January 7th, 2011 / 8:42 pm
Craft Notes

Weekend Writing Prompt: Make it rain.

Hiphop has moved—swaggered, even—on from the 2006 rules and regulations. Sure it has. So—yes, I guess—we’re well past making it rain on country’s exotic dancers. Or, well, they’re well past it, those who make themselves their livings rhyming over a usually 4/4 beat.

But maybe you don’t have to be. Over it, I mean. (I mean, who are you to follow the moving-on happenings in the game of being on the grind, right?)

So this weekend when you sit down to do a little writing, do it with a little of the lesson somewhere in Ms. Hoang’s earlier-today lovely disorganalia on overwriting by going in on a story and overwriting it to the point where you move past a disappointing lack of discipline to that moment where excess overwhelms all its many sins and leaves one’s writing in a pure state. Pile on the muck until the muck becomes the point and the muck becomes the beauty.

And if you don’t feel like making it rain in that way, make it rain like this:

10 And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth. 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 12 And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

Create something grand and beautiful, get annoyed by where it seems to be going, and bury your beautiful, beautiful thing in water. Lots and lots of water.

So, that’s:


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  1. Untilwewokeup

      bro i think it’s hoang

  2. Matthew Simmons



  3. deadgod

      “Don’t take your umbrella.”

  4. deadgod

      “Let’s have a picnic!”

  5. Anonymous


  6. art and self-restraint: the work of david shrigley « BIG OTHER

      […] recently described the benefit of doing the opposite – of “over-writing.”  Matthew Simmons, in the same spirit, writes, “Pile on the muck until the muck becomes the point and the muck […]

  7. lily hoang

      You just summed up my entire post with one lovely sentence:
      Pile on the muck until the muck becomes the point and the muck becomes the beauty.
      Thank you!

  8. Khakjaan Wessington

      I don’t really know why you said that Genesis clip was overwritten; it’s caveman speak mediated through caveman loftiness. I think one could draw a straight line from that, to Miamonades, Yenne Velt & Isaac Babel & see that Jewish literary tradition maintain its simplicity–and if anything, get simpler over the ages. Sure, I doubt the author would be welcome in an MFA class, but I’m pretty damned certain they wouldn’t like his goat-stink either.

      Anyhow, the statement sounds good, but becomes incomprehensible to me when combined with the biblical quote. If the bible is convoluted, what’s David Foster Wallace? What’s ‘murky’ in the quote is that odd slowing of narrative pacing in 11. One trick in a paragraph? That’s not murky at all.

  9. Sdf


  10. Anonymous


  11. deadgod

      Between the recommendation literally to do a “little” overwriting and the Genesis quote, there’s a transition:

      And if you don’t like making it rain in that way, make it rain like this:

      These are two different ways of “mak[ing] it rain”, the first metaphorical (‘flooding words on paper/screen’) and the second, mm, divine.

      Yahweh’s method is perhaps metaphorically a kind of “overwriting”, but its mysterious description in Genesis wasn’t presented as an example of “overwriting”, was it??

  12. Anonymous


  13. Khakjaan Wessington

      I’ve been reading like shit today; I thought the Genesis quote was there to underline the point–an overwritten passage (bible’s rife w/ them) that was selected for the rain. I didn’t think the point was to switch from literal to metaphorical, but maybe that was the point after all. So maybe it wasn’t intended that way; the thrust of the post resisted my read of it. Oh well.

      As a side note: Is it overwriting to slow the pacing in the middle of a sentence? Malamud would be considered an ‘overwriter’ by such criteria. I’ve always like the bible as text, tho it’s pretty untranslatable (large chunks of it are metered verse w/ borrowed cognates… & the King James version does a horrid job of translating the connotations & concept density). I always found its emphasis on mundane detail & sweeping jumps in narrative pacing to be fascinatingly schizophrenic. Maybe that’s why I like translated Russian lit–often does the same thing (thinking Turgenev & Gogol).

  14. Anonymous


  15. Anonymous