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Nicolle Elizabeth: On Ritual

Nicolle Elizabeth: On Ritual

“In my formative writing years, I only wrote when I felt ‘artistic urgency.’ This usually manifested itself after a long night of drinking ending with me in some kind of existential questioning headspace looking at the moon and scribbling into a notebook. This proved faulty, if for no other reason than I was writing in the dark and couldn’t read my handwriting in the morning. I decided to come up with a writing term I call ‘Urgency and Agency,’ and what I meant by it was: What are we trying to do, trying to say (if anything), when writing. I.e., do we know what we’re talking about? Are we ‘full of it?’ I decided to separate urgency mellow-dramatic writing with ‘work-time’ writing, and I tried to force myself to write daily. Twenty minutes at first, leading to an hour, sometimes it was editing only. What I found was that even during the times I felt like writing was ‘work’ that I still always wanted to write. This was helpful. I think a day we write is completely different than a day that we don’t write. It’s like, ‘Did you remember to brush your teeth today?’ ‘Did you remember to write today?’ There’s a difference between ‘remembering to write’ and simply put, ‘feeling like it,’ which somewhere, deep down, we always do. We always feel like writing. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle: this takes work. Writing is hard, life takes over, time slips away and sometimes we’re left with what is only scribbled into a notebook from last night’s 3 a.m. musing and we are faced with the fact that some people consider it a hobby, possibly a calling, and some people call writing a life. We are the scribes. We are not normative people, we filter differently, we enter conversations and we think ‘can I put this line in a story’ and it makes us neurotic, solitary, and strange creatures to everyone else who doesn’t know: what this pull, this heaviness in our hands, this want to communicate, this thing that we do just because we do means. It’s complicated.”


On Ritual at Big Other

Inspired by Molly G’s communal spirit, what with all her snapshots of happy kids in buckets with buckets, I’m pleased to bring the series On Ritual to Big Other. It’s about (key kazoos) writers’ rituals–or lack of them.

Is it true, dear writer? Is it true, “[i]n fact, [that] in all walks of life, people find that starting off with a simple, ordered routine establishes a mindset which helps get any job done”? This is what Questia claimed in August 2009. And I remain on a mission to prove or debunk the notion.

Help me. Jot down your writing ritual (or not). We’ll discover–and let readers know, finally and forever–if rituals really do pay off.

  • 300 word limit.
  • Rolling deadline.
  • Recommend others.
  • Reply with a pic of you–in your workspace or in outer space.
  • Replies, questions or comments: stacymus@gmail.com

*Some responses may be eligible for posting at American Short Fiction blog, where I began the On Ritual series.

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