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The Dark Side Of Creative Writing

Death By Pen And Inkwell —
The Dark Side Of Creative Writing

I discovered the joy of lying to readers and calling it art rather late in life. Up until my 40s, I had only ever dealt with non-fiction — cranking out a dichotomous mix of instructional/motivational articles (designed to help folks improve their lives) and snark-laden diatribes (bemoaning the lamentable state of the world in modern times). Quite frankly, I’d’ve rather been stabbed repeatedly with a chewed-up Bic (not even a quality writing instrument like MontBlanc, mind you) than have to fabricate plausible characters or pull convincing dialogue from my nether-regions. (The fine fellow visually representing this sordid emotion below is DeadFred — he makes an awesome pen holder. Pick one up at your favorite novelty shop.)

Fact Distilled Into Truth

ramona-death-by-pen-and-inkwell

The last piece of fiction I’d composed was in sixth grade, when I penned a story (under complete duress) for gifted class, about a planet inhabited by anthropomorphic chili peppers. (I still have no idea why Mr. Hoffman found this idea so innovative — my so-called art was grounded more in “desperation” than “inspiration.” The big “ah-ha” moment? I was eating Taco Bell after softball practice, while simultaneously freaking out about having procrastinated on topic selection until the night before ye olde assignment was due!) I got an A+, but that was it for my literary career. No angsty poems in high school. No hyper-intellectual abstract short stories or pretentious essays about the meaning of life in college. I’d made it through the most dangerous liberal arts years without a belletristic scratch — I thought I was safe. Then two decades later, I got talked into popping my cherry at a creative writing group. Dammit!

I sat in a darkened garage-grotto in the glamorous L.A. suburb of Reseda, surrounded by an odd assortment of artistic types — some hoping to sell a screenplay, a couple wishing to pen The Great American Novel, one or two tortured poets, and a handful who couldn’t afford therapy (but had become bored with solitary journaling at home). I was in a low-grade state of panic, terrified that my brain would seize up and leave me (for the very first time in my life) with absolutely nothing to say. Then an anxiety-driven gear-shift had me worried that whatever thoughts I did manage to squeeze out of my poor stress-addled brain would be judged sophomoric — not worthy of such accomplished scribes as these. I sweated and stewed and fought back the urge to puke. Then, a miracle. The language enveloped me in that familiar and comforting way I’d grown accustomed to in my non-fiction life. Lost in vocabulary, seduced by phraseology, nurtured by locution — the words swirled through my head and around my heart, soothed my deepest darkest fears, then flowed right back out through my pen more eloquently than I could have ever imagined possible.

As we went around the group reading our work and providing each other feedback, I realized that I had nothing to fear from these people. Together, we formed a cohesive and supportive authorship tribe. No matter what our individual artistic goals or levels of writing experience, we collectively shared one thing in common — an obsessive and passionate love affair with the taste of language. We couldn’t help but suck it in, chew it up, and let it drip from our mouths — our tongues gloriously stained with ink by the end of each night’s scribbling. The room overflowethed (overflew?) with talented wordsmiths, the air was thick with ideas, and the atmosphere fairly crackled with the sound of so many gifted neurons firing at once!

Now that I’ve started fiction-writing, I can’t stop! Not surprisingly, most of my work is either dark or inappropriately funny — although I do occasionally get sappy and sincere, just to mix things up. I’ve cranked out a decent number of poems and short prose pieces, I’m working on several NSFST (not safe for story time) grown-up picture books — I’m also neck-deep in a handful of down-and-dirty young adult novels. Then once I get all that done, I’ll be ready to dig into a whole collection of “social commentary” projects. (I might actually get everything finished before I die — if not, I apologize for leaving you hanging!)

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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