For the past week I’ve been stuck. I have a huge wedge of writer’s block firmly encased over the creative sections of my brain. Every time I tried to begin this challenge, there it was, the looming brick wall of my indecisive, impenetrable writers’ block. Each time I tried to come up with an idea, any idea, I was met with nothing. Nothing good, nothing bad. Just nothing. My thoughts would encounter the brick wall and scamper along it’s perimeter to something less intimidating and more exciting.
Last night I decided to try to deal with the brick wall rather than continue to walk along the outside. I resorted to one of my favorite methods – brainstorming. I have two rules for brainstorming that I follow religiously. The first is that I have to write down every idea as it comes, no matter how stupid I think it is. Otherwise I’ve found those ideas continue to fester and clog the pipeline from anything else coming out. The second rule is that I always brainstorm in pen. For the record, I write almost everything in pen. The reason being that I don’t want to be tempted to erase anything. Once it’s erased it’s gone for good. If I write in pen and cross out ideas I deem terrible I at least have a record of their existence. I’ve found myself more often than not returning to the original word choice preserved by the ink.
So I got out a piece of paper, grabbed a pen, and started jotting down ideas. My ideas usually come out as fragments of imagery. On my 5th or 6th fragment I wrote “crack of gunfire”. My mind immediately thought about a soldier in the barracks who is thrown awake by the sound of gunfire or the screaming of the air-raid siren. I had a vivid picture of this young man, hair still tussled by sleep, ready to go because he had been told to always sleep with his boots on. I then wrote down a few other ideas, but this image wouldn’t leave. This soldier had come to the forefront, begging for his voice to be heard and his story to be told. I abandoned the brainstorming and began to explore his story. In about 90 seconds this is what I came up with:
Got my boots on, but I’m not ready.
I’m not ready to leave you my love.
How did I get here in this land of dust and smoke, so far from your sweet and rolling hills?
What am I fighting for, and why must I try to even the score?
I want to be brave, but I see your face, and home is where I want to go.
I’m still dreaming of you, my bluegrass Kentucky love.
Is it the story for the 6 sentence contest? I’m not sure, but do I want to learn more about who this soldier is and his “bluegrass Kentucky love”? Absolutely. And maybe more importantly, I think the wall has had a breach.