Writing Rants from Cheryl Stahle
Author’s Note: This post is reblogged from Cheryl Stahle’s Your Best Writing Group blog, originally posted on July 11, 2013. She’s here to share how a writing rant worked to her advantage and helped her generate story ideas.
Cheryl did this guest post on Writer’s Block in September, 2012.
Welcome back, Cheryl!
Writing Rants: A Quick & Dirty Way to Clear the Air
I’m stuck…what do I try next?
Deep in your writing soul “something” is holding your back and you need to move it in order to write. Lately, I’ve been seriously stuck and have spent hours just sitting in front of computer screens. I’ve tried the usual tricks:
take a break,doodle, sketch, make lists, try a new locale for writing. Nothing has worked.
Reading has also provided me with inspiration and I love to tag those special phrases and lines on my e-reader which I want to remember. Scrolling through those I stumbled upon one of my favorite poems, “Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes. I read… I thought… and the block moved just a tiny bit. Finally anger and frustration and a whole lot of stress regarding life changes that are hitting me fast and furiously began spilling onto the page.
Rants by definition are not “pretty” writing but emotional writing that must come out before your lose your voice. Rants can be fun to read due to the emotion that pours out in the words; an energy lies underneath the structure of a rant that takes your readers on a ride. They can also be hurtful.
This process helps structure your rants:
1. Find your topic. Be it something you know a lot about or in my case, a writer’s block
2. Make a list of the negative aspects of your topic
3. Find a way to take that negative brainstorm and find some positive angles to explore—what’s the meaning behind your rant?
4. Provide some balance to the negative emotion and explain or at least acknowledge other perspectives Ask yourself, “Why should others care about my rant topic?
5. And most importantly, should this rant become public?
In my writer’s notebooks, I tend to fold down the pages containing rants because they can be hurtful and in their purest form, they are truly uncensored writing. But I am sharing my latest rant with you so that you can see what one looks like. Remember, this is not edited but a free flow of words on paper:
Here is the frightening part of this rant: you are about to read 5 minutes worth of writing.
Once these words fell onto the page, the burden I felt on my shoulder lifted and a different writer’s voice emerged.
I hate the number 10. It’s the number that curses hope and kills dreams.
When my son was 10, he suffered a traumatic brain injury which stole his hopes and actual chances of playing ice hockey. He remains with us intact and amazing but the “what if” that incident on the ice never happened? What could he have been? What a heavy load to carry alone.
I waited 10 years to file for divorce after making that heart wrenching decision. I did so to prepare myself to have a more suitable job that would keep me closer to my son, not require global travel and would allow me to be a totally committed parent. Ten years of my life waiting. Ten years of dreams deferred. I withered during those 10 years; life seeped away, I festered, angered and just tried to survive. The challenges ahead as a single parent were great so I prepared despite the angst.
Now with an empty nest I can spread my wings and fly. Travel. Explore. I’m used to being alone but with a book, the sound of an incoming tide, the setting of a tropical sun over the horizon, the 10 years of waiting so worth it. Who am I? Finally, I can figure that out. Maybe I can live the dream of a writer and teacher without having to work multiple jobs. Maybe I can stop worrying so much about curfews and SATs and college acceptance portfolios. My son is ready for the challenges of the world.
But 2 tens too late, I am blessed to marry the man I should have the first time. But he didn’t ask and moved on. 20 years of waiting for him to come back. “You’re 10 years ahead of me” as a parent I’m repeatedly told. I hear it in my sleep those haunting words as well as in the day to day of living. My dreams deferred probably for the last time.
I’ll be 60 before I can finally watch the sun set over the horizon at the beach free of encumbrance. Ten more years of waiting to have the freedom I’ve craved all of these years now that my son is raised. Most likely my last 10 years before illness and age finally slow me down will be spent waiting.
Have these decades deferred really mattered? Will the next 10? My dreams now sag; a heavy load…gone, deferred.
Phew…I’m pretty angry. But this rant needed to come out so that I can get back to my focus on writing about empty nesting for WE Magazine for Women and scheduling workshops for fall. But now that the heat of the moment has passed, several potential topic for public writing appear: (1) the changing role of a parent over time; (2) living and losing dreams; (3) redefining your role as a step parent; (4) single parenting an ill child.
So while this rant provided some catharsis, it also showed me 4 potential topics for public writing. By following a process, the rant contains some structure and function to help me determine if there are subjects worth further exploration.
Give ranting a try…you might be surprised by what you discover.
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Author’s Bio and contact information:
Cheryl Stahle’s Slices of Life: the Art and Craft of Memoir Writing is available at www.yourbestwritinggroup.com as well as Amazon and GoodReads. The marketing plan evolves and grows every day assuming a life of its own. You can keep up with Cheryl’s adventures on FaceBook by liking Your Best Writing Group or following her on Twitter @yourbestwriting. Cheryl teaches English and runs writing groups helping authors of all ages and abilities capture life stories.
Slices of Life: The Art and Craft of Memoir Writing can be ordered on Amazon
Thank you Cheryl for showing us how “structuring our rants” can help us discover new directions in our writing life.
How about you? How do you clear the air? Have writing rants helped you to find topics to write about?
Cheryl will give away a copy of her book, Slices of Life: The Art and Craft of Memoir Writing to a commenter whose name will be selected in a random drawing.
We’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below~
I’m also over at Paul Dorsett’s blog, Utterances of an Overcrowded Mind with “7 Tips I Have Learned About Connecting with My Purpose for Writing a Memoir.” Hope to see you there.
Saturday, 8/24: I am hosting WOW! Women on Writing‘s book tour and giveaway with a review of A Southern Place by Elaine Drennon Little.
Next Week: Memoir Author Sheila Collins will discuss “Lessons for a Dancing Life” in conjunction with the release of her memoir, Warrior Mother: Fierce Love, Unbearable Loss and Rituals that Heal. Sheila will give away a copy of her memoir to a commenter whose name will be selected in a random drawing.