R1: The Stuff in my Brain
Posted on September 8, 2010
Filed under R1
Posted by Janet Li
Sometimes, I just have a lot of stuff in my brain. I think as humans, we all do. Sometimes, the ideas floating around in my brain are so convoluted, that when I manage to get them partially down on paper, it turns out a little peculiar. I almost felt that Anne Lamott had personally seen my previous works of writing, whether private or public, and said to me, “I tell my students to write this down—that the dream must be vivid and continuous—because it is so crucial. Outside the classroom, you don’t get to sit next to your readers and explain little things you left out, or fill in details that would have made the action more interesting or believable. The material has got to work on its own, and the dream must be vivid and continuous. Think of your nightly dreams, how smoothly one scene slides into another… You mostly go along from scene to scene simply because it’s all so immediate and compelling.”
As a writer, I have always struggled with making the dream vivid and continuous. My dad used to say that when I wrote, it was almost as if the thoughts in my head were going faster than my typing or writing hands, so that I only got portions of those ideas down on paper. In fact, I think my writing, at least my first drafts, have resembled the feeling of trying to remember those specific details of a dream after you’ve woken up. Who was the person who led me to the secret hiding place behind the fireplace to escape the old man and why was the old man chasing after me? The fuzzy pieces of the dream are still there, but within the blink of an eye, all of the specifics are gone.
Anne Lamott’s advice for making that dream vivid and continuous is to find a friend to “bounce [my] material off of.” I suppose my most creative writings have found their way into some sort of journal, diary, or sketchpad. These are private writings; no one else has read them nor has anyone ever given me feedback, so I will never know whether my ideas are vivid and compel the reader to go from one scene to the next. The ideas are always flowing in my mind so that if I ever read one of those writings, even today, they will make sense to me. Hopefully, through writing groups and friend, I will be sure that the readers (anyone else than me) will understand all those thoughts in my brain that make sense to me.