It is amazing what we can accomplish when we give our creative selves a chance to explore, play and run free.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, “What Am I?“, I had the opportunity to take a creative writing course this past fall. To this point, I had always enjoyed writing, but had never really explored the process. One of my favourite exercises during that course was one that revolved around free writing.
Usually the expectation in our free writing was that we would have a topic, set the timer for five minutes and not stop writing until the five minutes was up. By the end of the five minutes, you would have an interesting piece of writing that, while good for practice, would end up to be an odd mess of ideas and forms. However, we suddenly hit a lesson in the course that took a slightly different approach than anything we’d previously done. I was pleasantly surprised when we changed gears and moved onto a style of writing known as bricolage.
While the term bricolage can be used in several different contexts, in writing it refers to construction or creation from a diverse range of available things. The idea behind this is to take a commonplace object that is within reach and simply write about it. You can describe it, animate it, or tell a story about it; really you are only held back by the limitations you put on yourself and your imagination. For my writing assignment, I chose a lonely, bruised paperclip that was sitting on my desk at work to be my subject.
And now, without further ado, I present to you the story of this paperclip to whom I have affectionately given the name Blue.
“Wounded” – by CJ Bowers
As I sit at my desk, I notice from the corner of my eye that there is a blue paper clip lying upon it that is bent and worn. I look at it and wonder how it got there and why it is bent. At one point, I’m sure it was brand new and sat in the box that is currently resting along the back of my desk along with its brothers and sisters of multiple different colours. It sat in that box and waited to be called upon – waited for its turn to serve its purpose. That time has since come and gone and now it sits lonely, used and tired; a fallen soldier upon a battlefield.
Perhaps, at one time, he had held together a contract or report for me, later to be replaced by something more permanent, such as a staple. Alternatively, maybe I was bored one day and just decided to play with the paper clip, bending him in every which way I could for mere entertainment. I don’t remember doing it, but a sense of shame washes through me nonetheless. If true, then the paper clip served no purpose but to be bent, used and toyed with; he went unfulfilled in his life, never living up to his true potential.
I reach for the paper clip and begin bending him back into the shape he was meant to be. By the time I am done, he is not perfect, but he is closer to what he once was and I give him an approving look before putting him back in the box with his brethren. Someday, he will be called upon to serve the purpose he was intended for. He will get the chance he wouldn’t have otherwise. I have given him new hope.