From the moment I wished the best friend a happy birthday today, I knew I would write about him, amongst other writerly things. You see, reader, the best friend is sometimes a writer, and sometimes he's my editor, too. We have a great working relationship because we have a best friendship, which has lasted eleven years now. And the wonderful thing about this best friend is the way he continues to inspire and motivate me and my writing. He is adventurous, brave and kind, quick-witted, sharp-tongued, and filled with more humor than I'll ever possess; he's my spirit animal.
Earlier this year, I wrote a stream-of-consciousness story for One For One Thousand entitled, "Twentysomething", and you can read that story HERE. After reading this piece about Snapple and bus rides, the best friend suggested we each send an SOC every day consisting of a minimum of 200 words. We started off really well. Some pieces were short, and others were longer. Life got in the way, as life often does, and we no longer send an SOC every day. But we are still writing them. And two days ago we had hours worth of texts that were only SOC bits, which have crafted a kind of story we might finish someday. Someday. Maybe.
As usual, I'm sure you're wondering what this has to do with my writing journey. You see, in grad school, I always loved the pressure of a timed writing session. Don't ask me why, because I'm still trying to answer that question. When I look back, I think, perhaps, the timed sessions allowed me to think of only the work at hand, to keep myself out of my own head, and to write for the sake of writing. All those times produced poignant writing (just ask my MFAmily), and all those times were stream-of-consciousness. For those who don't quite know what I'm talking about when I say SOC, it's the kind of writing, which happens when you write and write and write without stopping, without rereading, without thinking ahead of the word or the sentence you're completing. Sometimes this kind of writing produces gibberish, and sometimes it captures magic. I've found this to be true the past few months as the best friend and I have traded these small stories back and forth.
One of my favorite SOCs happened after reading the best friend's at 3am before falling back to sleep.
The words of his writing became enmeshed in my dream, and when I woke, I started a response based on that dream. When I sent mine, the best friend couldn't believe I'd written it half-asleep at 4am, and because of its potency and poetic perfection, I have a hard time believing it, too. Because there are days when the writing is grueling. It feels forced. My elbow aches as I type and delete and retype. And then there are small moments like the aforementioned where I know I'm a writer. I think people like myself who produce whole words from nothing, we need those magical and mystical times to get through the hard days.
So what has stream-of-consciousness continued to do for me, and what can it do for you?
Well, in the former aspect, I have found a voice clear from outside influence, and a sharpness I so love. Many of my poems I've since submitted for possible publication have come from these moments of SOC. And I know these strange writing prompts keep the best friend and I connected though we live hours away. In his writing, there are knockout lines, which take my breath, and hold me hostage for a moment or more. That's something about us writers; we appreciate the power of poignant writing. And I am constantly reminded of the best friend's goodness. Last year I quoted lines from "For Good," on his birthday, and this year I'm further convinced of our truth in that song. I know how lucky I am to have the gift of writing, but what's more, to have my person. He is a fierce friend, a ferocious wanderer who often wishes to bring me some of the joy he finds in the unknown. He's a Leo--through and through. And I appreciate him every day, but especially today as he finds the other side of 25.
Now in the latter aspect of stream-of-consciousness writing, I hope you find your fears and your passions brought out on the page. Even for you non-writers out there, I think the act of unspooling yourself in words can be cathartic and help you discover hidden truths you didn't know existed within you.
I've been playing around with this idea of truth lately in my poetry and the collection I'm building from therein, and in doing so, I've been trying to be more honest with others and myself. I guess, in that respect, I am a Cancer--through and through. But whether you tend to bottle up emotion, wallowing in the ephemeral beauty of denial, or even hate the idea of writing, the benefits of stream-of-consciousness might be your new found best friend. All you have to do is put pen to paper, and let the words flow.
Ready? Set. Go.