How to Kindle your Imagination, or This One Time I Slapped a Guy

Apr 18, 2011

Thanks to everyone who gave help and advice on my which-story-to-write conundrum. I made my decision, but before I tell you which story I chose, let me share a little story. I promise, it relates.

Freshman year of college, I was in a fabulous creative writing class. My friend Reece also happened to be in the class, and one day we got a sort of odd assignment. The professor wanted all of us to go do something we'd never done before-- something that would get us out of our "box," that would give us a new view of the world. Something that would expand our minds, and therefore our imagination and creativity.

As Reece and I talked about it after class, we came up with a brilliant idea. I joked that I'd never slapped a guy. He'd never been slapped by a girl. And neither of us had ever made a public spectacle.

Have I mentioned we were freshman?

We enlisted the help of our friend Emily and went to the local skating rink, and the spectacle began. I "found" Reece in the skate rental area, and pretended to be confused to find him there, as he'd told me he had homework. Then Emily arrived, and the "truth" came out-- they were on a date. I began to yell, berating Reece for "cheating" on me. Then, I took a deep breath...and slapped him across the face. Hard.

The entire skating rink was staring at us. After a bit more yelling from all of us, we stomped out. As soon as we regrouped outside, we all laughed until we couldn't breathe.

And did that hilarious experiment actually get me to look at things differently? A little. Probably not as much as the professor had hoped. So how exactly does this relate to which story I chose to write next?

I spent a lot of time the last week thinking about the plot of Black and Blue and the main character in The Unhappening of Genesis Lee. Whichever I chose, I knew I'd have a lot of work to do in one way or another. Yesterday, I was outside playing with my son. I was wearing a twirly skirt, and had an impulse to do something I haven't since I was a kid: twirl. So I did. I took off my shoes and twirled around the grass while my son ran in laughing circles around me.

It took me out of my box. My adult/mommy/responsible adult box melted away and I saw the world how I used to see it. I was a teenager again, and the world was full of possibilities and I wanted them all. And that's where I found Genesis Lee, inside my own teenage self.

So, my friends, I am excited to get to work on The Unhappening of Genesis Lee! Have you ever done something you've never done to kindle your imagination? What could you do today to get outside your own box? What do you do to get your creativity fired up?


Chantele Sedgwick said...

That is the funniest story EVER! I slapped a guy in my show choir class once because he kept bugging me and touching me and tapping me. (Hate being tapped) I turned around and slapped him pretty hard. He laughed, and so did a lot of other people in the class. It sort of made me mad, since I wasn't trying to be funny... ;)
I was going through the same dilemma on which story to write just last week. I finally decided to go with the character who wouldn't leave me alone, and once I started writing, the story started falling into place. I wrote down a little outline in half an hour and have my whole story basically planned out. It's so weird how that happens. After I stop freaking out about what to write, one story always stands out more than the other.
Good luck on your Genesis book! It sounds intriguing! :D

Reece said...

I had forgotten about that episode until you mentioned it. The thing I remember the most is the kid at the rental counter being so shocked!

Ah, good old freshman year!

Anyway, I hope TUGL goes well! And drop me a line if you need a second opinion on anything!

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I love the title of your new story!

Swinging on swings always takes me back to my childhood. Sort of like the skirt-twirling did for you.

Happy writing!


nindogs said...

I knew it! I knew there was a reason why you're so awesome. People who have movie experiences like that HAVE TO BE AWESOME. :)

And I'm with A.L, The Unhappening of Genesis Lee sounds extraordinary.

Moi? I mustered my fear of heights and walked over a 100+ year old wooden railroad/track that was being repaired at the time. Yeah, I could have DIED.

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Kasie West said...

That is awesome! I want to slap a guy. Any volunteers? :) And how fun to twirl in a twirly skirt as a mom. My kids would give me the weirdest looks. Fun stuff.

KM Nalle said...

I love that story! I don't know if I could have done that without breaking up laughing.

I'm suffering a little from this right now. I'm revising Raithe's book and feeling like a pretty crummy writer at the moment. I have two other stories to start planning and I can't decide which one I should start: The one I love (but I'm afraid I'll screw up) and the one that's been nagging at me for a while. I think what's really bothering me is that I feel like it's going to take me a couple of books to get this writing thing under my belt. I don't want to screw up my favorite idea *sigh* but it's the one muse loves the most. I probably just need to let go for a while and see what happens. Maybe twirl a bit :)

Michelle Merrill said...

I tend to do crazy things all the time. I did a TON of them in high school but now it's things like going to VooDoo Doughnuts late at night in downtown Portland. And yes, I did sing out with the hippie music playing in the background. This is so not my thing which is why it took me five years to do it :) It was certainly a thrill though.

I love doing things like this to get me out of my box. I figure if I look funny, at least I gave someone something to laugh about.

I'm so glad you picked a book to work on! I'm excited to read it :) That's awesome that you twirled! Yay for tossing the shoes and letting loose!

Rachel Searles said...

Ha! That's a great story :) Have fun writing the new project. From your excitement, it seems like you picked the right one. And good luck with the querying!!

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