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Awkward Beginnings

Awkward Beginnings

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trying to learn to write by starting to write
trying to learn to write by starting to write

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Published by: mary allison tierney on Jun 07, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Awkward BeginningsMy writing is suffering from self conscious awkward adolescence. Zits, braces,unfortunate hairdos, gangly, clumsy, hormonal, too short, ill at ease, trying too hard to fitin. My writing hasn’t found it’s true self yet.I keep trying, and every once in a while, by some miracle, I craft a really good line,an observation, or I hit a vein of inspiration, usually just as knives are being drawn in a
discussion between my teenaged sons about a borrowed Berzerker t-shirt. A franticspousal call from the kitchen inquiring as to whether or not we have a spatula.I try desperately to hold on to the train of thought at it chugs away, belching smoke,obscuring my path, and I respond to my daughter’s question about planning her birthday party, by pointing out that her birthday is in four months, and we have plenty of time. I saythis a little too loud, though clenched teeth and then have to lure her back and stroke her head like a scared cat until she recovers and tells me we could look at birthday cakes on thecomputer.I had never written fiction before my friend, Ken suggested I join him in doing NaNoWriMo. When he first told me he’d written a novel in a month I thought he wasdelusional. Then I learned about November. I took the challenge. The beauty of  NaNoWriMo was that I didn’t have to show my work to anyone. Ever. It is all on thehonor system, just word count. The story doesn’t have to be going anywhere. It got me intoa habit of writing and not worrying about content. Characters changed names, they died,they kept talking. My childhood room was described in detail for no reason. A subplotdeveloped that featured one of my beloved second grade teacher’s sad home life after shewas done teaching cursive and all the ‘kn’ words for the day. Characters ate out a lot andstood up and walked to the kitchen and made tea, constantly. None of it made any sense butthat’s fine because by Thanksgiving I was nearing my 50,000 word goal and then my sister went into labor. This served a dual purpose: one of my characters suddenly giving birthand my knowing for certain that I did not want a fourth child. Not that it was aconsideration at all but it was satisfying to firmly shut the door on that possibility. I wasable to write the birth scene with detail that I could not have described before, having only

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