Long before I was published I would give myself write assignments. The one I used the most (besides stream of consciousness rambling) involved grabbing a book, opening a random page, and blindly pointing at text. I would copy the sentence into a notebook and launch into a story based on those words. I never published anything from those exercises, but it helped build a foundation for some of the skills I have today. If I looked through those notebooks, I’m not sure I could use that material. I was younger and my views have altered with time, but it could be possible. Or perhaps somebody could take my scribbles from years ago and make it into something good.
In rock music there are a couple instances that I’m aware of where guitarists warmed up with some practice chords before a gig and big things came of it. The leader singer(s) heard the music and decided to put words behind the music creating hit songs. According to Joe Walsh he was warming up with a difficult routine when Don Henley and Glenn Fry asked Joe what he was playing. Henley put lyrics to Walsh’s exercise and The Eagles’ “Life In The Fast Lane” was born.
Similarly, Slash from Guns and Roses used the chords to Sweet Child O’ Mine to warm up, not thinking much about the musical quality. Axl Rose thought otherwise and the hit that put them on the map was born.
So I guess what I’m saying is that practicing your craft can lead to greater things, even if you can’t see it with a clear set of eyes.
Travis Richardson has been a finalist for the Macavity, Anthony, and Derringer short story awards. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in crime fiction publications such as Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, Jewish Noir, and All Due Respect. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime Los Angeles newsletter Ransom Notes, reviews Anton Chekhov short stories at http://www.chekhovshorts.com, and sometimes shoots a short movie. His novella, KEEPING THE RECORD, concerns a disgraced baseball player who will do anything to keep his tainted home run record. www.tsrichardson.com
My second person crime story “Cop In A Well” came out last week in Spinetingler Magazine: http://goo.gl/2c0IvV Also my short story “Quack and Dwight” in JEWISH NOIR is a finalist for an Anthony in the short story category. The same story was a top ten finalist in Screencraft’s 2015 Short Story contest. You can read a copy of the story here.