Sunday, December 18, 2005

I'm Not Mrs. Incredible

I loved the fact that in the movie The Incredibles the superpower they gave to the mom was super elasticity. It seemed like such a mom thing, like juggling five things at once. I’ve been thinking a lot about stretching myself lately, doing it kicking and screaming. It’s easy to get to a point where you get comfortable, get in a groove, and then getting out of it is like breaking away from quick-setting cement. (And I know what I’m talking about. My last household project involved quick-setting cement that ended up setting too quickly. Yeah, we won’t talk about that.) Now, granted, Peter and I have spent the last three years living out of our comfort zone, so when things kind of mellowed out a bit the last six months, I was all for it. Yeah, guess God had other ideas.

I had planned to take December off from writing, thinking I needed a break. But after a couple of weeks, I find myself missing the creative stimulation. And, boy, you don’t want to be around my house when I’m in need of creative stimulation. I create, uh, let’s call them projects. And since my husband is still recovering from foot surgery and unable to bail me out of my creative endeavors, I had to find something less dangerous, or less messy, to do.

So a friend (yeah, you know who you are—you can out yourself in the comments if you want) suggested I write a short story. Now, I have completely dismissed the idea that I can write short stories. I don’t do anything short (remember that list of things I can’t do from the seven sevens?). The ones I wrote in college were terrible.

But the more I thought about the idea, the more I figured I should try it. Like in other areas of my life, my writing had found its groove. I’d found what I liked to write and stuck to it. Nothing wrong with that. However, one thing I liked about my writing classes in college was that they made me write what I didn’t want to, what I wasn’t comfortable doing. Since college—a distant memory—I haven’t forced myself to stretch, to write something I know will suck. To quite frankly, fail. Did I mention I hate to fail? So what the heck was I thinking in becoming a writer? Or a mom, for that matter?

The idea of writing just for fun, just playing around with characters and words without worrying about how it fits into the plot really appealed to me. I could plop my characters into a situation and see what happens. I could borrow characters (and animals) from my friends’ WIPs. Maybe I’d end up with nothing. But maybe, I’d get something I could use. Maybe my characters would do one of those weird and quirky things characters do that surprise you. Guess what? I found out Sarah wears contacts. Didn’t know that before today.

So I’ve written five pages. It’s not a short story. It’s not even a scene. But it’s a start. I’ve stretched just a little bit.

And it’s okay if it sucks.

11 comments:

Jenny said...

Some people set such high standards that even their failures look terrific to the rest of us. Stretchy? Oh man, isn't that what we do to bread dough? Plus knead it and punch it and then just when it thinks the punishement is over, we shove it into a hot oven to make it a wonderful staple of life. You are stretching but not becoming brittle. You may feel some added heat, but the baking only prings about a better product. Hang in there, girl. You're working with prime ingredients and have a Maker Who won't let you get burned. Love ya!
Abundant blessings, now and always!
PS Bet you can guess what I've got going in the kitchen:-)

michael snyder said...

Writing short stories? That is a terrible idea! You need to get some new friends.

(So...when do I get to read some of it?)

Note to Peter: Man, I hope they showed better games where you are than where I am. All three televised games were blowouts, which of course means no Colts/Chargers. I did get a decent nap however.

Dineen A. Miller said...

Hey Jennifer,
LOVED reading this. I have a feeling you and I are struggling perfectionists. I say struggling because we're trying to be perfect at not being perfect. LOL! I think what you're doing is a great idea. I know what you mean about needing to create. After a few days I want to crawl out of my skin if I haven't "done" anything...and my family suddenly gets this "deer-caught-in-the-headlights look. LOL! Merry Christmas!

Peter T said...

Short stories? BAH! Tis the season to be WATCHING FOOTBALL!

Mike, here's the early game that was televised in Arizona: Houston vs. Arizona. Let me repeat: Houston vs. Arizona. No, this wasn't a college game (although both teams would be hard pressed to beat USC!). Hope you enjoyed your nap! I was so bored, I went out and washed my work truck.

...and what about tonight's epic Monday Night Football clash: Green Bay and Baltimore. Whoa!

Like the way we take Jen's blog and totally ruin it?

Sorry everyone. Back to short stories! :-)

Jennifer Tiszai said...

O-kay, good thing I like football or you boys would be in trouble. Mike, you must have missed the part where I said the story sucked. Not sure anyone will ever see it. (Okay, I'll send it next week. I resurrected Sonny.)

Dineen, I love that idea of struggling to be perfect at not being perfect. Denise Hunter's post on that was hysterical. I could so relate.

michael snyder said...

Hijacked Post Alert!

Okay, Peter, you win. Your game is slightly more pathetic than the Titans/Seahawks. But only slightly. And that was one sweet nap. And in case anyone cares, my fantasy team finished L-A-S-T.

Jen...resurrecting Sonny? Not only would that make a cool band name, that is one fantastic idea. So whether it sucks or not (right!) I want to see it when it's done...or even half done.

Robin Caroll said...

I think any outlet you find for your creativity is right on. Then again, I have none at the moment, so I'm just struggling! Oh, and anybody have any idea how to get the hours of the day extended????

Jennifer Tiszai said...

Thanks, guys. Good thing I like both of you or, Mike, I'd come over to your blog for a discussion of how to perfectly match your nailpolish to your lipstick. Not that I can ever manage that, but I'm certain it'd be a fascinating discussion.

Don't even get Peter started on band names. He's got a list.

And since I stole one of your characters (okay, two) I guess I have to show them to you. Why do I let you talk me into these things?

michael snyder said...

I'm with Robin (actually I have no earthly idea where she is), if anyone figures out how to lengthen days, please do share.

Two best band names of all time:

1) Elvis Hitler (A real band with an album entitled 'Hairway to Steven')

2) Cat Butt (Another real band that I learned about while reading a serious music journal. I nearly snorted coffee.)

Gina Holmes said...

Funny reference to the incredibles. My four year old likes to hit me with a rolled up magazine saying, "You are elasta-girl, pull yourself together!"

Good advice!

Jennifer Tiszai said...

Gina, that's too funny! I can see my four-year-old saying something like that.