Exercise 2: Am I Saramago

Steve’s post last week on his progress towards his goals was very inspirational. So I confess: I’ve never been good about setting writing goals. Partly because I have abysmal time management skills, but also because in the past I would write in fits and starts. I would plunge into a story and write for hours, day after day, and then when something would come up or the plotting/story would get hard, it would be weeks or months (or never – okay, pretty much never) until I would come back to it. I no longer have the luxury to write for hours on any day, let alone any sort of marathon burst of creativity. Life has forced me to write a little each day (only other option: none at all) and actually, this has served to turn the unsustainable torrents into more of a reasonable trickle. Circumstance-enforced discipline, I suppose.  So maybe it is time to retry Writing Goals.

One goal I have had in the last month is to post here on Mondays – and so to keep achieving goal number one, here is the next exercise from Ursula Le Guin’s Steering the Craft book. This is from Chapter 2, the chapter on Punctuation and Grammar. She calls this exercise a “pure consciousness-raiser” about the value of punctuation.

“Exercise Two: Am I Saramago

Write a paragraph to a page (150-350 words) of narrative with no punctuation (and no paragraphs or other breaking devices). ” Chapter 2, Page 18 of Steering the Craft

Le Guin suggests writing about a “hurried or hectic or confused activity” – and her suggestion led me to go back to one of those aforementioned abandoned stories. I’ll give a short description of the story afterwards if anyone is interested:

“the crowd surged towards the train station Jae treated it like a dispersed obstacle course and threaded his way deftly between people barely glancing back at her Sarah attempted to mimic the same trailblazing feat but the crowd flowed back behind Jae as he passed making it even more difficult to move forward they were gradually being separated as they got closer to the station at first the commotion behind her was muffled and far away out of the way police move aside came closer until there was only a thin veil of bodies between her and the juggernaut plowing its way through the festival goers Sarah angled sideways to let them pass she shrieked when the hand closed around her upper arm Sarah Khurle you are under arrest what what she instinctively pulled away lurching forward Jae Jae Jae help but all she could see was the top of his dark hair pushing through the open door of the train into the packed carriage far enough away it didn’t have anything to do with her as far as the police were concerned they closed in tackling her to the ground she kicked and pulled stop resisting I am not resisting Jae Jae the train doors slid closed”

The story was (and still is, I suppose, in its unfinished state) about a future where unpleasant or dangerous jobs are performed by 3D printed people or animals and society is segregated into people who were “naturally born” and those that were printed for specific jobs. In the passage above, the main character, Sarah Khurle, is being arrested as she leaves a festival for violating several laws against the intermixing of the two groups.

Stay safe and sane and have a good week!

2 thoughts on “Exercise 2: Am I Saramago

  1. First of all, that sounds like an awesome concept for a story. Secondly, the lack of punctuation heightened the suspense! It was like reading a runaway train of thought, even though it’s third-person. Very cool exercise.

    1. Marcy Erb

      Thanks! I hadn’t gotten to write that scene in my original “marathon” page vomit with this story but it was there in my head and so it was fun to come back to it. It definitely made me want to revisit this one!

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