I Went to a Writing Group Today - April 24th, 2019

Should I go to the writing group today? That type of question runs through my head before all meetings and activities. Then, afterward, you never doubt that it was best to go. You can tell because you're re-energized. It was the same today.

I had a plan heading to the meeting, something I wanted to try. Neil Gaiman mentioned a good writing technique, coming up with a situation and then asking, "How did we get here?" You then construct the story leading to that moment. I wanted to do that. I didn't. Here's the prompt from today.

(Also, I went sporting this cool temporary tattoo done by a friend that says "Once upon a time..." across one forearm, representing the start of an unfinished story. I also have broken chains around both of my wrists representing Prometheus bound and unbound to the rock cliff by the tyrant Zeus in punishment for giving the gift of fire to mankind.)

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Left to Write 4.24.19 Prompt
Craig’s List Missed Connection
Below is an ad placed on Craigslist of Grand Rapids for a Missed Connection. Use the ad to inspire your writing in however you see fit.
Nurse Who Helped Me (Grand Rapids)
I am looking for the kind nurse that helped me through an office visit.
I was not doing well and you helped me get through my doctor's appointment. You did something very unorthodox, which could have gotten you in trouble, but it worked perfectly!
If this is you, please tell me what you think happened.
I would like to thank you in person for your kindness.
If you don’t wish to use the prompt, feel free to write whatever you wish.

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I sat there thinking about what my end scene should be so that I could ask my question, "How did we get here?" I couldn't figure it out. I don't know how long I didn't write for, it seemed like a long time. I decided to scrap that idea and just wade in and see what happens. After my second sentence I decided to go with a unique point of view for the story. Exploration and experimentation, that's what it's about. Here's my story.

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Waking up in the hospital is never fun. The bright lights blind you, the constant beeping from mysterious machines echoes in your head, reminding you that things are expected to go wrong. But, the worst part, the worst part is that you know they put your name in the system, your real name.

Now the race is on, the race has been on, and you don't even know how long. Someone is going to get to you first. Is it going to be your agency, or your gang? That's a good question.

If you pull out the needle in your arm and pull off the blood pressure cuff, how much noise will these machines make? Are your clothes around here or did the paramedics cut them off you to patch up the stab wound?

Doing nothing and waiting for your fate is an unsavory option.

When you get up the beeping starts, giving you away. No clothes, it'll be hard to look inconspicuous in your medical gown, but so be it.

When you look out of the door it looks clear. But, when you round the corner there are two guys standing at the desk. Black boots and black leather jackets. They aren't from the agency.

You head the other way and walk right into a nurse. Your wound pulls and you groan a little. The nurse gives you a stern look.

"Listen nurse... Susan. There are some guys at the desk looking for me. And it would be better if I wasn't here."

She stares at me, not scared, just thinking. Without saying a word she unlocks a closet door and holds it open.

Sometimes being trapped and being safe are eerily similar.

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That's right, it's in second person point of view. Basically no one writes in second person, because it's weird. I kind of like it, maybe that's because I read so many of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" novels when I was in elementary school.

At first I thought that maybe I would have the nurse making some sort of distraction for the person getting away, but it didn't go that way. I was thinking there would be some sort of bag of blood at the end, but it didn't go that way. I was thinking that there would be a chase scene through the halls, but it didn't go that way. It seems to be somewhat of a necessity for me to let stories grow organically.

There were some other great stories by other people, as there always are. It's great to see and hear all of the different perspectives that people take. It always makes me think about what I would need to change in my mindset, in my phenomenal field, to write something like them.

Two things stuck out for me at this meeting. One was at the end and one was at the beginning.

After I had read my story there are little comments that people give. One woman mentioned that she still thinks about a story that I wrote, maybe a couple of months ago now, about a door. This boy ends up disappearing into this mysterious door and that's the end. It's pretty archetypal because we have the natural curiosity of the child combined with the crossing of a threshold, and then the disappearance really messes with you emotionally, of course. I haven't thought about that story once since I wrote it. But this woman said she thinks about that story on a somewhat regular basis because it connected with her. I think I know why too, but I won't share that here.

It's interesting when you write or say something that stays with a person or changes their life. I gave a speech about reading once at a conference. A year later a woman came up to me and thanked me for that speech. That was unexpected, and awesome! I drew a mental framework one time at work and a coworker asked for a copy. I gave him one and six months later he told me it had helped him overcome his alcohol addiction. It was just a simple thing, but it helped him to orient his thoughts. A lot of people have heard me speak, and a lot of people have read my articles, it makes me wonder how many of those stories there are out there.

The other thing of interest was my introduction. We did simple intros and I said something like, "I'm Jeff Martin. I teach English online to kids in China. I'm launching a business doing meditation coaching with a focus on chronic pain. I'm writing a comic book with an illustrator in Muskegon that's middle-grade fantasy. I write articles for the radio station 88.9 Hey Radio analyzing lyrics. I'm editing some horror anthologies for a startup publisher from Russia. And, this summer I'm giving speeches at the Harry Potter festival in Sparta as the Professor of Muggle Studies."

That's the first time that I leaned into the idea of saying that I'm a meditation coach. I stumbled over that section just a bit too. No one stopped me and questioned my credibility, or the feasibility of such an outrageous idea. In those socially anxious moments those are the types of things that we feel are going to happen. Once you're on the other side of that moment the world seems a bit different, a bit better.


You can find more of what I'm doing at http://www.JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com


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