?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Brigit's Flame: October Week 2 ("navel")

“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

 

What would make this navel any different from the ones nobody wants to see?

Some sassy in-your-face rant?

A heap of peeling sticky notes?

A little brown girl and a little white boy playing with bugs in the dirt, running like wolves and roaring into the sky?

Belly button lint in the form of post-its, spilling out over the desk, collecting gunk in the bottom of my purse, stuck together like the layers of an onion.

The pain and confusion of not being able to trust your own mind. Of having your muse get a sudden case of stage fright in the one moment she needs to sing loud and clear. Of curling up beside your patient lover, pen in hand, and when he leans down to nibble your arm, shrieking and hitting him. Freezing in terror at what you've done. Trying to explain in your best calm voice, through helpless tears, “No, no, it's okay. I didn't mean to hurt you.” Words failing. Hurt recoiling. I'm just trying to teach myself it's okay to come out and play.

I'll count on the stickies instead. Gather them into an unceremonious pile and meticulously peel them apart one by one:

People who live in glass houses shouldn't walk around naked.

People who want to look tough shouldn't pretend to be dragons.

Not even fear. Fear could be fought, faced down with a gaze willing to take the consequences, lasted out like an ocean storm. I could take manual control of the hand with the pen and force it to scrawl words on the page, any words, freewriting until the spell broke. But this is not fear, it is nothing....

The internet is a fishbowl full of navels. Little fleshy bundles floating in a magnifying sea, trailing bits of umbilical cord. Some haven't been washed in years. Some are pierced. Some sag in tattooed rolls of postpartum fat. Stare at yours long enough and everyone else will stare too.

People who live in internet fishbowls shouldn't walk around naked.

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
rephen
Oct. 16th, 2009 04:58 am (UTC)
Something about this piece reads very personal. I enjoyed reading it, despite that it made me feel a little more self-conscious about being another binary existence on the internet fishbowl.

:D
pyraxis
Oct. 16th, 2009 05:11 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's personal. 'Cause they say better to post whatever you have than drop out because you can't do it in time. We'll see if it's enough. Glad you liked it... it was supposed to be a little uncomfortable. :P
freyjasgrace
Oct. 17th, 2009 04:21 am (UTC)

I loved your piece last week. When I read this, I thought.. pyraxis is writing about not being able to come up with anything... I'm sure of it!

(am I right?)

It's well written, I love the pace.
pyraxis
Oct. 17th, 2009 04:28 am (UTC)
(Not entirely... :P Pyraxis is writing about being triggered by the things she did come up with, and finding herself blanked out and unable to turn that into entertaining fiction. But not wanting to give up the contest.)

Glad the pace is ok, though. I was worried. :)
freyjasgrace
Oct. 17th, 2009 05:16 am (UTC)

That's what I got from it. That's good. I did like it, I like your style a lot.
(Deleted comment)
pyraxis
Oct. 16th, 2009 05:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
shashigai
Oct. 16th, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)
Well, it's different from what you first showed me, but I still like it. I still think it would have had more impact in the shorter version, but I like very much what you did with the RWE quote.

It felt a little diluted, and the first image of the post-its seems more like paper that got caught in some kid's sticky candy fingers. I liked the onion image better, though if it had to be moldy I'm glad it's gone.

:P I hope people don't get an image of you as having all that post partum fat. On the other hand, it may mean that me and the other guys at the rock climbing gym get to keep the real image all to ourselves...

Oops. I'm waxing something neither poetic nor hairy...
pyraxis
Oct. 16th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)
LOL, what's wrong with post-partum fat?

I think we're going to have to agree to disagree about the impact of the shorter version. When I read it fresh last night, it didn't make a lot of sense, and I found myself getting impatient with it. Personally I like extra depth and detail. You're good at short; your Gillian and Auben excerpts prove that. But it doesn't work for me to mimic your style that closely, because I can't feel the rhythm of it.

If anything's diluted, IMO, it's the last sentence. The message it gives is way too predictable and inaccurate.
quill_quirks
Oct. 17th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
Hey Pyraxis, I admire your courage and honesty. You are in charge of you and your writing. I enjoyed what you wrote even though I'm just one 'navel in the fishbowl'.
lolafalola
Oct. 17th, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC)
This was an interesting piece. I liked the bit about "Little fleshy bundles floating in a magnifying sea, trailing bits of umbilical cord." That was a great image, even if it was a bit creepy.

pyraxis
Oct. 18th, 2009 12:43 am (UTC)
*grin* I had fun with the imagery. Thanks!
jimnightmare
Oct. 17th, 2009 11:31 pm (UTC)
People who live in internet fishbowls shouldn't walk around naked.

Aww, but naked internet people are so much fun!

I don't have a navel. And I think yonjuunana isn't replying because she's got some weird phobia of navels. It's true.
pyraxis
Oct. 18th, 2009 12:39 am (UTC)
Aww, but naked internet people are so much fun!

I don't have a navel.


*eyebrow* Okay, then you won't mind showing everyone the other essential parts of your anatomy, yeah? >:)

What's yonjuunana got against navels?
yonjuunana
Oct. 18th, 2009 12:56 am (UTC)
What's yonjuunana got against navels?

XD Somebody stuck their finger in my navel once for some odd reason and I quickly discovered it is very high up on the list of sensations I don't like. It lead to much flailing and "You poked my guts!!! D:" and now I get all creeped out just thinking about it.
deathofenglish
Oct. 21st, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC)
Edit
Okay, I'll be honest.

My first read through and I forgot I was supposed to be editing, dragged in by the flow of consciousness and the psychedelic feel of it all.

My second read through consisted of "How the Bleep am I supposed to edit this?"

Lets give the third read through a try...

Alright, lets start with my love of the quote. It is very fitting with the piece you have written. I also love how it is so imaginative and visual. It felt a bit like a few of the Beetles songs with the images and associations.

Some suggestions: I'd say take these or leave these, they are just an attempt at giving a critique to something that baffles me as to how to go about doing so.

Repetition: It might be fun to play around with repeating some of your single lines again further down the piece. Especially the first one.

Organization: I wonder if the organization of the first few lines is at it's optimum level. Especially line two, because it keys us into the fact that this might be more a rant (or at least stream of consciousness) than anything else. For example: (and please oh please don't think that this is the only way, or even that I think this is better than the way you had it, it's just an example of what I meant by switching some things around.)
What would make this navel any different from the ones nobody wants to see?

A little brown girl and a little white boy playing with bugs in the dirt, running like wolves and roaring into the sky?

Some sassy in-your-face rant?

A heap of peeling sticky notes?

Belly button lint in the form of post-its, spilling out over the desk, collecting gunk in the bottom of my purse, stuck together like the layers of an onion.

But all in all I think the piece works without any changes, which makes it very hard to edit. ^.^
pyraxis
Oct. 22nd, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Edit
Pretty good for not having a clue how to approach it. :P

I realized after posting it that it would probably be a really difficult piece to edit.

I actually like the way you reorganized the first few lines. I think that's one of the weaker parts of the piece, but I couldn't figure out how to order the peeling-sticky-note bits.

I guess what I wonder in terms of editing is how to flesh it out and make it more vivid. It may "work without any changes", but it nonetheless wasn't particularly popular in the vote, and I'm not really sure why. I wanted to give people a sense of unease and get them to question themselves. Also to communicate the intensity of an experience which doesn't, on the surface, seem particularly complicated or unusual (not knowing what to write).

Anyway thanks for making a stab at an edit despite not knowing what to say. :)
deathofenglish
Oct. 23rd, 2009 01:42 am (UTC)
Re: Edit
It's not a problem. I figured I'd take a stab at it, seeing as I'm sure mine won't be easy to edit either.

I think maybe the masses prefer something less ranty? Who knows. I know mine did less than well in the polls too. Unfortunately I've been too busy to read much of the competition... so I'm not sure what they are doing so differently.
ephemeralbreath
Oct. 23rd, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC)
Hi, I'm Kelly, one of your editors for this week.

First of all, I want to start by saying -- and I say this because you did ask for a no holds barred edit so I'll just assume that you can take it -- I'm honestly not into pieces that can be interpreted to mean something but just seem like a bunch of words thrown together in rhythmical sentences. However, I do see where you're going with it, so I threw myself into it and attempted to understand. I'm sure you've seen at least one story at some point that you just didn't get at all and are confused when you see some of the comments that it gets. Umm... Not to put down your work or anything. I'll get down to the editing now...

I'm a little uneasy with these first few lines. I know what you're saying, and the images in my mind are clear, but I just don't understand their purpose. Why these images and not something else? Are these questions to yourself? Then why share them in the form of writing meant to read? How do these connect your thoughts to the reader's feelings?

Belly button lint in the form of post-its, spilling out over the desk, collecting gunk in the bottom of my purse, stuck together like the layers of an onion.
Here, I feel a little better about this sentence. I can feel the frustration here of fruitless effort.

This next paragraph sticks out like a sore thumb to me. I don't think changing to second person POV was a good choice. It's also much longer than anything else in the piece, and all the listing makes it a little tedious to read. The first few times, I was left asking myself what this paragraph meant, and then having to retrace my steps. I think part of it is because the length makes the reader want to read it at a faster pace to keep up with the rhythm of the other lines. I'm also not a fan of using italics to show thought.

I do like the sticky lines. They're like little mantras to live by.

To be frank, this fear paragraph is weird and I don't get it. What's not fear? What's this "nothing" you're talking about? Yes, you talk about fear nicely and all, but what's the purpose of it? It feels like just a random line put in there because people will read it and think they understand because the feel like they know what fear is.

Okay, it comes back and makes sense again near the end. I do like your description of the internet as a fishbowl, as if we are all looking upon each other and examining each other as a higher being or Big Brother may look upon us.

I'm not sure how I feel about the last line. I like what it says, but I don't know about the wording of it.

I'm sorry if this is a bit harsh. I have a kind of like-dislike relationship with this piece -- some lines I love and some I hate. Don't take it too personally; we all write for our own reasons.
Overall, I felt like there was a lot of "stuff" and a little bit of a look into a internet writer's mind. I feel like some lines are wishy washy and just there to fill out space while other lines tell exactly how you feel and are what you really wanted to get to.

Hope this wasn't too mean!
Kelly
pyraxis
Oct. 29th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the crit! It was actually really good, once I got over feeling sore that you didn't like it or get it. Every image has a very specific purpose, but it wasn't explained well at all, and that's the fault of my writing. :)

I've gone off on people before for writing directionless imagery stuff like this... there was a guy in my intro to fiction class in college who wrote this very convoluted, rambly thing that was half drug high and half explicit sex scenes, as if he meant to shock the audience into thinking his random hallucinations were sacred metaphors for the meaning of life. I wrote a scathing crit and he came to the next class with a story that was actually awesomely good and made complete sense. Now I'm trying to make that transition myself. It's interesting to be on the other side of it.

To be frank, this fear paragraph is weird and I don't get it. What's not fear? What's this "nothing" you're talking about?
Dissociation. The point where an emotion gets so intense that it just kind of blinks out like a computer running out of memory and seg-faulting.

Why these images and not something else? Are these questions to yourself? Then why share them in the form of writing meant to read? How do these connect your thoughts to the reader's feelings?
YES. I think this describes the problem perfectly. I couldn't figure out how to connect to the reader's feelings, because that requires empathy, and empathy works much better when you're not dissociated from your own emotions.

Woohoo. No-holds-barred editing = revelations. :D

At any rate, thank you. Next time hopefully I'll be able to make writing like this more coherent.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )