenchman are just short and tall, having no faces that can be seen, and voices that can barely be heard. Can’t think of anything to write mut I’m told that if I just write write write sooner or later something will come out . Something sensible? Dunno. But something inspriational, I suppose. Something that WILL thwap me upside the head and make me wonder why I didn’t see it in the first place. It’s the secret that bugs the shit out o me. What is it? What about it makes it so important to keep it hidden? I want to think that it’s something to do with someone from the past, that possibly they are still alive, somehow, perhaps by some means of magic, or some such. Not sure what to write again. write write write. Secrets secrets secrets. Dark. In the night? OUt of sight out of mind. Losing mind. Got Loreena McKennitt echoing in my head through my headphones. write write write. type type type In the moonlight. Part of the lyrics. There’s something in the history of Shenington that has to do with an old English Thane. I’ve thought perhaps that the thane was still alive. If so, what sort of power would he have? Would he be supernatural? Paranormal? Just plain magical? What’s he about? What’s he want? Why doesn’t he want to be found? Does he have any sort of control over the village? If so, what sort of power does he exercise? Certainly the villagers are not robots, doing his bidding without question. Hmm. What if there’s a history of people who haven’t done his bidding? What happened to them? Did they disappear? If so, how? Why? Where? What sort of trail would this leave? Would it be something easily found in library files? Perhaps in old newspapers? Would their deaths be mysterious? Unsolved mysteries? This sort of thing over time, especially over hundreds of years would certainly result in people who would seem like robots, but wouldn’t be, and there would no doubt arise from within their numbers more rebellious sorts, folk who don’t like the idea of being subservient to this moldy guy, no matter how old or powerful he might be. Does the Frenchman run into them? How so? Where? When?

Now, while this is filled with lots of unanswered questions, those questions open up lots of fascinating pathways for my imagination. These get the blood flowing in the brain, get the neurons firing. preventing the old grey matter from going red with rust.

I watched 2012 last night. Lots of very cool special effects. I also thought it intense, given my own state of mind the past few days. Critics have unanimously praised the special effects, but have criticized the story. For example, Todd McCarthy of Variety writes:

2012 is a joke, for the simple reason that it has no point of view; the film offers no philosophical, metaphysical, intellectual and certainly no religious perspective on the cataclysm, just the physical frenzy of it all.

This is true enough. Given the cataclysmic nature of the event portrayed in the movie, you'd expect more religious fervor from the story's main characters. As the old saying goes, "There are no atheists in foxholes."

Afterwards, the movie got me to thinking about the worldviews of ancient civilizations and why and how they would come to the conclusions that they drew from their observations. Strangely, I think I got a small glimpse of it. If you cast aside all your 20th-/21st-century notions — computers, cars, planes, city lights drowning out the stars of the night, time, clocks, etc — and then imagine yourself in such a world, armed only with a wooden spear, perhaps, your wits, your brain, your imagination, trying to understand the wide world in which you live, the barest sliver of light of that ancient, myth-filled world will, if your imagination is facile enough, start to overwhelm you. The logic of their views will seem inevitable, inexorable, unsurpassable, and their conclusions . . . only clichés come to mind: awe-inspiring, mind-boggling, humbling, fear-instilling. All of that and more. I'd love to be able to capture even a hint of that in some of my fiction.

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