Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Out early this morning, with the intention of going to the bank to get some quarters to do the wash. I had forgotten it was Election Day and the bank would be closed. My Evil Twin saw her window of opportunity and suggested a trip to Lee's Studio, just a block away, to get some purple and green writing pens she likes. No, not red, that's for editing.

What is this about the Evil Twin? She orders flowers, now you tell me she writes?

Well, yes. I came across this in a book, you can try it out for yourself, it's great fun.

Let's say you are right-handed (I am) and you are accustomed to writing with your right hand. Well, you give your left hand, your other hand, a different colored pen and see what it has to say.

So, let's say you have exhausted the ideas that literally came to hand, when you were writing with your usual hand, on any given subject, let's say for instance, yesterday's favorite, "hypocrisy", when you run out of ideas, you just add: "And do you have anything to add?", switch hands and pen, and wotch what happens.

You will be amazed at what your Evil Twin has to say, things that you did not come up with. It will be a slow, messy process, unless you are ambidextrous, your Evil Twin writes like a six-year old, but it will be most amusing. My left hand, for instance, never loses the thread of what she is saying, no matter how long it takes, which is more than I can say about my right hand.

This method gives you access to the other side of your brain, if you've ever read about the left brain, right brain, thinggy, and if it never made much sense to you before, it will now.

I found, for instance, that my Evil Twin wasn't quite so square and boring as my usual self. She is more playful and has a better sense of humor. She is less compulsive, less hard bit about the correct way to do anything, more likely to remember the details about an event obscured in the misty swirls of emotional denial of the past. She is, in fact, a good deal more honest, if not actually blatantly outspoken, nay, let's call a spade a spade, she is blunt.

I'm writing this in purple. It's been weeks since I had a purple pen! Yippidy Uppidee!

Yesterday, "we" went to Zabar's to pick up a few small items that improve the quality of life for "both of us": a jar of English Marmite, some French vinegar gherkins, "cornichons" to you, a loaf of sour, dark bread, and some small cans of smoked cod liver in oil.

"Smoked cod liver?" you say, "Is that good?"

Yes, it is very good. For the price of sardines, you have something that tastes better than caviar.

"Better than caviar?" you cry out, in disbelief.

Yes, definitely. Caviar is yucky. I hate caviar. It tastes like cod liver oil. Go figure!

"We" also bought some clear addressing labels today, which I figure would be just the thing to label my plastic 3-ring binders, making it a little bit easier to find things I need.

If you try the writing with both hands, don't worry that you might suddenly come unstuck and be taken over by a strange personality: it's definitely you, yourself, it's just a side that has seldom had the opportunity to express itself. When this "Evil Twin" personality is released through your second hand, you actually have the possibility of engaging in very interesting teamwork.

I took a course at Parsons School of Design once, years ago, called The Poster Image. The instructor told us that the creative process starts with a blank piece of paper. At the top,you put the subject matter, the project name or description, and then you proceed to free associate below with every little idea you can come up with.

Don't ever stop! Don't not put down something your better judgment considers trite, or overdone, or better done, by someone else already, put it all down, even the corny stuff.

If you don't edit yourself, the ideas just keep flowing. If you edit prematurely ("Nah! That's childish!" "Nah! That's too ambitious!" "Nah! That would cost too much to build"), you only stop the creative process and you run out of ideas, you will have only yourself to blame.

If you follow John's method, you will fill one, two, maybe three pages of ideas. Then you go back through the list with a critical eye and select a few to work up in thumbnails.

I suggest that when you think you have run dry with your right hand, or your left hand, your usual hand, you hand the list over to your other hand, with a colored pen, because invariably it will have more ideas, different ideas, ideas that had not even "almost reached you", some of which actually might also be "better" ideas.

But, don't believe a word I say: try it for yourself!

* * *

Victoria tells her experience. She had just completed a shoot somewhere (she is an actress), and was heading back to Manhattan by subway with another actress from the same set. When they walked down the platform, they were so busy talking that they didn't pay attention to the fact that they were being followed by a rather frightening group of boisterous young men.

Suddenly, they were surrounded, and the switchblades came out, and "Give us your money!"

Victoria starts chanting very loudly: "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! Nam-myoho-renge-kyo!"

"What is she saying?" "I dunno!" "What does it mean?" "I dunno!" "Why doesn't she speak English?" "I dunno!" "What language is that?" "I dunno!"

Victoria continues chanting, never makes a move.

"Speak English, damn you! Speak English!"

Victoria doesn't budge. She keeps chanting.

The young men are so perturbed because Victoria is so cool, and "doesn't speak English", that they don't notice her girlfriend run back to the booth to call for the transit police. Who come very fast, and take the young men away, along with their switchblades. No muss, no fuss.
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