Tuesday, March 30, 2010

WordPlay! WriteNet Week 11

Last night there was an incredible full moon. Every month, the full moon signals a time of fertility, ripeness, energy ready to burst forth and enlighten, change, heal. The full moon after the Vernal Equinox is also the determinant of two of the world's most significant religious holidays: Passover and Easter.

Even as a child, I was struck by the connections between these two events, choosing to discuss them in my first sermon as a junior minister on Palm Sunday. I have always been mindful of the traditions associated with the Passover Seder, which was the Last Supper. Both Jewish and African-American history contain periods of cultural adversity that ultimately forged a strong people.

Although American society reshapes such powerful and emotional occasions into Halmark moments and retail frenzy (Easter baskets and candy), there is still a compelling beauty and power in the true meaning and values of Easter and Passover. The equinox, when night and day are of equal length, is a perfect time to bring one's life into balance. My writing this week will evolve from my thoughts of Spring and the equinox.

Writing Exercises

External Exercises
(Detailed Instructions are in prior posts.)

1. Observation Exercise
2. Reading Report
3. Writing Journal
4. Sensory Details

Weekly Exercises March 29, 2010

1. Describe a holiday meal in detail. Be sure to include the various items, how they were prepared, who was present at the meal.
2. Tell a story that members of your family repeated on a regular basis. Start with the line, "I remember the time..."
3. If you could travel to one place in the world that has powerful meaning for you, where would you go? Be sure to give a full description of the place as well as its importance.
4. What book has had the most impact on your life (and why)?

There is no wrong way to do it: just WRITE!

Friday, March 19, 2010

WordPlay! WriteNet Week 10 March 22, 2010

Violence. Desperation. Upheaval. There have been devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile and Japan. There are violent assaults against young children (like the infant who died in foster care recently) and adults (home invasion robberies and attacks by sexual predators). With the news reports of wars between nations, violence at the individual level is hardly surprising. Some people seek solace from religion or spiritual principles. Others seek refuge in alcohol or drugs. Like the ostrich, some people bury their heads in the sand and hope that the storms will blow over before they emerge from hiding.

I was heartened by the story of a courageous 7-year-old boy who bravely took his sister into the bathroom and locked the door before he called 911 during a violent home invasion robbery.. Like the dispatcher who took his call, I wanted to give him a reassuring hug. Although I have never met this juvenile hero, the story of his breavery will stay in my memory for years to come. Like other events, stories from the news can often inspire me as a writer to create a story from my own past or based on the contemporaneous experience. This week, catch a story from the news or write about something that happened in your own past.

External Exercises

1. Observation Exercise

Sit in a public place (mall, library, restaurant, etc.) and take notes on the appearance and behaviors of the people around you. Be sure to include sensory details.

2. Reading Report

Write about a book you have just finished from a writer's perspective: what did you learn about writing from the book, i.e. who were the memorable characters, where did the action occur (setting), what was the author's style, how did the plot progress, etc.?

3. Literary Journal

A place to write about writing: new ideas you want to explore, examination of your writing process, rituals and friends that support your work, etc.

4. Sensory Details Exercise

Write about a specific event specifically as a snapshot, a radio program, a version devoted to the tastes and smells, an examination of the feelings and the tactile sensations. Now write a final version that draws on all the information you have gathered.

Weekly Exercises Week 10 March 22, 2010

1. Create a phrase that is a color and a weather phenomenon (e.g. purple tsunami, yellow flood, pink tornado, turquoise mudslide) and use that pair of words to start writing.

2. You are in a mini-market buying a beverage and getting gas in your car. The door opens and an armed gunmen enters. Write about what happens next.

3. You see an ad for an animal shelter that awakens your love of animals. If money and space were not an issue, what kind of animal companion (pet) would you want to adopt?

4. In which outdoor setting do you find the most peace?

There is no wrong way to do it: just write!


Monday, March 08, 2010

WordPlay! WriteNet Week 9

Last night's Academy Awards broadcast brought to an end the annual film awards season that begins at the end of the calendar year. While the actual results in the major acting, directing and production categories held few surprises, there were still interesting elements to a show that was largely boring. The show started with the best actor and best actress nominees on stage followed by Neil Patrick Harris in an entertaining song and dance number. Also, each of the individuals in those two categories had a personalized introduction before the winner was announced. I was personally moved when Gabourey Sidibe, nominated for her compelling work in Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire, was visibly emotional during Oprah Winfrey's introduction of her. What is already an interminably long show is extended to fill an entire evening and night of programming with red carpet interviews, after show parties, the Barbara Walters and Jimmy Kimmel specials, and news shows which recapped what had just transpired.

For people not interested in the glitz and glamor, there is a kinship with people who eschew football on Super Bowl Sunday, when streets and freeways are deserted, retail outlets and restaurants offer unbelievable access, and even television addicts have to settle for reruns from competing networks. Whether you love the Oscar saturation or search desperately for quality options, the annual movie celebration provides writers with a plethora of topics from fashion to film technology to family rituals. This week in your writing, take advantage of the chance to address these subjects while your memories are still fresh and the details still vivid in your imagination.

Weekly Exercises

External Exercises
(see previous weeks for detailed instructions)

1. Observation Exercise
2. Reading Report
3. Writing Journal
4. Sensory Details Exercise

Exercises Week of March 8, 2010

1. Of the films which you personally viewed in 2009, which one affected you the most?
2. If you were invited to a party on a Sunday night, what would you wear?
3. At my high school prom, the theme from "The Pink Panther" movie was popular and instantly reminds me of that time whenever I hear it. Think of a piece of music that provokes a similar response from you and write about it.
4.Imagine receiving a prestigious award in your chosen field of endeavor and write your acceptance speech.

There is no wrong way to do it: just write!