Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Book Group Went All Stream-of-Consciousness On Me

—And it was awesome.

Instead of reading a book this month, our hostess (who teaches a writing class at BYU) decided we should all try our hands at writing. She came armed with fun, designer-ish notebooks for everyone, and a stash of ballpoint pens.

She had us try three free-writing exercises. The first was called I Am.
The assignment was to capture ourselves through objects, places, events that are important to us, define us. Here's one paragraph:

I am January 
I am newness and silent snowfall 
I am the glow of the firelight after the hustle and bustle of celebration fades 
I am fire and ice

The second was called Mirror, Mirror. We had to hold a hand mirror up to our face and close our eyes, then write about what first grabbed our attention.  I struggled with this one because most of the time I avoid mirrors and prefer to be invisible.  I finally allowed myself to focus on an eyebrow, and then an eye. Here's one paragraph  (after I wrote about the hiding and avoidance):

I see a round lifted arch with confidence and an air of mystery. There is a fringe of darkness surrounding a circle of blue. There is light and more light — a reflecting pool. There is a veil of cast shadow coming from the left, and expressiveness moving toward the light. There is seriousness and playfulness coming from the same source. There is wisdom and wit and a very strong will. ...A circle that finds beauty in unexpected places, sometimes sees what others miss.

The third one is called Childhood Place. We were to describe a place that was memorable and meaningful to us as a child. Here is my free-writing description of my earliest memories of place (about 10 minutes, long-hand):

There is a landing that feels like a cage at the top of the stairs. Standing there I can peer down at the people below. I should be napping but instead I am poking my face through the balustrade, peeking down into the entryway below. There are magical pieces of rainbow scattered across the rose-patterned carpet. Light pouring through cut glass. Prisms. I am suspended in time and place as this top-of-the-world view gives me perspective, makes me feel tall.  
The entry is Nana's, the staircase is Nana's, the carpet is Nana's, chosen for her mother, Rose. But the landing is mine and the prisms are God's come to greet me in this chapel of relics. 
The landing is lifted by columns with stairs rising up toward the sky. Some dolls and a rocking horse wait at the base of the stairs, as if to call out "suffer the little one" to sneak down and play awhile. 
Uncle is jolly and balding, roundish with glasses. We play a game where he fills his cheek up with air and I poke it, making a popping sound that bursts through the silence and pulls laughter up and out from deep inside me, bouncing against the walls and the wood and dancing with the prisms on the floor below.

Free-write. Zero editing. I'd love to have you join me. Try an I Am or a Mirror, Mirror or a Childhood Place. Even just a paragraph. This week, you can be part of our fabulous book group and free-write your inner world.

Just write.


From Tracie said...

I love so much about this - that your whole book group did it, that she brought fun notebooks (I love me a good notebook), and that y'all wrote.

These are great exercises. I'm going to try them. Thanks for sharing.

Cheryl said...

What a great set of exercises. I love what you wrote for each of them. I lived that last one.

Ron aka TheOldGeezer said...

Greetings from Southern California

I am your newest follower

Have a nice day :-)

Heather EO said...

What great ideas for writing. I love your thoughts as per usual. Your childhood memory is so vivid. I love that.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

I love this idea all on its own, but it's your execution of it that has me dazzled. I can see your artist's eye through your writer's words, and the combination is heady and lovely. Reading these small snippets of beauty makes me want to write, and never stop.

Kazzy said...

Sounds like something fun! Last month I had G talk to our group about metaphysical poetry and George Herbert. It is great to mix things up here and there.

Dedee said...

I am loving these writing exercises of yours. I'm going to have to try them tomorrow.

I think you are amazing!