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Work Through

11 Jun

I sit down to write and watch the blinking cursor. I type a few words, delete, type a few more, and delete again. I’m facing writer’s block even on my blog.

I’m afraid it is my own fault. At my story time event last week (see http://www.betharnstein.com/#!dream-big! for mor information), I asked kids to help me come up with a new story idea using the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, why). The kids were great. They said the story should be about Mr. Bear, who is small, brown, clean, and wears a red scarf, going to bed in a cave in the mountains while it’s snowing. They recommended that it should be a bedtime story, with Mr. Bear being afraid of the dark. Seems easy right? Not for me.

As it turns out, this is my first attempt at an animal story. And with good reason. The first draft is LONG. I usually write stories under 300 words. I’m also feeling restricted by animal behaviors. They have a food chains, habitats, and lack of thumbs that keep punching potential holes in my story.

Still, I’ve decided to call this writer’s block a dramatic pause. One that I’m determined to work through.

What is the biggest writing challenge you’ve ever faced? How did you work through it?

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8 Comments

Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Stuck

 

Tags: , , ,

8 responses to “Work Through

  1. mary

    June 11, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Um, honey? I hate to break it to you, but animals DO
    talk (Rabbit)
    wear scarves (Roo),
    fear the dark (piglet),
    bounce around like springs (tigger),
    overeat (pooh), and
    lose their tails (Eeyore.) And that’s only in one habitat.

    Chrysanthemum carries a purse; the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie mouse (I think of him as Peakfreen) draws with crayons AND wears boxer shorts; Hector the boa constrictor foils robbers. I think the techincal term is anthopormize and the less techincal phrase is gettin’ a little silly. And this is what you are best at.

    I’m sure you’ve come up with tons of reasons he is afraid: Does the moon cast strange shadows on his cave walls? Are there bats/mice/other animals that scurry around the cave after dark that kinda give him the heeby-jeebies? Does his dad snore/pass gas/otherwise make scary noises? Did his auntie tell him a scary story? Did he tell his mom to go away enough that she DID? YIKES! Does he fix himself a glass of warm milk (with honey, of course) or a mug of herbal tea, count salmon, sing a lullaby to his stuffed teddy person, list all of the things he can think of that are the color green? Do yoga (you know, like downward bear or Exhaulted Warrior Bear)?

    Maybe Mr. Bear is having a nightmare that he is in a cave with a family of large snoring, Grizzlies on a dark, winter night. He tries to wrap his scarf around himself to keep warm but it isn’t quite big enough to serve as a blanket and he is afraid to snuggle up to the other bears for warmth. They are, after all, kinda smelly — like fish and lake water and NOT like a clean boy fresh from his bath. Not to mention the other problem: What if the other bears roll over and squash him? As a clean, small bear unused to the outdoors, this could be fraught with peril. Maybe he wakes up (whew) to find that his boy accidentally untucked him from the blankets but that he is otherwise safe in his room?

    Maybe his boy has been reading him books and now Mr. Bear’s worried b/c he’s not like those other animals: he can’t huff and puff and blow a house down or make cookies ala Peakfreen. But maybe he discovers what he CAN do so that he is every bit as valuable as those other guys.

    Relax and roll with this? Whatever you come up with, the kids and I are going to love it! Can’t wait.

     
    • cocoanqueso

      June 13, 2012 at 7:32 pm

      I did it! As well as I could, anyway. The story is up on my website! http://www.betharnstein.com/#!dream-big!

       
      • mary

        June 15, 2012 at 9:13 am

        What a beautiful blend of prose and poetry. Well done!

         
      • cocoanqueso

        June 15, 2012 at 10:23 am

        Thanks, Mary. My “style” is usually shorter and funnier. I guess working on something outside my comfort zone stretched my writing in a new way. Not bad for a first edition, I think.

         
  2. Mary

    June 12, 2012 at 9:10 am

    anthropomorphize. leave out syllables much? I now have an overabundance of sympathy, not because I have a challenging writing assignment, but a challenging editing assignment. I have to edit an event program chock full of foreign names, paper titles with made up words, wacky punctuation etc. So after every page of editing, I have a jelly bean. Who thinks I’m going to be hyper and have a stomach ache this afternoon? Maybe after every 5 pages of editing, I should spend 5 minutes planning a vacation…hmmm

     
    • cocoanqueso

      June 12, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      That’s it! I think how you feed editing those foreign names, made up words, and crazy punctuation marks is exactly how I feel writing about animals. Though I’ve been around enough animals (though not nearly as many as you have), I’ve never seen one, a real one anyway, talk, wear a scarf, or lose a tail. Something in my logical brain just doesn’t accept this. It must be why I’m comfortable writing realistic fiction and not fantasy. Regardless, I’m taking your advice. I’m going to relax and write and see what happens. I’m going to let myself have a little fun in the hope that the kids will too. Thanks for the continued encouragement.

       
  3. Freya Morris

    June 14, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Oh my for a moment I thought your kids might be borrowing ideas from “Can’t you sleep little bear” (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cant-Sleep-Little-Bear-Favourites/dp/0744581664)
    : D It’s a fab book. I think you’re safe though. Great story.

     
    • cocoanqueso

      June 15, 2012 at 10:24 am

      That is a book I haven’t read. I’ll have to check it out. I’m glad you think my story is unique. Thanks for the comment!

       

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