Vomit Draft

I started writing about the weather. Really just the temperature. I thought I could craft a whole essay on what temperature is considered most perfect. The one Goldilocks would love. Seventy degrees, not too hot, not too cold. But then I started thinking about how Americans are just about the only people who use the Fahrenheit scale. And I noticed the kids next door playing in t-shirts and shorts, but I’m wearing a flannel shirt and still feel cold. And my realization that last winter I needed to add extra layers to my wardrobe to keep from shivering, but Eli never wears a long sleeved shirt in the house. I said out loud, “This is stupid. There is no perfect temperature.” I deleted what I wrote.

Am I concerned, you wonder, that those kids next door might hear me talking to myself? No, they’re fighting over whether one of them said the f-word. I didn’t hear it, but I try to tune them out.

I’ve seriously got nothing to write about, but I really want to write. Everything going on in my life right now is primarily happening to someone else. I’m peripheral. On the edge. Along for the ride. I try not to tell others’ stories. My tag-line is “a blog of introspection.” Writing about others, I suppose, is extrospection, although I’ve never heard that word used before. I’ve got nothing to write, but last Tuesday has me jacked on writing.

On Tuesday, I went to a writers’ group hosted by the library where I work. I haven’t been to this event before even though I’ve eyed it on the program calendar for months. It’s only a one-hour meeting, and that never seemed like enough time. Not worthy of the fifteen-minute drive. After a bit of discussion about what constitutes creative non-fiction, the leader instructed us to write a nonfiction essay in fifteen minutes. Everyone groaned. Not enough time to even think of a topic. “OK, I’ll give you an extra minute. Go,”

Words gushed from me. I read sometimes about writers purging out a ‘vomit draft’ to get started, but that’s not my style of writing. Usually, I lay down a sentence or three, and then I go back and improve them. As I crawl along, I return to the beginning and reread the whole thing over to make sure the new section fits with what I’ve already written. My first paragraph might get edited twenty times.

At the writers’ group, with no road map, no idea what my topic was, I thought up an opening line—Our house was seventies suburban—and I traveled where my fingers took me. I kicked out the meat of my last post The Meaning of a Shriek in sixteen minutes. Of course, when I got home, I edited it for two hours, but the exhilaration of crushing out six or seven hundred words stream of consciousness has stuck with me. I want to do that again. Incidentally, I hate that title of that post. I never spend more than a few seconds thinking up a title, but for this one, nothing seemed to fit.

My only other experience with writing-on-command was during the weekly free-write section of the creative nonfiction course I took in March. Those efforts each started with a prompt. Much like Tuesday night, my stories seemed to write themselves as I typed. I found those occasions almost as enjoyable as writing my Shriek piece. I loved the result of each attempt, and blogged them all.

The next writers’ group meeting is the Tuesday after next. I’ll be there. It’s so satisfying to have a great writing experience, especially at an event sponsored by my work. After six months of searching, I may have found my group.

Photo by Hannah Grace on Unsplash

21 thoughts on “Vomit Draft

  1. That’s so great you are on fire Jeff. Try a short story but take it from the opening sentence in a random chapter of a favourite (or any good) book. The day began the same as any other…… it’s a tip someone told me to use when you’re stuck.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A nice transition from discussion of what’s a perfect temperature to 16 minutes of pressure writing.
    Now, if only there was a speed editing course. Hmm, I like that idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeff, I’m so glad to know you had this experience. I love that exhilaration of writing on demand within a group (Come to think of it, it’s been awhile since I’ve done that. Thanks for the reminder). Also, I don’t know what it is about some of your posts (probably the wry sense of humor you are always weaving throughout), but I often find myself gravitating toward a line that I can’t help seeing on a t-shirt, and so this one comes as a slogan for an alternative line of performance gear for mountain bikers: “I’m peripheral. On the edge. Along for the ride.” A wonderful alternative to some of the more obvious slogans of performance attire. Thank you for this smile!

    Liked by 2 people

      • I have been to good groups, but then gotten soured when it seemed like some of the last one featured a bit too much “lets go around and introduce ourselves” for my liking (I’m like, “wait, we only have an hour!”). But I know they can be hit or miss; may be worth trying again. … hah! Thanks for permission, Jeff, but I should probably just return it to you, as I have zero chance of ever making such shirts. Still, for some reason, I’ve often entertained myself imagining them. If you ever make them yourself, though, I’ll order! Seems like a potential niche market waiting to happen for wry existential quips “For the smart and sweaty” athlete : )

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so pleased and proud of you that you decided to go to that writing group (you mentioned it to me before). I’m even more glad that you managed to write something you were happy with in a short time, and what’s more, you enjoyed it. Not only that but it’s spurred you on to write more. By the way, you are never, ever peripheral, Jeff. However, I know how it feels to have an excellent idea for your next blog only to find one of your regular readers has beat you to it, and the content would be too similar.

    I must just mention the weather (a typical English subject!) … I, too, wore several extra layers in the freezing winter last year. Now it is warmer, about 17C this week; I still find myself wearing my additional layers, and somehow, ditching them seems to be tempting providence, and then it would be MY fault that we have a lousy summer! As if …

    I still haven’t found the courage to attend my library’s monthly writing group. Most of it is fiction, and I can rarely produce a piece of fiction of any worth. They write flash fiction, too, which is even more of a challenge. I’ve vaguely looked at the WP prompts but thought they weren’t for me, although I’ve read many writers here who respond to them daily. Perhaps, like you, I should have a go. I can usually find the first sentence, but so often, I can’t, for the life of me, find an ending that would sit well with my post, essay, etc. I’ve got stacks of unfinished pieces of writing. Perhaps I should take a leaf out of your book (excuse the pun), take my courage in both hands and go along to my potential group.

    I wish you luck for your next week, Jeff, and hope that you are again successful in producing something you’re happy with in the time that you’re given. Please, do share your success with us if you are happy to X.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All of Great Britain will descend upon your house and chastise you for ditching your extra layer.

      I have to admit I feel weird about attending a writing program at my workplace. Thankfully, the woman who runs it is a volunteer and not an employee. As I was leaving the other day, one of the employees said “So, are you going to go get published now?” I guess he was kidding around. Of course I got tongue tied and managed to choke out “I already am,” but the whole exchange felt very awkward. Not sure how I’ll feel about reading my stuff if a coworker is in the meeting. With all of that said, yes, I think you should go to your library group. I recognize that you don’t write much fiction, but what I’ve read is top notch. Maybe like me, you’ll vomit out stories under pressure.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You were right, Jeff; all of Great Britain have descended on me because, for the first time this year, I’ve ditched the two layers I usually wear under my jumper 🤣!

        I can imagine it might be a bit daunting to read your work when your colleague(s) are there listening. I think I’d be nervous in that situation, too, but I’d say it’s worth giving it a go – the quality of your work is plenty good enough to share.

        I know I’ve asked you about this before, but it was ages ago, and I have forgotten what you said, so please forgive me for my absent mind. Please, could you remind me how you went about getting your books published? Did you self-publish, start with an e-book, or jump straight in with a paperback version?

        I will go to the next Writebulb meeting, which is around the 10th of June. The worst that could happen is that I walk out halfway through or apologise for being unable to keep up or even being wholly stumped when using the prompts. It’s mostly fiction, as I said above. I do like your idea of vomiting out writing under pressure. On the other hand, if I can’t ‘perform’, I tend to back off and make an excuse for my ignorance or lack of talent! I might even have a go at some of the WordPress daily prompts. I see lots of bloggers taking part in this. I won’t do it every day, but it might be worth a go. I’m unsure yet.

        Have a great day, Jeff. X

        Liked by 1 person

        • I published Fragments using Amazon’s pre KDP tool (can’t remember the name). And when I as *I*, I really mean Susan. I couldn’t figure out the formatting for the paper copy. Susan watched youtube videos and did about 90% of the formatting. My overly anal OCD kicked in and I obsessively completed the last bit that a normal person wouldn’t care about. The ebooks were far easier. In fact I published “Bad Ass” 100% on my own (although it shows). If/when you go to writebulb (I really don’t like that name) don’t talk yourself down if you can’t get started on anything to share. We all get writers’ block. Also, IMO, if you don’t want to write fiction, don’t write fiction. The point is to write. Write nonfiction. Draw a vignette from your life. I’ve been toying with the idea of writing to the wp prompts. I haven’t seen anyone doing it how I would do it (more telling a story than answering the question), and I’m intrigued to give it a try. Although those prompts are daily, and I’m not really completing anything on the same day I start anymore. Very busy schedule. Peace, Ellie.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I love your last line, “After six months of searching, I may have found my group.” That’s awesome. And I also love your use of the word “extrospection.” That one totally makes sense to me.

    How fun to have such an exhilarating writing session. Just hearing you describe it is delightful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so jealous. I miss being part of a writing group and attending writing workshops. I have hosted a few writing groups and have attended groups since I moved to Michigan, but I’m not involved with one now.

    I’m glad the vomit draft method worked for you. I always enjoy the intelligence and complexity of your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is appreciated feedback. A common comment is people noting how simple my writing is. I hope they really mean readable. It never seems simple when I’m writing it. I hope this group works out. I’ve had a couple of bad experiences recently. I’m sick of looking.


  7. I have already written many novels, stories without any fear. writting is a magic, in which we can express our multidimensional imagination. and I think every body can do that and doing.
    “sorry for grammatical mistakes. ”

    Comika Universe


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