I am making use, after Raymond Carver. I’m using what I see. I’m using what I’m in the middle of. I’m not electric about anything new. So lately my writing has been the very prompts I give my students. That’s fine. I’ll take the practice.
Another What If? goodie. Write a short story that is one long sentence. Three years ago I had a student do this very well. I made him reread the story. It was about a businessman on a beach. He hadn’t written much all semester and I loved this glimpse of his imagination. Since then, whenever I write long sentence short stories (usually alongside students) I think of this kid leaning back in his chair, casually writing.
There is no race to the end-stop. Take as much sentence as you need.
Here’s my latest try, brought to you by the countdown to winter break:
I keep forgetting what I’m supposed to do in which class and it’s gotten so bad I have a rash like a paint swipe across my belly that Mom blames on gluten and I call junior year; it starts itching at the end of the weekend when I look at my backpack and remember I completely forgot my history homework (summary of chapter five) which takes an hour because I have to read chapter five first (I mostly skim, but still!) and then when that’s done I find a crumpled biology worksheet assigned two weeks ago due tomorrow and my stomach gets really itchy filling out the Genetic Traits worksheet – I close my eyes and remember my Mom’s natural hair color and the color of Dad’s eyes – and finally that’s done and I’m about to zip the bag when I see my Creative Writing notebook and the skin on my belly turns to fire because I have two poems to write – “About anything,” she said but I know she really means about something poetic or deep and I’m no good at that (slit your wrist stuff makes me ill and mushy stuff makes me gag) and I’m about to put the notebook back, no new poems, no new thoughts when I decide to try writing what I really want to say which is I hope this is all Good Enough For Now:
I am at the edge of dying
On a cliff called school
Built of rocks called
Biology, Human Geography
Algebra, American Literature
Intro To Art, Creative Writing
Graphic Design, Office Aide
I am at the edge of falling
I am at the edge of quitting
I am scratching my way to the end
Of this poem I hope is
Good enough for now
and after I finish writing that sloppy mess I close my notebook, shove everything in my bag and decide to find that cream Mom bought at the pharmacy and maybe quit eating so much bread (I love it too much to quit it all at once) and then I go upstairs and have a good cry when I set the alarm and calculate my sleep and realize I have five days of itchy belly ahead and countless things I’ll forget until the end of next weekend.